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Croats () are a South Slavic ethnic group mostly living in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and nearby countries. There are around 4 million Croats living inside Croatia and up to 4.5 million throughout the rest of the world.[1][2] Responding to political, social and economic pressure, many Croats have migrated throughout the world, and established a notable Croatian diaspora. Large Croat communities exists in The United States, Chile, Argentina, Germany, Austria, Australia, Peru, Canada, Serbia, New Zealand and South Africa. Croats are noted for their culture, which has been influenced by a number of other neighbouring cultures through the ages. The strongest influences came from Central Europe and the Mediterranean where, at the same time, Croats have made their own contribution. The Croats are predominantly Catholic with minor groups of Protestants, Muslims, Orthodox, Jews and secular non religious atheists and agnostics. Their language is Croatian.



Croatia is the nation state of the Croats, while in the adjacent Bosnia and Herzegovina they are one of the three constituent peoples alongside Bosniaks and Serbs.

Native Croat minorities exist in or among:

  • Vojvodina, the northern autonomous province of Serbia, where the Croatian language is official (along with five other languages); the vast majority of the okci consider themselves Croats, as well as many Bunjevci (the latter, as well as other nationalities, settled the vast, abandoned area after the Ottoman retreat; this Croat subgroup originates from the south, mostly from the region of Ba ka).
  • The okci and Bunjevci communities in B cs-Kiskun county in Hungary.
  • Croats are a recognized people in Montenegro, where the Croatian language is in use; they mostly live in the Bay of Kotor.
  • a very small community in the Carso and Trieste area, in Italy. This is the northwesternmost area populated by Croats. They are mostly assimilated, but traces remain in surnames and some place names.
  • Primorska, Prekmurje and in the Metlika area in Dolenjska regions in Slovenia.
  • Zala, Baranya and Somogy counties in Hungary, which are border areas with Croatia.
  • Krashovans in Romania mostly consider themselves Croatian - see Croats of Romania.
  • Burgenland in the eastern part of Austria and the bordering areas of western Hungary (the counties of Vas and Gy r-Moson-Sopron) and Slovakia - the Croats of Gradi e - Burgenland Croats.
  • Kosovo - Janjevci (Letni ani).
  • Molise area in Italy - Molise Croats.
  • Szentendre town in Hungary, magyarized, but preserving a memory of their Croat origins (from Dalmatia).
  • The area around Bratislava in Slovakia: the villages of Chorv tsky Grob, unovo, Dev nska Nov Ves, Rusovce and Jarovce. Most have assimilated, but a small minority still preserves its Croatian identity.
  • The Moravia region in the Czech Republic. The villages of Jevi ovka (Frieli tof), Dobr Pole (Dobro Polje) and Nov P erov(Nova Prerava).}

The population estimates are reasonably accurate domestically: around three million in Croatia and nearly 450,000 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or 14% of the total population.


One of many Croatian tombs at the Punta Arenas (Chile) municipal cemetery A large number of Croats were forced to leave their traditional homeland over the course of time for economic or political reasons. Thus today there exists quite a large Croat diaspora outside their traditional homeland in southern Central Europe.

The first large emigration of Croats took place in the 15th and 16th centuries, at the beginning of the Ottoman conquests in today's Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. People fled to safer areas in what are today Croatia, and other areas of the Habsburg Empire, today's Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and small parts of Italy, Germany and the Ukraine. This migration resulted in Croat communities in Austria and Hungary.

At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, larger numbers of Croats emigrated, particularly for economic reasons, to overseas destinations. These included North America (Croatian American and Canadians of Croatian ancestry); South America, above all Chile (Croatian Chilean) and Argentina (Croatian Argentine) with smaller communities in Bolivia and Peru; Australia and New Zealand; and South Africa.

A further, larger wave of emigration, this time for political reasons, took place immediately after the end of the Second World War. At this time, both collaborators of the Usta a regime and refugees who did not want to live under a communist regime fled the country.

In the second half the 20th century numerous Croats left the country as immigrant workers, particularly to go to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. In addition, some emigrants left for political reasons. This migration made it possible for communist Yugoslavia to achieve lower unemployment and at the same time the money sent home by emigrants to their families provided an enormous source of foreign exchange income. During this period, tens of thousands of Croats also emigrated to neighboring Slovenia; to this day, Croats of Slovenia represent the second largest ethnic group in the country after the Slovenes.

