Croatian (hrvatski)

Croatian is a South Slavic language spoken by about 6.7 million people mainly in Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is an official language in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in the province of Vojvodina in Serbia. It is also recognised as a minority language in a number of other countries.

There were about 4.1 million speakers of Croatian in Croatia in 2011. Other countries with significant populations of Croatian speakers include Slovenia (1.3 million), Bosnia and Herzegovina (554,000), Germany (396,000) and Austria (109,000) [source].

Standard Croatian is based on the Shtokavian (štokavski) dialect, and is the main version of the language used in literature. Other dialects include Kaykavski (kajkavščina) and Chakavian (čakavski), although some classify them as separate languages.

Croatian contains many words of Latin and German origin. Many new Croatian words are created by combining and adapting existing ones.

Croatian is closely related to and mutually intelligible with Serbian, Bosnian and Montenegrin. For more information see an article about Serbo-Croatian language issues.

Croatian at a glance

  • Native name: hrvatski [xř̩ʋaːtskiː]
  • Language family: Indo-European, Balto-Slavic, Slavic, South Slavic, Western, Serbo-Croatian
  • Number of speakers: c. 6.7 million
  • Spoken in: Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, Austria, Australia, USA, Canada, Serbia, Hungary, Italy, Romania and other countries
  • First written: 11th century
  • Writing system: Latin alphabet
  • Status: official language in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia (Vojvodina), Austria (Burgenland), EU. Recognised minority in Montenegro, Slovakia, Czechia, Hungary, Italy

Written Croatian

The oldest texts in Croatian date back to the 11th century and were written in the Glagolitic alphabet, mainly in Croatia. The earliest text in the Latin alphabet dates from 1345. The Glagolitic alphabet was eventually replaced by the Latin alphabet in Croatia.

Up to the mid 19th century there was no standard written form of Croatian, but there was extensive literature in different dialects.

The Croatian Latin alphabet was mostly designed in 1835 by Ljudevit Gaj, a Croatian linguist, who based it on the Czech and Polish alphabets. Today his alphabet is used in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia, and variations of his alphabet are used for Slovene and Macedonian.

Croatian alphabet

Croatian alphabet

Download an alphabet chart for Croatian (Excel)

Hear the Croatian alphabet

Sample text in Croatian

Sva ljudska bića rađaju se slobodna i jednaka u dostojanstvu i pravima. Ona su obdarena razumom i sviješću i trebaju jedna prema drugima postupati u duhu bratstva.

Hear a recording of this text by Iva Bezinović of Školica Sprachschu​le München


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Sample video in Croatian

Information about Croatian | Phrases | Numbers | Time | Tower of Babel | Learning materials

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Information about Croatian

Online Croatian lessons and other resources

Online Croatian dictionaries

Online Croatian phrases

BBC World Service in Croatian

Slavic languages

Belarusian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Goral, Kashubian, Knaanic, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Old Church Slavonic, Polish, Russian, Rusyn, Serbian, Silesian, Slovak, Slovenian, Sorbian, Ukrainian, West Polesian

Languages written with the Latin alphabet

Page last modified: 26.09.21


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