Croatia is a small Eastern European country with a coastline on the Adriatic Sea. It has experienced a storied history and is a melting pot of different European cultures.
Population: 4 million
Key Cities: Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik, Rijeka
Official Language: Croatian
Major Religions: Catholic, Orthodox
Bordering Countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia
Size: 21,851 sq. miles
Lowest point: Adriatic Sea at sea level
Highest point: Dinara at 6,007 ft.
Croatia is located in southeastern Europe, with a long coastline along the Adriatic Sea. Over 1,000 islands are found off the country’s coast.
Near the Adriatic coastline, the landscape is made up of flat plains, and the country is also crossed by the Dinaric Alps. It’s home to heavily forested areas too.
The climate varies based on elevation. In the mountains, winters are snowy and cold, while summers are mild (not too hot). The coastal areas have hot, sunny summers and mild winters (not too cold).
There are an estimated 8,871 plant species in Croatia.
Wildcats, rabbits, wild sheep, foxes, and boars live in the plains, and wolves and bears can be found in the forests.
Coral reefs and underwater caves make habitats for a wide variety of sea life.
Around A.D. 500, the Croats moved into the land that is now called Croatia. (If you didn’t guess, the country is named after the Croats!)
In 1091, the Croats decided to join the Hungarian Empire. As the nearby Ottoman Empire’s power increased, Croatia became stuck in battles between the Hungarians and the Ottomans.
They asked Austria’s Archduke Ferdinand if they could join the Austrian Habsburg Empire instead.
After this empire fell at the end of World War I, the Croats decided to join forces with the Serbs.
Together, the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes formed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. This new kingdom was plagued by civil wars and rebellion.
After World War II, the Communist Party gained control of Yugoslavia. Communism collapsed in the 1990’s, and Yugoslavia once again entered civil warfare.
Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia, beginning years of fighting between the Croatians and Serbians.
This fighting was called the Bosnian War and is considered the bloodiest war in Europe since World War II.
In 1995, the war was officially ended with the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords.
Today, Croatia is an independent and stable country that is safe and popular with tourists. In 2013, the country joined the European Union.
Croatia is governed by a parliamentary republic that involves a prime minister, president, and parliament. Like in the United States, the government is divided into executive, legislative, and judicial branches.
Croatia’s major industries are chemicals and plastics, machine tools, electronics, aluminum, paper, wood products, textiles, petroleum and petroleum refining, food and beverages, and tourism.
The country’s top agricultural products include wheat, corn, barley, alfalfa, sugar beets, clover, olives, citrus, grapes, sunflower seeds, soybeans, potatoes, dairy products, and livestock.
Croatia’s wealth ranks 28th in Europe and Central Asia. Although the economy has been crippled by wars throughout history, Croatia has progressed both economically and politically since then.
Although Croatia is part of the European Union, it uses its own currency, the Kuna.
Croatian is the main languages spoken in Croatia, but you may also hear Serbian, Bosnian, Hungarian, Czech, Russian, Slovak, Romani, French, English, and more.
Almost 90% of Croatians are Catholic, another 4% are Orthodox, and about 2% are Muslim.
There’s also a very small percentage of Protestants (less than 1%), while the rest of the population doesn’t practice religion.
For Croatians, a late lunch is the main meal of the day. It usually consists of chicken or beef soup, a cooked meal (typically pork), potatoes, and bread.
Greens with oil and vinegar are a popular summer dish, while pickled vegetables are served in the winter. Meals along the coast usually feature fish and pasta, risotto, or polenta (cornmeal mush similar to grits).
Festivals and celebrations in Croatia are held with great enthusiasm, especially because the country hasn’t had its own independent identity for long.
These festivals include the International Puppet Theater Festival and Zadar Night of the Full Moon, when Zadar’s harbor is lit by candles and people gather to view the full moon, sing, dance, and eat.
On Easter, townspeople wear traditional costumes, sing hymns, act out Bible stories, and bless their cities. Some towns hold parades of religious icons.
Mario Andretti- racecar driver
Severina- pop singer
Croatia is home to the world’s smallest town, Hum. Population: Between 17 and 23!
The hit TV show Game of Thrones was filmed on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast in the cities of Split and Dubrovnik.
Croatia has eight national parks, eleven nature parks, and two nature reserves. Together, they occupy about 10% of the country’s land.
Croatia enjoys even more sunshine than the sunny city of Sydney, Australia: 2,715 hours per year, to be exact.