Tomislav crop File:KraljTomislav.jpg Marko Marulic bust Nikola Zrinski crop
Tomislav Zvonimir Marko Marulić Nikola Š. Zrinski
Ivan Gundulic crop Ruder Boskovic crop Josip Jelacic crop Josip Juraj Strossmayer crop
Ivan Gundulić Ruđer Bošković Josip Jelačić Strossmayer
File:Ivana Brlic-Mazuranic infobox crop.jpg Andrija Mohorovicic crop Stjepan Radic crop Josip Broz Tito Bihać 1942
Brlić-Mažuranić A. Mohorovičić Stjepan Radić Josip Broz Tito
Ivo Andric crop Vladimir Prelog crop Goran Ivanisevic crop Blanka Vlasic crop
Ivo Andrić Vladimir Prelog Ivanišević Blanka Vlašić
Total population
c. 8 - 8.4 million (est.) [1]
Regions with significant populations
Croatia Croatia 3,874.321 (2011) census[2]
Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina 485,000 (2011) est.[3][4]
Flag of the United States United States 411,427 (2012) [5]
Flag of Chile Chile 380,000 [6]
Flag of Argentina Argentina 250,000 [6]
Flag of Germany Germany 227,510 [6]
Flag of Austria Austria 150,719 [7]
Flag of Australia Australia 126,264 (2011) [8]
Flag of Canada Canada 110,880 [9]
Flag of Serbia Serbia 57,900 (2011) [10]
Flag of Brazil Brazil 45,000 (est.) [6]
Flag of Switzerland Switzerland 40,484 (2006) [11]
Flag of Slovenia Slovenia 35,642 (2002) [12]
Flag of France France 30,000 (est.) [13]
Flag of Hungary Hungary 25,730 [14]
Flag of Italy Italy 21,360 [15]
Flag of South Africa South Africa 8,000 [16]
Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom 6,992 [17]
Flag of Montenegro Montenegro 6,811 (2000) [18]
Flag of Romania Romania 6,786 [19]
Flag of Sweden Sweden 6,063 [20]
Flag of Peru Peru 6,000 [6]
Flag of Denmark Denmark 5,400 [21]
Flag of Norway Norway 3,909 [22]
Flag of New Zealand New Zealand 2,700
Flag of Slovakia Slovakia 2,600 [23]
Flag of Belgium (civil) Belgium 810 [24]
Flag of Russia Russia 400 [25]
Flag of Ukraine Ukraine 100 [25]



Predominantly Roman Catholic

Related ethnic groups

Other Slavs, especially other South Slavs
Serbs, Bosniaks, Montenegrins, Slovenes and Macedonians are the most related[26]

Croats (IPA: kroʊæt, kroʊɑt; Croatian: Hrvati) are a nation and 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][27] 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 neighboring 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 Muslims, Protestants, Orthodox, Jews and non-religious atheists and agnostics. Their language is Croatian.

White Croatia[]

White Croatia (also Chrobatia) is a vaguely defined area, said to lie somewhere in Central Europe, near Bavaria, beyond Hungary on south of Poland and west of Ukraine, and adjacent to the Frankish Empire from which the part of White Croats crossed the Carpathians and migrated in the 7th century into Dalmatia (modern-day Croatia). The term white designates west, thus the name of the state means Western Croatia.

In his work "De Administrando Imperio", Constantine Porphyrogenitus mentions the White Croatia (originally Βελοχρωβάτοι i Χρωβάτοι) as the place from which, in the 7th century, part of Croatian tribes started their journey to Balkans (more specific, today's Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina) after they were invited there by the Byzantine Empire (emperor Flavius Heraclius Augustus) to protect its borders. This migration was described by Adam Naruszewicz in his work "The History of Polish Nation": "The Chrobats were known even in the 9th century under Constantine Porphyrogennetos rule, who describes them in his work De Administrando Imperio in these words: The Chrobat lived in that times (meaning, times of emperor Heraclius) close to Babigorea where Belo-Chobat family is now, while others, those who went to Dalmatia living close to France, called Belo-Chrobat, belo meaning white, as they had their own Prince. They pay hommage to Otto the Great, the ruler of Franks also being Saxon. Being pagans they ally with Turks. Those Chrobats who in Dalatia reside, derive from the non baptized ones, ones allied Turks living near Franks and with Serbians bordering." Then he also states: "[...] the great Chrobatia which as the white is called, till this very day baptised is not, same as their neighbours Serbians. Cavalry and infantry has it as much as Christian Chrobatia, all for frequent Franks' invasions." According to Nestor the Chronicler, White Croats were progenitors of Lendians. In his work from 1113 AD called "The Primary Chronicle" Nestor describes how in the early Middle Ages White Croats, Serbians and Karantans (most likely part of the tribes) were forced to leave their lands due to Italian invasion. After that they settled along the river Vistula, calling themselves Lendians, and later dividing into Polans, Veleti, Masovians and Pomeranians. "After many years had passed, Slavic people settled on the Danube, where Hungary and Bulgaria are now. From those Slavic tribes they spread to many lands, calling themselves with many names which were from grounds they stayed on. And so, leaving on the Morava river, they called themselves Moravians, and anothers as Czech. Yet another Slavic people were White Croatians, and Serbians, and Korantans. Those, when oppressed by Italians who invaded that grounds, embarked towards Vistula and stayed there calling themselves Lendians, and later Polans, Veleti, Masovier and Pomeranians." Other authors from those times are not calling Croatians as "White". The Bavarian Geographer does not mention them either (same as Polans) (845 AD). North of the Great Moravia is where Alfred the Great[citation needed] states as Croatian lands (890 AD). In his "Geography of Europe" relaying on Orosius, Alfred the Great says: "To the north-east of the Moravians are the Dalamensae; east of the Dalamensians are the Horithi (White Croats), and north of the Dalamensians are the Servians; to the west also are the Silesians. To the north of the Horiti is Mazovia, and north of Mazovia are the Sarmatians, as far as the Riphaean mountains." Nestor in his "The Primary Chronicle" mentions Croatians (but not calling them "White") as one of the Russniak tribes. In 907 AD they allied with Oleg of Novgorod and took part in his military expedition against Byzantium. It is also mentioned there that Vladimir I of Kiev fought Croatians in 992 AD. In addition, the names "chrowati et altera chrowati" is mentioned in so called Prague document from 1086 AD as the frontier of the Prague diocese. That statement was used as the propaganda to justify the annexation of Galicia during the partitions of Poland. Cosmas of Prague in his Chronica Boëmorum describes the territory of the Prague diocese in these words: "[...] The border of which towards the West are as following: Tuhośt, which stretch from the middle of Chamb river, Siedliczanie, Leczanie, Dieczanie, Litomierzyć, Lemuzi, until the forest which the Chech border is. Next, the northern borders, are: Pszowianie, Croatians and other Croatians, Ślęzanie, Trzebowianie, Bobrzanie, Dziadoszanie, up to the middle of the forest which the Milczanie are surrounded. From there to the East the rivers of Styr and Bug are its borders, together with Kraków and its land name of which is Wag and all the lands belonging to the mentioner Krakow. Then it stretches along Hungarian marches up to the mountains which are called Tatras. Next, in the part which stretches towards the South, when joined with Moravian lands, it reaches Wag river and then Mure, being the name of the forest and the river bordering Bavaria." In the 12th century, Presbyter Diocleas in his "History of the Kingdom of the Slavs" uses the term White Croatia with reference to North Dalmatia. Wincenty Kadłubek in his "Polish Chronicle" (book II, chapter 12), describes the deeds of Bolesław I the Brave who "conquered Selencja, Pomerania, Prussia, Rus, Moravia, Czech, which he has left his successors as fiefdoms. The city of Prague was called the second capital of his kingdom. He ruled many tribes of Huns, Hungarians, Croatians and Mards."

