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Republic of Croatia
Republika Hrvatska
Flag Coat of arms
Anthem:  Lijepa naša domovino
Our Beautiful Homeland
Location of  Croatia  (green)in Europe  (dark grey)
Location of  Croatia  (green)

in Europe  (dark grey)

and largest city
45°48′N 16°0′E
Official languages Croatian
Ethnic groups (2011)
  • 90.4% Croats
  • 4.4% Serbs
  • 5.2% others / unspecified
Demonym Croat, Croatian
Government Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic
 -  President Ivo Josipović
 -  Prime Minister Zoran Milanović
 -  Speaker of Parliament Josip Leko
 -  Chief Justice of the
Constitutional Court
Jasna Omejec
Legislature Sabor
 -  Principality 8th centurya 
 -  Kingdom 925 
 -  Union with Hungary 1102 
 -  Joined Habsburg Empire 1 January 1527 
 -  SHS secession from
29 October 1918 
 -  Creation of the
Kingdom of Serbs,
Croats and Slovenes

4 December 1918 
 -  Yugoslavia
becomes a republic
29 November 1943 
 -  Decision on independence 25 June 1991 
 -  Declaration of independence 8 October 1991 
 -  Total 56,594 km2 ( 126th)
21,851 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 1.09
 -  2011 census Decrease 4,284,889
 -  Density 75.8/km2
196.3/sq mi
GDP ( PPP) 2011 estimate
 -  Total $80.334 billion ( 75th)
 -  Per capita $18,191 ( 48th)
GDP (nominal) 2011 estimate
 -  Total $63.842 billion ( 65th)
 -  Per capita $14,457 ( 44th)
Gini (2008) 29
HDI (2013) Increase 0.805
very high · 47th
Currency Kuna ( HRK)
Time zone CET ( UTC+1)
 -  Summer ( DST) CEST ( UTC+2)
Drives on the right
Calling code +385
ISO 3166 code HR
Internet TLD .hr
a. Independent c. 840.

Croatia ( / k r ˈ ʃ ə / kroh-AY-shə; Croatian: Hrvatska pronounced  [xř̩ʋaːtskaː]), officially the Republic of Croatia ( Croatian: Republika Hrvatska About this sound  listen ), is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic at the crossroads of Central Europe, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers 56,594 square kilometres (21,851 square miles) and has diverse, mostly continental and Mediterranean climates. Croatia's Adriatic Sea coast contains more than a thousand islands. The country's population is 4.28 million, most of whom are Croats, with the most common religious denomination being Roman Catholicism.

The Croats arrived in the area of present-day Croatia during the early part of the 7th century. They organised the state into two duchies by the 9th century. Tomislav became the first king by 925 AD, elevating Croatia to the status of a kingdom. The Kingdom of Croatia retained its sovereignty for nearly two centuries, reaching its peak during the rule of Kings Peter Krešimir IV and Dmitar Zvonimir. Croatia entered a personal union with Hungary in 1102. In 1527, faced with Ottoman conquest the Croatian Parliament elected Ferdinand I of the House of Habsburg to the Croatian throne. In 1918, after World War I, Croatia was included in the short-lived State of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs which seceded from Austria–Hungary and merged into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. A fascist Croatian puppet state existed during World War II. After the war, Croatia became a founding member and a federal constituent of Second Yugoslavia, a socialist state. In June 1991, Croatia declared independence, which came into effect on 8 October of the same year. The Croatian War of Independence was fought successfully during the four years following the declaration.

Croatia today has a very high Human Development Index. The International Monetary Fund classified Croatia as an emerging and developing economy, and the World Bank identified it as a high income economy. Croatia is a member of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, NATO, the World Trade Organization, CEFTA and a founding member of the Union for the Mediterranean. Croatia is an acceding state of the European Union, with full membership expected in July 2013. As an active participant in the UN peacekeeping forces, Croatia has contributed troops to the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan and took a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2008–2009 term.

The service sector dominates Croatia's economy, followed by the industrial sector and agriculture. Tourism is a significant source of revenue during the summer, with Croatia ranked the 18th most popular tourist destination in the world. The state controls a part of the economy, with substantial government expenditure. The European Union is Croatia's most important trading partner. Since 2000, the Croatian government has invested in infrastructure, especially transport routes and facilities along the Pan-European corridors. Internal sources produce a significant portion of energy in Croatia; the rest is imported. Croatia provides a universal health care system and free primary and secondary education, while supporting culture through numerous public institutions and through corporate investments in media and publishing.