The last large wave of Croat emigration occurred during and after the Yugoslav Wars, when many people from the region (not only Croats but Serbs, Bosniaks and others) left as refugees. Migrant communities already established in countries such as Australia, the USA, and Germany grew as a result.

Abroad, the count is approximate because of incomplete statistical records and naturalization, but the highest estimates suggest that the Croatian diaspora numbers as much as a third[3] and a half[2] of the total number of Croats. The largest emigrant groups are in Western Europe, mainly in Germany, where it is estimated that there are around 450,000 people with direct Croatian ancestry.

Overseas, the United States contains the largest Croatian emigrant group (544,270 in the 1990 census; 374,271 in the 2000 census), mostly in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois and California, with a sizable community in Alaska, followed by Australia (105,747 according to 2001 census, with concentrations in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth) and Canada (Southern Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Newfoundland). Croats have also emigrated in several waves to Latin America, mostly to South America: chiefly Chile, Argentina, and Brazil; estimates of their number vary wildly.[4][5][6] There are also smaller groups of Croatian descendants in the UK, France, Romania, Sweden, Netherlands, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Israel, Russia and South Korea. The most important organizations of the Croatian diaspora are the Croatian Fraternal Union, Croatian Heritage Foundation and the Croatian World Congress.


} A Croat from Central Bosnia (1901) Bosnian Croats celebrating a religious Mass (1901)

Early history

The earliest Croatian state was the Principality of Dalmatia. Prince Trpimir of Dalmatia was called Duke of Croats in 852. In 925 Croatian Duke of Dalmatia Tomislav of Trpimir united all Croats. He organized a state by annexing the Principality of Pannonia as well as maintaining close ties with Pagania and Zahumlje.

Early Modern history

Since the creation of the personal union with Hungary in 1102, the Croats were at times subjected to enforced Germanization and Magyarization, especially from the 17th century onward.[7][8][9] The ensuing Ottoman conquests and Habsburg domination broke the Croatian lands into disunity again, with the majority of Croats living in Croatia proper and Dalmatia. Large numbers of Croats also lived in Slavonia, Istria, Rijeka, Herzegovina and Bosnia. Over the centuries ensued a wave of Croatian emigrants, notably to Molise in Italy, Burgenland in Austria and eventually the United States of America and Western Europe.

Modern history

After the First World War, most Croats were united within the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, created by joining South Slavic lands under the former Austro-Hungarian rule with the Kingdom of Serbia. Croats became one of the constituent nations of the new kingdom. The state was transformed into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929 and the Croats were united in the new nation with their neighbours – the South Slavs-Yugoslavs. In 1939, the Croats received a high degree of autonomy when the Banovina of Croatia was created, which united almost all ethnic Croatian territories within the Kingdom. In the Second World War, the Axis forces created the Independent State of Croatia led by the Usta e movement which sought to create an ethnically pure Croatian state on the territory corresponding to present-day countries of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Post-war Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia became a federation consisting of 6 republics, and Croats became one of two constituent peoples of two – Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (in the latter one of the three since 1968). Croats in Serbian autonomous province of Vojvodina are one of six main ethnic groups composing this region.[10] Following the democratization of society, accompanied with ethnic tensions that emerged in the post-Tito era, in 1991 the Republic of Croatia declared independence, which was followed by war with its Serb minority, backed up by Serbia-controlled Yugoslav People's Army. In the first years of the war, over 200,000 Croats were displaced from their homes as a result of the military actions. In the peak of the fighting, around 550,000 ethnic Croats were displaced altogether during the Yugoslav wars.

Post-war government's policy of easing the immigration of ethnic Croats from abroad encouraged a number of Croatian descendants to return to Croatia. The influx was increased by the arrival of Croatian refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina. After the war's end in 1995, most Croatian refugees returned to their previous homes, while some (mostly Croat refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Janjevci from Kosovo) moved into the formerly-held Serbian housing.

Culture and traditions

The modern necktie descends from the cravat, a Croatian invention. The area settled by Croats has a large diversity of historical and cultural influences, as well as diversity of terrain and geography. The coastland areas of Dalmatia and Istria were subject to Roman Empire, Venetian and Italian rule; central regions like Lika and western Herzegovina were a scene of battlefield against the Ottoman Empire, and have strong epic traditions. In the northern plains, Austro-Hungarian rule has left its marks.

