1. A native of Croatia, in Austria; esp., one of the native Slavic race.
2. An irregular soldier, generally from Croatia.
Member of the majority ethnic group in Croatia. Their language is generally considered to be identical to that of the Serbs, hence Serbo-Croatian.
The Croats, who are mainly Roman Catholics, had a long association with the Austro-Hungarian Empire. During World War II they were closely affiliated to the Axis powers and Croatian fascists were involved in attacks on Serbs. Conflicting separatist demands provoked the outbreak of civil war in Yugoslavia 1991 and led to eventual recognition by the European Community (now the European Union) of Croatia's independence.