Branimir Inscription

The name of Croatia derives from Medieval Latin Croātia, from Dux Croatorum ("Duke of Croatians") attested in the Branimir Inscription, itself a derivation of North-West Slavic *Xrovat-, by liquid metathesis from proposed Common Slavic period *Xorvat-, from proposed Proto-Slavic *Xarwāt- (*Xъrvatъ) or *Xŭrvatŭ (*xъrvatъ).

The origin of the name is uncertain, but is thought to be a Gothic or Indo-Aryan term assigned to a Slavic tribe. The oldest preserved record of the Croatian ethnonym *xъrvatъ is of variable stem, attested in the Baška tablet in style zvъnъmirъ kralъ xrъvatъskъ (" Zvonimir, Croatian king").

The first attestation of the Latin term is attributed to a charter of duke Trpimir from the year 852. The original is lost, and just a 1568 copy is preserved—leading to doubts on the authenticity of the claim. The oldest preserved stone inscription is the 9th-century Branimir Inscription (found near Benkovac), where Duke Branimir is styled as Dux Cruatorvm. The inscription is not dated accurately, however, Branimir ruled Croatia in 879–892.


Prehistory and antiquity

Tanais Tablet B, name Khoroáthos highlighted.

The area known as Croatia today was inhabited throughout the prehistoric period. Fossils of Neanderthals dating to the middle Palaeolithic period have been unearthed in northern Croatia, with the most famous and the best presented site in Krapina. Remnants of several Neolithic and Chalcolithic cultures were found in all regions of the country. The largest proportion of the sites is in the northern Croatia river valleys, and the most significant cultures whose presence was discovered include Starčevo, Vučedol and Baden cultures. The Iron Age left traces of the early Illyrian Hallstatt culture and the Celtic La Tène culture.

Greek and Roman rule

Much later, the region was settled by Liburnians and Illyrians, while the first Greek colonies were established on the islands of Korčula, Hvar and Vis. In 9 AD the territory of today's Croatia became part of the Roman Empire. Emperor Diocletian built a large palace in Split when he retired in AD 305.

During the 5th century, one of the last Emperors of the Western Roman Empire, Julius Nepos, ruled his small empire from the palace. The period ends with Avar and Croat invasions in the first half of the 7th century and destruction of almost all Roman towns. Roman survivors retreated to more favourable sites on the coast, islands and mountains. The city of Dubrovnik was founded by such survivors from Epidaurum.

The ethnogenesis of Croats is uncertain and there are several competing theories, Slavic and Iranian being the most frequently put forward. The most widely accepted of these, the Slavic theory, proposes migration of White Croats from the territory of White Croatia during the Migration Period. Conversely, the Iranian theory proposes Iranian origin, based on Tanais Tablets containing Greek inscription of given names Χορούαθ[ος], Χοροάθος and Χορόαθος (Khoroúathos, Khoroáthos, and Khoróathos) and their interpretation as anthroponyms of Croatian people.

Middle Ages

Baška tablet, the oldest evidence of the glagolitic script.

According to the work De Administrando Imperio written by the 10th-century Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII, the Croats had arrived in what is today Croatia in the early 7th century, however that claim is disputed and competing hypotheses date the event between the 6th and the 9th centuries. Eventually two dukedoms were formed— Duchy of Pannonia and Duchy of Dalmatia, ruled by Ljudevit Posavski and Borna, as attested by chronicles of Einhard starting in 818. The record represents the first document of Croatian realms, vassal states of Francia at the time.

The Frankish overlordship ended during the reign of Mislav two decades later. According to the Constantine VII Christianization of Croats began in the 7th century, but the claim is disputed and generally Christianization is associated with the 9th century. The first native Croatian ruler recognised by the Pope was duke Branimir, whom Pope John VIII referred to as Dux Croatorum ("Duke of Croats") in 879.

