Census Reveals Bosnia’s Changed Demography

The final results of the 2013 census of Bosnia, published on Thursday, reveal the changed demographic picture of the country - but Bosnian Serb officials continued to dispute them.
 Residents walking in the streets of Bosnian capital, Sarajevo. Photo: Youtube.

Bosnia’s State Statistics Agency on Thursday released the long delayed results of the 2013 census with the final data about demography, education, workforce and dwellings in the country.

The data provided the first complete picture of the population of Bosnia 25 years after the last census conducted in 1991 during the Yugoslav era.

According to the final results of the census, Bosnia has a total population of 3.53 million people, which is less than the figure presented in the preliminary results published in November 2013.

The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, FBiH, the bigger of the two entities, has a population of 2,219,220 people. Republika Srpska, the Serb-dominated entity, has a total population of 1,228,423, and the autonomous District of Brcko, 83,516.

Most attention of the Bosnian media was grabbed by the changed ethnic and national composition of the population.

The results are extremely sensitive in a country whose institutional framework, as a result of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, rests on the principle of the balance and equality of the three “constitutive peoples” – Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats.

According to the results, Bosniaks now make up 50.11 per cent of the population, Serbs 30.78 per cent and Croats 15.43 per cent of the population.

Some 2.73 percent of the population are categorised as “others”, the official term for national minorities and people who do not identify with any of the three constitutive peoples.

The census also confirmed that the two entities have a clear ethnic structure, with 92.11 per cent of all Bosnian Serbs living in the RS, and 91.39 per cent of Bosnian Croats and 88.23 percent of Bosniaks living in the Federation.

Presenting the results, the Bosnian Ministers of Civil Affairs, Adil Osmanovic, commented that he did not see new information about ethnic composition of Bosnia as problematical.

“When we approved the Law on Census we knew that in the end the census would show the ethnic structure of Bosnia … I don’t see any reason why we should create a problem about that,” Osmanovic told Sarajevo based website Klix.

Representatives of Republika Srspka reacted angrily to the publication of the results, which were published without first reaching a methodological agreement among all the three statistical agencies of the country.

“These results … cannot by accepted by the RS,” Dragan Cavic, leader of the National Democratic Movement of RS, told TV N1, adding that the RS will now withdraw its representatives from the State Statistical Agency.

“These data are the result of a unilateral [methodology] of the Bosnian Statistical Agency and they are contrary to the law,” Radmila Cickovic, director of the Statistical Institute of RS, told Sarajevo-based Klix on Thursday.

“The result of this is the publication of useless results, which will not help solving the real problems of citizens, and we will not recognise them,” Cickovic said.

Other statistics disclosed on Thursday showed that the Bosnian population has a median age of 39.5 years, which is less than the EU average of 42.2 years, and less than other countries in the region like Serbia [42.2 years] and Croatia [41.7]. However, the illiteracy rate of 2.82 per cent is higher than in neighbouring countries.

The census also showed that Bosnia has a lower percentage of residents with higher education [12.7 per cent] than its neighbours, and that around a third of its inhabitants – 31.44 per cent – work in the agricultural sector.

A complete copy of the final results of the Bosnian census should be soon available on the official website of the 2013 census, Mirsada Adembegovic, the spokesperson of Bosnian Statistical Agency, told the media.

Rodolfo Toè