Croatia has more than 1,000 beautiful islands, some are populated, most are not, however if current trends continue there might be a few more populated islands becoming uninhabited in the not too distant future, as the youth continue to leave the islands in their droves…
One island in particular facing that danger in the immediate future is the island of Žirje, located in the Šibenik archipelago on the central Dalmatian coast. The island’s population has been steadily declining over the last half a century. Žirje had a population of 720 residents back in 1953, falling to 207 residents in 1981, and 124 residents in 2001. The latest census has now revealed that number has now dropped to 94, and an even more concerning statistic that not one child was born in the last 35 years there.
Lack of work for the youth and the extinction of certain trades have been driving young islanders away from the islands to the bigger centres for a while now. The total number of people now living on islands in Croatia now roughly equals the population of a larger suburb in the capital Zagreb. Croatia’s most populated island is Krk in the northern Adriatic with 17,000 residents. The island of Korčula, in southern Dalmatia, is second with more than 16,000 people living there, followed by Brač with 14,000. The powers at be on the islands of Šolta (1,400 pop), Mljet (1,100), Silba (225), Iž (145) and Drvenik Mali (54), will all be looking at ways they can prevent their islands from dying.
Time will tell what becomes of the beautiful island of Žirje, but one thing is for certain, the government needs to do more to keep the islands alive by providing more opportunities for the youth to stay.