23 / 2006
Rebeka Mesarić Žabčić


Towards the end of the 60s and in the beginning of the 70s of the previous century, a large number of the Međimurje population went on temporary work abroad. Due to many reasons among which the impossibility of employing in their native places and the economic underdevelopment of Međimurje should be pointed out, they found jobs in western European countries that were because of deficiency of native labour force compelled to employ foreign capable workers from less developed countries. When acquiring conditions for retirement, some even before reaching retirement, a large number of them return to their native places. By building houses, catering establishments, objects for different purposes, by raising agricultural mechanisation to a higher level, by introducing small trades and handicrafts, by investing in local infrastructure etc., the returnees from temporary work abroad are participating considerably in the physiognomic transformation of the Međimurje settlements. Transformations are at the same time noticeable in many other segments and structures. Transformations that emerged from the influence of social-geographical processes and external migrations reflect in the physiognomy of settlements, in cultural landscape, they are noticed in the transformation, adaptation and principally in equalization of behaviour and dressing of the inhabitants of villages and towns. With the aim to establish the stated, the contribution analyses external migration of the Međimurje population to the countries of Western Europe after World War II and researches how the Međimurje returnees from abroad have physiognomically transformed the Međimurje space. The object of the research is Međimurje that is the Međimurje county, a predominantly agrarian and low-lying region situated between the rivers Drava and Mura at the far northwest of the Republic of Croatia, that is, at the tri-border area of Slovenia, Hungary and Croatia. Under the notion modern migrations, we understand external migrations of the population from the year 1971 to 2001. The time frame is thus determined by the year 1971 when the official statistics registers for the first time external migrations. The basic goal of the research was to investigate and establish the causes for the migrations of the population of Međimurje, and based on field research, statistical data, conducted opinion poll (201 returnees from abroad have been interviewed), interviews, applied literature and sources, carry out results and conclusions by which we want to point out and caution of the consequences of migration of the population of Međimurje. External migrations are being researched into from the departure to the return (the tendency was towards observing all elements of the migration process, that is, from the beginning to the conclusion of the “migration cycle”) to the native place during the period 1971-2001. We have focused on 64 settlements, which are significantly affected by external migrations; hence, field research was carried out in communities and settlements with larger numbers of external migrants.