The walls of Dubrovnik, which helped the defence of Dubrovnik in the Middle Ages and the 1991–1992 siege

Tomislav was the first ruler of Croatia who was styled a king in a letter from the Pope John X, dating kingdom of Croatia to year 925. Tomislav defeated Hungarian and Bulgarian invasions, spreading the influence of Croatian kings. The medieval Croatian kingdom reached its peak in the 11th century during the reigns of Petar Krešimir IV (1058–1074) and Dmitar Zvonimir (1075–1089). When Stjepan II died in 1091 ending the Trpimirović dynasty, Ladislaus I of Hungary claimed Croatian crown. Opposition to the claim led to a war and personal union of Croatia and Hungary in 1102, ruled by Coloman.

For the next four centuries, the Kingdom of Croatia was ruled by the Sabor (parliament) and a Ban (viceroy) appointed by the king. The period saw increasing threat of Ottoman conquest and struggle against the Republic of Venice for control of coastal areas. The Venetians gained control over most of Dalmatia by 1428, with exception of the city-state of Dubrovnik which became independent. Ottoman conquests led to the 1493 Battle of Krbava field and 1526 Battle of Mohács, both ending in decisive Ottoman victories. King Louis II died at Mohács, and in 1527, the Parliament on Cetin chose Ferdinand I of the House of Habsburg as new ruler of Croatia, under the condition that he provide protection to Croatia against the Ottoman Empire while respecting its political rights. The period saw rise of native nobility such as the Frankopans and the Šubićs to prominence and ultimately numerous Bans from the two families. In practice Croatia was a free and independent kingdom only from 910 till 1102.

Habsburg Monarchy and Austria-Hungary (1538-1918)

Ban Josip Jelačić fought Hungarians in 1848 and 1849.

Following the decisive Ottoman victories, Croatia was split into civilian and military territories, with the partition formed in 1538. The military territories would become known as the Croatian Military Frontier and were directly controlled by the Austrian emperor. Ottoman advances in the Croatian territory continued until the 1593 Battle of Sisak, the first decisive Ottoman defeat, and stabilisation of borders.

During the Great Turkish War (1667–1698), Slavonia was regained but western Bosnia, which had been part of Croatia before the Ottoman conquest, remained outside Croatian control. The present-day border between the two countries is a remnant of this outcome. Dalmatia, the southern part of the border, was similarly defined by the Fifth and the Seventh Ottoman–Venetian Wars.

The Ottoman wars instigated great demographic changes. Croats migrated towards Austria and the present-day Burgenland Croats are direct descendants of these settlers. To replace the fleeing Croats the Habsburgs called on the Orthodox populations of Bosnia and Serbia to provide military service in the Croatian Military Frontier. Serb migration into this region peaked during the Great Serb Migrations of 1690 and 1737–39.

Between 1797 and 1809 the First French Empire gradually occupied the entire eastern Adriatic coastline and a substantial part of its hinterland, ending the Venetian and the Ragusan republics, establishing the Illyrian Provinces. In response the Royal Navy started the blockade of the Adriatic Sea leading to the Battle of Vis in 1811. The Illyrian Provinces were captured by the Austrians in 1813, and absorbed by the Austrian Empire following the Congress of Vienna in 1815. This led to formation of the Kingdom of Dalmatia and restoration of the Croatian Littoral to the Kingdom of Croatia, now both under the same crown.

HSS leader Stjepan Radić

The 1830s and 1840s saw romantic nationalism inspire the Croatian National Revival, a political and cultural campaign advocating the unity of all South Slavs in the empire. Its primary focus was the establishment of a standard language as a counterweight to Hungarian, along with the promotion of Croatian literature and culture. During the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 Croatia sided with the Austrians, Ban Josip Jelačić helping defeat the Hungarian forces in 1849, and ushering a period of Germanization policy.

By the 1860s, failure of the policy became apparent, leading to the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 and creation of a personal union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary. The treaty left the issue of Croatia's status to Hungary, and the status was resolved by the Croatian–Hungarian Settlement of 1868, when kingdoms of Croatia and Slavonia were united. The Kingdom of Dalmatia remained under de facto Austrian control, while Rijeka retained the status of Corpus separatum introduced in 1779.

