North Macedonia’s population shrank by nearly 10% since 2002

SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — North Macedonia has lost nearly 10% of its population over the last two decades mostly due to emigration, statistics officials said on Wednesday, announcing the official results of a 2021 census.

The population decrease came mainly as a result of young people leaving the country, which is one of the poorest in Europe, over the last decade to find better paid jobs in Europe, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

State Statistical Office Director Apostol Simovski told reporters in the capital Skopje that two decades after the last census was conducted, the country’s population during 2002-2021 decreased by 9.2%.

North Macedonia has now a total population of 1,836,731, 185,713 fewer than in 2002.

Out of the total population, 58.4% are Macedonians, 24.3% ethnic Albanians, 3.8% ethnic Turks, 2.5% Roma, and 1.3 % ethnic Serbs. There were also small minorities of Bosniaks, Vlachs and Bulgarians.

In this small Balkan country which gained independence in 1991 following the break-up of the former Yugoslavia and came near to civil war in 2001, the long-postponed census was far from a mere statistical operation.

Special rights such as ethnic quotas for public administration jobs and the language used in official correspondence depend on a minority being officially shown to make up at least 20% of the population.

Of the country’s 2 million people in 2002, 64% were Macedonians and 25% ethnic Albanians.

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