Several million Croats live outside of their native Croatia. This is the result of several cycles of emigration triggered by economic and political circumstances. The majority of these emigrants now live in the United States, Germany, Argentina, Canada and Australia.
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Croatian-Americans are the most populous Croatian community in the world and number more than 1.2 million along with their descendants. The first to set sail for the New World were the seafarers of Dubrovnik who sailed alongside the seamen of Christopher Columbus. Evidence attesting to this can be found in the writings of English historians who were exploring North Carolina and had stumbled upon «white-skinned» children amongst a Native American tribe. The legend of the Croatan tribe – comprising of Croats and Native Americans – has never been proven, although many American historians claim that there is no doubt that these tribespeople were long lost sailors from Dubrovnik.
Croats who migrated to the United States came primarily from Primorje and Dalmatia. They settled in the Mississippi Delta, the Pacific Northwest and in New York in the late 19th century and up until World War I. The migration continued between the two world wars and about 150 thousand Croats arrived in the US during that time. All those who left their homeland because of economic hardship or for political reasons, made the US their home with the help of, among others, Croatian community organisations. Some of those organizations still exist today, such as the Croatian-American umbrella organization the National Federation of Croatian Americans, the Croatian Fraternal Union and the branch of the Croatian World Congress in the USA, as well as many cultural and sports societies. The Croatian Fraternal Union is the largest Croatian community organization. It was formed in 1894 and has more than 60 thousand members today. The organization has been publishing a biweekly newspaper in Croatian and English called Zajedničar since 1907. Croatian-American members of Congress and others who have a stake in Croatian interests formed the Croatian Congressional Caucus to promote Croatian interests in 2005.
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Jacob Jake Matijević
The names of sailors Ivan Malogrudić from Senj and Marin Masalarda from Dubrovnik are recording in the first English ships to embark on a voyage to the new world in circa 1500. Croatia's presence on the North American continent for half a millennia is further evidenced in the form of a certain Croat named Jakov, or Jacques of Slavonia, a “metals digger” in the Acadia region, present day New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. „Gold fever“resulted in a raw battle for gold, after which many of our diggers were never seen by their families again. They drown their sorrows in saloons that were being opened throughout Canada. The records note the name Šime Miletić, a successful digger who opened the "Adelphi Saloon and Billiard Parlour" in Victoria. Many Croats, after the ocean brought them to the Pacific coast, made their way to Canada where they were able to find work doing what they knew best – building the trans-Canada rail line, mining and fishing. Fishermen Tolić and Karampana recognized a profitable trade niche when they opened the first fish market in Victoria. At the outset of the 20th century many Croatian village settlements are built, with Croatians from Lika and Gorski Kotar settling in them, carpenters and lumberjacks who find work in Canada’s abundant forests. Following the First World War Canadians did not look kindly upon immigrants from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Considered enemy’s of the state, Croatian’s in Canada began to connect and fraternize in Croatian homes, clubs, society’s and associations. In Sudbury the “Croatian Dilettante Choir” was active, the “Croatian Wheel Dance and Tamburica” group in Winnipeg, while three tamurica groups were active in Hamilton in the 1930’s, "Zagreb", "Plavi Dunav" and "Zlatne žice". Many tens of folklore groups are active in Canada today, all falling under the Croatian Canadian Folklore Federation, one of the largest Croatian organizations in Canada. Their annual festival is considered the largest folklore gathering of Croats.
Although the local population managed to free itself of Spanish rule at the beginning of the 19th century, they were not able to keep their own country from numerous immigrants for which Argentina is recognized today. This 9th largest country in the world according to size, also accepted Croatians, which according to the latest estimates number around 250 000.
The biggest Croatian communities live in Buenos Aires, Cordoba and Rosario where most of the Croatian societies, associations and clubs are active. Croatians gather in more than fifty societies! This in Croatian centres in Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Rosario, San Justo, Parana, Comodoro Rivadavia, Ushuai, Mar del Plata, Mendoza and La Plata. Argentinian and Croatian entrepeneurs connect through the Argetinian – Croatian Economic Chamber, the female singing group Valovi from Buenos Aires is dedictaed to nurturing Croatian musical heritage, as well as the Jorgovan society. Lovers of Croatian cuisine can read and prepare well known Croatian recipes at Cocina Croata, while at the Cultura Croata portal they can find information on all societies. Athletes of Croatian descent train at the Deportivo Croata Croatian Sports Society in Buenos Aires. A branch of the Croatian World Congress is also active in Argentina.
