Croatian Culture


Primary Author
Chara Scroope,


  • Communication Style: It is common for Croatians to speak loudly and be animated in conversations. This is assumed to reflect passion and expressiveness rather than anger. For Croatians, being soft-spoken may be perceived as lacking in confidence. While Croatians tend to possess strong opinions, they are somewhat and contemplative in expressing them.
  • Direct Communication: Croatians tend to be straightforward in conversation. They often choose their words carefully rather than voicing thoughts off the top of their head. Croatians tend to freely express disagreement, but do so in a respectful and diplomatic manner so as not to offend anyone. When Croatians are choosing their words, they consider properly spoken grammar to be quite important. Speaking in incorrect grammar may have a different  impact than intended.
  • Humour: Humour is widely used in conversation. The Croatian sense of humour often contains irony, cynicism and dark humour. At times, it can be difficult to detect the use of humour, as it is not always accompanied with a change in expression or laughter and smiles. Croatians have a tendency to laugh at difficult situations or at personal flaws. This sense of dark humour is not intended to offend others and often comes with the expectation that their conversation partner will behave the same way towards them.
  • Listening Habits: Croatians are known to have a tendency to interrupt their conversation partner, but generally do so in a courteous manner. They will often evaluate what is being spoken and formulate their reply while listening to their conversation partner.


  • Physical Contact: Generally, Croatians do not touch each other when they speak, especially when encountering someone for the first time. When a relationship has been established, light touching (such as a tap on the shoulder) can be common. Public displays of affection, such as kissing and hugging, are considered to be acceptable. Some from the older generation may disapprove or pretend not to see this behaviour.
  • Personal Space: The common distance for personal space is an arm’s length. This distance tends to diminish with familiarity or when in a busy public setting (such as a bar or on public transport).
  • Gestures: Pointing the middle finger towards someone has the same connotation as it does in Australia – an offensive and obscene gesture. Note that raising the thumb, index and middle finger at once is a Serbian gesture and is connected to Serbian nationalism. Avoid doing this gesture in front of a Croatian as it is highly offensive. An instance in which this gesture may accidentally arise is when counting up to the number three with your fingers. To put the first finger and middle finger up (the same as the ‘peace’ sign in Australia) is the national symbol of Croatia.
  • Pointing: Waving or pointing one’s index finger at someone is also considered rude. If someone needs to point towards a person or object, the polite manner is to use the whole hand or nod with one’s head.
  • Eye Contact: eye contact is expected. Avoiding eye contact indicates that you do not care for the person or have something to hide. However, making eye contact with eyes wide open can signify that a person disagrees with a point being made, even if they do not verbally express this disagreement. If wearing sunglasses, it is expected that someone will remove them in order to engage in eye contact.

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