Croatia and its diaspora have a long and rich history of newspaper publishing beginning in from the late 18th century. Hundreds of general or special-interest newspapers, called novine or listovi, have been published. In Croatia the term list is sometimes applied to periodicals, not just to newspapers, which, in the absence of readily available historical newspaper statistics, makes it difficult to count newspapers throughout Croatian history. For the purposes of this introduction we count as newspapers all novine, plus listovi with a frequency of weekly or greater, but most figures in this introduction should be considered estimates.
It is difficult to summarize the character of the Croatian press, for parts of modern day Croatia were under different political regimes at different times, but what follows may help place the Library of Congress Croatian newspaper collection in some context.
Many of Croatia's intellectual luminaries took part in the early development of the press, such as the Ilyrians Ljudevit Gaj and Ivan Mažuranić. The first newspaper published on the territory of Croatia was the German Kroatischer Korrespondent, in Zagreb, in 1789. The first newspaper in Croatian was the bilingual Kraglski Dalmatin (Il Regio Dalmata), published in Zadar, 1806-1810. (Unfortunately, the Library of Congress does not hold these early titles). The first newspaper published only in Croatian was Gaj's Novine horvatzke, in 1835, followed soon after by its literary supplement, Danica horvatska, slavonska i dalmatinska. Although the Library does not hold Novine horvatzke, it does have a facsimile edition of its related literary journal. Gaj's works were both political and literary in content, but also became important in establishing a standard Croatian literary language.
During the years 1789-1849, 19 newspapers were published in Croatia, eight of them in Croatian, six in German, three in Italian and two bilingual. The revolutions of 1848, and the relaxation of censorship, spurred the growth of newspapers in Croatia, but these were short-lived, for many were shut down by the absolutist government in response to the upheavals. With the end of neo-absolutism and the creation of the Dual Monarchy of Austro-Hungary in 1867, freedom of the press was restored. The 1860s witnessed the rise of a political press and the 1870s the development of the socialist press. Newspaper publishing became more varied and widespread. A survey of the press in Croatia from 1894 revealed that 110 newspapers were being published in Croatia, 7 of which were political dailies, 29 were biweekly or weekly political titles, and 11 were government papers. This robust industry continued to grow until World War I, when many titles ceased or were shut down due to war-time censorship. The Library of Congress has very weak holdings of newspapers from Croatia during the Austro-Hungarian period.
After the end of World War I, Croatia became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, which had greater press restrictions. The industry suffered, with newspapers being shut down every year. With the advent of World War II and the creation of the Nezavisna Država Hrvatska (NDH), or Independent State of Croatia, the Croatian fascist state from 1941 to 1945, press restrictions were even greater. The Library of Congress holds several titles published under the NDH, such as Deutsche Zeitung in Kroatien and the Ustaša newspapers Hrvatsko gospodarstvo, Nova Hrvatska, and Hrvatski narod.
During World War II and the civil war in Yugoslavia, 1941-1944, publishing was drastically curtailed, but the communist era of Yugoslavia (1945-1992) revived the industry. A survey of the Statistical Yearbook of the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia (Statistički godišnjak FNRJ) from 1954 to 1989 shows the growth in Croatian newspapers for most of that period. Thus, in the 1950s Croatia averaged about 140 newspapers per year, and in the 1960s the average in Croatia almost doubled, to over 260 newspapers. In the 1970s and 1980s growth continued with, on average, over 400 and 600 newspapers respectively, published in Croatia, although the numbers began to taper off slightly in the late 1980s. Many of the newspapers during this period were central- and local-party publications, but Croatia also published many special-interest newspapers on culture and trade unions, and titles for young people, among others.
A survey of the Statistički ljetopis Republike Hrvatske (Statistical Yearbook of the Republic of Croatia) reveals that, on average, in the 1990s there were about 230 newspaper titles published per year in Croatia. This represents a dramatic decrease from the communist era, but newspaper publishing rebounded only slightly in the 2000s, with an average of around 300 titles produced per year. According to Statistički ljetopis for 2014, there were 267 newspapers published in Croatia in 2010, down slightly from 334 titles just a few years earlier, in 2008. The Media Sustainability Index for 2014 states that there were 10 major dailies and six major political weeklies in Croatia. The Library of Congress subscribes to two of the top three circulated dailies, Večernji list and Jutarnij list, as well as the political weekly magazine with the highest circulation, Globus.
The preeminent repository for Croatian newspapers is the Nacionalna i sveučilišna knjižnica External in Zagreb. Other important collections can be found in the libraries of various Croatian regional universities and in many archives. Major libraries in the countries that were former Yugoslav republics will also have significant holdings of Croatian newspapers, especially from the communist era.