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Depopulation of Northwestern Bulgaria

The village of Koshava looks rather empty and obsolete
Photo: Vessela Vladkova
One in every six villages in Bulgaria should stop existing. According to one of the regulations in the law of the territorial system there must be at least 1 person living in a certain village in order for this place to be on the Bulgarian map. However there are 183 depopulated Bulgarian villages, shows data from the National Statistical Institute from last year. Most of the depopulated villages are in Northwestern Bulgaria, which according to the European Statistical Service Eurostat is the poorest region in the European Union.

Vidin region is in the worst state among all districts in this part of the country. There were over 1000 people living in the village of Koshava near river Danube until 1989. Today its population amounts to 500 people. There are mainly elderly people in the village now. Their children and grandchildren have long ago left the village. The family of Sevdalin Marinov is no exception of this trend- his 2 children live in the nearest town of Vidin. His daughter is a lawyer and his son works in a plaster factory in Koshava but lives in Vidin as well. The retired man looked sad when he spoke about the past of this village.
“Koshava was a very beautiful village, one of the exemplary ones in this region. There were many children and students in it”, says Sevdalin Marionov.” People lived a normal and very pleasant life here. However after 1989 the situation changed rapidly. Many people went to live abroad and in the big cities and most of the elderly ones passed away.”

There are not many Bulgarian villages like Koshava with a consulting room. This is thanks to Doctor Ventsislav Dimitrov who was born in this village and few years ago decided to return to Koshava to work here. He knows all people in the village as well as their medical problems.
“Health is the biggest problem of the people in Koshava. Then come the economic problems and the difficulties in paying the bills for electricity, water and heating”, says Doctor Dimitrov.

After the democratic changes in 1989 the Bulgarian economy worsened significantly. Most of the business outside the big Bulgarian cities died out and many people had to leave their villages as unemployment there was huge. “Unfortunately we can not offer any jobs to young people here”, says the mayor of Koshava Galina Radiolova
“I as a mayor would be very happy to see a football stadium, community center and school in the village. It is sad that only elderly people and those who will retire soon live here. Unfortunately we can not change the current situation”, the mayor went on to say.

The local village school was closed and the school yard is now covered in weed. One can see through the rusty iron fence broken windows of the classrooms. “The school was closed 2 years ago. The kindergarten is open only till noon, but it will also be closed soon, because there are almost no children left in the village”, says Galina Radiolova. The only young people here are couple families who are engaged in land cultivation.
“These people