Arrival of the Croats[]

No contemporary written records about the migration have been preserved, especially not about the events as a whole and from the area itself. Instead, historians rely on records written several centuries after the facts, and even those records may be based on oral tradition.

The Croats were a Slavic tribe, coming into the Balkans from an area in and around today's Poland or western Ukraine. Many modern scholars believe that the early Croat people, as well as other early Slavic groups, were agricultural populations that were ruled by the nomadic Iranian-speaking Alans. It is unclear whether the Alans contributed much more than a ruling caste or a class of warriors; the evidence on their contribution is mainly philological and etymological.

The book De Administrando Imperio, written in the 10th century, is the most referenced source on the migration of Slavic peoples into southeastern Europe. It states that they migrated first around or before year 600[28] from the region that is now (roughly) Galicia and areas of the Pannonian plain, led by the Avars, to the province of Dalmatia ruled by the Roman Empire. De Administrando Imperio reports a folk tradition that the Croats were led into the province of Dalmatia by a group of five brothers, Klukas, Lobel, Kosenc, Muhlo and Hrvat, and their two sisters, Tuga and Buga.[28]

The second[28] wave of migration, possibly around year 620, began when the Croats were invited by the Emperor Heraclius to counter the Avar threat on the Byzantine Empire.[28]

De Administrando Imperio also mentions an alternate version of the events, where the Croats weren't actually invited by Heraclius, but instead defeated the Avars and settled on their own accord after migrating from an area near today's Silesia. This record is supported by the writings of one Thomas the archdeacon, Historia Salonitana from the 13th century.

Archdeacon Thomas, as well as the Chronicle of the Priest of Duklja from the 12th century, state that the Croats remained after the Goths (under a leader referred to as "Totila") had occupied and pillaged the Roman province of Dalmatia. The Chronicle of Dioclea speaks of a Gothic invasion (under a leader referred to as "Svevlad", followed by his descendants "Selimir" and "Ostroilo").


The earliest record of contact between the Roman Pope and the Croats dates from a mid-7th century entry in the Liber Pontificalis. Pope John IV (John the Dalmatian, 640-642) sent an abbot named Martin to Dalmatia and Istria in order to pay ransom for some prisoners and for the remains of old Christian martyrs. This abbot is recorded to have travelled through Dalmatia with the help of the Croatian leaders, and he established the foundation for the future relations between the Pope and the Croats.

The Christianization of the Croats began after their arrival, probably in the 7th century, influenced by the proximity of the old Roman cities in Dalmatia. The process was completed in the north by the beginning of the 9th century. The beginnings of the Christianization are also disputed in the historical texts: the Byzantine texts talk of duke Porin who started this at the incentive of emperor Heraclius, then of Prince Porga who mainly Christianized his people after the influence of missionaries from Rome, while the national tradition recalls Christianization during the rule of Dalmatian Prince Borna. It is possible that these are all renditions of the same ruler's name.

The earliest known Croatian autographs from the 8th century are found in the Latin Gospel of Cividale.

Curiously enough, the Croats were never obliged to use Latin—rather, they held masses in their own language and used the Glagolitic alphabet. This was officially sanctioned in 1248 by Pope Innocent IV, and only later did the Latin alphabet prevail.

The Latin Rite prevailed over the Byzantine Rite rather early due to numerous interventions from the Holy See. There were numerous church synods held in Dalmatia in the 11th century, particularly after the East-West Schism, during the course of which the use of the Latin rite was continuously reinforced until it became dominant.

Rise of Croats[]

Map of the Western Balkans around 814 AD

The Adriatic Sklaviniae c. 800 AD, according to Nada Klaić


The Croatian Dukedom c. 850. Savia was probably under direct Frankish rule

File:Balkans in 9th century.JPG

Croatia shown on an old German map from 1886 (status after arrival of the Hungarians at the end of the 9th century)

Croatian lands in the Dark Ages were located between three major entities: the Eastern Roman Empire which aimed to control the Dalmatian city-states and islands, the Franks which aimed to control the northern and northwestern lands, and the Avars, later Magyars, and other fledgling states in the northeast. The fourth relevant group, but not so powerful with regard to the Croatian state, were the nearby Slavs in the southeast, the Serbs and the Bulgarians.

The north became subject to the Carolingian Empire around 800, when in 796 a Croatian Pannonian prince Vojnomir switched sides between the Avars and the Franks. The Franks established control over the region between Sava, Drava and Danube which was under the Margrave of Friuli. The patriarchy of Aquileia was then allowed to Christianize the remaining Slavs in the region. Charlemagne invaded the Dalmatian portion of Croatia in 799, contesting its Byzantine suzerainty, and after a lengthy war, conquered it in 803. The prince who headed the Croats in the south at the time was called Višeslav.

Charlemagne's invasion of the Dalmatian cities provoked a war with the Eastern Roman Empire — after a peace deal was signed, the Byzantium restored the city-states and islands while Charlemagne kept Istria and inland Dalmatia. After the death of Charlemagne in 814, the Frankish influence decreased, and Ljudevit Posavski raised in Pannonia a rebellion (819). The Frankish Margraves sent armies in 820, 821 and 822, but each time they failed to crush the rebels until finally Ljudevit's forces withdrew to Bosnia. Most of the Pannonian Croatia would remain in Frankish suzerainty until the end of the 9th century. What is today eastern Slavonia and Srijem fell to the Bulgarians in 827 after a border dispute with the Franks. By a peace treaty in 845, the Franks were confirmed as rulers over Slavonia, whilst Srijem remained under Bulgarian clientage.

