During the 16th century the ancestors of Burgenland Croats began to settle down, in a steady manner, in most of the villages of what is today known as the Federal state of Burgenland. During the interwar period, due to economic backwardness of the Burgenland, Burgenland Croats began immigrating massively overseas. They began to settle down in in Vienna -- first as "pendleri" ( “shuttlers”) and then, in the aftermath of WWII, as permanent residents. As a result of this process, which started in the 20's of the last century, there is a number of second home residences, or „weekend“ Croatian settlements in Burgenland. Still well preserved are Croatian localities and villages, where residents live all year round and who gathered in a number of districts around the following towns and localities: Željezno (Eisenstadt), Upper Puglia (Oberpullendorf) and Borta (Oberwart).
Croatian minority communities of Burgenland in Austria can be tentatively split up into two mutually well connected subgroups: Burgenland Croats in the Federal state of Burgenland (their estimated number is 35 000) and Burgenland Croats residing in Vienna ( 15 000). i.e., a total of 50 000. The causes of such division are predominantly of economic nature – search for employment. According to the census of 2001 about 27 000 people in Austria identified themselves as Burgenland Croats. They declare their mother tongue to be the Burgenland-Croatian. Burgenland Croat communities claim that in Austria their overall number is around 50 000. The specific Croatian community in Austria is certainly the best organized Croatian minority, being also well interconnected with the members of other institutions representing Croatian minorities in neighboring countries. Burgenland Croats are facing today a major challenge -- how to halt the worrying trend in the increasing decline of the Croatian language competence of their children.
As stipulated by the Law on Minorities in Austria (Volksgruppengesetz-1976.g.) Burgenland Croats are viewed as a minority group. In the area of the legislation covering the minorities, some amendment have recently been introduced into the Austrian constitution, with the exception of the introduction of multiculturalism being the main state objective.
The Austrian State Treaty of 1955, and particularly Article 7 of the Treaty, represent the foundation for the protection of minority rights of the Burgenland Croats and Slovenes in Carinthia Burgenland, Carinthia and Styria. Pursuant to Article 7, Austria must meet specific standards in upholding the minority rights of Burgenland Croats and Carinthia Slovenes. The Austrian State Treaty is an international treaty, which means that the Republic of Austria is legally and internationally bound to the contents of that Treaty.
Associations, publishing and media
There is considerable number of institutions in the Republic of Austria representing the Burgenland Croats: Croatian Cultural Centre, Burgenland Croatian Center (www.hrvatskicentar.at), Scientific Institute of Burgenland (www.zigh.at), Croatian Cultural Association of Burgenland (www. hkd.at) and Burgenland-Croatian Cultural Society in Vienna, whose activities involve a number of individuals. Burgenland Croats in Republic of Austria have many cultural institutions: 30 folklore groups and 20 amateur theater groups. A very special role is played by the Cultural Cooperative in Velki Borištof, called KUGA. (www.kuga.at)
Croatian printing company in Željezno ( Eisenstadt) publishes the weekly "Hrvatske novine," an annual calendar, as well as books in the Burgenland-Croatian language dealing with the Croatian literature (www.hrvatskenovine.at). The Croatian Cultural Documentation Center also prints school books for Croatian bilingual schools in Burgenland. Croatian Cultural Society publishes the newspaper "Hrvatsko glasilo." The Croat minority communities in Burgenland have access to all kinds of the media: newspapers, radio and TV on the ORF channel Eisenstadt ( Željezno), as well as a part of the radio program broadcast within the private radio station MORA and covering the Middle Burgenland area.