Janjevci (pronounced [ˈjaːɲeʋtsi], Albanian: Janjevët, Croatian: Janjevci), current trend (but not official) attempting to use colloquial Kosovo Croats (Albanian: Kroatët e Kosovës, Croatian: Kosovski Hrvati) are the Croat community in Kosovo, inhabiting the town of Janjevo and surrounding villages near Pristina, as well as villages centered on Letnica near Vitina (Šašare, Vrnez and Vrnavokolo), who are also known as Letničani.

Town of Janjevo, the traditional centre of this community.
Total population
ca. 10,000 (est.)
Regions with significant populations
 Kosovo: ca. 400 people (2011)
 Croatia: ca. 966 families (2002 est.)
Croatian, Albanian,
Roman Catholicism
Related ethnic groups

Identity and culture

The Janjevci declare as ethnic Croats, and derive their ethnonym (Janjevci) from their traditional community centre, in Janjevo. It is believed that the community descends from migrating merchants from the Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik and its hinterland[1]) who settled the area in the 14th century, when modern-day Kosovo was part of medieval Serbia. The first written mention of Catholics in Janjevo is a letter written by Pope Benedict XI in 1303, mentioning Janjevo as the center of the Catholic parish of St. Nicholas. Together with the Saxons from Central Europe, they worked the Serbian mines.[1]

They have maintained their Catholic faith until today. The community speaks the Prizren-South Morava sub-dialect of the Shtokavian dialect.

There are currently studies trying to establish a connection between Janjevci, who left Republic of Ragusa or Dubrovnik at the same time that another group crossed the Adriatic Sea and settled in Italy, known as Molise Croats who speak Italian language with Slavomolisano dialect.

Demographic history

In 1948, there were 5,290 Croats (0.7%) in Kosovo; in 1971 there were 8,264; in 1981 - 8,718 (0.6%); in 1991 - 8,062 (0.4%). During and after the Kosovo War, most of the community had fled to Croatia. 1998 estimations had their number at only 1,800, of which 350 lived in Janjevo. In 2008, there were only 300 Croats estimated to live in Janjevo.[2] In 2011, about 270 Croats lived in the area.[3] The Croatian government has planned to resettle the remaining Janjevci in Kosovo to Croatia. According to the Kosovan 2011 census, there was a total of ca. 400 Janjevci, of whom 80 remain in the Vitina municipality.

Janjevci community in Croatia

Janjevci families started migrating to SR Croatia, part of Yugoslavia, in the 1950s, mostly settling in Zagreb. By the beginning of the 1970s, there was a large community of Janjevci along and within the vicinity of Konjšćinska Street in Dubrava, a district in the eastern part of Zagreb. They have since turned this area into a vibrant shopping district.

During the Yugoslav Wars, a significant part of the Janjevci emigrated to Croatia in several waves (1992, 1995, 1997, 1999), and Letničani were settled by the authorities in Voćin and Đulovac (western Slavonia) and Janjevci in Kistanje (the Dalmatian hinterland) in the abandoned homes of Serbs.[4]

In April 2017, 196 displaced Letničani, composed of 41 families who were waiting on homes promised by the state, were finally given newly built houses in the settlement Dumače, in the municipality of Petrinja [5]

According to records in 2002, there are 966 families of Janjevci in Croatia, with the majority of them residing in the capital Zagreb (669 families), and the rest in other parts of Croatia (297 families).

Famous people

See also


  1. Jan Briza; Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia (2000). Minorities in Serbia. Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia. p. 48. ISBN 978-86-7208-025-4.
  2. Refki Alija (2008-08-15). "Kako žive Hrvati u Janjevu?". Deutsche Welle (in Croatian). Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  3. "Ethnic Croats in Kosovo unhappy with security". Archived from the original on 25 November 2011. Retrieved 3 December 2011.
  4. Antonijević, Nenad (November 2004). "Stanovništvo hrvatske nacionalnosti na Kosovu – Janjevci" (PDF). Dijalog povjesničara - istoričara 9, Vršac (in Serbian). Zagreb, Croatia: Political Science Research Centre Ltd. (PSRC) for Scientific Research Work. pp. 288–289. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-01-28. Retrieved 2012-12-30.
  5. https://lokalni.vecernji.hr/zupanije/nakon-18-godina-obitelji-kosovskih-hrvata-primili-kljuceve-kuca-u-naselju-dumace-3642
  6. "SN PRVE U OBITELJI OLIMPIJSKOG PRVAKA Ludnica u Dubravi: 'I Janjevci imaju olimpijsko zlato!". 2016.
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