Croatian diaspora

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The Croatian diaspora consists of communities of ethnic Croats and/or Croatian citizens living outside Croatia. Estimates on its size are only approximate because of incomplete statistical records and naturalization, but (highest) estimates suggest that the Croatian diaspora numbers between a third[1] and a half[2] of the total number of Croats.

More than four million Croats live in Croatia. The largest community outside Croatia are the Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of the constitutient nations of that country, amounting to about 750,000.

The Croatian diaspora outside Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina amounts to close to a million elsewhere in Europe, and to about 1.5 million overseas. The largest overseas community is reported from the United States and Chile, with about 400,000 members.[citation needed]

In Western Europe, the largest group is found in Germany. The German census reports 228,000 Croats in Germany as of 2006, but estimates of the total number of people with direct Croatian ancestry (including naturalized German citizens) range as high as 450,000.[citation needed]

Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina[edit]

Bosnian Croats celebrating a religious Mass (1901)

Croats form one of the three constitutient nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They are frequently referred to as Bosnian Croats, but since the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina the number of Herzegovinian Croats exceeds the number in Bosnia. The Croats maintain an unofficial capital in Mostar, with the city being home to the largest Croatian population.[citation needed]

There is no precise data regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina's population since the last war. The UNHCR conducted an unofficial census in 1996, but the data has not been recognized. Ethnic cleansing within Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s saw the vast majority of Croats move and take up residence in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is estimated that there are approximately 600,000 Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to 2000 data from the CIA World Factbook, Bosnia and Herzegovina is ethnically 14.3% Croat.[3]


World map of the Croatian diaspora


Western and Central Europe
Northern Europe


North America
South America


United States[edit]

Group of Croatian men in the club of town Joliet in Illinois

According to the 2005 US Community Survey, there are 401,208[27] Americans of full or partial Croatian descent.

Croatians in Detroit first appeared around 1890, settling usually in the region of Russel. In Illinois the Croatians started concentrating mostly around Chicago. Although it was created a bit later, the Croatian settlement in Chicago became one of the most important ones in the United States. The settlement especially started developing after World War I and Chicago became the center of all Croatian cultural and political activities. It is calculated that there were roughly 50,000 Croats in Chicago in the 1990s, while there were altogether 100,000 Croats living in 54 additional Croatian settlements in Illinois. There is a significant Croat population also in Indianapolis that settled during the Yugoslav Wars of the 90's.

Pittsburgh has always had a sizeable Croatian population. The headquarters of the Croatian Fraternal Union (CFU) - the oldest and largest Croatian organization in the United States - is located in the eastern suburb of Monroeville, PA, established in the 1880s. The CFU publishes a weekly newspaper "The Zajednicar Weekly" in both English and Croatian. Most of the Croatians in Pittsburgh originally settled in the early 1900s on the city's North Side. A neighborhood centered on East Ohio Street along the Allegheny River between Millvale and the North Shore was named Mala Jaska after an area in Croatia (northwest of Zagreb).


Croatians reportedly immigrated to Canada as early as 1541 when two Croatians from Dalmatia served on the crew of Jacques Cartier's third voyage to Canada.[28] There are approximately 114,880 Canadians of Croatian ethnic origin as reported in the 2011 National Household Survey.

The Croatian community is present in most major Canadian cities (including Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, Vancouver, Calgary, Windsor, and Montreal, as well as Mississauga and Oakville) in the form of designated Croatian churches, parks, and other organizations.

Notable Croatian Canadian organizations include the Croatian Fraternal Union, the Croatian Canadian Folklore Federation (Vancouver), and the Croatian Canadian Cultural Centre (Calgary). Some of the more popular Croatian Canadian events are the Croatian-North American Soccer Tournament and the Canadian-Croatian Folklore Festival. Croatian Canadians have had a notable presence in the form of soccer teams all around Canada, one of the most famous clubs was the now defunct Toronto Metros-Croatia, who are succeeded by Toronto Croatia.


19th Century ad-poster of Croatian ship ready to travel to South America.

Croats are an important ethnic group in Chile; they are citizens of Chile who were either born in Europe or are Chileans of Croatian descent deriving their Croatian ethnicity from one or both parents. Chile has one of the largest communities of ethnic Croats outside the Balkans Peninsula and it is one of the most significant communities in the Croatian diaspora - second only to that which is found in the United States. They are one of the main example of successful assimilation of a non Spanish-speaking European ethnic group into Chilean society. Many successful entrepreneurs, scientists, artists and prominent politicians holding the highest offices in the country have been of Croatian descent.

The Croatian community first established itself in two provinces situated in the extreme ends of Chile: Antofagasta, in the Atacama desert of the north and Punta Arenas in the Patagonian region in the south. The massive arrival of Croats in Chile began in 1864 and the migration grew steadily until 1956 – reaching a number of more than 60,000.[29]

It is officially accepted that there are up to 380,000 Chileans of Croatian descent (who clearly identify themselves as Chilean-Croats).[7][dubious ]


A statue honoring the immigrants, in Rosario.

