These Fourteen European Countries are Disappearing

[See end notes for sources, inclusions and exclusions]

These countries are currently losing population (sorted by population growth rate):

screenhunter_453-oct-16-10-05

[Note: Fertility Rate is the ratio of ‘total children born’ to ‘all women’ in a given population. In order for a given population to remain constant (not counting net migration) the ratio needs to be 2.0 to 2.1.]

What can we intuit from correlating these figures with what we see happening in the world today?

Intuition No. 1: Germany needs to increase the number of its permanent immigrants in order to maintain or grow its population, despite that it already has a relatively high net migration rate: 1.5 net new migrants per 1000 population. But, politically, there is currently a movement away from increased immigration which has created a problem for the current leadership of the country. Note that Germany records the highest median age and the largest percent of the population over 64, in the list above.

Intuition No. 2: Greece’s high net migration rate (2.3 per 1000) is barely adequate to keep its population stable. But the ability of Greece to accommodate large numbers of new residents and citizens is problematical, given its current economic distress. What is not known at this point, is the long term effects of the tens of thousands of refugees who have recently arrived in Greece. Despite recent waves of immigration, the age measures for Greece are only slightly under Germany’s.

screenhunter_453-oct-16-09-36Intuition No. 3: The three, small Baltic Sea countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are seriously losing population (0.5% to over 1% annually, currently). Further, their fertility rates are low (1.5-1.6), and immigration from elsewhere is not occurring. What can be the future of these countries if they continue to fade away? [Note: they all share a border with Russia.] Despite different cultures and ethnicities in these three countries, their age measures are almost identical. In that they were dominated and occupied by the Soviet Union, I wonder if there is a uniting thread resultant from this. There are no separate measures available for the entity named ‘Kaliningrad’, a Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea, around one-third the size of the neighboring Baltic States. According to the 2010 Census, its population was 431,902

Intuition No. 4: The neighbor countries of Bulgaria and Romania, like the Three Baltic states, are losing population and are not gaining immigrants. Their current populations are much larger than the Baltics, so it will take longer for them to “disappear.” In that they border the Black Sea, Russians flock to these countries during the tourist season and have bought many properties along the coast. Russians are a palpable presence in these two countries, which unofficially affects national politics. Their net migration rates are only slightly negative, but their fertility rates are very low, below 1.5.

screenhunter_452-oct-16-09-36

Intuition No. 5: Five of the six former provinces of the united Yugoslavia, which have reverted to their former independent states, are losing population: Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, and Bosnia & Herzegovina. The other, Macedonia (not in the above chart), is slowly growing due, apparently, to positive net migration, despite its fertility rate being 1.6. The bottom line: the former Yugoslavia is slowly fading away, as are Bulgaria and Romania, above. [Note: The present day state of Kosovo was, until recently, a province of Serbia. We have no data for Kosovo, other than population: 1,883,0189]. The population of these five seems to be slightly younger than others on this list, but they are not reproducing. Their fertility rates are at or near the bottom of the list.

Intuition No. 6: The remaining two states in the above chart are Hungary and Poland. Both are currently aligned politically to resist immigration from non-European countries. But, unless they reverse this position, they will fade along with the others mentioned here. Hungary’s fertility rate is 1.44 and Poland’s is a very low 1.34.

On the other hand: These 13 countries in Europe are currently growing at an annual rate between 0.5% and 2.0% (sorted by population growth rate):

screenhunter_453-oct-16-10-08

Why are these countries not fading away like the others?

The quick answer is: immigration. The Net migration rates for all are relatively high, ranging from 2.5 in the United Kingdom to 16.3 in Luxembourg. The highest fertility rates are in Sweden and Ireland; the are lowest in Austria, Cyprus and Spain. In the latter three, if their current fertility rates and immigration rates continue, the native born ethnic Austrians, Cypriots, and Spaniards will be in the minority within a lifetime. Is this a problem? I guess it depends on the person viewing the situation. Such things have happened many times in the past, peacefully and otherwise.