In the meantime, the Dalmatian Croats were recorded to have been subject to the Kingdom of Italy under Lothair I, since 828. Prince Mislav of Croatia (835–845) built up a formidable navy, and in 839 signed a peace treaty with Pietro Tradonico, doge of Venice. The Venetians soon proceeded to battle with the Narentine pirates, but failed to defeat them. King Boris I of Bulgaria also waged a lengthy war against the Dalmatian Croats, trying to expand his state to the Adriatic.

Prince Trpimir I (845–864) succeeded Mislav and managed to finally win the war against the Bulgarians and their Rascian subjects. Trpimir I managed to consolidate power over Dalmatia and much of the inland regions towards Pannonia, while instituting counties as a way of controlling his subordinates (an idea he picked up from the Franks). The first known written mention of the Croats, dates form March 4, 852, in statute by Trpimir. Trpimir is remembered as the initiator of the Trpimirović dynasty, that ruled in Croatia, with interruptions, from 845 until 1091.

In the meantime, the Saracens, a group of Arab pirates, invaded Taranto and Bari in the 840s. The extent of their piracy forced the Byzantium to increase its military presence in the southern Adriatic. In 867 a Byzantine fleet lifted the Saracen siege over Dubrovnik (then known as Ragusa) and also defeated the Narentine pirates.

Facing a number of naval threats, Prince Domagoj (864–876) built up the Croatian navy again and helped the Franks conquer Bari in 871. The Croatian vessels also forced the Venetians to start paying tribute for sailing near the eastern Adriatic coast. Domagoj's son, of unknown name, ruled Dalmatian Croatia between 876 and 878. His forces attacked the western Istrian towns in 876, but were subsequently defeated by the Venetian navy. His ground forces defeated the Pannonian duke Kocelj (861–874) who was suzerain to the Franks, and thereby shed the Frankish vassal status. Wars of Domagoj and his son liberated Dalmatian Croats from supreme Franks rule.

The next Prince Zdeslav (878–879) owerthrew Domagoj's son, but reigned briefly, only to see the Byzantine Empire conquer large portions of Dalmatia. He was then overthrown by Prince Branimir (879–892), who was supported by the Western Church, and the country was recognized by Pope John VIII as an independent principality under Branimir in 879 (Branimir was dubbed dux Chroatorum). Branimir proceeded to repel the Byzantine incursion and strengthen his state under the ægis of Rome. After Branimir's death, Prince Muncimir (892–910), Zdeslav's brother, took control of Dalmatia and ruled it independently of both Rome and Byzantium as divino munere Croatorum dux (with God's help, duke of Croats).

The last Prince of the Pannonian Croats under the Franks was Braslav (died in 897?), mentioned in 896, who died in a war with the Magyars, who then migrated to the Pannonian plain. In Dalmatia, Duke Tomislav (910–928) succeeded Muncimir. Tomislav successfully repelled Magyar attacks, expelled them up to the Drava River on north, and united Pannonian and Dalmatian Croats into one state.

Independent realm[]


Oton Ivekovic, Krunidba kralja Tomislava

Crowning of King Tomislav by Oton Iveković

The Slavs arrived in the early 7th century in what is Croatia today. The first Croatian ruler recognized by the Pope was duke Branimir, whom Pope John VIII called dux Croatorum ("duke of Croats") in 879.[29] Croatia was elevated to the status of Kingdom around 925, when King Tomislav received the crown from the Papal legate. He united the Slavs of Dalmatia and Pannonia into a single Kingdom in 925. Tomislav's state extended from the Adriatic Sea to the Drava river, and from the Raša river to the Drina river. Under his rule, Croatia became one of the most powerful kingdoms in the Balkans.[30][31] The geographical extent of Tomislav's kingdom is not fully known and it is a controversial historical topic. The Kingdom of Croatia retained its sovereignty for nearly two centuries, reaching its peak during the rule of Kings Peter Krešimir IV and Dmitar Zvonimir.

The state was ruled mostly by native Croats of Trpimirović dynasty until 1102, when the crown passed into the hands of the Hungarian Árpád dynasty. The act of union was sealed in Pacta conventa. Kingdom of Croatia and Hungary was from 1102, a personal union of two kingdoms, Kingdom of Croatia and Kingdom of Hungary, united under the Hungarian king.[32] At first, they were united under Arpad dynasty, and after its extinction, under Anjou dynasty. Croatia retained its chief institutions such as the Parliament (Croatian: Sabor - an assembly of Croatian nobles) and the ban (viceroy) responsible to the King of Hungary and Croatia.[33] In addition, the Croatian nobles retained their lands and titles.[34] Croatia remained a distinct crown attached to that of Hungary until the abolition of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918.

Europe 1000

Map of Europe c. 1000 AD

10cent pleter Drzislav

The wattle (pleter) with inscription "King Držislav", 10th century

Reljef splitska krstionica

A font, with an engraving of a Croatian ruler, originates from the 11th century.

Bascanska ploca

Baška tablet, 1100 AD

Tomislav, a descendant of Trpimir I, is considered the founder of the Trpimirović dynasty. Sometime between 923 and 928, Tomislav succeeded in uniting the Croats of Pannonia and Dalmatia, each of which had been ruled separately by dukes, and was crowned as king in the Duvno field[35] (the central town in the Duvno field is still named Tomislavgrad ("Tomislav's town") in his honour). The chief piece of evidence that Tomislav was crowned king comes in the form of a letter dated 925, surviving only in 16th-century copies, from Pope John X calling Tomislav rex Chroatorum. Tomislav's state covered most of Pannonia, Dalmatia, Bosnia, and Slavonia. He administered his kingdom as a group of eleven counties (županija) and one banate (Banovina). Each of these regions had a fortified royal town.

Tomislav soon came into conflict with the Bulgars under Emperor Simeon I (called Simeon the Great in Bulgaria). Tomislav made a pact with the Byzantine Empire, which allowed him to control the Byzantine cities in Dalmatia as long as he curbed Bulgarian expansion. In 926, Simeon tried to break the Croatian-Byzantine pact, sending duke Alogobotur with a formidable army against Tomislav, but Simeon's army was defeated in the Battle of the Bosnian Highlands. According to the contemporary De Administrando Imperio, Tomislav's army and navy could have consisted approximately 100,000 infantry units, 60,000 cavaliers, and 80 larger (sagina) and 100 smaller warships (condura), but generally isn't taken as credible.[36]

10th century[]

Croatian society underwent major changes in the 10th century. Local leaders, the župani, were replaced by the retainers of the king, who took land from the previous landowners, essentially creating a feudal system. The previously free peasants became serfs and ceased being soldiers, causing the military power of Croatia to fade.