After Austria-Hungary occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina following the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, the Croatian Military Frontier was abolished and the territory returned to Croatia in 1881, pursuant to provisions of the Croatian-Hungarian settlement. Renewed efforts to reform Austria-Hungary, entailing federalisation with Croatia as a federal unit, were stopped by advent of World War I.

Kingdom of Yugoslavia and World War II (1918-1943)

The Croat Josip Broz Tito was the leader of Yugoslavia from 1944 to 1980.

On 29 October 1918 the Croatian Sabor declared independence and decided to join the newly formed State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, which in turn entered into union with the Kingdom of Serbia on 4 December 1918 to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. The 1921 constitution defining the country as a unitary state and abolition of historical administrative divisions effectively ended Croatian autonomy. The new constitution was opposed by the most widely supported national political party—the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) led by Stjepan Radić.

The political situation deteriorated further as Radić was assassinated in the National Assembly in 1928, leading to the dictatorship of King Alexander in January 1929. The dictatorship formally ended in 1931 when the king imposed a more unitarian constitution, and changed the name of the country to Yugoslavia. The HSS, now led by Vladko Maček, continued to advocate federalization of Yugoslavia, resulting in the Cvetković–Maček Agreement of August 1939 and the autonomous Banovina of Croatia. The Yugoslav government retained control of defence, internal security, foreign affairs, trade, and transport while other matters were left to the Croatian Sabor and a crown-appointed Ban.

In April 1941, Yugoslavia was occupied by Germany and Italy. Following the invasion the territory, parts of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the region of Syrmia were incorporated into the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), a Nazi-backed puppet state. Parts of Dalmatia were annexed by Italy and the northern Croatian regions of Baranja and Međimurje were annexed by Hungary. The NDH regime was led by Ante Pavelić and ultranationalist Ustaše. The regime introduced anti-semitic laws and conducted a campaign of ethnic cleansing and genocide against Serb and Roma inhabitants of the NDH, exemplified by the Jasenovac and Stara Gradiška concentration camps.

It is estimated that out of 39,000 Jews in the country only 9,000 survived; the rest were either killed or deported to Germany, both by the local authorities and the German Army itself. Croatian and Serbian sources disagree on the exact figures. Furthermore, at least 500,000 Serbs were killed by the Ustaše on the territory of the NDH during the war, while the number of Croats killed is estimated to be approximately 200,000, either by the Croatian fascist regime, as members of the armed resistance, or as Axis collaborators.

A resistance movement soon emerged. On 22 June 1941, the 1st Sisak Partisan Detachment was formed near Sisak, as the first military unit formed by a resistance movement in occupied Europe. This sparked the beginning of the Yugoslav Partisan movement, a communist multi-ethnic anti-fascist resistance group led by Josip Broz Tito. The movement grew rapidly and at the Tehran Conference in December 1943 the Partisans gained recognition from the Allies.

With Allied support in logistics, equipment, training and air power, and with the assistance of Soviet troops taking part in the 1944 Belgrade Offensive, the Partisans gained control of Yugoslavia and the border regions of Italy and Austria by May 1945, during which time thousands of members of the Ustaše, as well as Croat refugees, were killed by the Yugoslav Partisans. The political aspirations of the Partisan movement were reflected in the ZAVNOH (National Anti-Fascist Council of the People's Liberation of Croatia), which developed in 1943 as the bearer of Croatian statehood and later transformed into the Parliament of Croatia in 1945, and AVNOJ—its counterpart at the Yugoslav level.

Federal Yugoslavia (1943–1991)

After the World War II, Croatia became a single-party Socialist federal unit of the SFR Yugoslavia, ruled by the Communists, but enjoying a degree of autonomy within the federation. In 1967, Croatian authors and linguists published a Declaration on the Status and Name of the Croatian Standard Language demanding greater autonomy for Croatian language. The declaration contributed to a national movement seeking greater civil rights and decentralization of the Yugoslav economy, culminating in the Croatian Spring of 1971, suppressed by Yugoslav leadership. Still, the 1974 Yugoslav Constitution gave increased autonomy to federal units, basically fulfilling a goal of the Croatian Spring, and providing a legal basis for independence of the federative constituents.

A Yugoslav tank destroyed during the 1991 Battle of Vukovar.