In spite of foreign rule, Croats developed a strong, distinctive culture and sense of national identity, a tribute to the centuries in which they remained distinct, avoiding assimilation of the overlords' population. The most distinctive features of Croatian folklore include klapa ensembles of Dalmatia, tamburitza orchestras of Slavonia. Folk arts are performed at special events and festivals, perhaps the most distinctive being Alka of Sinj, a traditional knights' competition celebrating the victory against Ottoman Turks. The epic tradition is also preserved in epic songs sung with gusle. Various types of kolo circular dance are also encountered throughout Croatia.

The Croatian language has a long written tradition with documents like the Ba ka Tablet dating as early as 1100. The modern standard language is based on the ijekavian shtokavian dialect, which was also the dialect of the language chosen as the official language of the Serbians and Croats (see Serbo-Croatian language for more information on this). There are two other dialects, chakavian (spoken in Istria and Dalmatia) and kajkavian, (spoken in Zagorje and wider Zagreb area), which to an extent have been influenced and superseded by the standard, yet they still color the respective vernacular speeches. Despite that diversity, Croats take their language as a strong issue of national consciousness and are fairly negative towards foreign influences.

Croats are vastly Roman Catholic, and the church has had a significant role in fostering of the national identity. The confession played a significant role in the Croatian ethnogenesis.

Ragusan Republic and Dalmatia are the homeland of Croatian literature. It was developed largely in the renaissance period, with works of Dalmatian and Ragusan authors like Marko Maruli and Marin Dr i , and continued through baroque with Ivan Gunduli , romanticism with Ivan Ma urani and August enoa up to the modern days.


Portal of Trogir chatedral by sculptor Majstor Radovan, c. 1240 In the 7th century the Croats, with other Slavs and Avars, came from Northern Europe to the region where they live today.[11] The Croats were open to Roman art and culture, and first of all to Christianity. The first churches [12] were built as royal sanctuaries, and the influences of Roman art were strongest in Dalmatia where urbanization was greatest, and where there were most monuments. Gradually, that influence diminished and there was a certain simplification and alteration of inherited forms; original buildings even appeared.

The largest and most complicated centrally based church from the 9th century is St Donatus in Zadar, for its time comparable only in its size and beauty with the chapel of Charlemagne in Aachen.

The altar enclosures and windows of these churches were highly decorated with transparent shallow string-like ornamentation called Croatian pleter (meaning 'to weed', because the strings were threaded and rethreaded through themselves). Some engravings appeared in early Croatian script Glagolitic. Soon, Glagolitic writing was replaced with Latin on the altar boundaries and architraves of old-Croatian churches.

The Walls of Dubrovnik, UNESCO Heritage By joining the Hungarian state in the twelfth century, Croatia lost its independence, but it did not lose its ties with the south and the west, and instead this ensured the beginning of a new era of Central European cultural influence.

Early Romanesque art appeared in Croatia at the beginning of the 11th century, when the monasteries had become strongly developed and the church was undergoing reform. Many valuable monuments and artefacts were created along the Croatian coast, including the 13th century Cathedral of St. Anastasia, Zadar (in Croatian, St. Sto ija).

In Croatian Romanesque sculpture there was a move away from decorative interlaced relief work (Croatian pleter) towards the figurative. The best examples of Romanesque sculpture are the wooden doors of Split cathedral by Andrija Buvina (c.1220) and the stone portal of Trogir cathedral by artisan Radovan (c. 1240).

Early frescoes are numerous and best preserved in Istria. In them can be seen evidence of the mix of influences from Eastern and Western Europe. The oldest miniatures are the 13th century gospels from Split( spalato) and Trogir( Tra ).

Cathedral of St Stephen in the capital of Croatia, Zagreb, interior from 14th century Gothic art in the 14th century was supported by city councils, preaching orders (such as the Franciscans), and knightly culture. It was the golden age of the free Dalmatian cities as they engaged in trade with the Croatian feudal nobility on the continent. The largest urban project of the time was the complete construction of two new towns Great and Little Ston and about a kilometre of wall with guard towers between them, after Hadrian's Wall in England the longest wall in Europe.

The Tatars destroyed the Romanesque cathedral in Zagreb during their scourge of 1240, but immediately after their departure the Hungarian king Bela IV granted Zagreb the title of Free City. Soon after, bishop Timotej began rebuilding the cathedral in the new Gothic style.

Zadar was an independent Venetian city. The most beautiful examples of Gothic humanism in Zadar are its gilded metal reliefs, such as the Arch of St Simon by a Milanese artisan of 1380.

