Those who haven’t left are dying
“The bells are tolling Bulgaria’s death,” said Petar Ivanov. This country had nearly 9 million residents in 1989. But since the fall of the Iron Curtain, when our borders opened and mass emigration to the West became possible, we have been hemorrhaging citizens. And now Bulgaria’s population has plunged below 7 million—a loss of 22 percent in barely three decades. The brain drain has robbed us of our young people, the very people who should have been birthing the next generation of Bulgarians. All we have left are the old and feeble. The result is that now Bulgaria’s mortality rate is the highest in the world—higher than those of countries such as Syria and Afghanistan, where war is raging. “We are melting away even more rapidly than Swaziland, where there’s an AIDS epidemic.” Bulgaria is shedding 220 people every day. Yet not all groups are shrinking equally: The Roma birthrate is much higher than the ethnic Bulgarian one, so while we lose 13 Bulgarians every hour, we also gain four Roma. It won’t be long before ethnic Bulgarians are a minority in our own country. This is “no longer just a demographic catastrophe—we can pronounce Bulgaria clinically dead.” The heart may beat a bit longer, but the soul is gone.