In the 1980s the political situation in Yugoslavia deteriorated with national tension fanned by the 1986 Serbian SANU Memorandum and the 1989 coups in Vojvodina, Kosovo and Montenegro. In January 1990, the Communist Party fragmented along national lines, with the Croatian faction demanding a looser federation. In the same year, the first multi-party elections were held in Croatia, with Franjo Tuđman's win raising nationalist tensions further. Serbs in Croatia left Sabor and declared the autonomy of areas that would soon become the unrecognized Republic of Serbian Krajina, intent on achieving independence from Croatia. As tensions rose, Croatia declared independence in June 1991, however the declaration came into effect on 8 October 1991.

Croat independence (1991-)

The tensions escalated into the Croatian War of Independence when the Yugoslav National Army and various Serb paramilitaries attacked Croatia. By the end of 1991, a high intensity war fought along a wide front reduced Croatia to control of about two-thirds of its territory. On 15 January 1992, Croatia gained diplomatic recognition by the European Economic Community members, and subsequently the United Nations. The war effectively ended in 1995 with a decisive victory by Croatia in August 1995. The remaining occupied areas were restored to Croatia pursuant to the Erdut Agreement of November 1995, with the process concluded in January 1998.


A topographic map of Croatia.

Croatia is located in Central and Southeast Europe, bordering Hungary to the northeast, Serbia to the east, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the south-east, Montenegro to the south-east, the Adriatic Sea to the south-west and Slovenia to the northwest. It lies mostly between latitudes 42° and 47° N and longitudes 13° and 20° E. Part of the territory in the extreme south surrounding Dubrovnik is a practical exclave connected to the rest of the mainland by territorial waters, but separated on land by a short coastline strip belonging to Bosnia and Herzegovina around Neum.

The territory covers 56,594 square kilometres (21,851 square miles), consisting of 56,414 square kilometres (21,782 square miles) of land and 128 square kilometres (49 square miles) of water. It is the 127th largest country in the world. Elevation ranges from the mountains of the Dinaric Alps with the highest point of the Dinara peak at 1,831 metres (6,007 feet) near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina in the south to the shore of the Adriatic Sea which makes up its entire south-west border. Insular Croatia consists of over a thousand islands and islets varying in size, 48 of which are permanently inhabited. The largest islands are Cres and Krk, each of them having an area of around 405 square kilometres (156 square miles).

The hilly northern parts of Hrvatsko Zagorje and the flat plains of Slavonia in the east (which is part of the Pannonian Basin) are traversed by major rivers such as Sava, Drava, Kupa and Danube. The Danube, Europe's second longest river, runs through the city of Vukovar in the extreme east and forms part of the border with Serbia. The central and southern regions near the Adriatic coastline and islands consist of low mountains and forested highlands. Natural resources found in the country in quantities significant enough for production include oil, coal, bauxite, low-grade iron ore, calcium, gypsum, natural asphalt, silica, mica, clays, salt and hydropower.

Karst topography makes up about half of Croatia and is especially prominent in the Dinaric Alps. There are a number of deep caves in Croatia, 49 of which are deeper than 250 m (820.21 ft), 14 of them deeper than 500 m (1,640.42 ft) and three deeper than 1,000 m (3,280.84 ft). Croatia's most famous lakes are the Plitvice lakes, a system of 16 lakes with waterfalls connecting them over dolomite and limestone cascades. The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colours, ranging from turquoise to mint green, grey or blue.


Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Most of Croatia has a moderately warm and rainy continental climate as defined by the Köppen climate classification. Mean monthly temperature ranges between −3 °C (27  °F) (in January) and 18 °C (64 °F) (in July). The coldest parts of the country are Lika and Gorski Kotar where snowy forested climate is found at elevations above 1,200 metres (3,900 feet). The warmest areas of Croatia are at the Adriatic coast and especially in its immediate hinterland characterized by the Mediterranean climate, as the temperature highs are moderated by the sea. Consequently, temperature peaks are more pronounced in the continental areas—the lowest temperature of −35.5 °C (−31.9 °F) was recorded on 3 February 1919 in Čakovec, and the highest temperature of 42.4 °C (108.3 °F) was recorded on 5 July 1950 in Karlovac.

