The death rate in Scotland has fallen by 3%
The number of deaths in Scotland fell by more than 3% to 53,856 last year, the registrar general has announced.
New figures showed that the country's three "biggest killers" claimed fewer lives in 2009 than during the previous year.
There were fewer deaths from cancer, while deaths from coronary heart disease fell by almost 7% and deaths from strokes by more than 8%.
There were also nearly 1,000 fewer births registered in 2009 than in 2008.
The figures showed that 59,046 births were registered last year.
The number of marriages in Scotland also continued to fall, from 28,903 in 2008 to 27,524 in 2009.
Registrar General for Scotland, Duncan Macniven, said: "The number of deaths fell by almost 2,000, to 53,856.
"There were 5,190 more births than deaths during the year, the largest natural increase in the population since 1991.
"There were nearly a thousand fewer births in 2009 than in 2008.
"The 59,046 total for the year was the first fall in the number of births after six consecutive annual increases.
"The total was still over a thousand higher than in 2007, when there were 57,781 births.
"We also saw the number of marriages drop to 27,524, their lowest level since Victorian times and the lowest rate per thousand population in records going back to 1855.
"The number of divorces fell to 10,131."
That was expected, because the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 reduced separation periods before divorce from May 2006.
"So there was an increase of over 2,000 divorces in 2006 followed by decreases in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
"The average number of divorces in these four years is around 11,870 which is slightly higher than the levels recorded immediately before the law was changed." said Mr Macniven.