Bulgaria: The World's Fastest-Shrinking Country



Welcome to Altimir, Bulgaria, a village on the verge of extinction in the fastest-shrinking country in the world. With the lowest birth rates and the highest death rates the world, Bulgaria is at the front lines of population decline. Here’s what life is like inside a disappearing village haunted by the promises of communism and capitalism. Read more:

“Altimir” was directed by Kay Hannahan ( It is part of The Atlantic Selects, an online showcase of short documentaries from independent creators, curated by The Atlantic.

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47 comments

  1. "Vo Struga dukan da imam"Its old Macedonian song.Struga is town in Macedonia.Bulgarians do not now this song.Stolen for this documentary for romantic end????😊😊

  2. hi Atlantic. call me next time to be your guide.
    caves you can visit are – ledenika, magura, venetsa, yagodinska, snejanka, bacho kiro, devil's throat, saeva dupka,
    waterfalls – hut paradise waterfall, borov kamak, skaklia, vidima waterfall, kademliisko waterfall, hotnitsa,
    call me next time , i ' ll be your guide – 80 euros per day . expenses not inclided like – petrol ( benzin ) , lodge,
    i pay for my food. i can offer you extreme adventures- abseiling by ropes,rafting, cave walking etc……

  3. the problem is not new started back in the 90's a lot of people immigrated it will take time but if standard of living move up people will return especially with the current world situation yes there is corruption,we don't trust anyone , no politician or any power /EU ,Russia ,US/ in case of Bulgaria we should try to encourage not just immigrants to return but bulgarians living in Ukraine and Moldova this will help the country not just with population but economically but needs a big investment and strategy problem is i don't think any of our politician have the strength and motivation to do it

  4. To those of you who say Romania is the same, it's not. Romania has big vibrant cities experiencing population growth, Bulgaria doesnt. Romanians are already starting to come back from abroad, the situation is so much better now. Villages in Moldova and Muntenia are emptying but some villages are actually blooming with life.

  5. Facq Turkia they ruined muh Bulgaristan lol Is it why they are blaming Turks for everything? Backwards.

  6. Bulgaria is not as poor but Corruption is a major problem politicians steal billions
    Our MP Boiko Borisov alone is responsible for so much poverty

  7. only a handful of scandinavian contries lack these types of village people.
    it doesnt tell you a lot about a country.

  8. At the beginning he calls the carrot "morcov", just like in Romanian. I see we don't only have lifestyle similarities, but language similarities too.

  9. Thank you for this. It captures the old, dying village system of Bulgaria, which by its vestiges, you can tell how robust its life once was. The cities, Sofia and Varna I've been to multiple times, are modern and lively and could have a future if EU integration works for a reduction in organized crime and political corruption. But no matter, so many good ways of life ruined.

  10. It's the same in my small village in Australia. Everyone has major PTSD from WW2 and just stopped having kids in response.

  11. Mafia state made us immigrate and leave our families and loved ones behind. My country is actually a very beautiful country with rich history,but the level of corruption and immorality is unbelievable.

  12. Balkans we’re one of the most beautiful ladies i’ve ever seen. 50% ladies of Lithuania their ancestors we’re balkans.

  13. If you expel all Turks you do not find anything to eat because Turks was do the big part of agriculture and animal husbandry Bulgaria and Bulgarians pay for their racism

  14. okay, i am a Bulgarian and it’s true, a lot of people find it hard to live here, we are not in the best financial situation and our politicians suck, but it’s not as bad as this video made it look. i think Bulgaria is a normal modern country lol

  15. Exact same thing happening here in Russia. except a few cities (Moscow, St. Petersburg) Russia is degrading and dying… yet we have more billionaires every year

  16. One side of Bulgaria is this the other side is Skycrapers, one of the fastest internet in Europe, Everyone in the capital has a New luxury car, all the wealth in Bulgaria is concentrated in the big cities just like Russia the rest is left to rust

  17. this to me is paradice the peice the children the good frends having warm brandy and food with the snow and the music at the end just so buetifull 🙂 god bless us all

  18. What beautiful singing there near the end. That was enough to make one's heart weep. Was not expecting to feel that way, but this little country there seems more like home than Britain, Russia, Israel, the Black Sea area, or Germany from which I though my ancestors more often hailed. Our family has been in America for 4 generations (counting my brother and me) on my mother's side and more on my dad's.

  19. The problem, friends, is not in the archontes. It is in the demos. Balkan mother is to blame. Germanic mother is hard and cold – forcing the children to grow up and become independent. The Balkan mother has been traumatized by the Ottoman theft of male children. She is doting and overbearing, wiping his rear end until he is in his 50's. The boys of this society never grow up. They act out in the world like hooligans. So the problem is not the politicians. The problem is the emotionality of this part of the world. Sentimental, drowning in self pity, and characterized by crippling anxiety and inaction, paralyzed against entrepreneurship. If you take a farmer in Western Europe – he has 2 cows, he will have 5 cows in a year, 20 in 2 years, 50 in 3 years. He will expand and expand. These people – 2 cows, more than enough – milk the cows, go home, watch tv. Totally incapable of entrepreneurship.

  20. Myheritage is from the Balkans I can tell you from personal experience but the problem here is not the politicians or corruption. That's a fantasy that people tell to scapegoat someone else from their own responsibility. This part of the world is drowning from self-pity, sentimentality, emotionality, and weakness. And all of it is conditioned by their sheer and incredible laziness. The women of this society do all the work. The men are incredibly spoiled by their own mother. They are incapable of doing anything but getting up in the morning sitting around and babbling. They don't even understand how hard people work in the western European societies or in the Americas. To them, having grown up under socialism, everything should be provided for free and they oscillate from incredible self-pity and narcissism to rage and fury and anger. Go to a nightclub in Sophia and see for yourself. When Mom does everything for you you expect that your life will be just the same that everything will be done for you. This is why the women from the Balkans are generally liked and do well. But the men do not because they're ruined by their own mother. I live in Canada and I have lots of friends from this part of the world, the women are all married to non Balkan men, and the man just sit around all day and coffee shops unshaven and track pants complaining how their lives suck but none of them capable of keeping a job who wants to work for more than 2 hours a day.

  21. Let me clarify thats Northern Bulgaria mostly the south is much more populated

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