Not Reproducing

Only two European countries in the forty studied have a positive fertility rate:

screenhunter_453-oct-16-10-09

I intuit that France is the picture of the future for most European countries. France has had waves of immigration of people from North Africa in the past and, more recently, from the Near East whose birth rates are higher than the indigenous population.

rvxnf4bujdek3kcm2dwdq6jy These people, in my intuition, are responsible for France’s high fertility rate, compared to other European countries. Nonetheless, France’s annual population growth rate of 0.41% is not remarkable or significantly different from other European countries. The non-immigrant residents are reproducing at a much lower rate than the immigrant population. The accompanying chart was for the year 2004, and the ensuing twelve years have seen a significant rise in the immigrants from ‘Asia.’

Iceland seems to be a special case about which I have no useful remarks.

WHY are European countries Not Reproducing?

The answer is given by Col. Robert de Marcellus (Ret.) in an article “Falling Fertility: The World at the Tipping Point,” in the online magazine of the Population Research Institute:

  • The great increase in the number of wives who must work in the paid economy to help support the family due to the loss of the “family wage” concept
  • The increasing cost of raising children
  • High taxation that reduces family disposable income
  • Educational debt
  • Lifestyle changes that increasingly cause luxuries to be considered necessities
  • More years spent by young people in higher education. delaying family formation
  • Older average marriage ages, which greatly reduce wives’ childbearing years
  • Less family support as young couples relocate at a distance from family members

Please read the entire article for a lucid discussion of these and other factors.

My Final Intuitive Statement

The spirit of ‘Europe’ is depressed. Depressed spirits decline to reproduce.

Perhaps there is no more ‘Europe.’ It seems to be an idea, an abstraction, without a basis.

We can point to European Culture, starting from its putative origins in Ancient Greece and Rome, then The Renaissance, then The Enlightenment, and so on—Art, Music, Literature, Philosophy, Science… and the relationship of the Church to any of these.

It seems all a museum now.

The European ‘Union’ is reeling, nationalism on the rise, tribalism more evident.

Popular arts are declining, public figures ever more ridiculous.

BUT…

Perhaps the above is necessary for a rebirth of something more beautiful?

“Without mud, there can be no lotus,” Thich Nhat Hanh, renown Buddhist teacher.

The data are taken from the current listings, by country, in the CIA World Factbook.

I analyzed all countries in Europe (40), not just those in the European Union (28)

I excluded Russia and Turkey, even though some parts of these nation-states are in what is recognized as Europe, geographically.

I excluded five other “European” countries because they are dominated politically and/or economically either by Russia or Turkey: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine.

The World’s Largest Islands

Quick! Think of all the big islands in the world.

Is Australia an Island? No, it’s a continent. How do we know this? It’s just a matter of definition.

Conventionally, “continents are understood to be large, continuous, discrete masses of land, ideally separated by expanses of water…” The criterion “large” leads to arbitrary classification: Greenland, with a surface area of 836,330 square miles is considered the world’s largest island, while Australia, at 2,941,300 square miles is deemed a continent… (Source). 

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

So now we know that, by definition, Greenland is the world’s largest island. But even this may not be correct, in that: “If the ice disappeared, Greenland would most probably appear as an archipelago, at least until isostasy lifted the land surface above sea level once again.” (Source). But let’s not quibble over probabilities.

The next two largest islands are neighbors in the area generally bounded by the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific: New Guinea (#2) and Borneo (#3). Between them is the eleventh largest island, Sulawesi.

The orange bubble labeled ‘A’ denotes the Island of Sulawesi, part of the nation of Indonesia. The Island of Borneo is to the left of Sulawesi, and the Island of New Guinea is to its right. The latter two islands are divided politically among two or more separate nations: Brunei , Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua-New Guinea.

