The number of inhabitants inside the ancient city walls of Dubrovnik has been dropping alarming for the past few decades and has now reached record lows. In 1961 the vibrant Old City of Dubrovnik had a population of 5,872, but today that number has plummeted to only 1,557.
According to figures just released 55 percent of the households in the historic city have only one or two family members, which offers the assumption that these households are older people. In fact, the population is dominated by the elderly, of the 1,557 inhabitants a massive 856 are aged over 65. “The historic core of Dubrovnik is a space of unwelcome demographic collapse. The depopulation and high rate of elderly citizens means that we can almost guarantee the continue of this process,” commented Dr. Sanja Klempić Bogadi, from the Institute of Migration and Civilisation.
Walking the ancient cobbled streets of the Old City in the winter highlights the depopulation problem. Although the city has a buzz in the summer when tourists from all over the world arrive, the winter months are a different story, with one of the biggest shocks the lack of local children.
Empty winter streets of Dubrovnik - Photo Mark Thomas
In the Marin Getaldić school inside the city walls a total of 156 children started the first class this year. That figure doesn’t sound too disappointing, however when you take into account that the school has been actively attracting children from outside the city walls just to fill the classrooms, it is a little disappointing.
For example, in one first grade class this year, of the twenty pupils in the class only four actually live in the Old City. The latest findings report that there are only 160 children, under the age of 14, who call the Old City home today, or there are three times more pensioners than children in the city.
In 1961 there were 5,872 inhabitants in the city, in 1991 this number had fallen to 3,525 and in 2011 to 2,116.