Since the first version of this article was written back in
1997/8 [128] a number of pulsar surveys using the Parkes radio
telescope [157] have discovered almost 700 pulsars. As a result, the sample
size is now double what it was in 1997. Many of the exciting new
discoveries from these searches are discussed in this review.
Up-to-date tables of parameters of binary and millisecond pulsars
are included as an appendix. Several new sections/figures have
been added and existing sections reworked and modularized to make
the review more self-contained and (hopefully!) easier to read in
an html setting. We begin in §
2
with an overview of the pulsar phenomenon, the key observed
population properties, the origin and evolution of pulsars and an
introduction to pulsar search techniques. In §
3, we review present understanding in pulsar demography,
discussing selection effects and the techniques used to correct
for them in the observed sample. This leads to robust estimates
of the total number of normal and millisecond pulsars (§
3.3) and relativistic binaries (§
3.4) in the Galaxy and has implications for the detection of
gravitational radiation from these systems. We discuss pulsar
timing in §
4
. One application of these exceptional clocks, a sensitive
detector of long-period gravitational waves, is discussed in
§
5
. We conclude with a brief outlook to the future in §
6
.