Tomislav was succeeded by Trpimir II (928–935) and Krešimir I (935–945), who each managed to maintain their power and keep good relations with both the Byzantine Empire and the Pope. This period, on the whole, however, is obscure. Miroslav (945–949) was killed by his ban, Pribina, during an internal power struggle, and Croatia again lost the islands of Brač, Hvar, and Vis to the dukes of Pagania. The Dalmatian city-states and the Duchy of Bosnia were lost to Byzantium and eastern Slavonia and Srijem were taken by the Magyars.

Krešimir II (949–969) restored order throughout most of the state. He kept particularly good relations with the Dalmatian cities, he and his wife Jelena donating land and churches to Zadar and Solin. A 976 inscription is preserved the Church of Saint Mary in Solin that names the Croatian royalty.[37] Krešimir II was succeeded by his son Stjepan Držislav (969–997), who established better relations with the Byzantine Empire from which he has received a royal insignia.

11th century[]

As soon as Stjepan Držislav had died in 997, his three sons, Svetoslav (997–1000), Krešimir III (1000–1030), and Gojslav (1000–1020), opened a violent contest for the throne, weakening the state and allowing the Venetians under Pietro II Orseolo and the Bulgarians under Samuil to encroach on the Croatian possessions along the Adriatic. In 1000, Orseolo led the Venetian fleet into the eastern Adriatic and gradually took control of the whole of it,[38] first the islands of the Gulf of Kvarner and Zadar, then Trogir and Split, followed by a successful naval battle with the Narentines upon which he took control of Korčula and Lastovo, and claimed the title dux Dalmatiæ. Krešimir III tried to restore the Dalmatian cities and had some success until 1018, when he was defeated by Venice allied with the Lombards. His son, Stjepan I (1030–1058), only went so far as to get the Narentine duke to become his vassal in 1050.

L'impero bizantino nel 1045

Croatia on a map of southeastern Europe in 1045

During the reign of Krešimir IV (1058–1074), the medieval Croatian kingdom reached its territorial peak. Kresimir managed to get the Byzantine Empire to confirm him as the supreme ruler of the Dalmatian cities.[39] He also allowed the Roman curia to become more involved in the religious affairs of Croatia, which consolidated his power but disrupted his rule over the Glagolitic clergy in parts of Istria after 1060. Croatia under Krešimir IV was composed of twelve counties and was slightly larger than in Tomislav's time. It included the closest southern Dalmatian duchy of Pagania, and its influence extended over Zahumlje, Travunia, and Duklja.

However, in 1072, Krešimir assisted the Bulgarian and Serb uprising against their Byzantine masters. The Byzantines retaliated in 1074 by sending the Norman count Amik to besiege Rab. They failed to capture the island, but did manage to capture the king himself, and the Croatians were then forced to settle and give away Split, Trogir, Zadar, Biograd, and Nin to the Normans. In 1075, Venice banished the Normans and secured the cities for itself. The end of Kresimir IV in 1074 also marked de facto end of the Trpimirović dynasty, which had ruled the Croatian lands for over two centuries.

According to the Supetar Cartulary, a new king was elected by seven bans (if the previous one died without a successor e.g. Krešimir IV): ban of Croatia, ban of Bosnia, ban of Slavonia etc.[40] The bans were elected by the first six Croatian tribes, while the other six were responsible for choosing župans.

Krešimir was succeeded by a rival: Dmitar Zvonimir (1075–1089).[41] He was previously a ban in Slavonia. He gained the title of king with the support of Pope Gregory VII, after which he aided the Normans under Robert Guiscard in their struggle against the Byzantine Empire and Venice between 1081 and 1085. Zvonimir helped to transport their troops through the Strait of Otranto and to occupy the city of Durrës. His troops assisted the Normans in many battles along the Albanian and Greek coast. Due to this, in 1085, the Byzantines transferred their rights in Dalmatia to Venice. Zvonimir's kinghood is carved in stone on the Baška Tablet, preserved to this day as one of the oldest written Croatian texts, kept in the archæological museum in Zagreb. Zvonimir's reign is remembered as a peaceful and prosperous time, during which the connection of Croats with the Holy See was further affirmed, so much so that Catholicism would remain among Croats until the present day. In this time the noble titles in Croatia were made analogous to those used in other parts of Europe at the time, with comes and baron used for the župani and the royal court nobles, and vlastelin for the noblemen. The Croatian state was edging closer to western Europe and further from the east.

There was no permanent state capital, as the royal residence varied from one ruler to another; five cities in total reportedly obtained the title of a royal seat: Nin (Krešimir IV), Biograd (Stephen Držislav, Krešimir IV), Knin (Zvonimir, Petar Svačić), Šibenik (Krešimir IV), and Solin (Krešimir II).[42]

Decline and war[]

Oton Ivekovic, Smrt kralja Petra Svacica u Gori Gvozdu 1097 god

Death of King Peter on Gvozd Mountain in the year 1097 by Oton Iveković

Demetrius Zvonimir (died 1089) was the King of Croatia of the Svetoslavić branch of the House of Trpimirović. He began as the Ban of Slavonia in the service of King Stephen I and then as Duke of Croatia for his successor King Peter Krešimir IV. Peter declared him his heir and, in late 1074 or early 1075, Demetrius Zvonimir succeeded to the Croatian throne. Demetrius Zvonimir married in 1063 to his distant relative Jelena Lijepa ("Jelena the Beautiful"). Queen Jelena (Ilona) was a Hungarian princess, the daughter of King Béla I of the Hungarian Árpád dynasty, and was the sister of the future King Ladislaus I of Hungary. Demetrius Zvonimir and Jelena had a son, Radovan, who died in his late teens or early twenties. King Demetrius Zvonimir died in 1089. The exact circumstances of his death are unknown, but according to a later, likely unsubstantiated legend, King Zvonimir was killed during the revolt of the Sabor in 1089.[43] With no direct heir to succeed him, Stephen II (reigned 1089–1091) of the main Trpimirović line came to the throne at an old age and reigned for two years. This succession was contested by a faction of nobles from northern Croatia (Pannonia). The nobles offered the Croatian throne to King Ladislaus I of Hungary, who claimed the Croatian crown through his sister Queen Jelena, King Demetrius Zvonimir's widow. The Queen enjoyed significant influence in northern Croatia and apparently used it to bolster her brother's claim.

