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Croatian authorities claim that last year’s population census in the European Union country showed a drop of almost 10% over the past decade

ZAGREB, Croatia – A population census carried out last year in Croatia showed that almost 10% less people live in the European Union country compared to ten years ago, according to preliminary results published Friday.

The census counted 3.8 million citizens against 4.2 million in the previous population count in 2011, said Lidija Brkovic of the national statistics office.

“Over the past 10 years, the number of residents has decreased by 396,000 (people),” Brkovic said.

The decrease reflects the problem of depopulation in Croatia – and elsewhere in the Balkan region – which is a combination of low birth rates and emigration to more prosperous countries in the West.

The Croatian government has identified the problem as a major challenge for the authorities and the future of the country.

State broadcaster HRT said on Friday that “unfortunately a poor prognosis has materialized.” The report adds that the decline is equivalent to the loss of the total population of the cities of Split and Rijeka on the Adriatic Sea.

Despite joining the EU in 2013, Croatia is struggling to revive the economy that was devastated during the 1992-95 war that followed the country’s independence from the former Yugoslavia.

ABC News

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