Argentine of Croatian descent number over 250,000.[7] The most successful of all the Croats in Argentina was also almost the first to arrive. Nikola Mihanović came to Montevideo, Uruguay in 1867. Having settled in Buenos Aires, by 1909m Mihanović owned 350 vessels of one kind or another, including 82 steamers, owning, in that time, the biggest boat company in Argentina. By 1918, he employed 5,000 people, mostly from his native Dalmatia which was then under Austro-Hungarian and Italian rule. Mihanović by himself was thus a major factor in building up a Croat community which remains primarily Dalmatian to this day, although it contains people from other Croatian regions.

The second wave of Croat immigration was far more numerous, totalling 15,000 by 1939. Mostly peasants, these immigrants fanned out to work the land in Buenos Aires province, Santa Fe, Chaco and Patagonia. This wave was accompanied by a numerous clergy to attend their spiritual needs, especially Franciscans.

If the first two waves had been primarily economic, the third wave after the Second World War was eminently political. Some 20,000 Croatian political refugees came to Argentina, and most became construction workers on Peron's public works projects until they started to pick up some Spanish. Today, many descendants of the Croatian immigrants still know Croatian, although different than the modern-day Croatian language.[30]


The Croatian community is present in most major Colombian cities, including Bogota, Cali and Barranquilla. There are approximately 5,800 Colombians of Croatian ethnic origin as reported.


Croatian immigration to Venezuela dates back to the late nineteenth century, and was characterized by the individual arrival of merchant seamen. Until World War I, a few number of Croats settle in Venezuela, nevertheless it is in the period of the World War II when the Croatian families that escaped from the government of Tito begin to settle in the country. Most of these immigrants came from present-day Croatian territory, particularly from the coastal and inland areas of Dalmatia. Others came from Bosnia and Herzegovina.[31]

The majority of the members of the Croatian community settled in Caracas and Valencia and, to a lesser extent, in other cities of the interior: Maracay, Maracaibo, Mérida and in localities of the Yaracuy state, where some joined the work in the sugar industry.[32]

Also, several forest technicians arrived that later contributed to the establishment of the School of Forestry Engineering at the University of the Andes. A large percentage of the Croatians were artisans, who later became small entrepreneurs, and many were professionals, especially engineers and technicians, who had outstanding performance in Venezuela.[33]


Croatia has been a source of migrants to Australia, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s. In 2006 118,051 persons resident in Australia (0.6%) identified themselves as having a Croatian ancestor.

Croatian people are visible in all parts of Australian society, but they have made a big impact in the sporting arena with many football clubs being formed by immigrants, two of the more famous and most successful are Melbourne Knights FC and Sydney United both clubs having played in the Australia's top league the NSL and Melbourne Knights winning the championship back to back in the season 1994/5 and 1995/6. Sydney United have the honour of the club who has produced the largest number of full Australian internationals.

Some famous Australia-Croatian football players to represent Australia are Mark Viduka, Jason Čulina, Mark Bresciano, Zeljko Kalac, Josip Skoko, Tony Popoviċ all who ironically lined up against Croatia in the 2006 World Cup in Germany, playing against Australian-born Croatian international Josip Šimunić.

New Zealand[edit]

The first Croat to settle in New Zealand is believed to be Pauvo Lupis (Paul) who deserted his Austrian ship in the late 1800s. Although Croats had contact with New Zealand and a few had settled the proper migration waves began when the Austro-Hungarian Empire allowed Italian wine and oil into the Empire's territories for a substantially less duty thus rendering peasants and farmers bankrupt, this treaty was the beginning of many events which causes migration mainly from Dalmatia .

5,000 between 1890 and 1914, prior to World War I. 1,600 during the 1920s before the onset of the Great Depression. 600 in the 1930s, prior to World War II. 3,200 between 1945 and 1970. Arrivals during the 1990s, fleeing the conflict in former Yugoslavia.

The main destination for settlers was the Northland gum fields where the young boys were sent to dig Kauri tree gum from swamps which until the 1950s was used to varnish wooden furniture and the likes. Here on these fields, as outcasts by the British Empire and called 'Austrians' because of the passport they carried they were looked at with suspicion. Mainly because they worked hard and fast in a gang rather who would share profits and send money back to their villages in Dalmatia. Many British settlers who worked the same fields resented the Dalmatian gum-diggers, whom they nicknamed "Dallies", a term which is still occasionally used. On these fields as outcasts, they Croatian immigrants were thrown together with the other outcasts, the native Māori people who having many of the same view points and coming from villages themselves got on extremely well.

Many Croatian men married Māori women as they came to New Zealand as bachelors before a bride could be sent from their home village. The local Maori called them Tarara because they spoke in Croatian very fast. Many Māori nowadays refer to themselves as Tarara and carry Croatian family names. Miss New Zealand 2010 Cody Yerkovich (spelled in Croatian as Jerković) is an example of the Māori Croatian mix Tarara.

