Sunday, 7 September 2008

''The Population of Croatian Islands in 2001'' - Foreword and Review


The statistical-demographic study entitled ''The Population of Croatian Islands in 2001'' is being published six years after the Census was conducted in 2001. The publication was made possible in such a short time owing to a special method of obtaning the relevant data from the Central Bureau of Statistics of the Republic of Croatia, as well as to the computerised data processing and preparation for print.

This edition, as well as the one entitled ''The Population of Croatian Islands'' , published in 1999, has been realised in the free and independent Republic of Croatia, granting the freedom of public speech and writing on many subjects which had hitherto been forbidden, the Croatian islands being no exception.

The selection of the settlement as the basic administrative and territorial unit as determined by the Census, also representing a demographic unit for the observation of island population, has enabled the researchers to separate the island population from that of its administrative centre in order for it to be continuously observed despite a number of newly established municipalities and towns in the period between censuses.

In its methodological approach ''The Population of Croatian Islands in 2001'' follows the one applied in the 1999 edition. The basic characteristics of previous censuses have been outlined and defined, as have the demographic, social, and economic features of the 2001 Census, providing a table representation of the population for each particular island and group of islands. The study also comprises the data and table surveys concerning particular island settlements, as well as population moves per census year between 1857 and 2001. The classifications have been made according to the following criteria: migrations, gender, and age; population contingents, female population above the age of 15 with regard to age and the number of live-born children, education level, occupation, activity, and gender. Agricultural population has been studied in relation to activity, gender, marital status, households, families (paying particular attention to the family type, number of children and schoolchildren, disabled persons and persons with special needs with regard to the cause of handicap and the level of physical mobility. At the level of island groups, however, the population has been additionally classified in accordance with nationality and religion.

The essay on comparative characteristic features of the Croatian island population is based on observing the general trends and varying of their total number in the period between 1857 and 2001, as well as the statistical survey obtained from the last Census, the one conducted in 2001.

The novelties in this edition contain the following features: a survey of impacts of specific genetic structure, the influence of the environment and geographical isolation upon the health, disease, quality of life, psychological welfare, longevity and life expectation, as well as table surveys of the entire island population as per 2001 Census, including particular island groups and the total number of populated islands.

Apart from Croatian, this edition will be published in English.

The extensive and exhaustive preparations and years-long work on this statistical-demographic study have been inspired by the demands and interest expressed in many different fields and areas.

We firmly believe that this book will prove useful and beneficial in any further approach to a study or work related to and concerned with the islands where, along with the principle of differentiated research methodology applied to each particular island or island group as a distinct subject, well-grounded results may be expected.

We would hereby like to extend our gratitude to the Central Bureau of Statistics of the Republic of Croatia for their extraordinarily good cooperation, as well as to ''Redak'', the Split based company, and all those participating in the preparation of the materials.

Mladen Smoljanović

Split, 3rd June 2007


The monograph entitled ''Population of the Croatian Islands in 2001'' written by Mladen Smoljanović, Ankica Smoljanović, and Igor Rudan, deals with characteristic demographic features of the Croatian islands, their settlements and households according to the 2001 Census, a subject of particular national significance and interest. This study actually represents a continuation of an earlier research, published under the title Population of the Croatian Islands (Institute for Public Health, Split 1999). As its authors point out, ''it is aimed, by applying a statistical approach, at exploring the biological, social, and economic aspects of the population inhabiting the Croatian islands on the basis of the 2001 Census''.

The study comprises the following chapters: Natural Features of the Croatian Adriatic Archipelago, Determinants Underlying the Demographic-geographical Research of the Island Population, Demographic-geographical Characteristics of the Islands, Total Population and Factors Indicating Demographic Changes in the Period between 1857 and 2001, Structures of Island Population (migration, demographic, economic, social, and others). The last chapter is markedly the longest, primarily due to a large number of structural features discussed in it.

It is owing to its islands that Croatia's remarkable natural, geographical, economic, and cultural diversity is additionally and significantly enriched. It is not only the matter of some parts of the country's territory being separated from the mainland, but also stretches of land dominating the surrounding sea and submarine areas, thereby bordering and defining the territorial sea, which gives them a much greater significance than they would normally have as isolated and frequently rather distant parts of the Croatian territory. This is the reason why each country pays particular attention to its islands, both with regard to their economic potentials also contributing towards the national security, and with a view to increasing the life standards of the island population. Care and concern for the overall development of islands therefore constitutes an important integral part of both the national and regional strategies. The island population, its number, structure, and density make up a vital element within these strategies.

