In 2017 more than 47,000 people emigrated from Croatia, with about 15,000 moving into the country, meaning that the population had decreased by almost 32,000, the latest figures released by the state statistics bureau showed.
Last year, more than 15,500 people immigrated to Croatia. Nearly 51 percent of them already held Croatian citizenship. Meanwhile, more than 47,300 emigrated from the country, with 96 percent Croatian nationals.
By country of origin, the largest group of immigrants came from Bosnia and Herzegovina (32 percent), while Germany was the number one destination for Croatians moving abroad, with 61 percent of all emigrants going to that country. By age group, the largest category were emigrants aged 20 to 39, who accounted for 48 percent of all those moving abroad.
In 2017, the majority of immigrants settled in the capital Zagreb (24 percent), followed by towns in the Split-Dalmatia County (13 percent).
Most of those who emigrated were from Zagreb (14 percent) and the eastern Vukovar-Srijem and Osijek-Baranja counties, with 11 percent each).
Compared to the data from ten years ago, in 2008 Croatia had a positive population balance, with over 7,000 more immigrants than emigrants.
The following year, however, that balance turned negative, with the number of emigrants exceeding the number of immigrants by nearly 1,500. The deficit continued to grow, and in 2015 it reached almost 18,000, and in 2016 it was nearly 22,500.
By county, the city of Zagreb had the highest positive migration balance in 2017, with the number of people settling in Zagreb - either from other areas within the country, or immigrating from abroad - exceeding emigrants by about 1,000 people.
The highest negative net balance was in the two eastern counties - in the Vukovar-Srijem County the deficit was almost 5,700, and in the Osijek-Baranja County around 5,500.
The natural population growth in 2017 also recorded negative rates.
In 2017, about 36,500 children were born in the country, down by nearly a thousand, or 2.6 percent down from 2016.
In addition to the drop in births, the number of deaths increased by almost 2,000, or 3.8 percent up from 2016. A total of nearly 53,500 people died in the country in 2017.
The natural population growth in Croatia in 2017 was negative, shrinking by almost 17,000 people.
Negative rates were recorded in all 20 counties in Croatia, the worst being in the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County in the west of Croatia, with a deficit of nearly 1,800.
Forty cities and towns recorded positive population growth rates, while 506 towns had negative figures. The population size in nine cities remained the same as in 2016.
Overall, the population data in the period from 2008 to 2017 indicates a constant increase in the number of deaths over births.
The number of births fell from about 43,700 in 2008 to just 36,500 in 2017.
In 2008 the negative natural birth rate was almost 8,400, whereas in 2017 it increased to 17,000, the statistics bureau data showed.