In Modern times Croatian immigrants have continued to arrive, with many starting their own business with the abundance of good soil and land many turned to similar work that they did back in Dalmatia such as vineyards, orchards and fishing. Some notable companies in wine are Delegat, Nobilo, Selak, Villa Maria, Montana and Kuemue River Wines, all owned by Croatian families.

In fishing there are two big companies, the first Talley's Seafood founded in 1936, by Ivan Peter Talijancich (spelled Talijančić in Croatian) established Talley's in Motueka, New Zealand. The second being Simunovich (spelled Šimunović in Croatian) Fisheries Limited which has thrived and become a large company from the deep sea Scampi.

In sport many small clubs and associations have come and gone, but Central United formerly Central Croatia SC formed in 1962 is still going to this day. The football club, formed by a group of young Croatian immigrants from Dalmatia, played initially in the lower division of the Northern League before rising to become one of New Zealand's top football clubs by the late 1990s.

Central United FC were the New Zealand champions in 1999, 2001 and were runner-up in 1998. Central United FC also won the Chatham Cup in 1997, 1998, 2005 and 2007 and were runners-up in 2000 and 2001. Their home ground is at Kiwitea Street Stadium, in Sandringham (Auckland).

Some notable former players are:

Other notable New Zealanders of Croatian descent include singer Lorde (real name Ella Yelich-O'Connor), historian James Belich, golfer Frank Nobilo, rugby player Frano Botica, motor racing drivers Robbie Francevic and Paul Radisich, tennis player Marina Erakovic, architect Ivan Mercep, artist Milan Mrkusich, and musicians Peter and Margaret Urlich.


  1. ^ "Hrvati u svijetu" (in Croatian). Croatian Radiotelevision. Archived from the original on 29 June 2004.
  2. ^ "About Us". Croatian World Congress. Archived from the original on 15 October 2007. ...4.5 million Croats and people of Croatian heritage live outside of the Republic of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina...
  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. ^ "2002 Census in Serbia" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 6, 2009.
  5. ^ Montenegrin census[permanent dead link] page 14 Population by national or ethnic affiliation - Review for Republic of Montenegro and municipalities
  6. ^ "". Archived from the original on May 13, 2007.
  7. ^ a b c " - Diaspora Croata".
  8. ^ Census 2001[permanent dead link] "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."
  9. ^ "Statistični urad RS - Popis 2002".
  10. ^ Thomas, Mark. "Number of Croatians moving to Ireland increase tenfold - The Dubrovnik Times". Retrieved 2020-04-05.
  11. ^ Rausa, Fabienne (2006). Ausländerinnen und Ausländer in der Schweiz: Bericht 2006 [Foreigners in Switzerland: 2006 Report] (PDF) (in German). Neuchâtel: Federal Statistical Office of Switzerland. p. 66. ISBN 3-303-01223-7. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 3, 2016: Petra-P12, shows the number as 40,484.
  12. ^ [1] Archived 2012-01-11 at the Wayback Machine page 12 2.1.1. Ständige ausländische Wohnbevölkerung nach Nationalität 2001 - 2004, gives a 44,035 number
  13. ^ "La Croatie: Population et religions" [Croatia: Population and religions]. Embassy of Croatia in France (in French). Archived from the original on January 2, 2011. 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. [TRANS] More than 2 million Croats (originating from Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina) live abroad. In the second half of the nineteenth century many Croats emigrated to other continents. Their descendants are now number 1.3 million in the United States, 150,000 in Canada, and 250,000 in Australia. More recently, many have gone to Western Europe, mainly Germany where there are 280,000, Austria 40,000, Switzerland 35,000, and France some 30,000.
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  16. ^ 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
  17. ^ "Denmark | Joshua Project".
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  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-06-30. Retrieved 2018-09-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^, Danijela Nadj. "Dom i svijet - Broj 227 - Croatia klub u Juznoj Africi".
  21. ^ S0201. Selected Population Profile in the United States Archived 2020-02-12 at, Population Group: Croatian (109-110), Data Set: 2007 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Survey: American Community Survey.
  22. ^ "Ethnic Origin (247), Single and Multiple Ethnic Origin Responses (3) and Sex (3) for the Population of Canada".
  23. ^ "Croatian diaspora in Venezuela". REPUBLIC OF CROATIA: State Office for Croats Abroad. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  24. ^ 2006 Census of Population and Housing. Australia "20680-Ancestry by Country of Birth of Parents - Australia"
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  29. ^ "Croacia y Chile: DUBROVNIK, EL ÚLTIMO BALUARTE". 2008-04-10. Retrieved 2009-04-03.
  30. ^ "Redirect easteurope". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2009-04-18.
  31. ^ Banko, Catalina. "A shelter in Venezuela: the immigrants from Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgary". Tiempo y Espacio (in Spanish). SciELO. 26 (65). ISSN 1315-9496. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  32. ^ Arandia. "Los croatas en Venezuela y la medicina natural". Hrvatska radiotelevizija (in Spanish). Retrieved 23 January 2017.
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