Demographic Crisis: Hundreds of Croatian Settlements Close to Being Empty

Lauren Simmonds

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As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, at least 541 Croatian settlements across the country are on the verge of extinction because they have a maximum of just ten inhabitants, and in another 192 Croatian settlements, there are no living souls left. This devastating data has been highlighted by the first results of the population census by settlements published by the State Bureau of Statistics (CBS), writes Vecernji list.

The worst situation with this terrible trend of dying Croatian settlements and those where there are no more inhabitants left at all is in Karlovac and Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, more precisely in the hilly and mountainous parts of those counties.

Karlovac County is the record holder with 129 settlements that have just from one to ten inhabitants and 30 settlements with no inhabitants, while in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, mainly in Gorski Kotar, as many as 104 settlements have from one to ten inhabitants, and another 55 of them have no inhabitants at all. Around 11 percent of all Croatian settlements, or 733 of them, have either been left without a living soul to speak of, or on the verge of complete extinction today.

It’s worth noting that today, the Republic of Croatia has only 3.88 million inhabitants left, and that in the past decade alone it has lost almost 10 percent of its population.

Although from the census taken back in 2011 to last year (2021), the largest population loss was recorded in the Eastern Croatian county of Vukovar-Srijem, which lost a fifth of its inhabitants and today has around 144 thousand, followed by Sisak-Moslavina County, which lost 18.49 percent, and Brod-Posavina County, which was left without 17.53 percent of its inhabitants, it’s interesting to note based on this information that Vukovar-Srijem County only actually has two settlements that have no inhabitants left.

In the very neglected Eastern Croatian (Slavonian) counties, where intensive emigration has occurred over the past decade, it’s mostly formerly large settlements which haven’t completely been abandoned and been left without a living soul. Pozega-Slavonia County has the most settlements with one to ten inhabitants living there, 42 of them, and another 17 settlements where there are no inhabitants at all. On the other hand, as expected, there are no settlements with up to ten inhabitants in the City of Zagreb, nor are there any in Medjimurje County.

Demographer Stjepan Sterc’s data on the increase of almost 200 Croatian settlements in one single decade which are on the verge of complete extinction or of being left totally without inhabitants, is unfortunately far from surprising.

“For hilly and mountainous areas, the area of ​​Karlovac County, Gorski Kotar… this is unfortunately, an expected process. The settlementsin hilly and mountainous areas are disappearing rapidly, which is also shown by the increase in the number of Croatian settlements over the past decade in which just one to ten inhabitants live. The elderly population lives in those places, there are no families with children, and these settlements will disappear by time we conduct the next census” stated Sterc.

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