Ivan Juan Benigar
One of the biggest Croatian emmigrant communities in the world lives in Australia, which according to the latest figures numbers around 250 000 people of Croatian descent. Traditionally emmigrant Croatia settled in traditionally immigrant Australia near the end of the 19th century. „Terra Australis“ was the destination of all of our people that due to economic or political circumstances left Croatia. A 20 000 kilometre distance was not too far for Dalmatians and Istrians who settled in the areas of Western Australia, Northern Queensland and New South Wales. Following the second world war Australia was hit with a new wave of Croatian immigrants who practiced fishing, sailing, mining and farming in this new land.
The church and Catholic missions had a special role in their process of adjustment to new circumstances and democratic society. Within the framework of Catholic missions the Croatian community preserved their cultural and language heritage, while not rejecting the generous assistance of the new country that gave them shelter and a safe life. It should be noted that along with the Catholic missions, Croatian libraries were also active offering literary works in Croatian. They were very necessary because the Croatian language was being preserved from the 70's when the biggest number of Croatians arrived in Australia. Croatian language classes were mainly conducted in Catholic missions. Croatian emmigrants are especially proud of „The Suturday School of Community Languages“ which was founded in 1978 by the Australian government with the support of the Croatian Ministry of Education and Sports. Today it is integrated into the regular school system in which the Croatian state provides them with textbooks and lecture materials.
Austria is home to about 90 thousand Croats, most of whom live in Vienna, while the smallest community, also an indigenous one, the Burgenland Croats, number about one thousand. Despite a history that dates back several centuries, Croats in Austria are considered a newer emigrant population. The gastarbeiter, or guest worker, generation began emigrating in the 1960s, however the largest number of emigrants arrived when the Homeland War began.
Croats in Austria enjoy a very culturally and socially rich lifestyle. The smallest community is the most active – the Burgenland Croats. There are many organizations that are responsible for this including the Burgenland Croat Center, the Scientific Institute of Burgenland Croats, the Croatian Academic Club, the Austrian-Croatian Community for Culture and Sports, the ANNO 93' Association, the Salzburg Association as well as the Croatian Cultural Society Napredak. There is also a branch of the Croatian World Congress in Vienna.
Croats in Austria read the paper Hrvatske novine and the news website Kroativ. They waltz every year at the Croatian Ball in Vienna and dance Slavonian folk dances at the Šokadija Beč event. Young people have their own day and play soccer in their own league of Croatian teams based in Vienna. There is also a Croatian section at the state broadcaster ORF that produces radio and television programs for Croats living in Austria.
There are Croat Catholic missions in Vienna, St. Pölten, Linz, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Feldkirch, Graz and Klagenfurt. Schooling in the Croatian language is supervised by Austrian authorities, although Croatia’s Ministry of Education finances the salaries of two teachers, one in Linz and the other at the Croatian Children's School in Vienna.
Augustin Blažović is considered the best-known contemporary Burgenland Croat writer. Nikola Benčić, a linguist and historian, is a member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Austrian national track and field team member, shot putter Andreas Haklits is of Brugenland Croat descent.
The very rich historic and cultural heritage of Croats in Montenegro is the very proof of the centuries-long existence of the Croatian national minority on Montenegrin shores. Since historical reasons had them separated from their original homeland, they work on preserving the Croatian national cultural and language wealth. Some 6,000 Croats and their descendants live in Kotor, Tivat, Herceg Novi, Perast, Dobrota, Budva and Bar. With Croatia gaining independence, the hard position of Croats in Montenegro became a little easier, but real changes have been announced with the signing of the Agreement on the Protection of Rights of the Local Croatian Minority in 2011. The Croatian minority in the Montenegrin parliament is represented by the Croatian Civic Initiative holding one ministerial position without portfolio. The protection of rights of the Croatian national minority is the main task of the Croatian National Council.
Cultural associations and societies led by the Croatian Civil Society of Montenegro and the umbrella organisation Dux Croatorum guard the immensely valuable historical heritage. The Croatian Courier, the paper published by the Croatian Civil Society of Montenegro is published regularly, while in the Montenegrin bay news is broadcast on the only existing minority radio in Montenegro, Radio Dux.
The Croatian language is taught through additional classes in schools in Kotor and Tivat, but not many pupils attend. This problem could possibly be solved through more effort being made by Croatian associations, as well as by sparking more interest of pupils.
The great sailing history made in Boka Kotorska by the Croats is now just a memory for the and dwindling Croatian community there. Once upon a time huge sailing ships were moving in the Kotor bay manoeuvred by the renowned Boka Kotorska sailors. The admiral of the Baltic Navy Matija Zmajevic successfully fought the Swedes, a member of the Knights of Malta captain Petar Zelalic had beaten the Turks, while captain Ivan Visin set off on a round-the-world sailing trip. Among the renowned names of the Boka Kotorska history is also civil engineer Antun Lukovic, one of the main architects of the Sues Canal, the jeweller to Tsar Ivan the Terrible in Moscow, Tripun of Kotor, Krsto Corak, Spanish marquis and governor of the Balearic islands. The Boka Bay is also known today as the Bay of Croatian Saints as there can be found the Ossana of Cattaro, Saint Leopold Bogdan Mandic and the Blessed Gratia of Mula.
