Population census begins in Serbia

BELGRADE -- Population and household census in Serbia started on Saturday and will last until October 15.

The preliminary results would be released on November 15.

Despite the calls to respond to the census, i.e. claims that there is no reason for a boycott, members of Albanian national minority from southern Serbia and part of Bosniaks from Sandžak will most probably ignore the census.

This year's census will be more comprehensive than its predecessors and include information about disabilities, marital status, computer literacy etc.

There will also be questions referring to migrations, intended to collect information about Serbian citizens living abroad, those who have returned, their reasons for it, the number of people who left Kosovo, etc.

Over 40,000 people have been trained to conduct the census. They had 5,000 municipal and 300 national instructors.

The census ballots were printed in Serbian language and Cyrillic only, but the census collectors will carry forms written in languages of national minorities and in English. The census collectors, who will be working in areas where minority communities are the majority of population, are obliged to speak the language of the national minority.

The Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia (RZS) officials stated that it is in citizens' interest to respond to the questions, adding that the data will be confidential and protected, and not available to any body or institution. The data will only be used for statistical purpose.

This year's census will cost RSD 2.7bn, which comes out to about USD 3.5 per capita and is the lowest cost in the region.

There have been seven censuses since World War II. The last one was in 2002.

The 2011 census will not be conducted in the territory of Kosovo.