Mean annual precipitation ranges between 600 millimetres (24 inches) and 3,500 millimetres (140 inches) depending on geographic region and prevailing climate type. The least precipitation is recorded in the outer islands (Vis, Lastovo, Biševo, Svetac) and in the eastern parts of Slavonia, however in the latter case, it is mostly occurring during the growing season. The maximum precipitation levels are observed on the Dinara mountain range and in Gorski kotar.

Prevailing winds in the interior are light to moderate northeast or southwest, and in the coastal area prevailing winds are determined by local area features. Higher wind velocities are more often recorded in cooler months along the coast, generally as bura or less frequently as sirocco. The sunniest parts of the country are the outer islands, Hvar and Korčula, where more than 2700 hours of sunshine are recorded per year, followed by the southern Adriatic Sea area in general, northern Adriatic coast, and Slavonia, all with more than 2000 hours of sunshine per year.


Kopački Rit nature park, one of the largest wetlands in Europe

Croatia can be subdivided between a number of ecoregions because of its climate and geomorphology, and the country is consequently one of the richest in Europe in terms of biodiversity. There are four types of biogeographical regions in Croatia—Mediterranean along the coast and in its immediate hinterland, Alpine in most of Lika and Gorski Kotar, Pannonian along Drava and Danube, and continental in the remaining areas. One of the most significant are karst habitats which include submerged karst, such as Zrmanja and Krka canyons and tufa barriers, as well as underground habitats. The karst geology harbours approximately 7,000 caves and pits, some of which are habitat of the only known aquatic cave vertebrate—the olm. Forests are also significantly present in the country, as they cover 2,490,000 hectares (6,200,000 acres) representing 44% of Croatian land surface. The other habitat types include wetlands, grasslands, bogs, fens, scrub habitats, coastal and marine habitats.

In terms of phytogeography, Croatia is a part of the Boreal Kingdom and is a part of Illyrian and Central European provinces of the Circumboreal Region and the Adriatic province of the Mediterranean Region. The World Wide Fund for Nature divides Croatia between three ecoregions—Pannonian mixed forests, Dinaric Mountains mixed forests and Illyrian deciduous forests.

Karst in National Park Sjeverni Velebit.

There are 37,000 known species in Croatia, but their actual number is estimated to be between 50,000 and 100,000. The claim is supported by nearly 400 new taxa of invertebrates discovered in Croatia in the first half of the 2000s (decade) alone. There are more than a thousand endemic species, especially in Velebit and Biokovo mountains, Adriatic islands and karst rivers. Legislation protects 1,131 species.

The most serious threat to species is loss and degradation of habitats. A further problem is presented by appearance of invasive alien species, especially Caulerpa taxifolia algae. The invasive algae are regularly monitored and removed to protect the benthic habitat. Indigenous sorts of cultivated plants and breeds of domesticated animals are also numerous. Those include five breeds of horses, five breeds of cattle, eight breeds of sheep, two breeds of pigs and a poultry breed. Even the indigenous breeds include nine endangered or critically endangered ones.

There are 444 protected areas of Croatia, encompassing 9% of the country. Those include eight national parks, two strict reserves, and ten nature parks. The most famous protected area and the oldest national park in Croatia is the Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Velebit Nature Park is a part of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme. The strict and special reserves, as well as the national and nature parks, are managed and protected by the central government, while other protected areas are managed by counties. In 2005, the National Ecological Network was set up, as the first step in preparation of the EU accession and joining of the Natura 2000 network.


Banski dvori, former seat of Croatian bans and current seat of the government

Croatia is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic. With the collapse of the ruling communist party in SFR Yugoslavia, Croatia adopted its present constitution in 1990 and organised its first multi-party elections. It declared independence on 8 October 1991 leading to the breakup of Yugoslavia and the country was internationally recognised by the United Nations in 1992. Under its 1990 constitution, Croatia operated a semi-presidential system until 2000 when it switched to a parliamentary system. Government powers in Croatia are divided into legislative, executive and judiciary powers. The legal system of Croatia is civil law, strongly influenced, as is the institutional framework, by the legal heritage of Austria-Hungary. By the time EU accession negotiations were completed on 30 June 2010, Croatian legislation was fully harmonised with the Community acquis.