Stephen II was to be the last King of the House of Trpimirović. His rule was relatively ineffectual and lasted less than two years. He spent most of this time in the tranquility of the monastery of Sv. Stjepan pod Borovima (St. Stephen beneath the Pines) near Split. He died at the beginning of 1091, without leaving an heir. Since there was no living male member of the House of Trpimirović, civil war and unrest broke out shortly afterward. At the same time (1091), with the death of Stephen II setting the stage, King Ladislaus I of Hungary at last accepted the nomination of northern nobles and claimed the Croatian crown. He entered the Croatian Kingdom with an army in 1094, and established his rule in northern Croatia (Pannonia) with little resistance. During the same year (1094) he founded the Zagreb bishopric, which later became the ecclesiastical center of Croatia. However, Ladislaus' claim was rejected by the nobles of southern Croatia, who resisted his forces successfully in the mountainous southern terrain and maintained their independence. At this time, the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus sent the Cumans to attack Hungary and forced the Hungarian army to retreat from Croatia. Alexius did, however, allow the Hungarian Prince Álmos to rule over northern Croatia (Pannonia).

In 1093, the southern Croatian feudal lords, struggling to remain independent of Hungary, elected a new ruler, King Peter Svačić (reigned 1093–1097). He managed to unify the Kingdom around his capital of Knin and force the Hungarian Prince Álmos from northern Croatia in 1095. With this he restored Croatian rule up to the river Drava, reclaiming nearly all territory lost to Ladislaus I, who soon died in 1095.


Croatian Kingdom c. 1097-1102, during succession crisis.

Ladislaus' successor and nephew was King Coloman, and he resolved to press the Hungarian claim on the Croatian crown and continue the campaign. He made peace with Pope Urban II and led a large army into the Croatian Kingdom in 1097. Under his leadership, a Hungarian army quickly defeated King Peter's defenses along the river Drava and regained control over the Pannonian Croatian plains (northern Croatia). His forces were stopped however, as they approached the mountainous southern regions which resisted the Hungarian claim. He therefore reassembled his forces in Croatia and advanced on Gvozd Mountain, where he met the main Croatian army assembled under King Peter. In the ensuing Battle of Gvozd Mountain, King Peter was killed and the Croats were decisively defeated (because of this, the mountain was with time renamed to Petrova Gora, "Peter's Mountain"). As a consequence of the battle, King Coloman gained control of most of Croatia without resistance. However, when in 1099 Coloman and his forces were called back to the northeast to fight the Ruthenians and Cumans in Galicia, the Croatian nobles took the opportunity to liberate themselves from Hungarian rule once again. In 1102, Coloman returned to the Kingdom of Croatia in force, and negotiated with the Croatian feudal lords from a position of power. As a consequence, King Coloman was crowned and the Hungarian and Croatian crowns were joined (with the crown of Dalmatia held separate from that of Croatia). The title now claimed by Coloman was "King of Hungary, Dalmatia, and Croatia".[44]

Connections with present day Bosnia and Herzegovina[]

Croatia and Croats were always linked with Bosnia because of religion and language. The bans and kings of Bosnia were Catholics during their reign, except for Stjepan Ostoja who showed some interest in the Bosnian Church while he was on the throne. There were, however, several important noblemen who were Christians, such as Hrvoje Vukčić, the Radenović-Pavlović family, Sandalj Hranić, Stjepan Vukčić, and Paul Klešić. It was common for the Holy See to have the Bosnian rulers renounce any relation to the Bosnian Church or even perform conversions, in return for support.

The bans and kings of Bosnia were Catholics during their reign, except for Stjepan Ostoja who showed some interest in the Bosnian Church while he was on the throne. There were, however, several important noblemen who were Christians, such as Hrvoje Vukčić, the Radenović-Pavlović family, Sandalj Hranić, Stjepan Vukčić, and Paul Klešić. It was common for the Holy See to have the Bosnian rulers renounce any relation to the Bosnian Church or even perform conversions, in return for support. The ban title in Bosnia most likely come from Croatia which is also common to Bosnian and Croatian history.

Ban was the title of local rulers in Croatia and later in Bosnia since the Slavic population migrated there in the 7th century. References from the earliest periods are scarce, but history recalls the Croatian bans Ratimir in the 9th century (827, under Bulgarian sway) and Pribina in the 10th century (in 949 and in 970). Earliest mentioned Bosnian bans were Borić (1154-1163) and Kulin (1163–1204). The meaning of the title was elevated to that of provincial governor in the medieval Croatian state (for example, Dmitar Zvonimir was originally a ban in 1065 serving under King Peter Krešimir IV). Bans were also provincial administrators in the Kingdom of Hungary, where each of the provinces was called banat; the Croatian word for province was banovina. Bans usually administered regions outside the kingdom, but within the realm. After the Croats elected Hungarian kings as kings of Croatia in 1102, the title of ban acquired the meaning of viceroy because the bans were appointed by the king, though Croatia, remaining a kingdom in personal union with Hungary, was not referred to as a banovina (banate). Croatia was governed by the 'viceregal' ban as a whole between 1102 and 1225, when it was split into two separate banovinas: Slavonia and Croatia. Two different bans were occasionally appointed until 1476, when the institution of a single ban was resumed. The institution of ban in Croatia would persist until the 20th century (see below).

Croatian language[]

Croatian written language is among the south Slavic languages with longest history and greatest Baroque and Renaissance literature of all south Slavs.

Vernacular texts in the Chakavian dialect first appeared in the 13th century, and Shtokavian texts appeared a century later. Standardization began in the period sometimes called "Baroque Slavism" in the first half of the 17th century,[45] while some authors date it back to the end of 15th century.[46] The modern Neo-Shtokavian standard that appeared in the mid 18th century was the first unified Croatian literary language.[47]

Croatian is written in Gaj's Latin alphabet.[48]

The beginning of the Croatian written language can be traced to the 9th century, when Old Church Slavonic was adopted as the language of the liturgy. This language was gradually adapted to non-liturgical purposes and became known as the Croatian version of Old Slavonic. The two variants of the language, liturgical and non-liturgical, continued to be a part of the Glagolitic service as late as the middle of the 19th century. The earliest known Croatian Church Slavonic Glagolitic manuscripts are the Glagolita Clozianus and the Vienna Folia from the 11th century.[49]

Until the end of the 11th century Croatian medieval texts were written in three scripts: Latin, Glagolitic, and Croatian Cyrillic (bosančica/bosanica),[50] and also in three languages: Croatian, Latin and Old Slavonic. The latter developed into what is referred to as the Croatian variant of Church Slavonic between the 12th and 16th centuries.

