Australian Serbs "Become" Croats

By 29 August 2017

How many Croats are there in the world?

More than 100,000 Serbs in Australia have disappeared, and they have been turned into Croats and Bosnians. There were the headlines in the Serbian media yesterday, which warned that, due to low birth rates, assimilation, poorly executed censuses and changes in identity, there were fewer and fewer Serbs in emigration, reports Večernji List on August 29, 2017.

The problem in Austria started because the local authorities classified the immigrants as belonging to one of the states of former Yugoslavia. Thus most Serbs became “Croats” because they were born in newly-established states of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, this information, as in the case of Western Europe, is only partially correct and manipulates with terms of national and ethnic affiliation.

The Serb problem is mainly due to the fact that the Serbian state did not give citizenship to all Serbs. Thus, Serbs from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in Australia are counted as Croats and Bosnians. At least 100,000 Serbs have been erased in Australia in this way, according to representatives of Serbs in Australia.

Still, the Croatian community in Australia has not received any new real reinforcements from the ethnic Serbs, except that the Australian census created confusion. Most Croats on the Australian continent live in the main cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Brisbane and Hobart, and in areas that gravitate to these cities. Today, Croats from all parts of Croatia live in Australia, as opposed to the first immigrants who were mostly from Dalmatia.

Unlike in the case of Serbia, far more Croats live outside of Croatia than inside the country, and when Croats from Bosnia and Herzegovina are added to this, the total figure is higher than the number of Croats living in Croatia.

According to UN data, there are around four million Croats living abroad, including 3.35 million in regular emigration, 400,000 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and 250,000 in neighbouring countries where they live as national minorities. Since there are about 3.6 million Croats living in the country, Croats are one of the rare nations which have more people living abroad than in the primary country. However, it should be borne in mind that a significant number of Croats living throughout the world also come from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Based on the estimates of the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia and Croatian consulates in the United States, the Croatian Catholic missions, and the census of the population in the United States, as well as based on the estimates of the Croatian community itself, there are now around 1.2 million Croats and their descendants living in the United States. The United States is followed by Germany, where there are about 400,000 Croats, and the number increases year by year, especially after Croatia has joined the EU. These two countries are followed by Argentina and Canada where, according to Croatian diplomatic services, as well as Catholic missions, about 250,000 Croats live.

The government has established a special State Office for Croats Living Abroad which takes care of the relations with the Croatian communities in other countries.

Translated from Večernji List.