The President of the Republic ( Croatian: Predsjednik Republike) is the head of state, directly elected to a five-year term and is limited by the Constitution to a maximum of two terms. In addition to being the commander in chief of the armed forces, the president has the procedural duty of appointing the prime minister with the consent of the parliament, and has some influence on foreign policy. The most recent presidential elections were held on 10 January 2010, when Ivo Josipović won. He took the oath of office on 18 February 2010.

The government ( Croatian: Vlada) is headed by the prime minister, who has four deputy prime ministers and 17 ministers in charge of particular sectors of activity. The executive branch is responsible for proposing legislation and a budget, executing the laws, and guiding the foreign and internal policies of the republic. Government's official residence is at Banski dvori. Since 23 December 2011, the prime minister of the government has been Zoran Milanović.

The parliament ( Croatian: Sabor) is a unicameral legislative body. A second chamber, the House of Counties, set up in 1993 pursuant to the 1990 Constitution, was abolished in 2001. The number of Sabor members can vary from 100 to 160; they are all elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms. The sessions of the Sabor take place from 15 January to 15 July, and from 15 September to 15 December. The two largest political parties in Croatia are the Croatian Democratic Union and the Social Democratic Party of Croatia.

Croatia has a three-tiered judicial system, made up of the Supreme Court, County courts, and Municipal courts. The Constitutional Court rules on matters regarding the Constitution. In addition there are misdemeanour courts, commercial courts and administrative courts. Law enforcement in Croatia is the responsibility of the Croatian police force, which is under the control of the Ministry of the Interior. In recent years, the force has been undergoing a reform with assistance from international agencies, including the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) since its mission to Croatia began on 18 April 1996.

Administrative divisions

Makarska, Split-Dalmatia County.

Croatia was first subdivided into counties in the Middle Ages. The divisions changed over time to reflect losses of territory to Ottoman conquest and subsequent liberation of the same territory, changes of political status of Dalmatia, Dubrovnik and Istria. Traditional division of the country into counties was abolished in the 1920s, when the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and subsequent Kingdom of Yugoslavia introduced oblasts and banovinas respectively.

Communist ruled Croatia, as a constituent part of post-WWII Yugoslavia, abolished earlier divisions and introduced municipalities, subdividing Croatia into approximately one hundred municipalities. Counties were reintroduced in 1992 legislation, significantly altered in terms of territory relative to the pre-1920s subdivisions: In 1918, the Transleithanian part of Croatia was divided into eight counties with their seats in Bjelovar, Gospić, Ogulin, Požega, Vukovar, Varaždin, Osijek and Zagreb, and the 1992 legislation established 14 counties in the same territory.

Since the counties were re-established in 1992, Croatia is divided into 20 counties and the capital city of Zagreb, the latter having the authority and legal status of a county and a city at the same time. Borders of the counties changed in some instances since, with the latest revision taking place in 2006. The counties subdivide into 127 cities and 429 municipalities. Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS) division of Croatia is performed in several tiers. NUTS 1 level places the entire country in a single unit, while there are three NUTS 2 regions. Those are Northwest Croatia, Central and Eastern (Pannonian) Croatia and Adriatic Croatia. The latter encompasses all the counties along the Adriatic coast. The Northwest Croatia includes the city of Zagreb, Zagreb, Krapina-Zagorje, Varaždin, Koprivnica-Križevci and Međimurje counties, and the Central and Eastern (Pannonian) Croatia includes the remaining areas—Bjelovar-Bilogora, Virovitica-Podravina, Požega-Slavonia, Brod-Posavina, Osijek-Baranja, Vukovar-Syrmia, Karlovac and Sisak-Moslavina counties. Individual counties and the city of Zagreb also represent NUTS 3 level subdivision units in Croatia. The NUTS Local administrative unit divisions are two-tiered. LAU 1 divisions match the counties and the city of Zagreb in effect making those the same as NUTS 3 units, while LAU 2 subdivisions correspond to the cities and municipalities of Croatia.

