Largest Ethnic Groups In Croatia

Croatian football fans cheer on a match. Editorial credit: Goran Jakus / Shutterstock.com.

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. 

After Yugoslavia's dissolution in 1991 and following the 1991–1995 Croatian War of Independence, 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.

Croats

Croats make up the overwhelming majority of the country’s population. They first arrived in present-day Croatia in the 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 Slavic language that is the official language of Croatia. Their culture is adapted from various cultures over the centuries, including Hungarian, Venetian, Austrian, Balkan, ancient Mediterranean, ancient Croatian, and Turkish.

National Minorities Of Croatia 

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 Croatian War of Independence. 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 like kolo dances, and singing.

Other national minorities include Czechs, Slovaks, Italians, Hungarians, Jews, Germans, Austrians, Ukrainians, Rusyns, Bosniaks, Slovenians, Montenegrins, Macedonians, Russians, Bulgarians, Poles, Roma, Romanians, Turks, Vlachs, and Albanians.

Some minority groups have special representatives elected to the Croatian parliament. This depends on the historical significance of the group since it is 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.

Largest Ethnic Groups In Croatia

RankEthnic GroupShare of Population of Croatia
1Croat90.4%
2Serb4.4%
3Bosniak0.7%
4Italian0.4%
5Albanian0.4%
6Roma/Romani0.4%
7Hungarian0.3%
8Slovene0.3%
9Czech0.2%
10Others2.5%

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