Taipei, April 28 (CNA) The number of babies born in Taiwan in the first quarter of 2012, the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese zodiac, increased by 17 percent compared with the same period last year, according to the Ministry of the Interior.
During the first three months, 52,079 babies were born and the birth rate reached 9 births per 1,000 people, which was around the same level in 2005, statistics from the ministry showed.
As many Chinese people consider the Year of the Dragon to be auspicious, over 210,000 babies are expected to be born this year, the ministry said.
Over the past decade, Taiwan has become a country with one of the lowest birth rates in the world. In 2003, Taiwan's fertility rate was 1.23 births per woman, with the figure dropping to 0.89 in 2010, the lowest in the world.
However, in 2011, when Taiwan was celebrating its centennial founding anniversary, up to 196,000 babies were born and the fertility rate was 1.07, the highest level in three years.
According to the statistics, the sex ratio of new born babies was 108.2 males to 100 females, an increase of 0.9 male babies compared with the same period last year.
In addition, during the first quarter, 50,184 babies, or 96.36 percent of the total number of newborns, were born to married couples and 1,891 babies, or 3.63 percent, were born to unmarried parents.
The eastern counties of Taitung, Hualien and southern Taiwan's Pingtung County recorded the highest number of babies born to unmarried couples, the statistics showed.
(By Angela Tsai and Maia Huang)