The people of every country and every region have some sort of a stereotype attached to them. That’s just how people are. Sometimes they’re funny, sometimes they’re flattering and sometimes they downright hurt. The common thing is that they are almost always wrong.
Croatia is a genuinely diverse country. Although small, Croatia has a wonderful coastline, impressive mountain ranges and endless Pannonian lowlands. We are a legitimate geographical and cultural part of central Europe, the Balkans and the Mediterranean all in once. The people of Croatia have throughout history often been ruled by different empires and foreign rulers, leaving traces of their own cultures, habits and language.
All of this has made the people of Croatia extremely diverse and different even among themselves. We are a mixed bag of different cultural influence, mentalities and habits. There is no need to explain that this is a prefect soil for stereotypes and jokes. They are funny, but they are all in good fun – we assure you.
A typical Dalmatian
The day for a typical Dalmatian starts at noon. Note that this doesn’t mean that work day starts at noon. It’s too beautiful outside to work. The sun is shining, the sound of the sea is hypnotizing and the women are beautiful. The people of Dalmatia had the fortune to be born into a paradise. No wonder they are, let’s say, little reluctant to spend their days working.
They would much rather spend them siting in cafes, sipping coffee and talking. About each other mostly. The traditional pastime of a stereotypical Dalmatian is gossip. And complaining. Complaining about heat, complaining about the lack of heat, complaining about crowds of tourists, complaining when there are no crowds and complaining when their football club is doing poorly. They would probably complain if their team was doing well, but luckily that almost never happens.
The people of Dalmatia are extremely proud and temperamental. They are known to be really beautiful people and their men proud themselves as being notorious seducers. But if you go to Dalmatia looking to have a fling with a tall, dark southerner, keep in mind that you will never outshine the most important woman in every Dalmatian man’s life. Their mother.
The people of Zagorje
The Croatian Zagorje is really an idyllic place. Lush green hills, adorned with historic castles, tidy picturesque villages, with carefully tendered gardens and vineyards. The people, hardworking, fun loving and stereotypically short. Any resemblance to Tolkien’s Shire and Hobbits is accidental.
The best known stereotype about the people of Zagorje is that they love their wine. And I guess this is not so much a stereotype as point of identity of the entire region. The favorite holiday of the region is St. Martin day, the day of christening of young wine. The events of the day have very little to do with religion and a lot to do with wine. Kind of like St Patrick’s, only drunker.
The region of Zagorje has had the most contact with Habsburg Empire and Germanic culture off all Croatian regions. This has left a great impact in the culture of life and values of the people of Zagorje. They are considered to be organized and hardworking, their houses and yards tidy and very well presented.
On the other hand, this perfectionism combined with their Slavic temperament has made them susceptible to be portrayed as petty and envious. Like rather having the neighbors’ cow die than getting a new one themselves. And yes, if you cross them – they will sue you.
The people of Zagreb
Zagreb is not a region. Zagreb is much more than that.
The capital city is the home for almost a quarter of Croats and is a center of the economic and cultural life of the entire country. Compared to other European metropolises, Zagreb is a charming little town, but from the Croatian point of view Zagreb is a huge urban center.
And the people of Zagreb know that.
The biggest stereotype about the people of Zagreb is that they are snobby and pretentious and that they look down on all other regions. For them, everything in Croatia outside of Zagreb is uncharted wilderness habited by savages. The picture of stereotypical Zagrebians are wrinkled posh old ladies, wearing their moth infested fur coats and fake pearl necklaces in May raising their noses when they hear accents of college students from other regions, acting like they are here just to stick used pieces gum to their precious park benches.
Luckily, this is mostly not true at all. The real Zagrebians are nothing like that and they are a rare breed. Most of the people living in Zagreb either came, or originate from other parts of Croatia. And in the summer months, when they use their vacation days, they shed their posh, capital skin and become Slavonians, Dalmatians or Istrians again.
The people of Slavonia
Everything grows in the rich soil of the Slavonian lowlands. If you throw the leftovers from an apple to the ground and just leave it there, a tree will probably grow out. Historically, the region of Slavonia was always one of the richest regions in Croatia, drawing in people from all over the country. Everything was abundant and it made people of Slavonia carefree.
The main stereotype of the people of Slavonia is that they are jolly, laidback and, well – plump. Not everything is flat in Slavonia, if you catch my drift. The people from this region simply like to laugh, eat and have fun. Most of the Slavonian traditions and celebrations are based around eating enormous amounts of food, drink extremely strong plum brandy and poke fun at someone, something and even themselves. If you are to attend a wedding in Slavonia, clear your schedule for the rest of the week and be prepared to go at least two holes up on your belt.
Photo Credit: (1) Your local connection, (2) Peter, (3) Vedran Vrhovac, (4) Ivo Pervan, Croatia Tourist Board, (5) Romulic and Stojcic, Croatia Tourist Board