What language do they speak in croatia?

HotbotBy HotBotUpdated: July 3, 2024

Official Language: Croatian

Croatia, a beautiful country located in Southeast Europe, primarily speaks Croatian as its official language. Croatian, known as Hrvatski in the local vernacular, is a South Slavic language that is a part of the Indo-European language family. It is written using the Latin alphabet, and it is the mother tongue for the majority of Croatia's nearly 4 million inhabitants.

History of the Croatian Language

The history of the Croatian language can be traced back to the early medieval period. Croatian developed from Old Church Slavonic, which was introduced to the region by Saints Cyril and Methodius in the 9th century. Over time, the language evolved and was influenced by various other languages, including Latin, Italian, Hungarian, and Turkish, due to Croatia's rich and varied history.

The first known written records in Croatian date back to the 11th century, with the Baška tablet being one of the oldest surviving documents written in the Glagolitic script. By the 14th century, Croatian literature began to flourish, with significant contributions from poets and writers who helped shape the modern form of the language.

Dialects of Croatian

Croatian is characterized by several regional dialects, which can be grouped into three main categories: Shtokavian, Kajkavian, and Chakavian.


The most widely spoken dialect is Shtokavian, which serves as the basis for the standard Croatian language. It is prevalent in central, southern, and eastern parts of Croatia. Shtokavian itself is divided into several sub-dialects, including Eastern Herzegovinian, Bosnian, and Slavonian.


Kajkavian is primarily spoken in the northwestern regions of Croatia, including the capital city, Zagreb. This dialect is distinct from Shtokavian and has its own set of phonological and grammatical features. The name "Kajkavian" comes from the word kaj, meaning "what" in this dialect, as opposed to što in Shtokavian.


Chakavian is spoken along the Adriatic coast and on many Croatian islands. It is the oldest of the three main dialects and has retained many archaic features that have disappeared from other dialects. The name "Chakavian" derives from the word ča, another variant of "what."

Minority Languages in Croatia

While Croatian is the predominant language, Croatia is home to several minority communities that speak their own languages. According to the Croatian Constitution, these minority languages are protected and have co-official status in regions where the minority population exceeds a certain threshold.


Serbian is spoken by the Serbian minority in Croatia, particularly in areas such as Eastern Slavonia, where the Serbian community is more concentrated. Serbian and Croatian are mutually intelligible, as they are both standardized forms of the Shtokavian dialect.


Italian is spoken by the Italian minority, mainly in the Istria County along the western coast of Croatia. Istria has a long history of Italian influence, and Italian is widely taught in schools and used in public life.


Hungarian is spoken by the Hungarian minority, primarily in the regions close to the Hungarian border. The Hungarian community in Croatia maintains its linguistic heritage through cultural associations and educational institutions.

Other Minority Languages

Other minority languages in Croatia include Czech, Slovak, Albanian, and Ruthenian, among others. These languages are spoken by smaller communities scattered throughout the country and are supported through various cultural and educational initiatives.

Influence of Foreign Languages

Due to its strategic location and history of foreign rule, Croatia has been influenced by several other languages over the centuries. This linguistic diversity has left a lasting impact on Croatian vocabulary and culture.

Italian Influence

Italian has had a significant influence on the Croatian language, especially in coastal regions like Dalmatia and Istria. Many Italian loanwords have been adopted into Croatian, particularly in areas related to maritime activities, cuisine, and trade.

German Influence

German has also left its mark on the Croatian language, particularly during the periods of Austro-Hungarian rule. German loanwords are prevalent in areas such as administration, military, and technology.

Turkish Influence

The Ottoman Empire's presence in the Balkans introduced numerous Turkish loanwords into Croatian. These words are often related to food, clothing, and everyday objects, reflecting the cultural exchange between the two regions.

Learning Croatian

For those interested in learning Croatian, there are numerous resources available. Language schools, online courses, and language exchange programs can provide valuable opportunities to learn and practice Croatian. Additionally, immersion through travel and interaction with native speakers can significantly enhance language acquisition.

Grammar and Pronunciation

Croatian grammar can be challenging for learners due to its complex system of cases, verb conjugations, and gender agreements. However, with consistent practice and study, these complexities can be mastered. Pronunciation in Croatian is relatively straightforward, as it is a phonetic language, meaning words are pronounced as they are written.

Useful Phrases

Here are a few basic Croatian phrases that can be useful for beginners:

  • Dobro jutro - Good morning
  • Dobar dan - Good afternoon
  • Dobra večer - Good evening
  • Hvala - Thank you
  • Molim - Please/You're welcome
  • Govorite li engleski? - Do you speak English?
  • Koliko to košta? - How much does it cost?

Croatian in the Digital Age

In the contemporary digital age, the Croatian language has adapted to new forms of communication. Social media, online forums, and digital publications have become platforms for the use and evolution of Croatian. The language continues to grow and change, reflecting the dynamic nature of Croatian society.

Online Resources

There are numerous online resources available for those interested in exploring the Croatian language. Websites like Transparent Language, Duolingo, and various YouTube channels offer lessons and practice materials for learners at all levels.

Language Technology

Language technology, such as text-to-speech and speech recognition software, has also embraced Croatian. These tools can assist learners in practicing pronunciation and comprehension, making language learning more accessible and engaging.

The Role of Language in Croatian Culture

Language plays a vital role in Croatian culture, serving as a means of preserving traditions and fostering a sense of national identity. Festivals, literature, music, and everyday conversations are all enriched by the nuances and expressions unique to the Croatian language.

From the medieval Baška tablet to the latest social media post, the Croatian language continues to be a living, evolving testament to the people and history of Croatia. Whether through its regional dialects, minority languages, or foreign influences, the linguistic tapestry of Croatia offers a rich and multifaceted perspective on this vibrant nation.

Related Questions

Where is croatia?

Croatia is a country situated in Southeast Europe, specifically on the Balkan Peninsula. It is bordered by Slovenia to the northwest, Hungary to the northeast, Serbia to the east, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro to the southeast, and the Adriatic Sea to the west. This prime location makes Croatia a crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, providing a mix of cultural influences and diverse landscapes.

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What currency does croatia use?

Croatia, a beautiful country situated in Southeast Europe, officially uses the Kuna as its currency. The ISO code for the Croatian Kuna is HRK, and its symbol is kn. Introduced in 1994, the Kuna replaced the Croatian Dinar, which had been in use since Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

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What to do in croatia?

The Dalmatian Coast is perhaps Croatia's most famous attraction. Stretching from the island-dotted north to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Dubrovnik in the south, this coastline offers stunning views, crystal-clear waters, and a wealth of activities. The most popular cities to visit along the coast include Split, Zadar, and Dubrovnik.

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What to do in split croatia?

Diocletian's Palace is the crown jewel of Split and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Built in the 4th century by Roman Emperor Diocletian, this sprawling palace complex forms the historic heart of the city. Wander through the labyrinthine streets, where ancient Roman architecture seamlessly blends with modern shops, cafes, and residences. Don't miss the Peristyle, the central square, and the underground cellars, which now host various exhibitions and events.

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