Skip to main content


  • Matkovic, B. (2013) Croatian diaspora in Latin America: The example of successful integration of the national minority and its links with the homeland, Narratives of Migration and Exile, King's College London, 22nd February, programme available at

Smaller Croatian communities have been present in Latin America since 18 century. However, after the late 19th century larger Croatian communities settled in Argentina, Brazil and Chile where between 650,000 and 700,000 people of Croatian origin live today.

During the first half of the 20th century, these economic immigrants maintained strong links with their home country despite limited means of communication and they managed to preserve their own identity. Moreover, they founded schools, built churches and entire settlements, organised cultural, sport and charity societies, and published papers. At the same time, they fully integrated into new society contributing in many areas of life, such as culture, and, influencing economic growth of Latin American countries. Till 1945, Croatian immigrants also cooperated with other Yugoslav immigrants providing their support to the idea of the united Yugoslav state, especially during the First and Second World War.

However, political orientation of the Croatian communities in Latin America, especially those in Argentina, dramatically changed after the Second World War when the country provided the refuge to thousands of Croatian immigrants who fled Yugoslavia where the communist regime was established. During the next 45 years these communities remained one of the most influential strongholds where the idea of a free and independent Croatia, and provided significant help to the Republic of Croatia during the recent war.

Therefore, Croatian communities kept their influence in economic and cultural life of their new countries, while at the same time they encouraged political changes in their home country.

Researching demographic losses in the Second World War in former Yugoslavia has been facing many difficulties since 1945 when the number of victims was presented for the first time. Even though Yugoslav authorities and organisations did research and prepared the victims list in 1946, 1950 and 1964, the data were mostly based on testimonials instead of documents. Moreover, these research proved that total number of victims was actually quite smaller than the Yugoslav authorities claimed and therefore, the results were kept secret until 1989. The fact there was no population census between 1931 and 1948 complicates this kind of research even more.
The research in the Croatian archives has shown that the Yugoslav authorities also prepared lists of the missing, dead and living 'enemies' for every village and town. Although the lists are incomplete, they demonstrate without a doubt that the Yugoslav government knew the approximate number of all WWII victims in Yugoslavia, including those killed by the communists. Moreover, the sources indicate that occasionally victims of communist repressions were presented to the public as victims killed by the German, Italian or Croatian Army.
The numbers have been manipulated in former Yugoslavia, and even in today's Croatia they are still the subject of politically motivated debates. The manipulation of the victim numbers also had an international dimension as these numbers were used in the 1960s in the negotiations with Germany about compensation payments. Therefore, researching demographic losses in former Yugoslavia has remained one of the most controversial topics in the modern history of Balkans.