Croats form one of the three constitutive 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.
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. Croats are generally recognized to be the wealthiest, on average, of the nation's ethnic groups.
Croats settled into the areas of modern Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovinia in the early seventh century
, during the great migration of the Slavs
was quickly accepted. The Croatian people formed two principalities: Pannonia
in the north and Dalmatia
in the south. These two were finally united under under King Tomislav
in ca. 925, who was crowned in the fields of Duvno
in modern-day BH. In 1102, Croatia was joined into a union with Hungary
, and over the centuries, saw its land shrink as the Ottoman Turks
invaded Europe, and occupied Bosnia and much of present day Croatia for centuries to come. Many Croats living in Bosnia converted to Islam during this time period, and their numbers in areas shrank as many fled from fear of conversion and persecution, as the Christian folk were mistreated as low-grade citizens. The region henceforth became known as "Turkish Croatia
" in Croatian literature.
In the 19th century with the Croatian national reawakening movements, acts were made to unite all Croats into one state. Such an act was realized only in 1939, when the Croatian Banate autonomous within the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was formed, that included most of western Herzegovina and parts of central Bosnia. From 1941 to 1945, most of Bosnia and Herzegovina was a part of the Axis Ustasha Independent State of Croatia.
During second Yugoslavia (1945-1991) their number shrank by a quarter
and prior the war in 1991, Croats made up 17.3% of the population. From 1971 to 1991, the Croat percentage fell in most of Bosnian-Herzegovian municipalities due to a slower rate of natural increase than Bosniaks, as well as emigration into Croatia and lands of western Europe. Fall in percentage is only absent in western Herzegovina municipalities were Croats made more than 98% of population. The majority of Croats live in Western Herzegovina, Western Bosnia, Central Bosnia and Posavina (BiH Croats 1991). The war saw a large scale of ethnic cleansing and the migration of populations on all sides. Municipalities in which Croats are the majority in Bosnia and Herzegovina today: Mostar, Stolac, Ravno, Čapljina, Neum, Čitluk, Grude, Kiseljak, Kreševo, Livno, Ljubuški, Kupres, Jajce, Dobretići, Odžak, Domaljevac-Šamac, Orašje, Posušje, Prozor-Rama, Široki Brijeg, Tomislavgrad, Vitez, Žepče, Usora, Novi Travnik and Busovača.
One of the most important cultural institutions for the Bosnian and Herzegovinian Croats is the Croatian Cultural Society Napredak
. It helps educate Croatian youths by granting university scholarships. Napredak also works to promote culture. It has dozens of branches throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, as well as the Croatian diaspora. In the diaspora it is one of the main concert organizers for Croatian artists.
The University of Mostar is the only Croatian language institute of higher education in the country. Many of the nation's Croats also attend universities in Croatia, with the University of Zagreb being the most popular.
There are currently two major Croatian music festivals in the country: Etnofest Neum and Melodije Mostara. These festivals regularly attract the best native Bosnian and Herzegovinian Croat singers as well as top artists within Croatia itself.
Popular Croatian musicians coming from the country include Bijelo Dugme's Željko Bebek, Mate Bulić, Ivan Mikulić, Boris Novković, Vesna Pisarović and the group Feminnem.
Croatian literature in Bosnia and Herzegovina has its foundations in the 17th century writer Matija Divković
. From the early 20th century, Antun Branko Šimić
is also well known.
In the Yugoslav period Ivo Andrić became the most well-known Croat writer from Bosnia and Herzegovina. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1961.
Croats form the core of the Catholic Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina
. The metropolitan diocese is the Archdiocese of Vrhbosna
. There are also dioceses centred in Banja Luka
and in Mostar
, which is the largest. The parish of Međugorje
is a significant Marian shrine
which attracts large numbers of pilgrims each year.
Croatian-run clubs in Bosnia and Herzegovina number among the country's most successful. They are well-represented in terms of national championships in relation to the percentage of Croats in the population. In football NK Zrinjski Mostar
, NK Široki Brijeg
, NK Žepče
, NK Posušje
, and HNK Orašje
are some of the most successful. Collectively, they have won one national Cup
and four national Championships
since national competition began in 2000. Other popular Croatian-run clubs are NK Brotnjo
, NK SAŠK Napredak
, HNK Ljubuški
and others. The clubs themselves are often among the nation's most multi-ethnic.
Prior to 2000, the Croats ran their own First League of Herzeg-Bosnia in football. However, they have joined the UEFA-approved Football Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina's league system. Bosnia and Herzegovina has produced many successful internationals, both for the Croatian national team and the national team of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
There are several Croatian political parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina, many corresponding to parties within Croatia itself. The Croatian Democratic Union
, Croatian Democratic Union 1990
, and the Croatian Party of Rights
are the most popular parties. The Croatian Peasant Party
, New Croatian Initiative
, Croatian Right Bloc
, People's Party Work for Betterment
are relatively minor Croatian parties.
Politically, Croats are the most marginalized in the country. Within the Federation, Croats are outnumbered by Bosniaks, while they are even more outnumbered on the federal level. Croats retain a member in the nation's presidency. The current Croatian president is Željko Komšić. However, even this post is becoming a sign of political marginilization as Komšić has been widely accused of being elected into power based on a loophole in which ethnic Bosniaks can choose to vote for the Croat president.
In 2005, a conference on the Constitutional-law position of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina was held in Neum. It addressed ways to fix the political system.
Historically, the Croats formed their own parties with the end of Ottoman rule. The Croatian National Community and the Croatian Catholic Association took part in the country's first elections in 1910.
List of famous Croats from Bosnia and Herzegovina
Nobel Prize winners
Military and politics
Media and singers
- Darijo Srna - soccer, father from Bosanski Brod
- Mario Bazina - soccer player
- Miroslav Blažević - Croatian soccer coach
- Denis Buntić - handball player
- Marin Čilić - tennis player
- Vedran Ćorluka - football player
- Ivica Džidić - football player
- Anton Josipović - boxing
- Ivan Klasnić - football player, parents from Bosnia
- Niko Kovač - football player, parents from Livno
- Robert Kovač - football player parents from Livno
- Ivan Ljubičić - tennis player
- Vlatko Marković - former football player, current president of Croatian Football Federation
- Mladen Petrić - football player, born in Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Zoran Planinić - basketball player
- Josip Šimunić - football player, father from Bosnia
- Vlado Šola - handball player
- Mario Stanić - former football player
- Davor Šuker - former football player, parents from Livno
- Stjepan Tomas - football player
- Boris Živković - football player
- Blaž Slišković - former football player, football coach
- Boro Primorac - former football player, first team coach at Arsenal F.C.
- Ivan Rakitić - football player, mother from Žepče
- Saša Papac - football player
- Jerko Leko - football player, parents from Grude