Croatia (Hrvatska)

  • Print

Croatia is a Central European and Mediterranean country, bordering Slovenia in the west, Hungary in the north, Serbia in the east and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the south. Croatia also has a long maritime border with Italy in the Adriatic Sea. Its capital is Zagreb. In recent history, it was a republic in the SFR Yugoslavia, but it achieved independence in 1991. Croatia is both Mediterranean and Central European, mountainous and lowland, coastal and continental country. Characterized by preserved natural heritage, it conceives the great number of the national parks in small land surface. Croatia stands for many diverse natural resources and attractions with the most interesting coast in Europe with 1185 islands on the Adriatic, crystal clear, clean blue sea, Dubrovnik - the world's most beautiful and best preserved medieval city, thousand years of different cultures.


Croatia is the Latinized version of the native name Hrvatska. The strange shape (similar to a croissant) - like no other country in the world - comes as a result of five centuries of expansion by the Ottoman (Turkish) empire towards Central Europe (although Croatia was never conquered by the Turks).


Slavic Croatian tribes settled in the area in the early 7th century (arriving from present day Poland), accepting Christianity in around 800 A.D., and soon establishing their own state ruled by princes or dukes. In 925, Croatia became a kingdom under the rule of King Tomislav. In 1102 the country formed a union with Hungary which lasted until 1918. After the end of the First World War, Yugoslavia (the land of South Slavs) was formed. The country was invaded by Nazi Germany in April 1941, which gave Croatia independence under Ante Pavelic. Resistance movement under Tito liberated the country in May 1945 and Croatia became one of the Yugoslav republics ruled by the communist government until 1991 when Croatia declared its independence, prompting Serbian invasion. Almost all Croats rose to defend their country under the leadership of its first president, the late Franjo Tudjman, and after five years the country was liberated.


The Croatian National flag is red-white-blue tricolor (arranged in this order perpendicularly to the staff), with the coat of arms (13 red squares and 12 silver squares arranged intermittently in a 5 times 5 pattern). This coat of arms was affirmed by 15th century documents. It is a very old symbol of Croatia resembling a red-white chess table.

Now it also has a crown composed of five regional symbols representing:

  1. The oldest known Croatian coat of arms
  2. Dubrovnik
  3. Dalmatia
  4. Istria
  5. Slavonia


Croatia covers a land area of 56,610 square kilometers and has a population of about 4.4 million people (2001 census). Over 90% of the population is Croat (the majority of whom are Roman Catholics), but there are also Serbian, Bosnian, Hungarian and Italian minorities. The main population centers are Zagreb, the capital (with a population of just under 800,000), Osijek in the northwest, and the ports of Rijeka, and Split in the south. The official language is Croatian, which is written in the Latin script.

Croatia has an amazing 5,835km of coastline, 4,057km of which belongs to islands, cliffs and reefs. There are 1,185 islands in the Adriatic, but only about 50 are populated. The largest island is Krk (near Rijeka) which has a land area of 462 square km. The climate is Mediterranean along the Adriatic coast, meaning warm dry summers and mild winters, with 2,600 hours of sunlight on average yearly - it is one of the sunniest coastlines in Europe! In the interior of the country, the climate is continental with hot summers and cold, snowy winters.