Croatia has a large number of small islands extending along the coast in a long string, their gravitation to major towns and centres on the mainland, individually taken, by far exceeding their interconnection and constituting several island groups with different geographical positions and a wide variety of natural features. Only a small number of islands are permanently populated, and an even smaller number have a sufficient population, both with respect to number and density, for their development potentials to be separately considered and conceived. This also represents a problem when it comes to a coherent scientifically based analysis and evaluation of this issue.

Mladen Smoljanović, Ankica Smoljanović, and Igor Rudan, the authors of the monograph, seem to be fully aware of specific features and idiosyncrasies of the population and the circumstances in which they live, as well as their implications for a future development. It is with these aspects in mind that the authors have gathered and systematically presented the basic statisctical-demographic data concerning the population and its density, as well as relevant indicators of permanent residents, their number and structures (demographic, spatial, economic, and social) as parameters crucial to the Croatian islands, accompanying them with brief and concise keys and annotations illustrating the natural, geographic, and cultural characteristics of both the island life and island mentality. The study has been designed for a number of various users and is meant to make up an indispensable basis for additional focused research, as well as general understanding of the islands and their development potentials. We are convinced that a wide range of readers, scientists and researchers, as well as the general public, will find this book an exceptionally useful, stimulating, and interesting reading.

The first two chapters outline the natural and geographical features of the Croatian islands, including the notion of what being ''an islander'' implies, alongside with the mentality pertaining to it. The authors rightly emphasise the fact that the Croatian islands are neither homogeneous nor compact, but markedly indented and stratified, both horizontally and vertically. Bearing this in mind, the islands have been divided into four distinct groups: The Kvarner, North Dalmatian, Central Dalmatian, and South Dalmatian Islands respectively. The island groups significantly differ with respect to a number of characteristics, especially those concerning the spatial relations existing within each particular group. This undoubtedly seems to be indicating a need for devising a separate individual approach to studying each of the afore mentioned groups. Taking a global or generalised approach to dealing with the islands would prove far from productive since important differences and idiosyncrasies would be lost in the process. The Croatian islands have the following features in common: most of them are small and none of them represents a regional whole or a centre of interconnection; they all gravitate towards a town on the mainland, although in this respect they also display a number of considerable differences.

In the Croatian Adriatic there are a total of 718 islands, 389 reefs, and 78 rocks. The majority of islands have no permanent residents. Only a minor part, 48 islands, covering a total area of 3,090 square km, are permanently populated and, according to the 2001 Census, they had a total population of 122,418 in 297 island settlements. Thereby the populated islands make up 5.46 % of the entire area and 2.75 % of Croatia's population. The populated islands have been by the authors conveniently classified as large, medium-sized, and small islands or islets, each of which accompanied by general geographical data (i.e, area, population, and density) according to the 2001 Census, providing the reader with a comprehensive view of the island population of Croatia, both concerning island groups and each particular island.

An entire chapter has been dedicated to the analysis of changes in the total population, both per island groups and individual islands, based on the censuses conducted between 1857 and 2001. A hundred and fifty years ago the Croatian islands had approximately the same population they have today. However, the number was constantly growing and increased by some 40 %, only to display a continuous decrease in the following 70 years. The period between the Censuses of 1981 and 2001 is marked by instability, the former part indicating a considerable increase, whereas a tendency towards a decrease was registered in the latter part of the period. This has lead the authors to a conclusion that the period observed clearly shows the presence of two basic development stages: first an increase recorded between 1857 and 1910, followed by a continuous decrease (1910-1981). The most recent development (1981-2001) seems to indicate instability and further decrease. In comparison with the total population of Croatia, i.e. relatively, the island population's participation has markedly diminished, from 5.3 % in 1900 to only 2.8 % in 2001, the participation of particular island groups showing significant variations.

The analysis of structural characteristics of island population based on 2001 Census would seem to be pointing to a strong internal dynamics of changes perceived as a whole, even more so within the population of particular island groups. From the point of view of migration, the majority (56.6 %) of islanders have spent their entire lives in the same settlement (most usually their birthplace), whereas 42.9 % have moved, in the majority of cases from the same municipality or county (i.e. local migrations). According to the participation of immigrants a number of significant differences can be observed between particular island groups, ranging from 51.2 % on the Kvarner Islands to 32.6 % on the islands of South Dalmatia. The colonised persons, i.e. immigrants, make up a larger portion of the total female population.

