Croats of Austria

Location: BurgenJand, eastern Austria
Population: 26,100 total; 18,800 in Burgenland
% of population: 7% of Burgenland population
Religion: Catholic
Language: Croat dialect

Croats have lived in Burgenland, a province along Austria’s border with Hungary since the mid-fifteenth century. The area formerly belonged to Hungary but after World War I became part of Austria. In addition to the 18,800 speakers recorded in Burgenland, several thousand Croat speakers live in the Vienna area. Burgenland also has a Magyar (Hungarian) speaking minority of 4,000.

Along with the Slovenes the Croats are the subject of both Article 7 of the Austrian State Treaty of 1955 and the Ethnic Groups Act of 1976. However there has been less controversy concerning the Croat situation, possibly because of its position bordering Hungary rather than Yugoslavia. The 1937 School Act governs teaching in settlements with a Croat majority but the lack of Croat textbooks is a problem. There is a formal right to use the Croat language in courts and administration but as 90% of the Burgenland population speaks only German this is difficult to practise. The Croatian Cultural Society has been a focus of culture, education and political activity.

(See also Slovenes of Austria)