In Shrinking Bulgaria, Where Are the People?

Population Decline is Killing Its Cities.   Lucky Bulgaria was founded in 1959. Today the population is 4,000, down from 10,000 in 1990. Only two of the five lead-zinc mines still operate. The streets are tidy and organized and many of the public buildings are freshly painted. Only people are missing. There is no work and all the young people have left. Bulgaria has a population decline considered to be one of the most severe. The 20 main cities all have lost population since 1989, except for Sofia, the capital. Bulgaria’s population will decline by 34% from 2005 to 2050, from 7.7 million to 5 million. The the only country likely to lose more of its people was Swaziland, where 38% of the population has HIV. The problem in Bulgaria is made more complicated by the low standard of living. A national strategy is being started to improve living standards so that Bulgarians have more children. In Bulgaria, there are 1.5 workers for every 2 pensioners and the ratio is getting worse. The population decline began during the Communist era and accelerated when the old system ended in 1989 and the economy collapsed. The fertility rate is now 1.3 in Bulgaria. About 800,000 Bulgarians emigrated from 1989 to 2004. 144 villages have no population and 337 villages have 10 or fewer residents.
Source: International Herarld Tribune

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