Of love and national borders: the Croatian anthem 'Our Beautiful Homeland'

Christopher Kelen*, Aleksandar Pavković

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Croatia became a UN member only in 1992, after the violent break-up of Yugoslavia. Its anthem is marked by historically founded ambivalences as to the nature and territorial extent of the nation in question. This article offers an interpretation of the current version of the anthem and an analysis of the narrative and imagery of the nineteenth-century poem from which the anthem originates. Three of the anthem's four stanzas speak about the Croats' love for their homeland and their people and of the steadfastness and immortality of their love; the remaining stanza extolls the beauty of the homeland. By addressing the homeland's rivers and the sea directly, its singers appropriate this geography and so demarcate the borders of their much-loved homeland. The anthem thus asserts Croatia's unity (against potential pretenders) and its unbreakable ties with its people. In contrast, the original fourteen-stanza poem 'The Croatian Homeland', written in 1835, is a paean to the Croats' ties to nature, their simple life and bravery - the romantic virtues of pure national souls. On their path to anthemhood, the four stanzas drawn from this poem have undergone significant modifications and additions, the result being a song that is doubly reassuring: it reassures the singers first of the people's love for themselves as a people, and second that this love is the means by which the 'natural' territory of the homeland is maintained.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-266
Number of pages20
JournalNations and Nationalism
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


  • Croatia
  • Illyrianism
  • national anthems
  • national unity
  • nationalism
  • patriotism
  • separatism


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