Gothic painting is less well preserved, and the finest works are in Istria, such as the fresco-cycle of Vincent of Kastv in the Church of St. Mary in kriljinah near Beram, from 1474. From that period also are two of the most ornately illuminated liturgies done by monks from Split, Hvals Zbornik (now in Zagreb) and the Missal of Bosnian Duke Hrvoje Vuk i Hrvatini (now in Istanbul).

Cathedral of St James in ibenik from 1555, UNESCO World Heritage An illuminated page from Juraj Klovi 's Colonna hours, John Rylands Library, Manchester. In the 15th century, Croatia was divided among three states northern Croatia was part of the Austrian Empire, Dalmatia (with the exception of Dubrovnik) was under the rule of the Venetian Republic and Slavonia was under Ottoman occupation. Dalmatia was on the periphery of several influences: religious and public architecture clearly influenced by the Italian renaissance flourished. Three works of that period are of European importance, and contributed to the further development of the Renaissance: the Cathedral of St. James in ibenik, by Juraj Dalmatinac (1441); the Chapel of Blessed John of Trogir by Nicola Fiorentino (1468); and Sorko evi s Villa in Lapad, near Dubrovnik (Ragusa) (1521).

In northwestern Croatia the outbreak of war with the Ottoman Empire caused many problems, but in the long term it reinforced the influence of the north, where the Austrians held power. With permanent danger from the Ottomans in the east, the influence of the Renaissance was modest, while fortifications proliferated, like the fortified city of Karlovac, built in 1579, and the Ratkay family's fort in Veliki Tabor, also from the 16th century.

Some famous Croatian Renaissance artists lived and worked in other countries, like the brothers Laurana (Vranjanin, Franjo and Luka), miniaturist Juraj Klovi (also known as Giulio Clovio) and the famous mannerist painter Andrea Medulla (teacher of El Greco).

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Croatia was reunited with the parts of the country that had been occupied by the Venetian Republic and the Ottoman Empire. Reunification contributed to a sudden flourishing of the arts in every form.

Large fortifications, with radial plan, ditches and numerous towers were built because of the constant Ottoman threat. The two largest were Osijek and Slavonski Brod; later they become large cities. Urban planning in the baroque style was in evidence in numerous new towns such as Karlovac, Bjelovar, Koprivnica and Virovitica. Some old Dalmatian cities also had baroque towers and bastions incorporated in their walls, as in Pula, ibenik and Hvar. The biggest baroque undertaking was in Dubrovnik in the 17th century, after the catastrophic earthquake of 1667 when almost the entire city was destroyed. Wall painting flourished all over Croatia, from the illusionist frescoes in the church of St. Mary in Samobor and the church of St Catherine in Zagreb to the Jesuit church in Dubrovnik. An exchange of artists between Croatia and other parts of Europe took place. The most famous Croatian painter was Federiko Benkovi , known as Dalmatino, who worked almost his entire life in Italy, while an Italian Francesco Robba, did the best baroque sculptures in Croatia.

The Romantic movement in Croatia, arriving from Austria and the north at the beginning of the 19th century, was sentimental, gentle and subtle.

At the end of the 19th century, the architect Herman Bolle undertook one of the largest projects of European historicism a half-kilometer long neo-renaissance arcade with twenty domes at the Zagreb cemetery Mirogoj. At the same time the cities of Croatia underwent significant urban renewal.

A structure that emphasizes all three visual arts is the former building of the Ministry of Prayer and Education (the so-called Golden Hall) in Zagreb (by Bolle, 1895). Vlaho Bukovac brought the spirit of impressionism from Paris, strongly influencing Croatia's young artists, including those who worked on the Golden Hall). At the Millennium Exhibition in Budapest they overshadowed all other artistic traditions of Austro-Hungary.

The turbulent twentieth century re-oriented Croatia politically many times and affected it in many other ways, but this could not significantly alter its already unique position at the crossroads of many different cultures.

Naming system

Given names

A child is given a first name chosen by their parents but approved by the godparents of the child (the godparents rarely object to the parents' choice). The given name comes first, the surname last, e.g. " eljko Ivkovi ", where " eljko" is a first name and "Ivkovi " is a family name. Female names end with -a, e.g. Ivan -> Ivana. Popular names are mostly of Croatian (Slavic), Christian (Biblical), Greek and Latin origin. Croatian: Niko, Ivo, Zoran, Goran,Antun and eljko. Greek: Nikola, Petar and Filip. Biblical: Ivan, Petar, Franjo and Gabrijel. Latin: Marko, Josip, Antonio, Emilijan.


