The South Slavic ethnic group living mostly in Croatia, there making the 90% of the population, and also one of the ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina. There are also the Burgenland Croats (Gradišćanski Hrvati) living in Austria.
The original homeland of the Croats is White Croatia, which used to be somewhere in today’s Poland.
The Croats speak the Croatian. The origin of the name Croat has not been found. It is assumed that the word derived from a West Slavic word hrbаt – a hill, highlands, meaning, those who live in the hills, the highlanders, as opposed to the Poles, coming from the word pоlјаna, flatlands, lowlands, those who live in the flatlands.
RELIGION AND TRADITION
The Croats are the Roman Catholics.
Croatia is situated on the intersection of the Pannonia plains, the Balkans and the Adriatic coast. It borders with Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. It is divided into counties (župаniје), and its capital is Zаgrеb.
The population of Croatia is about 6,300,000. Two thirds of the population live in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and one third in diaspora – mostly in Germany and North America.
In the first half of the 7th century, the Croats were invited by the emperor Irakli to help drive out the Avars from Dalmatia and to settle there. The first records of the presence of Croats dates from the early 12th century, but there is a Croat name (prince Brаnimir) recorded as early as in 880.
Quite early in their history, the Croats were conquered by the Franks. They had their own state in the 10th and 11th centuries, so in the midst of a political chaos, they fell under the Hungarian rule. After the defeat and breakup of the Austro-Hungary, they became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In the WWII – under the protection of the Nazi Germany – they formed an independent state, where horrible atrocities were committed on the Serbian population, the Jews and the Roma. After the war they remain in Yugoslavia, but in 1991 they started a forceful secession, realising their thousand year’s old dream of establishing an independent state.