Croatian diaspora

Maybe a thing you didn’t know about Croatia is the fact that it is among the European countries with the most prominent and enduring emigration. The first significant emigration began in the 15th century due to Ottoman pressure from the Southeast. The result of these migrations is today the Croatian national minorities in Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, and Italy, which hold great importance in preserving Croatian culture in foreign countries.

In the second half of the 19th century and especially at the turn of the 20th century, due to economic and political reasons, Croats are starting to inhabit North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, and the South African Republic. Most of the time, younger people left without professional qualifications, and in the receiving countries, they mostly worked the hardest physical jobs. The first generations of emigrants were regularly assisted by family farms in their homeland.

Since the emigration was massively organized, Croatian emigrants in the host countries organized substantial immigrant groups linked to employment, facilitating emigrant organizations’ formation. The first societies of Croatian emigrants were founded in San Francisco (1857), Callau (Peru, 1871), New Orleans (1874), Iquique (Chile, 1874), and Buenos Aires (1876). Most often, it was supportive (fraternal), cultural, and sporting societies. In addition to assisting in solving everyday migration problems, the community has played a crucial role in preserving national consciousness and in providing material and political assistance to the homeland. The most famous and the most significant organization of Croatian emigrants, the Croatian fraternal community in North America is the most known one and one with the most activities.

The migration continued after the First World War and re-amplified after the Second World War when it was caused by political reasons. Politically motivated emigration continued in decades after the war, and in the 1960s, many Croats went to work in Australia and Canada, but also in Western European countries, especially Germany, Austria, France, Switzerland, and Sweden (so-called “Gastarbeiter”).

 Following the Croatian Spring and the repression that followed in 1972, a new wave of political emigration emerged. Later in the early 1990s, a notable number of Croats also emigrated to most countries of Western Europe, and not many of them returned home even two decades after the end of the war. Due to the many waves of emigration throughout the last century, Croatians are widespread worldwide and still very keen on their heritage and customs from far back home.

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