SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) – The Bulgarian population has shrunk by 11.5% over the past decade, according to the first results of the 2021 census.

The National Institute of Statistics said the country has shrunk by 844,000 people, from some 7.3 million in 2011 to 6.5 million today.

Experts attribute the decline to low birth rates, high mortality and a constant flow of migration that has pushed people of working age to seek better jobs and better educational prospects in Western Europe and the United States. -of the.

“This is the most drastic drop recorded so far,” Magdalena Kostova of the statistical institute told reporters. “The aging of the population is another lasting trend.

Bulgaria has been on UN radar for years as one of the fastest declining countries in the world.

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Since the Balkan nation transitioned from a totalitarian system to a market economy three decades ago, its population has shrunk by almost a quarter, from almost 9 million to 6.5 million today.

UN experts estimate that if these trends continue, Bulgaria will shrink further to around 5.4 million people by 2050.

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