A Demographic Catastrophe: Fewer and Fewer Residents in Dubrovnik

Lauren Simmonds

Dubrovnik is seeing its permanent resident list lose numbers, fast…

As Dubrovacki Dnevnik reported on the 6th of May 2017, there seems to be a systematic decrease in the general population of permanent residents in Dubrovnik. At present, it is reported that 1,557 residents live within the city’s historic centre, in 568 private households. Around 30 percent of the population is aged 65 and over, while just over ten percent are under the age of 15. These are the results of the Demographic Analysis and the Internal Population Census conducted in late 2016 as part of the development of a Sociological and Demographic Study.

It is well known, at least within the city, that many people are finding it more and more difficult, and more and more inconvenient to live peacefully in Dubrovnik, particularly in the central area. With many former residents moving away and leaving their former Old City apartment to be rented out to tourists, the trend in depopulation within the walls seems set to continue on this path. This may be just one of the reasons for such a downhill turn.

Since the last nationwide census was conducted in 2011, there appears to have been somewhat of a black hole in Dubrovnik, as the 2011 census showed that there were 2116 inhabitants. Demographic analysist Sanja Klempic Bogadi called it a ”demographic catastrophe” due to the fact that almost 500 residents have been ”lost” in the past five years. At the end of 2016, there were reportedly 1640 inhabitants living within Dubrovnik’s historical centre, with some people apparently unwilling to provide their information and therefore excluded from the total number.

Sanja Klempić Bogadi reminds us that data shows that in 1967, which is not so long ago in general terms, there were 5872 recorded inhabitants, a culmination of a demographic which continued to go downwards until the 1990s, particularly after the city’s historical centre lost more than 20 percent of its population in a relatively short period of just 10 years. Sadly, this points to an intensive level of depopulation. Sanja remarked that the aging trend of the population is concerning and places Dubrovnik’s historic centre in a rather negative situation. 

20 percent of the population claimed they had various health issues and required help in their day to day lives, it has also been reported that a third of all households in the centre have only one person living in them.

The question put by Sanja Klempic Bogadi is: ”If UNESCO is protecting heritage, and residents (of that heritage) are part of the way of life, what will be left to protect if nobody lives in the (old) city?”


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