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Some population and geographical characteristics of the northern-Dalmatian hinterland (communes of Benkovac, Drniš, Knin and Obrovac)

Institute for social research in Zagreb
Publication Date
  • Communication


The article treats the geographical and demographic characteristics of the norhern-Dalmatian hinterland in the light of recent events, i.e. the armed rebellion of part of the Serbian population and the aggression against Croatia. Its main purpose is to, on the basis of population and geographical facts, try to answer the question: Are there any justified reasons for the possible secession of this region from Croatia? In the first part of the article, after defining the region, the author gives a short reminder of the fact that it was the heart and soul of medieval Croatia. After the Turkish invasion the original Croatian population perished or fled into other regions, and the Turks (and later the Venetians, too) settled a new population there. The second part of the article points to the great importance of the northern-Dalmatian hinterland in the present rail and road communications. The third part treats the demographic and settlement characteristics of the region in which there is strong rural exodus and depopulation. The fourth part describes the ethnic composition of the region which has a Serbian majority and a significant Croatian minority (in 1880 there were 42.6% Croats and 56.6% Serbs; in 1991 there were 35.6% Croats and 62.0% Serbs). It was shown that exodus and depopulation were stronger among the Croatian then among the Serbian population (this refers to the region as a whole). Until the Second World War the Croats were the majority population in commune centres, and in the last population census their participation was more than halved (with the exception of Drniš); especially significant is the fact that since 1961 even the absolute number of Croats in them has been decreasing. In conclusion the author states that there are no justified reasons for the possible secession of the area observed from Croatian state territory. It is historic Croatian land that today has a strategic communications importance (its breaking away would cause existential difficulties in Croatia’s general and regional development). There is no ethnic justification, either, since the Croats are still a significant minority in that region and the Serbs are not threatened either by assimilation or by emigration. The facts presented indicate the opposite conclusion, i.e. that the survivial of the Croatian population in their own state is threatened.

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