Croatian Identity: Navigating the Croatian Mentality

Croatia is a wonderful destination for a short visit and a long-term stay, and in either case, understanding the mentality of Croatian people will come in handy.

I’ll try to portray an average Croatian mentality based on living in Croatia for my whole life and understanding a few things about myself.

Just like anywhere else in the world, people can have both good and bad qualities, and I’ll try to focus on both the good and bad sides of the Croatian mentality.

What is the mentality in Croatia?

The common mentality in Croatia can be explained by the saying, “Take it easy and let the life flow” while enjoying the hours-long coffee session by the promenade on Monday.

We Croats, don’t like to stress more than necessary, as living in Croatia can sometimes be quite anxious and stressful by default.

This bad side of living in Croatia is mostly related to bureaucracy and corruption in politics, but many Croats also like to create problems when there’s a lack of it, it’s almost an addicting feeling.

Moreover, work-related problems in a growing scarcity where inflation goes up certainly don’t make things any easier.

However, due to all of these things, Croats are masters at survival, and thus to compensate for the lack of organization of Western countries, we Croats like to slow down and improvise.

What’s there to worry about? We complained 10 years ago, we complained yesterday, yet we are still here to complain today and when you think about it, we don’t miss a thing.

Why are Croatians so proud?

While there are many complaints Croatians have about their own country, Croatians are also proud of their country and they don’t fail to show it.

Croatian pride comes from a few important factors, the beautiful and attractive nature, the rich history, the successful sports nation, and the ability to overcome hardships.

Photo of Dubrovnik taken through a window

Plus on top of it, there are only around 4 million Croatians in Croatia which makes every achievement a little bit sweeter.

You can check my article on what is Croatia known for where I explained most of these points already and in greater detail.

Moreover, besides a few bad apples, Croatians are also respective of other nations and tend to form alliances and friendships with foreigners.

The rich and sad history of Croatia

Croatia always had an interesting history as for most of its existence it didn’t have its own ruler but was rather a part of the foreign rulers. From 400 years-long participation in the Austro-Hungarian Empire to being one of the states that formed Yugoslavia until recently after the war for independence in 1991-1995.

Even long ago in medieval times, most kings who ruled over Croatia weren’t Croats, and the trend continued so far to modern times.

However, Croats were always ferocious warriors who throughout history fought the invaders whether they were the notorious Ottoman Empire or any other danger until they finally, got their independence after the fall of Yugoslavia.

Today many Croatians finally feel the independence they deserve which makes them proud and happy.

Croatians are crazy about sports (read: football)

Great sportsmen from Croatia including Stipe Miocic, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Mate Parlov, and Drazen Petrovic whose absolute elite performances got them the world-recognized fame speak for the fact that Croatia is a sport nation.

However, if there’s one thing that unites Croatians the most, it’s Croatian football.

Luka Modric, football star
Luka Modrić. (2023, June 21). In Wikipedia.

Formed from absolute football legends with the captain Luka Modric ahead, Croatian football is the reason why so many Croatians are proud.

It’s hard to explain the unstoppable wave of madness, enthusiasm, happiness, and tears on the streets in Croatia every time our national team achieves results such as the silver medal in the World Cup.

If you were to visit Croatia during those days, you’d experience something rarely seen in life.

Life is chill in Croatia

As I already mentioned, Croatian people can adapt and overcome unusual situations, so it’s not a surprise that life in Croatia looks different than in most Western states.

You’ll often hear Croatians proudly stating how the main benefit of living in Croatia is the cool, chill life where you don’t have to rush for everything.

In comparison, many foreigners who come to Croatia are surprised that people here don’t work the whole day until earning the right to retire, with a serious face, minding only their businesses and chugging a coffee just for a stimulant to continue the work after a 5-minute of pause.

Croatians slowly build their future and never forget prioritizing friends and family first.

Moreover, many Croatians own a house they can live in or rent and families are warmer, and harder to separate from than it’s the practice in many other states.

What are the personalities of Croatians?

While personalities highly differ from a person to a person in every nation, there are some general attributes that can be found among Croatians.

Educated and smart

I have heard that the average Croatian IQ is 90, however, I am very skeptical of most IQ tests and don’t believe they are the right presentation of someone’s intelligence or value.

It’s difficult to talk about this topic and I’ve met super-intelligent Croatians and complete dummies, and due to the increasing trend of smart people leaving Croatia for the states with better opportunities, this gets even more complicated.

Let’s talk about education, as it directly corresponds with someone’s ability to fix problems and contribute to society, at least on some average.

