Expats send more than tourism earns over the summer, Vecernji List daily said on Saturday after a research on how expats perceive Croatia.
Expats think Croatia’s greatest advantages are nature, tradition, the cultural heritage, hospitality, gastronomy and a rich history, while seeing as the biggest disadvantages a weak economy, ineffective political government, the legacy of communism, a low level of democracy and political culture, lack of unity, and environmental care.
Although last year’s census shows that Croatia’s population is under four million, it can actually boast of eight million of its people.
Excluding the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Croatian minorities in neighbouring countries, the facts show that more than four million Croatian emigrants and their descendants live across the world.
The most numerous are the descendants of those who left in the late 19th and the early 20th century in search of work and freedom. They are well integrated and respected in their new communities, from Canada and the United States via Argentina and Chile to Australia and New Zealand.
They represent a strong potential of political, social and economic power. The question is to what extent they feel Croatia, what Croatian identity means to them, what could make them visit the old country more often and invest in it, promote it and lobby for its political interests.
The Croatian diaspora includes the children of post-WWII political emigrants. They are quite integrated but extremely sensitive to the ideological topics in Croatia, often bringing fervour into their communities’ social activities.
Croatian emigrants also include top scientists, humanists, experts and business people who, unhappy with the situation in the former Yugoslavia and looking for freedom, democracy and better living and working conditions, built their careers in the West, making up those societies’ elites now.
They were joined by those who left Croatia in the last 30 years, from professionals who, thanks to their talent, knowledge and creativity, quickly integrated into their new societies, to those who, looking for better-paid jobs and more just societies, became an attractive and still cheap labour to rapidly growing Western democracies.
There are also those who, since the 1960s, have gone to work in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and other Western countries. Their children are educated and well-off citizens of the world who like to holiday in Croatia, listen to Croatian music and support Croatia’s national team in sports rather than those of the countries they were born in, the newspaper said.