What do Bulgaria and Canna have in common?

Marcus Roberts
24 Jun 2011
Reproduced with Permission

Apparently in the 1980s, Bulgaria was expecting its 9 millionth citizen (actually "9 millionth comrade" may be the more accurate terminology for back then…) That 9 millionth Bulgarian didn't come. Since then, there has been the emigration of around 300,000 Turkish Bulgarians in the mid-1980s as well as the emigration of up to 1 million Bulgarians following the fall of communism in 1989. In 2001, there were 7,932,984 Bulgarians. According to the latest census figures, that number is now only 7,351,234, a drop of about 7% in a decade. This has led to the country becoming obsessed with its demographic future, with some fearing that the country will continue to decline until it disappears sometime in the near future.

Another population decline in Europe is even more severe. Over the past 180 years the population has declined to just 6% of its 1821 level. This is a population crisis of the most remarkable kind. I am of course, talking about the island of Canna, the westernmost of the Small Isles archipelago in the Inner Hebrides, off the coast of Western Scotland. In 1821, the island was home to over 400 people, but the population has fluctuated over the last few decades around the two dozen mark. Although over 350 people from around the world applied for the chance to live at the remote island in 2007, three couples have left recently bringing the population down to just 11 according to the Guardian.

Er, make that just 15 according to the Daily Mail.

(Frankly, if we cannot get a consensus on an island's population that is literally able to be counted on one person's fingers and toes, why does anyway trust population predictions for the entire world??)

Apparently people are having a hard time living in a remote island which endures harsh, long winters and has a tiny community subject to various, natural social tensions. Another reason that has been mentioned is that the National Trust of Scotland, which owns the island, must administer it according to the deed of trust which does not allow inhabitants to own or build their own houses. According to Alexander Bennet, the National Trust of Scotland's highlands and islands manager, this problem is "a chance to bring in fresh blood and hopefully find a balance. It will work for some, but it won't work for others."

So, if you like the wild beauty of the Hebrides, this is your chance to be "fresh blood" and help reverse population decline in one small part of the world. The trust's website is here if you wish to apply. However, if you are Bulgarian, maybe you should think about staying at home and boosting your homeland's population.