Croatia is an Eastern European country bordering the Adriatic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. It has a population of 4.28 million people, of which an overwhelming majority are ethnic Croats. The most significant ethnic minority group are the Serbs. Other ethnicities such as Bosniak, Italian, Romani, Albanian and Hungarian each constitute less than 1% of the total population. Many different factors separate the various ethnic groups in Croatia, with religious and political factors having the main influence. For example, Croats are predominantly Roman Catholic while Serbs are Orthodox Christians. All ethnic groups in Croatia speak the regional dialects of Serbo-Croatian and use the Latin alphabet instead of Cyrillic alphabet.
After Yugoslavia's dissolution in 1991, the number of Croats increased from 78% to 91% with a steady decline of the Serb population from 12% to less than 4% of the country’s population. The civil war’s aftermath led to heavy pressure on ethnic Serbs who were forced to leave Croatia or hide their identity and religious affiliation. As a result, the Dalmatian agricultural regions of Kordun and Lika were deserted by ethnic Serbs, who were the main occupants of the region.
Croats make up the overwhelming majority of the country’s population. They first arrived in present-day Croatia in 7th Century AD. In the centuries following AD 1000, the Croats came under the rule of Hungarians, Turks, and Austro-Hungarians. In the following decades before 1914, the Croats were dissatisfied with the Hapsburg rule which resulted in unity with the southern Slavs, to form Yugoslavia. After world war I, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy collapsed and the Croatian provinces gained unity and independence. The Croats joined the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes along with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, and Vojvodina. The name of this nation was changed to Yugoslavia in 1929.
Yugoslavia was a communist country between 1945 and 1991, with ethnic Serbs having more political power there during that time period. Due to the dissatisfaction of the Croats and other groups, a referendum on independence from Yugoslavia was held in 1991. Over 97% of Croats voted for independence to form the present day country of Croatia.
The Croats speak Croatian, a language belonging to the Indo-European Family and the South Slavic group of languages therein. Their culture is adapted from various cultures over the centuries, including Hungarian, Venetian, Austrian, Balkan, ancient Mediterranean, ancient Croatian, and Turkish.
Other Ethnic Groups
The Serbs of Croatia constitute the largest ethnic minority group. Since the Middle Ages, Serbs have occupied Croatia but the number has since declined after the 1991–1995 War. They constitute 4.4% of the population, or around 186,633 people. Serbs in Croatia still maintain their traditional cultural practices such as folklore dances ranging from kolo dances and singing. Other ethnic minorities include Italians, Bosniaks, Albanians, Hungarians, Romani, Slovenes, Czechs, Montenegrins, and Macedonians.
Minority groups have special representatives elected to the Croatian parliament. This depends on the historical significance of the group as to be recognized by the constitution of Croatia. For example, Italians in Croatia have a special representative in the parliament, who is elected by the Italian community.
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