The most important early monument of Croatian literacy is the Baška tablet from the late 11th century.[51] It is a large stone tablet found in the small church of St. Lucy on the Croatian island of Krk which contains text written mostly in Chakavian, today a dialect of Croatian, and in Croatian angular Glagolitic script. It is also important in the history of the nation as it mentions Zvonimir, the king of Croatia at the time. However, the luxurious and ornate representative texts of Croatian Church Slavonic belong to the later era, when they coexisted with the Croatian vernacular literature. The most notable are the "Missal of Duke Novak" from the Lika region in northwestern Croatia (1368), "Evangel from Reims" (1395, named after the town of its final destination), Hrvoje's Missal from Bosnia and Split in Dalmatia (1404),[52] and the first printed book in Croatian language, the Glagolitic Missale Romanum Glagolitice (1483).[49]

During the 13th century Croatian vernacular texts began to appear, the most important among them being the "Istrian land survey" of 1275 and the "Vinodol Codex" of 1288, both written in the Chakavian dialect.[53][54]

The Shtokavian dialect literature, based almost exclusively on Chakavian original texts of religious provenance (missals, breviaries, prayer books) appeared almost a century later. The most important purely Shtokavian vernacular text is the Vatican Croatian Prayer Book (ca. 1400).[55]

Both the language used in legal texts and that used in Glagolitic literature gradually came under the influence of the vernacular, which considerably affected its phonological, morphological and lexical systems. From the 14th and the 15th centuries, both secular and religious songs at church festivals were composed in the vernacular.


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 Šokci 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 Bačka).
  • The Šokci and Bunjevci communities in Bács-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 Győr-Moson-Sopron) and Slovakia - the Croats of Gradišće - Burgenland Croats.
  • Kosovo - Janjevci (Letničani).
  • 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 Chorvátsky Grob, Čunovo, Devínska Nová 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 Jevišovka (Frielištof), Dobré Pole (Dobro Polje) and Nový Přerov(Nova Prerava).

The population estimates are reasonably accurate domestically: around four 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 Peru (Croatian Peruvian) and Bolivia; 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 Ustaša 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[56] and a half[27] 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.[6][57][58] 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.


Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro religious demographics map, 1901

Map of demographic distribution of main religious confessions in Croatia, Dalmatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro in 1901:

  Mixed Catholic and Orthodox
  Mixed Catholic and Protestant

Early history[]

In "De Administrando Imperio", Byzantine emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus mentions the White Croatia (originally Βελοχρωβάτοι i Χρωβάτοι) as the place from which, in the 7th century, part of Croatian tribes started their journey to Balkans (more specific, today's Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina) after they were invited there by the Byzantine Empire (emperor Flavius Heraclius Augustus) to protect its borders.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 and elevated Croatia into kingdom. He organized a state by annexing the Principality of Pannonia as well as maintaining close ties with Pagania and Zahumlje.

Early Modern history[]

Croatian from Bosnia

A Croat from Central Bosnia (1901)

Croatians from Bosnia

Bosnian Croats celebrating a religious Mass (1901)

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.[59][60][61] 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 and the Southern Cone.

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 Ustaše 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.[62] 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 Baška 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 Marulić and Marin Držić, and continued through baroque with Ivan Gundulić, romanticism with Ivan Mažuranić and August Šenoa up to the modern days.


1240 portal Trogir

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.[63] The Croats were open to Roman art and culture, and first of all to Christianity. The first churches [64] 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. Stošija).

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( Traù).

File:Katedrala sv Stjepana Zagreb.jpg

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 Béla 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 Škriljinah 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 Vukčić Hrvatinić (now in Istanbul).

St Jacobs Cathedral 2

Cathedral of St James in Šibenik from 1555, UNESCO World Heritage

Giulio Clovio 001

An illuminated page from Juraj Klović'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 Šibenik, by Juraj Dalmatinac (1441); the Chapel of Blessed John of Trogir by Nicola Fiorentino (1468); and Sorkočević'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 Klović (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, Šibenik 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 Benković, 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.

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. "Željko Ivković", where "Željko" is a first name and "Ivković" 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 Željko. 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 -ić (pronounced Croatian pronunciation: [itʲ] or [itɕ]). 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 Ivanković is usually referred to as Ivan Ivankovitch. The -ić suffix is a Slavic diminutive, originally functioning to create patronymics. Thus the surname Petrić 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 Pavlović ("Pavlov's son" 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, Marković, Ivanković, Pavlović 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.


Flag of Croatia

The current flag of Croatia, including the current coat of arms

Coat of arms of Croatia

The current coat of arms shows, in order, the symbols of Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Dalmatia, Istria, and Slavonia.

Hrvatski pleter

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 šahovnica (chessboard in Croatian) in Croatia is to be found on the wings of four falcons on a baptismal font donated by king Peter Krešimir 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.

Croatian root music[]

Folk music[]

Traditional Croatian Musicians

Traditional Croatian musicians play for Mrs. Laura Bush on April 7, 2008 in Zagreb.

The traditional folk music of Croatia is mostly associated with the following:


Ganga is a type of singing which is characterized by a lone singer singing one line of lyrics and then others joining in for what can be best described as a wail. It is a very passionate form of singing, which is one of the reasons it has been limited in popularity to small towns. Even though its a unique and autochthonous form of singing by Croats, it is very rare to hear this music on Croatian airwaves. However, several popular Croatian musicians have incorporated some ganga into their work.

Only recently has ganga begun to address political issues, frequently adopting overtly nationalistic overtones and incorporating themes from the Croatian Homeland War. Although both men and women regularly perform ganga, it is extremely unusual for them to perform songs together. In the past, it was not unusual for both Catholic and Muslim men to perform ganga together.


Klapa Sagena koncert Križ nek ti sačuva ime Vatroslav Lisinski 7 rujna 2008

A Klapa group at a concert in Zagreb

The klapa music is a form of a cappella singing that first appeared in littoral Croatia during the middle of the 19th century.[65] The word klapa is derived from a word in slang Italian spoken in Trieste at the time. It refers to "a group of people" and the singing style traces its roots to liturgical church singing. The motifs in general celebrate love, wine (grapes), country (homeland) and sea. The main elements of the music are harmony and melody, with rhythm very rarely being very important.

A klapa group consists of a first tenor, a second tenor, a baritone, and a bass. It is possible to double all the voices apart from the first tenor. Although klapa is a cappella music, on occasion it is possible to add a gentle guitar and a mandolin.

Klapa singing is perhaps the most widely known type of traditional music from Croatia. Originating in Dalmatia and performed on the Adriatic coast and the islands, klapa songs celebrate subjects such as the sea, fish, wine, homeland, and loving Dalmatian mothers. If you happen to have visited Dalmatia, you’ve almost certainly heard klapa, whether while dining, while strolling through town, or during an evening concert. Everyone in Dalmatia knows and loves klapa, so it’s not unusual for Croatians to spontaneously break into song wherever they happen to be. (Although usually some quantity of wine is involved.)

