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Countries with Shrinking Populations

Can you name the countries that have lost the most population since their peak?
As of 8 November 2022. More info here.
Quiz by relessness
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Last updated: November 8, 2022
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First submittedFebruary 11, 2013
Times taken27,934
Average score60.0%
Rating4.85
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Loss
Year of peak
Country
15.1 m
1992
Ukraine
4.41 m
2009
Japan
4.21 m
1993
Russia
2.86 m
1991
Romania
2.32 m
2016
Venezuela
2.24 m
1980
Bulgaria
1.73 m
1988
Georgia
1.37 m
2014
Italy
1.30 m
1991
Bosnia and Herzegovina
1.06 m
1992
Lithuania
Loss
Year of peak
Country
1.04 m
1992
Moldova
1.03 m
2015
Lebanon
0.958 m
1993
Belarus
0.894 m
1841
Ireland
0.871 m
1991
Armenia
0.853 m
1989
Croatia
0.851 m
1989
Latvia
0.807 m
1997
Serbia
0.749 m
2004
Greece
0.566 m
1997
Kosovo
+27
Level ∞
Feb 23, 2021
This list is going to look a lot different in 10 years, when countries like Japan and South Korea will be posting huge losses. China is also projected to start going negative around 2030.
+12
Level 75
Feb 23, 2021
For some countries no one will ever have real data. For example Croatia. We know situation there because we live next to each other. Some of its parts are almost empty because people live in other parts of EU. They are still Croatian citizens, but who knows will they ever return. You can not find source for it enywhere. Sad fact for them.
+2
Level 77
Mar 9, 2021
If they have been away for three decades, it's very unlikely that they will ever return. And even if a few did, their children would stay wherever they've been born and raised, so in terms of population growth it'd have little effect.
+1
Level 81
Nov 8, 2022
This isn't about citizenship, and at least European statisticians have a pretty good idea who to count.
+5
Level ∞
Nov 8, 2022
China is already slightly negative as of November 2022.
+7
Level 76
Feb 23, 2021
Curious how most nations featured belonged to the Soviet bloc and peaked just before the end of the Cold War. Wonder what the correlation is.
+22
Level 79
Feb 23, 2021
Well, the 1990s were very different in the West and in the East. For the Western Europe and US it was the age of an unseen prosperity and huge technological advancement, while in the Eastern Europe, the fall of Berlin Wall brought insecurity, economic collapse and wars. The gap, which wasn't as obvious in the 1980s, became huge in just a few years. People in the Eastern Europe started: 1) having less children, out of fear for their future, and 2) migrating to Western Europe, since the borders became open and the difference in wages and social (in)security in the East and the West became blatantly obvious. That trend is still very prevalent, so the eastern countries (especially the dictatorships such as Russia, Serbia, Hungary etc.) still see a drastic decline in their population, which is something that is not likely to change in a while.
+9
Level 74
Mar 9, 2021
Also include the declining material conditions in most of the former Eastern Bloc in the 1990s, partially due to austerity- and privatization-driven policies (sometimes called "shock therapy") that involved rising unemployment and declining social services, including healthcare. These sometimes involved rising death rates and stagnant or declining birth rates.
+4
Level 60
Mar 14, 2021
Woah, there, Serbia is not a dictatorship.

Say what you will about the government and, well, that's the point - you can say what you will about the government, meaning it's not a dictatorship.

+5
Level 79
Sep 30, 2021
@Jymy: I live in Serbia. It is a dictatorship, by all means.
+1
Level 55
Dec 12, 2021
After fall of Soviet block live in Communist countries was very bad. People in Russia said, they barely making ends meet. Russia was poor, hungry country.
+1
Level 56
Dec 6, 2022
I don't think that your 1) is true.

It never was for any country, the poorest countries have the highest birth rates while the richest have negative population growth.