The orange bubble labeled ‘A’ denotes the Island of Sulawesi, part of the nation of Indonesia. The Island of Borneo is to the left of Sulawesi, and the Island of New Guinea is to its right. The latter two islands are divided politically among two or more separate nations: Brunei , Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua-New Guinea.

  • There are approximately 180,497 islands in the world. (Source).
  • What minimum size constitutes an island? One square mile. (Source).

Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world, in the Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of southern Africa. It has a total area of 226,660 square miles, with 224,530 square miles of land and 2,100 square miles of water. Madagascar originated as part of the Gondwana supercontinent. Its west coast was formed when Africa broke off from Gondwana around 165 million years ago. Madagascar eventually broke off from India about 66 million years ago.

Wikimedia

Wikimedia

 

Baffin Island is the largest island in Canada and the fifth largest island in the world. Its area is 195,928 square miles and its population is about 11,000 (2007 estimate). Named after English explorer William Baffin, it is likely that the island was known to Pre-Columbian Norse explorers from Greenland and Iceland and may be the location of Helluland, spoken of in the Icelandic sagas (the Grœnlendinga saga and the Saga of Erik the Red). (Source).

Baffin Island, in red (Wikipeida)

Baffin Island, in red (Wikipeida)

Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia, to the west of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island that is entirely in Indonesia (two larger islands, Borneo and New Guinea, are shared between Indonesia and other countries) and the sixth largest island in the world at 182,812 square miles with a current population of almost 50 million. (Source).

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons


Honshu
 is the largest and most populous island of Japan.  It is the seventh largest island in the world, and the second most populous after JavaIt had a population of 103 million in 2005, mostly in the Kantō plain where 25% of the total population reside in the Greater Tokyo Area. The island’s total area is 88,016.85 square miles, 60% of the total area of Japan. It is slightly larger than Great Britain. Its area has been expanding with land reclamation and coastal uplift in the north, but global sea level rise has diminished these effects.The highest peak is the active volcano Mount Fuji at 12,388 feet, which makes it the world’s 7th highest island.

map_japan_honshu


Victoria Island
 is an island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. It is the eighth largest island in the world, and at 83,897 square miles is Canada’s second largest island. It is slightly larger than the island of Great Britain. It contains the world’s largest island within an island within an island.

706px-Victoria_Island,_Canada.svg


Great Britain
,also known as Britain, is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, off the north-western coast of continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world and the largest island in Europe. With a population of about 62 million people in mid-2010, it is the third most populous island in the world, after Java (Indonesia) and Honshū (Japan). It is surrounded by over 1,000 smaller islands and islets. The island of Ireland lies to its west. The island is part of the sovereign state of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, constituting most of its territory: most of England, Scotland and Wales are on the island of Great Britain.


Ellesmere Island
 (InuitUmingmak Nuna, meaning “land of Muskox“)is part of the Qikiqtaaluk Region of the Canadian territory of Nunavut. It comprises an area of 75,767 square miles, making it the world’s tenth largest island and Canada’s third largest island. Vikings from the Greenland colonies reached Ellesmere Island, Skraeling Island and Ruin Island during hunting expeditions and trading with the Inuit groups. Unusual structures on Bache peninsula may be the remains of a late-period Dorset stone longhouse.

Ellesmere Island is at the Northernmost part of Canada Government of Canada: “Natural resources Canada.”

Ellesmere Island is at the Northernmost part of Canada
Government of Canada: “Natural resources Canada.”

  • Devon Island, just south of Ellesmere Island, at 21,331square miles, is the 27th largest island in the world, and the largest uninhabited island in the world. The entire planet’s population could fit on this island, at densities of the most densely populated part of Earth, Lalbagh, Dhaka as of the 2011 census figures there. (Wikipedia).

I’ve mentioned the 11th largest island, Sulawesi, so here are the rest on the list of the top 300, after which the sizes diminish more precipitously. The 300th largest island is Melchor Island, Chile, with 333 square miles.

