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news 18 Dec 12

Croatia Sees Population Drop Over Decade

Croatia's population dropped by some 150,000 people over the past decade, according to the results of the 2011 census published Monday.

Boris Pavelic

4,284,889 people currently live in Croatia, the census data showed. The drop in population is equal to the size of the country's third city, Rijeka.

Commenting on the preliminary census results, Croatian President Ivo Josipovic described the drop in population as "one of the most important political, economic and cultural questions Croatia faces."

Of the total population, 90 percent declared themselves to be Croat, which is one percent more than in 2001.

The number of declared Serbs fell by 0.2 percent compared to 2001, from 201,000 to 186,000.

Bosniaks are the third largest ethnic group, totaling 0.76 percent of the total population.

The number of Catholics dropped while the number of atheists rose over the ten year period examined.

In 2001, 88 percent of the population declared itself Catholic, while that number had dropped by two percent by 2011.

At the same time, the number of atheists rose from 2.2 percent in 2001 to 3.8 in 2011.

Despite the drop in the number of Serbs in the country, the number of Orthodox believers rose from 4.42 percent in 2001 to 4.44 in 2011.

The Serbian National Council, SNV, which is the local authority of Serbs in Croatia, said in a statement on Monday that there were "serious irregularities" during the census process.

The process "did not respect Eurostat regulations,“ the SNV said, adding that "members of the Serb community were given suggestions as to which ethnic and religious affiliation they should declare."

"The resistance towards the return of refugees and the fulfillment of their rights, together with still existing intolerance towards Serb people in Croatia, is a serious threat to Serb participation in Croatian life and to the freedom of their national declaration,“ SNV warned.

The census results were published almost a year and a half after the survey ended, a delay which prompted criticism of Croatia's Statistical Office.

The director of the office, Ivan Kovac, blamed the previous government for not allowing the office to hire additional administrative staff to process the data on time.

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