Note: University of Zagreb // University of Zagreb // Ad-of-croat-cruiser-en-route-to-sth-america
Croatia is inhabited mostly by Croats (90.42%), while minority groups include Serbs (4.36%), Bosniaks, Hungarians, Italians, Albanians, Slovenes, Germans, Czechs, Romani people and others (5.22%). The Constitution of the Republic of Croatia specifies 22 minorities explicitly. Those are Serbs, Czechs, Slovaks, Italians, Hungarians, Jews, Germans, Austrians, Ukrainians, Ruthenians, Macedonians, Bosniaks, Slovenes, Montenegrins, Russians, Bulgarians, Poles, Romani, Rumanians, Turks, Vlachs and Albanians.
|census 1948||census 1953||census 1961||census 1971||census 1981||census 1991||census 2001||census 2011|
| Source: Croatian Bureau of Statistics
including Austrians 247 0.01%, Bulgarians 331 0.01%, Germans 2,902 0.07%, Jews 576 0.01%, Poles 567 0.01%, Romanians 475 0.01%, Russians 906 0.02%, Ruthenians 2,337 0.05, Slovaks 4,712 0.11% Turks 300 0.01%, Ukrainians 1,977 0.04%, Vlachs 12 0.00%
The demographic history of Croatia is characterised by significant migrations, starting with the arrival of the Croats in the area. According to the work De Administrando Imperio written by the 10th-century Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII, the Croats arrived in the area of modern-day Croatia in the early 7th century. However, that claim is disputed, and competing hypotheses date the event between the 6th and the 9th centuries. Following the establishment of a personal union of Croatia and Hungary in 1102, and the joining of the Habsburg Empire in 1527, the Hungarian and German speaking population of Croatia began gradually increasing in number. The processes of Magyarization and Germanization varied in intensity but persisted to the 20th century. The Ottoman conquests initiated a westward migration of parts of the Croatian population; the Burgenland Croats are direct descendants of some of those settlers. To replace the fleeing Croats the Habsburgs called on the Orthodox populations of Bosnia and Serbia to provide military service in the Croatian Military Frontier. Serb migration into this region peaked during the Great Serb Migrations of 1690 and 1737–39. Similarly, Venetian Republic rule in Istria and in Dalmatia, following the Fifth and the Seventh Ottoman–Venetian Wars ushered gradual growth of Italian speaking population in those areas. Following the collapse of Austria-Hungary in 1918, the Hungarian population declined, especially in the areas north of the Drava river, where they represented the majority before World War I.
The period between 1890 and World War I was marked by large economic emigration from Croatia to the United States, and particularly to the areas of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Cleveland, Ohio, and Chicago, Illinois. Besides the United States, the main destination of the migrants was South America, especially Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru. It is estimated that 500,000 people left Croatia during this period. After World War I, the main focus of emigration shifted to Canada, where about 15,000 people settled before the onset of World War II. During World War II and in the period immediately following the war, there were further significant demographic changes as the German-speaking population, the Volksdeutsche, were either forced or otherwise compelled to leave—reducing their number from the prewar German population of Yugoslavia of 500,000, living in parts of present-day Croatia and Serbia, to the figure of 62,000 recorded in the 1953 census. A similar fate was suffered by the Italian population in Yugoslavia populating parts of present-day Croatia and Slovenia, as 350,000 left for Italy. The 1940s and the 1950s in Yugoslavia were marked by colonisation of settlements where the displaced Germans used to live, by people from the mountainous parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, and migrations to larger cities spurred on by the development of industry. In the 1960s and 1970s, another wave of economic migrants left Croatia. They largely moved to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Western Europe. During this period, 65,000 people left for Canada, and by the mid-1970s there were 150,000 Croats who moved to Australia. Particularly large European emigrant communities of Croats exist in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, which largely stem from the 1960s and 1970s migrations.
The most recent significant migrations came as a result of the 1991–1995 Croatian War of Independence. In 1991, more than 400,000 Croats and other non-Serbs were displaced by the Croatian Serb forces or fled the violence in areas with significant Serb populations. During the final days of the war, in 1995, between 120,000 and 200,000 Serbs fled the country before the arrival of the Croatian forces during Operation Storm. Ten years after the war, only 117,000 Serb refugees returned out of the 300,000 displaced during the entire war. Most of the Serbs in Croatia who remained never lived in areas occupied during the Croatian War of Independence. Serbs have been only partially re-settled in the regions they previously inhabited, but some of the areas previously inhabited by Serbs were later settled by Croat refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina, largely from the Republika Srpska.