 

 Rank

Island’s name

Area (sq mi)

Country(s)

12

South Island

56,308

New Zealand

13

Java

53,589

Indonesia

14

North Island

43,082

New Zealand

15

Luzon

42,458

Philippines

16

Newfoundland

42,031

Canada

17

Cuba (main island)

40,369

Cuba

18

Iceland (main island)

39,315

Iceland

19

Mindanao

36,657

Philippines

20

Ireland

32,595

Republic of Ireland; Northern (Great Britain)

21

Hokkaido

30,394

Japan

22

Hispaniola

28,544

 Dominican Republic; Haiti

23

Sakhalin

27,989

Russia

24

Banks Island

27,038

Canada

25

Sri Lanka (main island)

25,200

 Sri Lanka

26

Tasmania (main island)

25,105

Australia

27

Devon Island

21,331

Canada

28

Alexander Island

18,946

None (Antarctic)

29

Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego

18,302

Argentina; Chile

      30

Severny Island

18,177

Russia

You might ask, “where do most of the top 300 islands reside?” Here you are:

49

 Indonesia

45

 Canada

27

 Russia

23

United States
17-Alaska
4-Hawaii
1-Long Island, New York
1-Puerto Rico

17

Antarctica

15

 Philippines

8

 Chile

8

 Greenland

8

 Papua New Guinea

7

 Australia

6

 Solomon Islands

5

 Brazil

5

 Norway

5

 United Kingdom

4

 Japan

4

 Spain

3

 Bahamas

3

 Denmark

3

 Greece

3

 New Zealand

248

Total
  • Finally, these 300 islands comprise 2.5% of the Earth’s land surface.

The Dismal Record of African Leadership…

 

…and the Past Role of European Countries

Who am I to say this, and how dare I say it?

I am merely responding to the announcement made by the prize committee of The Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership that no prize will be awarded this year. Here is the press release. The main web page of the parent organization describes the nature and origin of the prize:

The Ibrahim Prize recognises and celebrates excellence in African leadership. The prize is awarded to a democratically elected former African Executive Head of State or Government who has served their term in office within the limits set by the country’s constitution and has left office in the last three years.

The Ibrahim Prize consists of US$5million over 10 years and US$200,000 annually for life thereafter. It is the largest annually awarded prize in the world. The Foundation will consider granting a further $200,000 per year, for 10 years, towards public interest activities and good causes espoused by the winner.

In October 2006, Dr. Ibrahim launched the Mo Ibrahim Foundation to support good governance and great leadership in Africa. In 2007, Dr. Ibrahim stepped down as Chairman of Celtel International to concentrate on this initiative.

Founded in 1998, Celtel International has brought the benefits of mobile communications to millions of people across the African continent. The company operates in 15 African countries, covering more than a third of the continent’s population, and has invested more than US$750 million in Africa. In 2005, Celtel International was sold to MTC Kuwait for $3.4 billion.

Before I tell you of the past winners of this prize, I want to draw a picture for you of the grievous state of governance and leadership throughout the continent of Africa by calling attention to a few historical and present facts and factors.

Facts on Africa

There are 53 internationally recognized countries in the continent of Africa, including the six island states of: Cape Verde, Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Seychelles.

Of these 53 states, 52 are former colonies of, or protectorates of, or were occupied by, one or more of several states in Europe: Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. The only country not so colonized or dominated, Liberia, was settled by freed slaves from the USA, its territory having been expropriated in 1822 from the many local tribes who had not formed a nation state.

[Image Source. Please click on the image for greater clarity]

To get a notion of the relative poverty of living even at the world average GDP per person per year of US $10,400, here are the figures (in US Dollars) of the top 20 countries and the European Union, which has 27 countries in its membership:

[Please click on the image for greater clarity]

  • Fifty-two of the world’s 192 countries have a GDP/person below $2,300 per year. Thirty-six of these countries are in Africa. Think of it: on average, the 689 million people in these 36 African countries subsist at a level approximately 7%, and less, of that enjoyed by the average person in a European Union country. The savagely-led country of Zimbabwe is at $200 per person per year. Zimbabwe’s dictator, President Robert Gabriel Karigamombe Mugabe, has been in power for almost 30 years, ever since the predecessor country, Rhodesia, was overthrown.

