Croats (Croatian: Hrvati) are a south Slavic people mostly living in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (where they're one of the constitutive nations). Autochthonous Croat minorities exist in Vojvodina in northern Serbia, Boka Kotorska in western Montenegro, and Burgenland in the eastern part of Austria (as well as bordering areas of western Hungary and Slovakia). There is a notable Croat diaspora in western Europe, the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Croats are predominantly Catholic and their language is Croatian.
The population numbers are reasonably accurate domestically: a bit under four million in Croatia and around 600,000 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Abroad, the count is approximated due to incomplete statistical records and naturalization but estimates suggest that there at least as many Croats abroad as there are at home. The largest emigrant groups are in western Europe: primarily Germany, where the emigrant community groups estimate around 450,000 people with direct Croatian ancestry. Italy, Sweden, United Kingdom etc follow. Overseas, the Americas contain the largest Croatian emigration: the United States (Ohio, California) and Canada (Mississauga), as well as Argentina, Chile, Peru, Brazil and Bolivia. There is also notable Croat population in Australia (Perth, Sydney) and New Zealand as well as South Africa. The foremost organization of the Croatian diaspora is the Croatian Fraternal Union.
It should be noted that the domestic population number includes a non-negligible amount of people who don't actually live in Croatia all year: instead, they live work in a nearby European country during large parts of the year, returning home for the holiday seasons (and the census, obviously).
Tanais stone with the inscription "Horoatos" highlighted
The origin of the Croat tribe before the great migration of the Slavs is uncertain. One theory suggests they are descended from ancient Persia (cf. Alans). The earliest mention of the Croatian name, Horoathos, can be traced on two stone inscriptions in Greek language and script, dating from around the year 200 AD, found in the seaport Tanais on the Azov sea, Crimea peninsula (near the Black Sea). Both tablets are kept in the Archeological museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
In the 7th century, the Croat tribe moved from the area north of the Carpathians and east of the river Vistula (what was referred to as the White Croatia) and migrated into the western Dinaric Alps. Genetically, most Croats have a mixed genotype similar to other Slavs, but with the major set of genes being specific to a "Dinaric" subgroup probably inherited from pre-Slavic Croatia's and Bosnia's inhabitants.
For the rest of the history of the Croats, please see history of Croatia.
See also: List of Croats