SKOPJE (Reuters) – North Macedonia’s population has decreased by 9% in the past two decades from 2.02 million to 1.83 million, census data showed on Wednesday, in a trend experts attribute to a declining birthrate and immigration mainly to western European nations.
The long-delayed census is sensitive as it helps determine a delicate power-sharing arrangement in place since North Macedonia narrowly avoided civil war in 2001 between government forces and ethnic Albanian rebels seeking greater rights.
Census data from the official statistics office showed that 58.4% of the population are ethnic Macedonians, 24.3% Albanians, and 3.84% Turks. The rest are smaller groups such as Roma, Serbs and Bosniaks.
According to the constitution every ethnic group with a population of more than 20 percent has special rights for language, employment, and representation in state institutions.
The capital Skopje remains the biggest city with over half a million people, the census showed.
(Reporting by Fatos Bytyci and Ognen Teofilovski; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)