Traditionally, Klapa is performed a cappella by a group of men, without the accompaniment of instruments, but now it’s not unusual to find klapa singing accompanied by music and performed by female singers or by groups of men and women.[66]

Klapa singing has become increasingly popular in littoral Croatia. Many young people from Dalmatia treasure klapa and sing it regularly when going out eating/drinking. This music has gained popularity among mainstream audiences in coastal regions of Croatia, with newer klapas formed by younger generations fusing klapa vocals with other music styles, such as klapa Libar's metal cover of "Pusti da ti leut svira"[67] and the pop/klapa song "Kako ću joj reć' da varin" by klapa DVD-a Žrnovnica Sv. Florijan,[68] which won the Split Song Festival in 2010.[69]


Bisernica, instrument (size)

Bisernica, a traditional taburitza instrument

Tamburica (diminutive of tambura) music is a form of folk music that involves these and related string instruments. It became increasingly popular in the 1800s, and small bands began to form, paralleling similar developments in Russia, Italy and the Ukraine.

Tamburica is a musical style that focuses on an individual instrument – the tambura, one of the most popular traditional instruments in Croatia. It allegedly comes from Bosnia, but was embraced by Slavonian musicians, who began to form tamburica ensembles taking off by the mid-19th century. Since then, the skill has been passed down from generation to generation.

Though the tambura is popularly associated with traditional folk music, several tamburica composers have written and adapted classical compositions for the Slavonian stringed instrument.[66]

The main themes of tamburitza songs are the common themes of love and happy village life. Tamburitza music is primarily associated with the northern, Pannonian part of the country. It is sometimes said that the first sextet of tambura players was formed by Pajo Kolarić of Osijek in 1847.

Traditional tamburitza ensembles are still commonplace, but more professional groups have formed in the last few decades. These include Zlatni dukati and Ex Panonia, the first such groups, Zdenac, Slavonske Lole, Berde Band and the modernized rock and roll-influenced Gazde.

The style of Tambura music played most often in the United States during the latter half of the 20th Century was not significantly different than the style played at the turn of the 19th Century. Free of the influences of pop music in Jugoslavia and the nascent, independent republics, and without large quantities of immigrants bringing new methods and styles, American-style Tambura music, and to a lesser extent, Canadian-style Tambura music stayed true to its roots.

Today, the most prevalent forms of Tambura music are folk-pop combinations.


Gusle Dalmacija MGŠ 360109

A traditional gusle instrument from Dalmatia

The gusle music is played on this traditional string instrument. It is primarily rooted in epic poetry with emphasis on important historical or patriotic events. It is the traditional instrument of inland Dalmatia and of Herzegovina, the part of Bosnia and Herzegovina with predominant Croatian population.

Gusle players are known for glorifying outlaws such as hajduks or uskoks of the long gone Turkish reign or exalting the recent heroes of the Croatian War of Independence. Andrija Kačić Miošić, a famous 18th century author, had also composed verses in form of the traditional folk poetry (deseterac, ten verses). His book Razgovor ugodni naroda slovinskog became Croatian folk Bible which inspired numerous gusle players ever since.

Like the tambura, the gusle is an individual instrument – this time, a single-stringed instrument resembling a mandolin, but played with a bow while resting between the musician’s knees. Played throughout Southeastern Europe, in Croatia, the instrument is associated with Lika, the mountainous region of inland Dalmatia where Plitvice Lakes National Park is located. Gusle playing is also popular among Croats living in Hercegovina.[66]

Traditionally, the gusle accompanies epic poetry celebrating folk heroes and legendary battles, often detailing the lives of hajduk fighters who defended Croatia from the Turks.

As for contemporary gusle players in Croatia, one person that particularly stands out is Mile Krajina. Krajina is a prolific folk poet and gusle player who gained cult status among some conservative groups. There are also several other prominent Croatian gusle players who often perform at various folk-festivals throughout Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.[66]


Diple is a traditional woodwind musical instrument in Croatian music. Sometimes called "Mih", "mjeh", "mjesina" or only "diple", it is played from Istria, Lika, over Dalmatia Islands and Coast to Herzegovina. "Mih" is made of tanned goat or sheep skin and consists of a "dulac" or "kanela" through which the air is blown and "diple" (chanter) on which it is played. Inside the "mih" on the chanter, two single-blade reeds are situated. Unlike bagpipes, "Mih" doesn't have a "trubanj" or "bordun" (drone). Although they are very similar, the "mih" from different parts of Croatia still differ in type of chanter, in the position of holes or in some tiny details (for example ornaments).[70]

From instruments like the gunge, i.e. two chanters made of reed connected together, double chanters (double-pipes) made of one piece of wood with reeds made of reed were developed. These chanters had one more addition called a didak, kutao, or oglavina through which air was blown into the pipe. In this case, the reeds did not have to be placed in the mouth and were therefore protected from damage. Such double chanters were usually called diple. Later, these pipes were woven to the bag of tanned animal skin, so besides the name diple it was also called a diple with bag, barrel, bellow, etc.). These instruments were played in this region in a now completely forgotten manner called predušivanje, or circular breathing. This is a way of inhaling air without interrupting the melody. It is the same way that Macedonians play their zurle and Australian Aborigines their didgeridoo.[70]

Other folk traditions[]

Harmonika Mozirje EMZ 300109

An accordion on display in Zagreb.

The folk music of Zagorje, an area north of Zagreb, is known for small orchestras consisting of Violins, Cimbule, Tamburice and Harmonike. The Tamburitza is the national Croatian instrument. It is the Croatian national string instrument. Although there is a rich pool of folk songs in this region, traditions are not being cherished and most zagorian folk music available is performed by amateur groups. This is also reflected in the quality of the music which is mostly reduced to happy up beat songs.


Several sopila instruments.

The folk music of Međimurje, a small but distinct region in northernmost Croatia, with its melancholic and soothing tunes became the most popular form of folk to be used in the modern ethno pop-rock songs. Beside Cimbule and Violins, there is also a tradition of Brass orchestras which used to play an important role in cultural everyday life. On one hand, they were the foundation of every regional celebration or wedding but on the other hand they were also known for playing at funerals or funeral feasts.

In Istria and Kvarner, native instruments like sopila, curla and diple make a distinctive regional sound. It is partially diatonic in nature following the unique Istrian scale.

Contribution to Bosnian root music[]

Bosnian root music (izvorna bosanska muzika) came from the Drina and Spreča valleys. It is usually performed by singers with one or two violinists and a šargija player. These bands first appeared around World War I and became popular in the 1960s. This is the third oldest music following after the sevdalinka and ilahija. Now it is the most popular form of rural music in Bosnia only.