The Croatian education system is really good, the concepts learned in high school are very versatile, there’s a mandatory foreign language with optional 3rd foreign language students can pick and some schools even force you to pick 2 foreign languages.

Thus, you’ll find Croatians speaking multiple languages with the most popular being English (almost 60% of the population) with German and Italian as the next most popular languages Croatians can speak.

Due to excellent college programs in which the state often covers the entire studentship, there’s an increasing trend of highly educated Croatians.

Knowing that you can get highly educated without falling into debt is an awesome feeling.

Croatia gave the world many inventions, and while it’s truly a home to many smart people with great scientists, engineers, inventors, and doctors, unfortunately, those people usually leave for foreign states where their value will be appreciated (so-called brain drain).

Easy-going, Unconventional

Croatians are easy-going and unconventional.

While this depends on the region, Croatians love jokes including the dark ones, unconventional behaviors, fun, and more cool stuff.

For instance, a handshake is a safe option in every scenario, moreover, fist bumps are for friends and acquaintances, and hugs, shoulder, and back pattings are also fine with most people you befriended (although don’t overdo it).

While nobody loves when someone’s being late, we won’t take it to heart, especially if you have a good excuse, but even better than coming up with an excuse is to platit pivu (buy them a beer).

Croatians love spending time with friends and family, but they also love complete strangers and will treat them as friends as long as the stranger genuinely wants to make the connection and is easy-going too.

The best way to befriend Croatians is with some drinks or good Croatian food if you ask me for a piece of advice.

People walking in Zagreb park Maksimir
Maksimir, Zagreb

What are Croatian beliefs and values?

Family and Community

Family plays a central role in Croatian culture, and there is a strong emphasis on close-knit family bonds.

It’s common for Croatian children to remain in the same household with their family up to their early 30s and some remain there forever, eventually inheriting the house and possessions.

Such practice is seen as weird in nearby states such as Germany or Austria, as people separate there early in life after graduating high school.

While these close family relations might seem weird to some, they come with great benefits as it’s easier to survive in the pack, and most people have something to inherit opposite of people in the western states where it’s harder and harder to own a property.

Thus, Croatian people like family gatherings and like to maintain close bonds with those in the family they get along with.

Patriotism and National Identity

Croatians are proud of their national identity and heritage. They have a strong sense of patriotism and often celebrate their history and traditions, especially during national holidays and events.

Patriotism is especially seen in older generations who went through the independence war in the 90s and left huge sacrifices for today’s independence.


Croatia is a secular state with Catholicism as the biggest religion, but people from various religions and sets of beliefs live together in a piece.

Religion played an important role in shaping the values and practices of the people.

Religious holidays and traditions are always a great way to gather together and celebrate them along with domestic food and music.

Moreover, some people just enjoy the fact that Croatia is abnormally full of holidays, so it means less work and responsibilities.


Croatians are known for their hospitality and welcoming nature as we are party people who love telling stories and offering food and drinks to visitors.

Hospitality is at the heart of the Croatian nation, especially due to the fact that the main source of state income comes from tourism.

I mean, we must not bite the hand that feeds!

Respect for Elders

Respect for older generations is highly valued in Croatian society as we see elders as wise and deserving of honor and deference.

The fact that we care about family norms adds up to this.

It’s common for young Croatians to take care of their parents and grandparents when they no longer can take care of themselves.

Pretty much, every second house has a grandma or grandpa who has a special position in the household.

Hard Work and Perseverance

While Croatians like to chill down and aren’t in a hurry, Croatians tend to value hard work and perseverance.

There is a sense of pride in overcoming challenges and achieving success through dedication and effort which is the reason why Croatian employees as often seen as high-quality personnel.

Unfortunately, local employers often don’t appreciate a good employee who asks to be paid their worth.

Sense of Community and Solidarity

Croatians have experienced historical challenges, including wars and conflicts. As a result, there is often a sense of solidarity and community support in times of need.

It’s not unusual for Croatians to stand up together when someone needs help whether it’s on a global level or friendships.

Croatians are often seen as good and loyal friends, and if we could only defeat the corruption in politics, we would prosper like never before. Unfortunately, it’s easy to distract people from important goals with a couple of tricks.


There you go, while not all Croatians fall into this description of Croatian mentality, I believe that’s a good presentation of an average Croatian.

The purpose of this article was to make you more familiar with the Croatian mindset so that you know what you can expect from people.

In the end, I want to finish this article with, take it easy and enjoy life and if you need help with that, come to Croatia!


Dino is a local who has spent 27 years of his life in Croatia. He's here to provide you with useful information and some local guidance.

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