Meet Kladavac – The Slavonian Village Nobody Wants to Leave

Lauren Simmonds

Zvonimir Barisin/PIXSELL

January the 23rd, 2024 – Sadly, the word ‘Slavonia’ has become synonymous with negativity and concerning demographic trends. Is that the case for the entire region, however? Far from it. Meet Kladavac, the small village in Vukovar-Srijem that nobody wants to leave.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the village of Kladavac in the Vukovar-Srijem County, one of the most problematic counties in all of Croatia when it comes to negative economic and demographic trends, only recently got asphalt roads and a connection with the rest of the world.

Kladavac suffers from the issue many eastern villages face – there’s no doctor, no school, and there isn’t even a local general store. Despite the difficulties that such conditions naturally cause, the approximately 30 residents of Kladavac aren’t thinking about leaving the area, reports HRT.

Surrounded by the peace of the forests, Marica spends her days being handy and out in the garden, dealing with the planting of flowers that bloom and give off a scent even during winter. “I’m completely satisfied with my life and I wouldn’t change it for a life in a big city, believe me,” said Marica Barić.

She raised five children in a small, humble house at the very edge of the forest. They all produce their own food. “There are chickens so we have our own eggs, so it doesn’t matter if they cost a euro or two or three in stores when you have your own hens,” she added.

Although there is no shop, school or doctor in Kladavac, her life is full, she says. “Peace, silence and tranquility. You feel as if you’ve already achieved everything you wanted in life and now you can sit back and just enjoy what you worked for”, added Marica.

Kladavac has 30 just inhabitants

There are only about 30 people living in Kladavac and they’re all like one family. Not a day goes by that the Barić family don’t visit their neighbour, Ante, who lives alone. “Whenever we go somewhere, we look to see if there is smoke coming from the chimney to see if he is okay,” said Marko Barić.

Ante, it seems, is more than okay. He walks through Kladavac every day and sings at the top of his voice. Although he is 92 years old, his health continues to serve him well. “If you’re sick and you have a lot of money, there’s no point in you having all of that, but if you’re alive and well, then that’s your real wealth,” said Ante Markanović.


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