tThe Republic of Croatia is a central European country on the Balkan Peninsula. Shaped like a horseshoe, Croatia shares its borders with many neighbours: Slovenia and Hungary to the north, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the east and south and Serbia to the east. The Adriatic Sea forms Croatia's long western boundary, the tip of the republic reaching out as far as Montenegro.
Fortress Lovrijenac in the northern side of Dubrovnik
Croatia occupies an area of about 56,540 sq km. The republic's diverse territory includes flat plains, lakes, low mountains, and rolling hills, a coastline1,778 km long, and more than 1,000 offshore islands.
Croatia includes Dalmatia and Istria, in the southwest on the Adriatic coast, and Croatia-Slavonia to the east. The northwest is known as the central mountain belt and includes part of the Dinaric Alps. Slavonia contains a large amount of fertile agricultural land and has oil deposits along its eastern edge. The central mountain belt is known for fruit, and the farms of Istria and Dalmatia produce grapes and olives. The northeast is a fertile agricultural area where cattle breeding is important.
The Dinaric Alps consist of several parallel ranges of mountains that extend from north-eastern Italy and western Slovenia. They include densely wooded mountains in Lika and Gorski Kotar. The ranges run southeast along the Adriatic Coast and into northern Albania. The Dinaric Alps have almost no natural passes and form a barrier between the Adriatic and the interior of the peninsula. The coastal range is partially submerged, which accounts for the many bays, gulfs, inlets, and offshore islands.
The Pannonian Plains in the east are a low-lying, fertile, agricultural region drained by the Drava and Sava rivers. Both rivers flow into the Danube River, one of the most important waterways in Europe. The Sava River flows through Slovenia and Croatia, forming the border between Croatia and Bosnia, and the Drava River passes through Slovenia and forms part of the Croatian-Hungarian border. The region of Slavonia lies in this part of the republic, between the Sava and Drava rivers.
Dalmatia, in the west, is a narrow, barren strip of land that slopes down to the Adriatic Sea. The region is composed of a rocky coastal strip and islands along the Adriatic Sea; it is divided from the interior by the Dinaric Alps. Its beautiful landscape has made it an important tourist attraction.
To the north and west of Dalmatia lies Istria, a mountainous peninsula that projects into the Adriatic Sea, between the gulfs of Trieste and Kvarner, south of the Karst Plateau. The central and southern parts of the Istrian Peninsula belong to Croatia. Fishing, timber, agriculture and wine making are the main industries.
National park Krka
Croatia has a mixture of continental and Mediterranean climates. The climate is predominantly continental throughout the republic, with hot summers and cold winters. However, the coastal climate is more Mediterranean, with mild, rainy winters and warm, dry summers. Inland, the average temperature ranges between 0° C in January to about 24° C in July, while on the coast temperatures can range between 9° C in January to 25° C in July. Annual rainfall along the coast is about 760 mm.
View of the historical centre and harbour of Rovinj
In the 7th century AD, the region today known as Croatia was settled by Carpathian Croats, a southern Slavic people, with origins in ancient Persia. In the 10th century, they formed one of the most powerful kingdoms in the region and remained independent until 1102 when the Croatians ended a civil war by agreeing to be ruled by Hungary.
During the 16th century, Croatia came under the rule of the Austrian Habsburgs. Then, in 1867 it became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, with Dalmatia and Istria ruled by Austria and Croatia-Slavonia ruled by Hungary. With the defeat of Austro-Hungary at the end of World War I, Croatia joined other southern Slavic territories to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, which was renamed Yugoslavia in 1929.
In World War II Germany and Italy established a Nazi puppet state, ‘Greater Croatia’ comprising Croatia-Slavonia, part of Dalmatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. At the end of the war, it became a constituent republic within Tito's Yugoslav Socialist Federal Republic.
Croatia declared its independence in 1991, igniting a civil war with the Croatian Serbs, seeking their own autonomy. The war caused Croatia to lose its leading position in the region. It not only brought physical destruction but it caused a delay in the transition from a Communism to democracy. Peaceful re-integration was completed in 1998 with the help of the United Nations. As stability returned in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Croatia's economy began to recover.
The Croatian National Theatre, Zagreb
Croatia's economy is based mostly on services, some light industry and tourism. Before the break up of Yugoslavia in 1991, Croatia was the most prosperous and industrialized republic after Slovenia, even though Communists had been in power since the end of the Second World War.
After war broke out in 1991, Croatia's economy declined considerably. The country's gross domestic product (GDP) went down, as inflation went up. Unemployment increased sharply and the tourist industry was badly hit as was industry and agriculture. The country's infrastructure was badly damaged, and there was the cost of sheltering more than 600,000 refugees.
The recovery began in 1993, Croatia was admitted to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank). By the end of the year, nearly half of Croatia's businesses had been privatised and agricultural production was increasing. After ten years, it had made enough progress to formally apply for EU membership.
Croatia's industries include: aluminium, chemicals, construction materials, electronics, food processing, iron and steel products, machine tools, natural gas, paper, petroleum, plastics, shipbuilding, textiles, tourism, wine making and wood products.
Old square in Dubrovnik
Croatia has been a parliamentary democracy since the adoption of the 1990 constitution. Under the constitution, the president of the republic is the head of state. The president is elected by direct popular vote to a five-year term and then calls elections for the legislature. In addition to being the commander in chief of the armed forces, the president appoints a council of ministers. The Croatian Parliament is elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms.
The Prime minister is appointed by the consent of Parliament at the president's recommendation. As the head of Government, the Prime minister has 2 deputies and 14 ministers. Croatia is a republic with a unicameral legislature, responsible for proposing legislation and a budget, executing the laws, and guiding the foreign and internal policies of the republic.
The judicial system consists of the Supreme Court, county courts, and municipal courts. The Supreme Court is Croatia's highest court. All judges are appointed by the Chamber of Municipalities, at the recommendation of the Chamber of Representatives. There is also a Constitutional Court as well as various trial and appellate courts. The Constitutional Court rules on matters regarding the Constitution.
Croatia is a full member of the United Nations (UN) and is a member of the Council of Europe.
The island of Hvar