Burgenland Croats

Burgenland Croats are descendants of Croats displaced during the 16th and 17th centuries from the territories of Croatian provinces that were threatened by the penetration of the Ottomans. Today, Burgenland Croats form the youngest ethnic community in Austria. The state of Burgenland is located between the Alps in the west and the Pannonian Plain in the east and serves as a kind of border area - it borders with Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia and the two states of Austria, Styria and Lower Austria. The exact number of displaced Croats is unknown, but it is estimated at between 60 and 150 thousand people. The immigrant Croats mostly used the Shtokavian and Chakavian dialects, but part of them also used the Kajkavian dialect. The dialectal basis of the literary Burgenland-Croatian language is the mixed Ikavian-Ekavian pronunciation. The Burgenland-Croatian language is included in the UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger. The Atlas also states that between twenty-seven and thirty thousand speakers of Burgenland-Croatian live in 64 urban Croatian settlements in Austria, 14 in Hungary and 5 in Slovakia. The inhabitants of Burgenland mostly see themselves as Croats and nurture their culture and tradition. Family and community play a major role in preserving their original identity, but this is increasingly difficult to nurture it among the younger generations as they generally take on the majority culture that surrounds them. They use the Burgenland-Croatian language mainly at home and in the immediate community, and German in all other parts of life. Part of the education (lower primary education) is organised bilingually, but it is not possible to complete the entire higher education in Burgenland-Croatian. Although most Burgenland Croats live in Vienna, they spend their holidays and weekends in Burgenland, which they consider to be their home, and spend time with family at gatherings and celebrations.

Read more: Croats outside Croatia