Belgrade: Driven by the shortage of young women in Serbia following skewed birth-rate, prospective grooms in the country are seeking brides from neighbouring Albania, an official said.

With a birthrate of 1.4 percent countrywide, only 11 municipalities had population growth in 2009, said Dragan Vukmirovic, director of the country's statistics bureau on Tuesday. Serbia has a population of 7.3 million.

About two million people live in Belgrade where the population is increasing by 50,000 each year. Young women from the rural areas are more likely to migrate to the capital than men, statistics showed.

The trend has prompted southern Serbian men to 'import' brides from Albania, the head of humanitarian organization Stara Raska Ceda Vucicevic told reporters.

The average age of Serbians is about 41 years and in 370 villages not a single child was born in the past decade, Vukmirovic said.

The influx of the rural population into the cities has left many villages completely deserted with 30 percent of Serbians living in the country's three biggest cities: Belgrade, Novi Sad and Nis.

(Agencies)