Croats

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Croats

 

a nation in Yugoslavia, numbering 4.5 million in 1971 (census). The majority of Croats (more than 3.5 million) live in Croatia and the rest in Bosnia and Hercegovina, Serbia, and the other Yugoslav republics. Outside of Yugoslavia, there are Croats living in Austria and Hungary, in the Americas (mainly in the USA), and in Australia. The Croats speak all three dialects of Serbo-Croatian. The overwhelming majority of believers are Roman Catholics, and the remainder are Orthodox, Protestants, or Muslims.

In the sixth and seventh centuries Slavic tribes, the ancestors of the Croats, lived on the northern coast of Dalmatia, in southern Istria, in northern Bosnia, and in the Sava-Drava interfluve. Among the oldest of these Slavic tribes were the Kačicć, the Šubići, and the Svačići. A Croatian state arose in the ninth century, but it was weakened by feudal strife in the late 11th and early 12th centuries. Subsequently, different parts of the Croatian lands came under the economic, political, and cultural influence of diverse states and peoples, notably the Kingdom of Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and the Hapsburg Monarchy. Although the lack of national unity left its mark on the culture of the Croats, they nevertheless managed to preserve and develop their indigenous culture, which shares many traits with the culture of the other South Slavic peoples of Yugoslavia. In 1918 the Croats and other South Slavic peoples united to form a single state, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, renamed Yugoslavia in 1929.

In the past the Croats were divided into ethnographic groups, their names often derived from their place of habitation—for example, Zagorci (people living beyond the mountains), Medjumurci, Prigorci (people living in the foothills), and Ličane. The inhabitants of the former Military Frontier, bordering on the Ottoman Empire, were called Graničari (border people). They included refugees from Serbia and Bosnia and from various parts of Croatia. Such a division into ethnographic groups is meaningless today. Within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia the Croats are a homogeneous nation building a socialist economy and a national culture. (For the history, economy, and culture of the Croats, see and YUGOSLAVIA.)

REFERENCE

Narody zarubezhnoi Evropy, vol. 1. Moscow, 1964.

M. S. KASHUBA

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