Croatia, a country in the European continent, has almost 720 islands along the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. Of the 720 islands, only 47 are inhabited. Other sources suggest that there are about 67 inhabited islands in Croatia. Some islands previously occupied have seen a reduction in the population over the years because of insufficient economic activity. The depopulation trend has led to some islands having very few permanent settlers as discussed below.
The Five Least Inhabited Islands in Croatia
Male Srakane Island
Located to the south of Vele Srakane on the Adriatic Sea, the island is the least populated of all Croatia's islands. Statistics indicate that the island has only two inhabitants. However, the two only reside on the island during the summer period. The main economic activities that they engage in are fishing and agriculture. The size of Male Srakane Island is 0.61 square kilometers with the highest point being only 4 meters above the sea level. With only two settlers, the island has a population density of 3.3 per square kilometer.
Vele Srakane Island
Vele Srakane is an island located in the Croatian part of the Adriatic Sea. The island has only three people, making it the second least populated Island. Vele Srakane Island has an area of 1.15 square kilometers, translating to a population density of 2.6 people per square kilometer. Vela straža is the highest point at just 59 meters high. Vele Srakane has no modern amenities and infrastructure like roads, running water, shops, or a harbor. However, there is electricity. The main activity is agriculture and fishing.
Biševo, an island in the Adriatic Sea, is in the middle of Dalmatian archipelago. The island has a total area of 5.8 square kilometers. According to the current census, the population is 15 people. Straženica is the highest peak at 239 meters high. Population density is 2.6 people per square kilometer. The area around the center of the island is fertile while the northern side is covered with Pine forest while the rest of the island is covered with either bare rocks or maquis shrubland. Fishing activities are carried out along the coastal sea belt.
As the fourth least occupied island, Kornat Island has only 19 people. Located in central Dalmatia, Kornat Island is the 16th largest island in Croatia, occupying a total area of 32.44 square kilometers. The population density is 0.6 per square kilometer while the highest point is 237 meters high. The island is rich in agriculture and fishing. A large part was destroyed by fire in 2007, a tragedy that saw firefighters perish as they fought the fire.
Ošljak Island is the fifth least occupied island in Croatia with a total population of 29. The island is located in the Zadar Archipelago between Ugljan Island and the mainland south of Zadar. The total area occupied by Ošljak Island is 0.3 square kilometers. Lazaret is the highest point at 90 meters. The population density is 96.7 persons per square kilometers while the main economic activity is fishing.
The Depopulation Problem Facing Croatia Islands
Currently, almost all the Croatian islands are facing the problem of depopulation. The proportion of older people is increasing since the young do not want to live in the underdeveloped Islands. Other reasons are transportation difficulties to the mainland during tourism off-peak season, high prices of goods, limited modern job opportunities and underdeveloped education systems. Despite the islands having been inhabited as early as the Neolithic period, there has been slow growth in population due to hostility between the small groups of inhabitants, geographical isolation, and reduced genetic diversity. Some islands were deserted due to pirate activities while others are just uninhabitable.