Croatian is a South Slavic language and is derived from Old Church Slavonic. In the 19th century, South Slavic nations merged into a united kingdom and unified their very similar languages. The 20th century Yugoslavia used Serbo-Croatian to maintain unity across the country. After taking its independence in 1991, Croatia decided to reform Croatian to differentiate it from Serbian.
It is estimated that Croatian is spoken by around 5 million speakers. It is an official language in Croatia, as well as in Bosnia and Herzegovina (along with Serbian and Bosnian).
Croatian is the standardised form of Serbo-Croatian used in Croatia. It is mutually intelligible with Serbian and Bosnian and shares strong similarities and a common history. The definition of Croatian is controversial and the language is often referred to as Serbo-Croat or Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian (BCMS) in English.
Reflecting Croatia’s position at the crossroads between Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the Ottoman Empire, Croatian used to be written with three different alphabets: Cyrillic, Glagolitic and Latin. Since the 19th century, Croatian has been using Gaj’s Latin alphabet.
1967 is a milestone in the history of Croatian language. That year, Croat scholars addressed the Declaration on the Status and Name of the Croatian Literary Language to the Yugoslavian authorities. It helped protecting Croatian language’s independence.