If hell is other people, Bulgaria is paradise

IF HELL is other people, then Ekaterina Svetulkova must be in paradise. She sits alone eating sunflower seeds on a stone bench in Banitsa, the village in north-west Bulgaria she has called home for 58 of her 82 years. Once upon a time, bakers churned out delectable loaves and famous actors visited to give performances that delighted the locals. Now, Ms Svetulkova sighs, “There is not a living soul here.” (Though there is a kitten dozing on her hand-knitted slippers.) With her children living elsewhere and few friends left, she would not know where to turn if she had an accident. That makes for “a scary sort of loneliness”, she says.

The UN projects that Bulgaria’s population will fall from 7.2m to 5.2m by 2050, making it the world’s fastest-shrinking country (the next nine are also in eastern Europe). This demographic catastrophe, concentrated in the countryside, finds its cruellest expression in Bulgaria’s neglected north-west, the poorest region of the poorest country in the European…Continue reading
Source: Europe Economic News