Rural folk traditions in Bosnia include the shouted, polyphonic ganga and ravne pjesme (flat song) styles, as well as instruments like a droneless bagpipe, wooden flute and sargija.

Croat groups include: Braca Jakovljevi Ruza i Oracani Grabicki becari Baščovani Braća Domić Braća Begić Ante Bubalo Braća Grgić Bosanski Žubori Braća Geljić Bracini Bećari Braća Martinović Bistri izvor Dobojski Dukati Braća Vidovići Zvuci rodnog kraja Zvuci posavine Katni slavuji Braca Marusic Braca Jelic Posavski odjeci Plahanski odjeci Braca Tunjić Jozo Jelac Serac i Jerkan Seoski Vragolani Izvornjacka Dusa Dar Zavicaja Biseri Posavine Mladi Veseljaci Grubisa i Mato Braca Milinkovic Barusa i Mrkulja Dva Jarana Usorski izvori Šimo i Ivica Dobrovodski Biseri Izvorni Dar Posavski Zvuci Braća Čabraja Braća Grubišić Tajne Staze


The Slavonian town Požega hosts a known folk music festival, Zlatne žice Slavonije (Golden strings of Slavonia), which has prompted musicians to compose new songs with far-reaching influences, recently including American bluegrass.

The towns of Vinkovci and Đakovo, also in Slavonia, host yearly folklore festivals (Vinkovačke jeseni and Đakovački vezovi) where folk music is also listened to as part of the tradition.

The town of Slavonski Brod holds an annual festival called Brodfest, where many of the great tamburica bands come together to play.

The Dubrovnik Summer Festival puts on dramatic music and ballet. It was founded in 1950.

The Osor Musical Evenings was founded in 1976 and takes place in July and August. It plays classical Croatian masters.

The Musical Evenings in Donat takes place during the summer in Zadar. It was founded in 1961, and plays old music.


See also[]

  • Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • 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



  1. ^ a b Daphne Winland (2004), "Croatian Diaspora", in Melvin Ember, Carol R. Ember, Ian Skoggard, Encyclopedia of Diasporas: Immigrant and Refugee Cultures Around the World. Volume I: Overviews and Topics; Volume II: Diaspora Communities, 2 (illustrated ed.), Springer, p. 76, ISBN 0306483211, 9780306483219,, "It is estimated that 4.5 million Croatians live outside Croatia (...)" 
  2. ^
  3. ^ CIA World Factbook: Bosnia and Herzegovina 14.3% of a total population of 4,613,414 (July 2009) not including "Refugees and internally displaced persons" because they put Bosnian Croats together with other types.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c d e f Diaspora Croata "Se estima que en Argentina viven alrededor de 250.000 personas de descendencia croata (actualmente en Argentina viven 8.000 croatas nacidos en Croacia). (...) Hoy día se estima que en Brasil viven entre 30 y 50 mil croatas. La mayor parte vive en San Pablo, mientras que existe también una pequeña colonia de emigrantes croatas en Rio de Janeiro (...) El Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de la República de Chile evalúa que en ese país actualmente viven 380.000 personas consideradas de ser de descendencia croata, lo que es un 2,4% de la población total de Chile. La mayor parte de esas personas se asimiló en la sociedad chilena."
  7. ^ Census 2001 "Tabelle 5: Bevölkerung nach Umgangssprache und Staatsangehörigkeit", page 60 "131,307 Croatians + 19,412 Burgenland Croats = 150,719. In the Austrian census, Burgenland Croats are separate from the main Croat group."
  8. ^ 2011 Census of Population and Housing. Australia (you have to open an Excel file entitled "Basic Community Profile". Spreadsheet B08 lists population of Australia by ancestry.)
  9. ^ Ethnic Origin (247), Single and Multiple Ethnic Origin Responses (3) and Sex (3) for the Population of Canada
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  11. ^ 2006 Figures page 68, Petra-P12, gives a 40,484 number. as of 2004 page 12 2.1.1. Ständige ausländische Wohnbevölkerung nach Nationalität 2001 - 2004, gives a 44,035 number
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  13. ^ La Croatie. Population et religions Embassy of Croatia in France "Diaspora. Plus de 2 millions de Croates (originaires de Croatie et de Bosnie-Herzégovine) vivent à l'étranger Dans la deuxième moitié du XIXe siècle de nombreux Croates ont émigré sur d'autres continents. Leurs descendants sont aujourd'hui 1,3 million aux États-Unis, 150 000 au Canada, 250 000 en Australie. Plus récemment, beaucoup sont partis vers l'Europe occidentale, principalement l'Allemagne où ils sont 280 000, l'Autriche 40 000, la Suisse 35 000, la France quelque 30 000."
  14. ^ Hungary census
  15. ^ Foreigners in Italy
  16. ^ Croatians in South Africa and their clubs
  17. ^
  18. ^ Montenegrian census page 14 Population by national or ethnic affiliation - Review for Republic of Montenegro and municipalities
  19. ^ Census in Romania
  20. ^ By Ancestry 2008 "1.1.2 Population by country of birth 1900–2006" in page 6 says 6,063 and "1.1.3 Population by citizenship 1900–2006" in page 10 says 2,763
  21. ^ Denmark – People Groups
  22. ^ Statistics Norway - Persons with immigrant background by immigration category and country background. 1 January 2010
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  24. ^ Croatians in Belgium
  25. ^ a b
  26. ^ "Ethnologue - South Slavic languages". Retrieved 2011-02-08. 
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  29. ^ Stjepan Antoljak, Pregled hrvatske povijesti, Split 1993., str. 43.
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  31. ^ (Croatian) Zoran Lukić - Hrvatska Povijest
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  35. ^
  36. ^ De Administrando Imperio, Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitos, 950
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  38. ^ festa della sensa -
  40. ^
  41. ^ Croatian Coat Of Arms And Popes
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  43. ^ (Croatian) Kletva kralja Zvonimira nad hrvatskim narodom
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  45. ^ Stjepan Krasić: Počelo je u Rimu – Katolička obnova i normiranje hrvatskoga jezika u XVII stoljeću, Matica hrvatska, Dubrovnik, 2009, ISBN 978-953-6316-76-2
  46. ^ Stjepan Babić: Hrvatski jučer i danas, Školske novine, Zagreb, 1995, ISBN 953-160-052-X, p. 250
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  56. ^ Hrvati u svijetu , Croatian Radio Television archive
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  65. ^
  66. ^ a b c d
  67. ^
  68. ^
  69. ^
  70. ^ a b

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