A great part of this study deals with structural, more specifically age and gender analysis of island population in its entirety, as well as per island groups. The ratio between female and male population, expressed as a coefficient of femininity, shows that the female population is more numerous than male in all of the groups. This ratio, for all of the afore mentioned islands, amounts to a total of 1,038 women to 1,000 men, being highest on the South Dalmatian islands (1,058) and lowest (1,27) on the islands of North Dalmatia. Should this coefficient be calculated for particular age groups, as has been done in this study, characteristic differences in femininity between particular age groups will emerge. In the youngest age groups male population prevails, the difference gradually diminishing. for the number of women to rapidly increase in the group of senior citizens (above the age of 65). In this respect there are no significant differences between particular island groups, the only exception being the North Dalmatian islands where the highest disproportion between male and female population has been observed, with a pronounced surplus of younger men. All analytical age and gender indicators, as represented in this research, would seem to suggest a strongly manifest regressive type in the age structure of the population, causing its productive and reproductive potentials to be diminishing in the long term, the situation being comparatively the most favourable on the Kvarner Islands and the least favourable on the islands of South Dalmatia.

Similar conclusions may be drawn on the basis of relations between the age structure, economic activity, and age dependence. The coefficients of total age dependence of the population are extremely high, this being caused by a high coefficient of elderly population's age dependence. Namely, the age dependence in the young population seems to be moderate and fairly proportional, whereas the coefficient of age dependence in elderly population is exceptionally high, especially on the North Dalmatian islands, this being an indicator of a high degree of population ageing. Economically active population amounts to no more than 71.3 % of the total active population, out of which number a little more than half live on the income obtained from work, the number of population without any income thereby exceeding the number of those who earn their living. The majority of the economically active population work in areas other than agriculture, the economically active agricultural population making up no more than 7.2 % of the total active population, thereby indicating a great extent of deruralisation (de-agrarisation) of the island population. This phenomenon is particularly obvious on the Kvarner Islands, where the percentage of agricultural population is exceptionally low, amounting to no more than 3.8 % .

According to the level of education, the island population, with respect to the age and economic activity structures, has been found to be fairly well educated, 48.8 % being persons with secondary education, while some 10 % have higher education or hold university degrees. The level of education is the highest in the population of the Kvarner Islands.

Other data and indicators dealt with and presented in this study refer to the following elements: marital status, female population above the age of 15 with respect to the number of live-born children, number of households with respect to the number of family members, percentage of invalidity with regard to age, gender, cause(s) of invalidity, and physical mobility of handicapped persons and, finally, the island population with regard to nationality and religion. It should be noted here that the above mentioned structural characteristics could, to a greater or lesser extent and depending upon the specific goals and methods of particular segments of the research, serve as a solid basis for a wide variety of demographic, medical (concerned with public health), economic, town-planning and spatial, sociological, and other analyses.

In conclusion, we feel that both the initiative and the efforts of Mladen, Smoljanović, Ankica Smoljanović, and Igor Rudan, the authors of the study, are highly commendable and deserve to be praised, especially their attempt to create, based on the statistical material obtained from the 2001 Census, a truly representative survey of the population of the Croatian islands. The study has been thoroughly, accurately, and meticulously done and written with particular care and attention to detail, on the basis of relevant statictical and demographic indicators. It contains numerous well-designed analytical tables and equally well-selected and laid out graphs, providing the reader with a comprehensive view of the historical dynamics, particularly the present day structure of the island population obtained from representative statistical-demographic indicators and samples. The study can be used as a reliable basis for any type of broad analysis of different aspects of life of the island population and plans for the island development, on the level on which the research and analysis have been conducted, as well as on higher levels, both on the regional and national scales. The interest in this type of research is expected to be permanently growing, primarily due to an increasing importance of both the islands and the entire maritime area in the overall development of the Republic of Croatia. The study will almost certainly meet with a wide interest and approval, particularly as a methodological model for an anlytical study at lower levels (i.e. particular islands or island groups), as well as island settlement, especially major ones. An ever-increasing importance of local circumstamnces and standards of living affecting the entire development strategy, which has always been emphasised on the islands, is bound to result in an increased need for such research which in this study will certainly find a source of valuable data and indicators, as well as a reliable methodological model and inspiration.

Zagreb, 14th July 2007

Alica Wertheimer-Baletić, Member of the Croatian Academy of Science and Arts
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