As mentioned above, every one of Africa’s countries, except Liberia, has been, at one time or another and in varying degrees, a vassal state of one or more European countries. It is well known that, with some exceptions, these states, while under foreign domination, were stripped of natural resources and essentially plundered. The stripping of natural resources continues in most of these countries today, with relatively few examples where a diversified economy under true democratic rule obtains.

Of the six countries currently at a GDP level above the world average, most are still extracting minerals from the soil as the major part of their economy: oil, diamonds, manganese, timber.

It is well known that the world’s major economies have poured money and aid into Africa, to no lasting effect, again with a few exceptions. This, in my view, shows the futility of sending money and goods into countries to help people who are ruled by despots and thieves.

Dr. Mo Ibrahim has the better idea, in my view. As can be seen above and under the links provided, his foundation will reward with significant money and recognition those African leaders who turn away from pillage and one-man rule, toward democracy that is not merely in name only; and, toward raising the standard of living for the people through good husbandry of resources and in diversifying the economy.

The prize has been awarded since 2007. Here are the awardees (text and photos taken directly from the foundation’s website):

Joaquim Alberto Chissano, 2007—Mozambique

In 1992, President Chissano helped to end Mozambique’s 16-year civil war and reconcile a divided nation, working tirelessly to negotiate piece with the RENAMO (Resistência Nacional Moçambicana) rebel group. To cement the reconciliation President Chissano offered 15,000 places in Mozambique’s 30,000-strong army to former opposition RENAMO soldiers.

President Chissano implemented a deliberate shift from Marxist-Leninist ideology to multiparty democracy and a mixed economy. He successfully negotiated a reduction in Mozambique’s debt repayments and oversaw reforms that have led to sustained economic growth. During his time in office, Mozambique began the journey of reconstruction and development, with improvements in healthcare, increased access to education and greater empowerment of women.

Between 2003 and 2004, President Chissano served as Chair of the African Union. During his presidency he was a powerful advocate for Africa on the international stage, particularly in promoting the debt relief agenda.

Festus Gontebanye Mogae, 2008—Botswana

At his inauguration ceremony in 1998, President Mogae vowed to address poverty and unemployment. His time in office was characterised by programmes to develop education and health infrastructure, and to privatise parts of the economy, notably the airlines and telecommunications industry.

Under President Mogae’s stewardship of the economy and careful management of the country’s mineral resources, Botswana experienced the steady economic growth that has characterised its post-independence history. Having been one of the poorest African countries at the time of independence, President Mogae consolidated Botswana’s place as one of the most prosperous countries on the continent.

After decades of enforcing strict anti-corruption measures, Botswana is regularly ranked as one of the least corrupt countries in Africa. Describing the principles that guided his time in office in his final State of the Nation address, President Mogae said that “prudent, transparent and honest use of national resources for your benefit has been my guiding principle and code of conduct”.

Following the Botswana Democratic Party’s victory in the October 2004 General Election, President Mogae was sworn in for a second term in November 2004. He again promised to fight poverty and unemployment, and pledged to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS in Botswana by 2016.

In April 2008, in accordance with Botswana’s constitution, President Mogae stepped down as President, having served two terms in government. He was succeeded by Seretse Khama Ian Khama.

Addendum

In the face of massive aid in money and goods perennially provided African people by other countries and NGOs through the governments of their respective countries, small and direct-to-the-people efforts pay off at least equally well. In the above photo showing orphans in Kenya, you will see Jacinta Njoroge Lahti, a native of Kenya and a resident of Sweden, who founded the depicted orphanage and school. She is a member of the Rotary Club of Stockholm International, which club continues to be a major supporter of the school.

Note on figures used in this article

All figures were derived from The CIA World FactBook