Today one of the largest communities of Croats outside of Croatia lives in Chile, and they are recognizable throughout the country. According to estimates, approximately 200,000 ethnic Croats live in Chile. They are the descendants of Croats who were drawn to the Argentine coast in the mid-nineteenth century by “gold fever.” In the early twentieth century, they were forced to leave their rocky Dalmatian homeland after the phylloxera infestation destroyed the vineyards that provided a living for so many Croatian families. They sought their fortune in the Magallanes region, in the towns of Punta Arenas and Porvenir, where they dedicated themselves to cattle ranching and mining. Over the years, as the country industrialized, they began to move to the Chilean capital Santiago, where the most Croats live today. Even so, they also moved to other cities, such as Antofagasta, Iquique, Punta Arenas, Puerto Natale, Valparaiso and Concepcion.
Croatian organizations can be found at virtually every step. The association called Estadio Croata gathers in Santiago, the Club Croata is active in Punta Arenas, the Sociedad Croata operates in Antofagasta, while in Iquique Croats gather in the Croatian Hall. The Our Land folklore and choral society in Santiago and the Jadran choral society, established in 1932, preserve the heritage of their Croatian forefathers, and there is also the Association of University Students of Croatian Descent. There is no shortage of sporting associations, such as the Croatian Sokol in both Punta Arenas and Antofagasta. Smaller clubs even exist in Porvenir, where the southernmost Croatian club in the world operates, and also in La Serena, Calama and Arika. Most of these Croatian immigrants came from Dalmatia, so it is no surprise that Zadar has sister city ties with Iquique, and Split with Antofagasta and Punta Arenas.
Lenka Zlatar Franulić
Croatian – Italian ties can be traced back to the 15th century, especially in the Italian region of Molise, where a few Croatian communities live. The 2000 or so inhabitants of three villages, Kruča (Acquaviva), Munimitar (Montemitro) and Filice (San Filice), located in the province of Campobasso, make up the smallest linguistic community in Italy.
According to a contract which was signed by the governments' of both countries in 1996, the Croatian community in Molise is accepted as a linguistic minority and accorded with all the relevant rights – the protection and promotion of their linguistic and cultural identity, the right to use the Croatian language in public life and to establish cultural associations. There is also a larger, unrecognised group of Croatian immigrants living in northeastern Italy, in the regions of Furlanija – Julijska Venecija (Friuli-Venezia Giulia).
According to official estimates, there are around 60,000 Croatians and their descendants living in Italy today. The Italian Association of Rome, the Croatian community in Milan, the Croatian community in Trieste, the Croatian community in Veneto and the Croatian-Italian Association of Udine are all part of the umbrella organisation - the Association of the Croatian Community in Italy. They also gather through the sports association Isola Ingles – a Croatian island in Molise.
The Molise Croats, as an indigenous people of Croatia, preserve the Croatian language with activities organised through the Alliance of Cultural Associations of Molise Croats, in which the "Luigi Zara" associations "Our Life" and "Our Town" and the "Agostina Piccoli" association, which publishes a bilingual magazine "Riča Živa / Parola Viva" participate. The Croatian umbrella association, has made its contribution through the bilingual magazine "Insieme" (Together). However, strangely, Italy does not broadcast radio or television programmes in the Croatian language.
The Croatian language is taught through regular courses in primary, secondary and supplementary schools as well as at university level. The Croatian Ministry of Education and Sports supports the teaching of Croatian in Rome, Trieste and in Molise, by maintaining teaching materials.
Nikola Petrov Ivanušić
Some 230,000 Croats currently live in The Federal Republic of Germany, while the data compiled by the Croatian Embassy in Berlin and the Croatian catholic missions, this figure surpasses 350,000. The Croatian expatriates in Germany can be divided into several categories; There are the political émigrés who had fled the repressive regime of the country after WWII and the ‘foreign workers’ group who had arrived in Germany after an agreement was signed between the then Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia and the Federal Republic of Germany on the sending of the ‘workforce’ to Germany after 1968. Workers temporarily working in Germany made their money through doing hard manual jobs including working on building sites and in the metal processing industry. Through those jobs, that ended not to be temporary, they financed their families living back in Yugoslavia, which had later joined them in Germany. By leaving their homeland, they brought to Germany their culture, customs and traditions. As early as 1973, Croatian literature was promoted at the Frankfurt International Book Fair at the Croatian stand with it being promoted by the likes of Vinko Nikolic, Bozo Dugec, Malkica Dugec, father Lucijan Kordic and many others.
