Korea’s total fertility rate or the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime stood at a mere 0.84 last year, Statistics Korea announced on Wednesday.

That makes Korea the least fertile country among 198 countries around the world, according to UN Population Fund statistics last June.

Births also declined further last year amid the spread of coronavirus, reducing the fertility rate to just 0.75 in the fourth quarter.

That means it was a mere 40 percent of the replacement-level fertility rate, and the population declined because births were vastly outnumbered by deaths.

If the trend continues, the population will more than halve over the next 30 years.

Only 213,513 couples tied the knot last year, down 25,646 or 10.7 percent on-year.

The country experienced its first natural population decline last year with 33,000, with a natural population decline in 11 of the 17 provinces and cities nationwide except Seoul, Gyeonggi Province, Incheon, Ulsan, the administrative city of Sejong, and Jeju Province.

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