+10
Level 77
Feb 23, 2021
Many developed countries are not replacing their population through new births, it is largely due to immigration that they sustain overall population growth. Japan and many Eastern European countries would appear to be on this list because they have both low birth rates and low immigration rates.
+2
Level 59
Jul 15, 2021
It's pretty much all of them

The only European nations that still have positive natural growth are the Irish, Albanians and Icelanders

+2
Level 85
Nov 17, 2022
But Ireland is here on the decline list. I guess the potatoes are growing again.
+3
Level 71
Feb 24, 2021
South Korea shrunk in population in 2020 by 20 thousand people

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/04/south-korea-population-falls-for-first-time-in-history

+17
Level 70
Feb 24, 2021
Wait, why did Portugal lose half a million since 2009? It isn't because I visited, is it?
+9
Level 68
Feb 24, 2021
Bad economic situation. Probably a lot of young people moving to other European nations (or USA etc.) to find work
+2
Level 72
Feb 24, 2021
Brain drain
+2
Level 71
Nov 10, 2022
Actually, Portugal's economy fares a lot better nowadays than it did when the population drain started back in the 20th century first half. Though it suffered some backlashes during last decade, Portugal's economy has become very stable under the EU. That's one of the reasons why the ruling party (Partido Socialista) managed to stay in power for so long now when compared to other western european countries.

Portugal also has a trick under its sleeve in the form of an ex-colony with a huge population - something eastern european countries, Italy and others don't have - and it might reverse or at least hold some of this population shrink trend. Due to recent changes in its laws, it has become easier for brazilians to apply for portuguese citizenship. And they are attracting a LOT of them, for Brazil's political and economical context is a mess since at least 2016.

+46
Level ∞
Feb 24, 2021
Portugal's extremely low fertility rate is the main culprit. But also because @cheeso visited.
+2
Level 73
Feb 25, 2021
💖💖💖
+2
Level 41
Feb 26, 2021
wtf?
+1
Level 32
Mar 9, 2021
Half the country moved to the UK
+3
Level 65
Oct 11, 2021
Low fertility and young people move to France and United Kingdom for better work opportunities. Portugal's population is held up by Brazilian and Angolan immigration. Without that, it would plummet even faster.
+4
Level 55
Feb 24, 2021
I thought Sudan would've lost several million citizens when South Sudan was formed
+7
Level 76
Feb 24, 2021
It probably doesn't count countries that have lost population due to territorial changes. But then I'm not sure how the ex-Soviet countries are calculated.
+11
Level 72
Feb 24, 2021
Each Soviet (Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, etc.) was still had separate population statistics like US states do.
+1
Level 81
Nov 8, 2022
These things are always adjusted for current territories. Same with Kosovo, unrecognised countries etc.
+2
Level 73
Feb 24, 2021
I missed some of the obvious and got the one most people are missing. Go figure.
+1
Level 41
Feb 26, 2021
I cant believe I just got venezuela!! >:(
+1
Level 45
Jun 16, 2021
No worries. The less you get, the more you learn. So that's actually a good thing haha.
+5
Level 82
Mar 9, 2021
Wow Ireland - 180 years later, and population is still so far from recovering.
+10
Level 74
Mar 9, 2021
Population of island of Ireland now stands at 6.7 million (4.9 in the Republic of Ireland and 1.8 in Northern Ireland). In 1841 the total population was around 8 million. Getting there!
+1
Level 72
Mar 9, 2021
You don't reckon some other countries have dipped historically? Like Greece could've had a higher population in ancient/medieval times?
+9
Level 52
Mar 9, 2021
Very doubtful. World population has boomed only recently.
+1
Level 73
May 3, 2021
Estonia also has a population less than its peak, although I guess this quiz doesn't want every country that that circumstance applies to, only the top 20.
+3
Level 71
Nov 9, 2022
I thought the Baltic republics might be there and tried Estonia, when it didn't show up I moved on. Sod’s law the other two were there.
+3
Level 69
Nov 9, 2022
Estonia is much less populated than its neighbours, so any losses are comparatively small.
+1
Level 60
Jun 10, 2021
Collapse of the USSR really did a number on em
+1
Level 61
Dec 6, 2022
Yeah, capitalism brought nothing to them, only deaths
+4
Level 70
Oct 31, 2021
It's mind-blowing to find out there's a country on Earth that had its population peak as early as 1841.
+3
Level 75
Mar 9, 2022
Mainly to do with a potato famine and policies of the ruling British Empire at the time.
+3
Level 63
Aug 1, 2022
Ukraine was already number one on the list before the war. Can't imagine what the figures look like now.
+1
Level 61
Dec 6, 2022
Now it's 15 million people, horrible number
+3
Level 87
Nov 9, 2022
According to this source, Syria is more populated now, than before the war ???
+2
Level 83
Nov 9, 2022
Most modern wars don't involve total mobilisation of the population and therefore result in relatively few deaths compared to the world wars. From Syria's pre-war population of around 20 million around 600,000 have been killed - roughly 3%. Syria's year-on-year population growth from natural increase sits around the 2-2.5% mark. Even with significant refugee outflows, that all suggests Syria is unlikely to experience significant declines and may see overall growth. Of course, sources seem to disagree on the specifics and all stats from Syria should be taken with more than a grain of salt. Worldometers suggests Syria's population is still below its 2010 peak. So we don't know, but my point is it wouldn't be wildly surprising if there had been some growth. Afghanistan and Iraq managed massive growth throughout decades of war.
+2
Level 67
Dec 7, 2022
Jetpunk (kinda) contradicts itself now. The Population of Syria graph (https://www.jetpunk.com/users/quizmaster/charts/population-of-syria) shows that population is below its peak, but Jetpunk population data shows that it's never been higher before. I recognise that the graph is made with Worldometers data, but I'm not sure whether to keep it or not.
+1
Level ∞
Dec 7, 2022
No contradiction. The chart is just outdated.
+1
Level 67
Dec 7, 2022
I'm not sure how a country in a civil war can gain 5 million people in 2 years. Worldometers seems to agree with me, with its live population for Syria showing 18.6 million which is an increase of 1 million from 2020 when the graph's data ends.
+1
Level 83
Nov 9, 2022
The name of the quiz is a little misleading, though I can appreciate that "Countries with a Population Below Their Peak" is not as catchy. Ireland, for example, has a fairly rapidly growing population (for a developed country). "Shrinking" in the present tense hardly applies in that instance. Most of these are actively losing population year on year, but that's at least one pretty stark exception.
+1
Level 84
Dec 6, 2022
I've read that average adult male height in the United States has been trending shorter for many years, after over a century of steadily becoming taller, thanks mostly to immigration from Latin America. Does that mean the population is shrinking? Or if this offset by our ever-expanding waistlines?
+2
Level 68
Dec 6, 2022
A gradual change in aspect ratio.
+1
Level 55
Dec 6, 2022
I subscribe to the waistline theory for why the USA is still growing
+1
Level 51
Dec 6, 2022
Wow, that's terrible. The #1 service a government should provide is creating an environment which promotes the ability of their citizens to have a happy & healthy family.
+2
Level 55
Dec 6, 2022
It's not like Japan has unhappy families. In their case, it's more that no one is having children.
+1
Level 51
Dec 6, 2022
That's my point; no one is having children.