Most Croatian surnames (like Bosniak, Serbian and Montenegrin) have the surname suffix -i (pronounced Croatian pronunciation: [it ] or [it ]). This is often transliterated as -ic or -ici. In English-speaking countries, Croatian names have often been transcribed with a phonetic ending, -ich or -itch. This form is often associated with Croats from before the early 20th century: hence Ivan Ivankovi is usually referred to as Ivan Ivankovitch. The -i suffix is a Slavic diminutive, originally functioning to create patronymics. Thus the surname Petri signifies little Petar, similar to Mac ("son of") in Scottish and Irish, and O' (grandson of) in Irish names. Other common surname suffixes are -ov or -in, which is the Slavic possessive case suffix, thus Nikola's son becomes Nikolin, Petar's son Petrov, Ivan's son Ivanov and son of son of Pavao would be Pavlovi (Pavlov sin in Croatian). Those are more typical for Croats from Vojvodina, Bulgaria and minority in central Croatia. The two suffixes are often combined. The most common surnames are Horvat, Markovi , Ivankovi , Pavlovi etc.

Croatian last names are very similar to Serbian ones along with Bosniak, Montenegrin and Slovene. But most Croats had their last name before Serbs and Bosniaks due to Ottoman occupation of Serbia and Bosnia.


The current flag of Croatia, including the current coat of arms The current coat of arms shows, in order, the symbols of Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Dalmatia, Istria, and Slavonia. Examples of the Croatian pleter

The flag of Croatia consists of a red-white-blue tricolor with the Coat of Arms of Croatia in the middle. The red-white-blue tricolor was chosen as those were the colours of Pan-Slavism, popular in the 19th century.

The coat-of-arms consists of the traditional red and white squares or grb, which simply means 'coat-of-arms'. It has been used to symbolise the Croats for centuries; some speculate that it was derived from Red and White Croatia, historic lands of the Croatian tribe but there is no generally accepted proof for this theory. The current design added the five crowning shields, which represent the historical regions from which Croatia originated.

The red and white checkerboard has been a symbol of Croatian kings since at least the 10th century, ranging in number from 3 3 to 8 8, but most commonly 5 5, like the current coat. The oldest source confirming the coat-of-arms as an official symbol is a genealogy of the Habsburgs dating from 1512 to 1518. In 1525 it was used on a votive medal. The oldest known example of the ahovnica (chessboard in Croatian) in Croatia is to be found on the wings of four falcons on a baptismal font donated by king Peter Kre imir IV of Croatia (1058 1074) to the Archbishop of Split.

Unlike in many countries, Croatian design more commonly uses symbolism from the coat of arms, rather than from the Croatian flag. This is partly due to the geometric design of the shield which makes it appropriate for use in many graphic contexts (e.g. the insignia of Croatia Airlines or the design of the shirt for the Croatia national football team), and partly because neighbouring countries like Slovenia and Serbia use the same Pan-Slavic colours on their flags as Croatia.

The Croatian wattle (pleter or troplet) is also a commonly used symbol which originally comes from monasteries built between the 9th and 12th century. The wattle can be seen in various emblems and is also featured in modern Croatian military ranks and Croatian police ranks insignia.


File:Hrvatske etnije.gif|Croats in Croatia File:DemoBIH2006a.png|Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina File:Vojvodina south slavs.png|Croats in Vojvodina (2002 census) File:South slavs romania.png|Croats in Romania

See also

  • List of Croats
  • Croatian diaspora
  • Croatian literature
  • Croatian Chilean
  • Croatian Argentine
  • Croatian Brazilian
  • Croatian Australian
  • Croatian Peruvian
  • Croatian Greek Catholic Church
  • Croatian Muslims
  • Croatian Eastern Orthodox Christians
  • Timeline of Croatian history
  • List of Medieval Slavic tribes



External links

ar: an:Crovates az:Xorvatlar be: bs:Hrvati bg: ca:Croats cs:Chorvati cy:Croatiaid de:Kroaten el: es:Pueblo croata eo:Kroatoj fa: fr:Croates ko: hr:Hrvati id:Bangsa Kroasia os: it:Croati he: ka: la:Croati lv:Horv ti lt:Kroatai hu:Horv tok mk: nl:Kroaten ja: pl:Chorwaci pt:Croatas ro:Croa i ru: sq:Kroat t simple:Croats sk:Chorv ti cu: sl:Hrvati sr: sh:Hrvati fi:Kroaatit sv:Kroater th: tr:H rvatlar uk: yo: w n Kr t zh:

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