Demographics of Croatia
Croatia is inhabited mostly by Croats, while minority groups include Serbs, Bosniaks, Hungarians, Italians and others. Catholicism is the predominant religion, while there's also Eastern Orthodoxy and Islam.
The natural growth rate is minute, as the demographic transition is long done. Life expectancy and literacy rates are reasonably high.
Population: 4,422,248 (July 2003 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.31% (2003 est.)
Birth rate: 12.76 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate: 11.25 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate: 1.61 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Life expectancy at birth:
Total fertility rate: 1.93 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
200 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: less than 10 (2001 est.)
Census 2001  (http://www.dzs.hr/Eng/Census/Popis/E01_02_02/E01_02_02.html): Croat 89.6%, Serb 4.5%, Bosniak 0.5%, Hungarian 0.4%, Slovenian 0.3%, Czech 0.2%, Albanian 0.3%, Montenegrin 0.1%, Roma 0.2%, others 3.9%
Changes in the late 20th century
The census of 1991 was the last one held before the war in Croatia, marked by ethnic conflict between the Orthodox Serbs and the Catholic Croats. In the ethnic and religious composition of population of Croatia of that time, those two sets of numbers are quoted as important:
After the end of the war of the 1990s and everything else that it entailed, the numbers are:
The population change since 1991 is illustrated by pro-Serb propagandists with the map below:
The 1981 map is incorrect in several areas where it depicts areas with Serb majority as larger, and the 2001 map is incorrect in several areas where it depicts areas with Croat majority as larger.
The population change is seen by some as a campaign of ethnic cleansing between 1990 and 1995. In earlier stages of the war, most of the Croats of eastern Slavonia, Baranja, Banija, Kordun, eastern Lika, northern Dalmatian Zagora and Konavle fled those areas as they were under Serbian military control. Conversely, most of the Serbs from Bilogora and northwestern Slavonia fled those areas as they were under Croatian military control. In later stages of the war, most of the Serbs of western Slavonia, Banija, Kordun, eastern Lika and northern Dalmatian Zagora fled those areas as they came under Croatian military control.
There were several incidents of what can be pretty clearly explained as ethnic cleansing: the attacks on and the subsequent expulsion of population from the villages and towns of Škabrnja, Kijevo, Vukovar, Medak. Although widely assumed to be a war in which ethnic cleansing was generally used, no international institution has yet established a clear pattern that would indicate that either side in the war in Croatia committed ethnic cleansing on the scale of the whole country, including the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague. However, the leader of the rebel Serbs Milan Babić was indicted, plead guilty and was convicted for persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds, a crime against humanity, which combined with the content of his indictment implies that there was ethnic cleansing on the whole area of Krajina.
The war ended with military victories of the Croatian government in 1995 and subsequent peaceful reintegration of the remaining renegade territory in eastern Slavonia in 1998. The exodus of the Krajina Serbs in 1995 was prompted by the advance of the Croatian troops, but it was still mostly self-organized rather than forced. All of them have been officially called upon to stay shortly before the operation, and called to return after the end of the hostilities, with varying but increasing degrees of guarantees from the Croatian government. All persons that participated in the rebellion but committed no crimes were pardoned by the government in 1997.
Most Croat refugees returned to their homes, while two thirds of the Serbs remain in exile; the other third either returned or had remained in Zagreb and other parts of Croatia not directly hit by war.
The current reasons why many Serb refugees still haven't returned vary: for non-civilians, it's fear of prosecution for war crimes (Croatian legal system, like the ICTY, has secret lists of war crimes suspects) and fear of retaliation; for civilians, it's unfavourable property laws, ethnic discrimination by local authorities, and last but not the least, appalling economic conditions in the rural areas they inhabited. The property laws, in particular, favor Croats who immigrated into the previously predominantly Serb-inhabited areas after having been forced out of Bosnia and Herzegovina by the Serbs.
The refugee situation is politically sensitive, as the Croatian government denies any ethnic cleaning on a large scale as is claimed by some of the Serbs (though not their governments).
Slow refugee return and slow prosecution of Croatian army personnel are some of the main obstacles to Croatia's application to the European Union.