Put (your) resources to work creating a (future) state which encourages people to have children.

+1
Level 84
Dec 7, 2022
you really think it's the government's business to encourage people to reproduce? What on Earth for? And do you not realize that having kids and being happy and healthy have a strong negative correlation despite what most societies and cultures tend to want to get you to believe?
+1
Level 67
Dec 7, 2022
It is often in a government's best interests to have their population reproduce, so yes, it kinda is their business. I'm not sure about the relationship between having children and happiness is correct either. I assume the data is gotten from countries' fertility rate and some measure of their happiness, which does make sense since countries with higher fertility rates tend to be less developed and therefore the population is less happy. However, the data could be from measuring families in similar living conditions and you would probably be right.
+2
Level 84
Dec 7, 2022
well the short list of leaders I can think of who actively made it their business to try and get their people to reproduce more were certainly some of the most memorable in history and had

a lasting impact on the world...

+1
Level 67
Dec 8, 2022
Because their other achievements brought their natal policies into the spotlight. I'm sure there are plenty of other countries with lesser known policies, just look at Europe's.

Off the top of my head, there are only 3 times when countries aggressively controlled birth, the one-child policy and the Lebensborn programme, as well as some eugenics/sterilisation progammes in Sweden and some other countries.

+1
Level 84
Dec 8, 2022
You're the one advocating for the government to get involved in people's sex lives and family decisions, not I... in either direction...

though that said eugenics gets a bad rap. Decent idea. Horribly and ignorantly implemented. But also another case of government getting involved in reproductive choice with bad results...

+1
Level 67
Dec 8, 2022
I think it's fine if a government encourages people with propaganda and incentives to reproduce or not, but I don't think the more aggressive measures should be used.

Also, I don't see how eugenics can be implemented without marginalising some group. Could you please elaborate on that?

+1
Level 25
Dec 7, 2022
Assuming the Ukraine stat is taking the war into account