Frequency in Croatian population: 22.225 (The Most Frequent)
The origin of the surname Horvat is clearly connected to Croatian ethnicity (Croatian word for a Croat is Hrvat). Several less frequent variants originate from it: Horvatić, Horvatek, Horvatin, Horvatinčić, Hrvat, Hrvatin etc. The surname Horvat in areas with predominantly Croatian ethnic population has much to do with migrations at times when Croatia was administratively divided into many different regions: Dalmatia & Istria were under direct Austrian rule, Croatian & Slavonian military border was separate gubernatorial entity, provinces in areas of today’s Bosnia-Herzegovina were under Otoman (Turkish) Empire, and the rest of the teritory (so called reliquiae reliquiarum) had some authonomy as Croatia under Hungarian crown. So, migrations from one province to another would cause that domestic people give the imigrant’s family surname of Hrvat.
Horvat is also one of the most frequent surnames in Hungary (variant: Horvath), as well as in Slovenia and Slovakia. This fact also is connected to migrations of Croatian people to foreign lands. So, the surname Horvat outside of Croatia, although of the ethnic origin, means more “foreigner” than “Croat”.
Geography. Čakovec (city in the northenmost part of Croatia) has the greatest “density” of it- one in every fourty persons is surnamed Horvat. Nuber of Horvats in Croatia increased by 20 percent during the past half of a century, and are found in every Croatian municipality.
(Sources: Petar Šimunović, Hrvatska prezimena, Golden Marketing-Tehnička knjiga, Zagreb, 2006; Enciklopedija hrvatskih prezimena, Nacionalni rodoslovni centar, 2008)