The Croatian Parents’ Association was founded at the start of 1984 and represented the bases from which the first Croatian cultural association was founded in Stuttgart. Simultaneously with this, numerous associations mushroomed across Germany spanning from the Vladimir Fran Mazuranic Croatian Cultural Society and Sports Association in Berlin to the Berlin-based Marin Drzic Youth Theatre. The voice of the expatriate Croatia could also be loudly heard across Germany, particularly in the Hrvatska Domovina and Kroatische Berichte magazines, which had greatly contributed to the promotion of Croatian interests in Germany. Today, The Berlin Magazine and the Croativ Magazin magazine are read, as well as Cro-info and other magazines and publications. The Croatian academic community has gathered Croatian university students, as well as those of Croatian origin into a network of German citizens holding university diplomas, while Cologne is the venue of an umbrella organisation of all Croatian expatriates The Croatian World Congress. The Society of Croatian Intellectuals based in Munich, as well as the Association of Former Students and Friends of Croatian Universities AMAC and the Association of Croatian Football Clubs of Central Germany should also be mentioned here.
The arrival of Croats in Peru was been mentioned back in the 16th century, when the Dubrovnik landowner Basilije Basiljevic arrived in this South American country in his quest for the Inca treasures and El Dorado. A monumental church of St Blasius, which he had built together with his sailors stands as a reminder of his presence in Cusco, the capital of the Incas. People from Dubrovnik were the ones who relocated there the most, but there were also those from Dalmatia and Primorje. South America had vast deposits of mineral s which many wanted to make use of in starting a new businesses and also in giving their families a fresh start. At the end of the 19th century in the Cerro de Pasco settlements in the Andes, the Croatian colony represented the largest and most important émigré group, their aim being to prospect for ore. This resulted in mines named „Zagreb“, „Velebit“, „Dalmacija“, „Zrinski“, „Neretva“, „Zadar“... It was not by pure chance that the Austriacos’, as the locals dubbed the Croats had moved to Peru in large numbers. The then Austro-Hungarian Monarchy had introduced the ‘wine clause’, which resulted in Dalmatian wine producers having to emigrate, as they were unable to sell their wine, following this move by the Monarchy in its bid to secure political points with Italy.
Croats in Peru were seen as first class sailors and this is confirmed by the fact that the captain of the first steam ship in a Peru port was someone with a Mitrovic surname, most probably from the Dubrovnik area.
After WWII a new colony of nearly 1,000 political émigrés arrived. They had a harder time adjusting, as the Croats who arrived earlier were already well integrated into the Peruvian society. According to the latest estimates some 300 to 400 first generation Croats and about 6,000 second and third generation Croats live in Peru. Some have completely assimilated and their Croatian heritage is blurred. Howe ver, most take up high positions in the Peruvian society.
The Croatian-Swiss links have remained unbroken since the 15th century. Two Vatican diplomats Ivan Stojkovic and Andrija Jamometic are the first prominent Croats in Switzerland and have left behind historical artefacts of immense value. In the 16th century Matija Vlacic Ilirik began his studies in Basel and Janko Draskovic also came here at the start of the 19th century, as well as Ema the noble Pavlekovic who was probably the first Croat to have graduated from medical school abroad in Bern and Lausanne.
Franciscan Dominik Mandic studied and earned his doctoral degree at the Fribourg University and did history and church topics research. More recently, Croatian greats linked to Switzerland are Nobel Prize winners Lavoslav Ruzicka and his pupil Vladimir Prelog.
The first traces of Croat émigrés living in Switzerland can be found with the founding of catholic missions there. Father Lucijan Kordic had arrived in Switzerland in 1951 and had started gathering Croats from across Switzerland and this resulted in Rome naming him the director of Croatian faithful émigrés in Switzerland. The first catholic mission was established in 1967 by father Ljubo Krasic and at the moment there exist 14 of them across Switzerland. They publish the MOVIS magazine.
The first Croatian association outside the missions was The Croatian Society in Switzerland which was founded by Jure Petricevic in 1960. It pooled Croatian intellectuals and other eminent individuals living in Switzerland for some 15 years. The renowned Croatian caricaturist Branimir Petrovic had for years been entertaining the readers of the most popular Geneva newspaper and was seen as one of the most influential Swiss caricaturists.
Physician Marin Turina was referred to as ‘the best known Swiss cardiologists’ by the Swiss Neue Zurcher Zeitung daily. Davor Pavuna is a renowned physicist living in Switzerland who had been taken on as energy adviser by US president Barack Obama.