Map of Croatian counties and county capitals. Zagreb is capital of the Zagreb County enveloping the city of Zagreb
Slavonski Brod
Counties of Croatia
County Seat Area (km²) Population
Bjelovar-Bilogora Bjelovar 2,652 119,743
Brod-Posavina Slavonski Brod 2,043 158,559
Dubrovnik-Neretva Dubrovnik 1,783 122,783
Istria Pazin 2,820 208,440
Karlovac Karlovac 3,622 128,749
Koprivnica-Križevci Koprivnica 1,746 115,582
Krapina-Zagorje Krapina 1,224 133,064
Lika-Senj Gospić 5,350 51,022
Međimurje Čakovec 730 114,414
Osijek-Baranja Osijek 4,152 304,899
Požega-Slavonia Požega 1,845 78,031
Primorje-Gorski Kotar Rijeka 3,582 296,123
Šibenik-Knin Šibenik 2,939 109,320
Sisak-Moslavina Sisak 4,463 172,977
Split-Dalmatia Split 4,534 455,242
Varaždin Varaždin 1,261 176,046
Virovitica-Podravina Virovitica 2,068 84,586
Vukovar-Syrmia Vukovar 2,448 180,117
Zadar Zadar 3,642 170,398
Zagreb County Zagreb 3,078 317,642
City of Zagreb Zagreb 641 792,875

Foreign relations

Flag hoisting ceremony at Ministry of Defence in Zagreb, marking joining of the NATO in 2009

Croatia has established diplomatic relations with 174 countries. As of 2009, Croatia maintains a network of 51 embassies, 24 consulates and eight permanent diplomatic missions abroad. Furthermore, there are 52 foreign embassies and 69 consulates in the Republic of Croatia in addition to offices of international organizations such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Organization for Migration, OSCE, World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO), International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), United Nations Development Programme, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and UNICEF. In 2009, the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration employed 1,381 personnel and expended 648.2 million kuna (€86.4 million). Stated aims of Croatian foreign policy include enhancing relations with neighbouring countries, developing international cooperation and promotion of the Croatian economy and Croatia itself.

Since 2003, Croatian foreign policy has focused on achieving the strategic goal of becoming a member state of the European Union (EU). As of December 2011, Croatia has completed EU accession negotiations and signed an EU accession treaty on 9 December 2011. Croatian EU membership is scheduled to start on 1 July 2013, representing the end of a process started in 2001 by signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement and Croatian application for the EU membership in 2003. A recurring obstacle to the negotiations was Croatia's ICTY cooperation record and Slovenian blocking of the negotiations because of Croatia–Slovenia border disputes. The latter was resolved through an Arbitration Agreement of 4 November 2009, approved by national parliaments and a referendum in Slovenia.

Another strategic Croatian foreign policy goal for the 2000s was NATO membership. Croatia was included in the Partnership for Peace in 2000, invited to NATO membership in 2008 and formally joined the alliance on 1 April 2009. Croatia became a member of the United Nations Security Council for the 2008–2009 term, assuming presidency in December 2008. The country is preparing to join the Schengen Area by 2015.


Croatian Air Force and US Navy aircraft participate in multinational training.

Croatian Armed Forces (CAF) consist of the Army, Navy and Air Force branches in addition to the Education and Training Command and Support Command. The CAF is headed by the General Staff, which reports to the Defence Minister, who in turn reports to the President of Croatia. According to the constitution, the President is commander-in-chief of the armed forces and in case of immediate threat during wartime he issues orders directly to the General Staff.

Following the 1991–95 war defence spending and CAF size have been in constant decline. As of 2005 military spending was an estimated 2.39% of the country's GDP, which placed Croatia 64th in a ranking of all countries. Since 2005 the budget was kept below 2% of GDP, down from the record high of 11.1% in 1994. Traditionally relying on a large number of conscripts, CAF also went through a period of reforms focused on downsizing, restructuring and professionalisation in the years prior to Croatia's accession to NATO in April 2009. According to a presidential decree issued in 2006 the CAF is set to employ 18,100 active duty military personnel, 3,000 civilians and 2,000 voluntary conscripts between the ages of 18 and 30 in peacetime.

Compulsory conscription was abolished in January 2008. Until 2008 military service was compulsory for men at age 18 and conscripts served six-month tours of duty, reduced in 2001 from the earlier scheme of nine-month conscription tours. Conscientious objectors could instead opt for an eight-month civilian service.

As of April 2011 the Croatian military had 120 members stationed in foreign countries as part of United Nations-led international peacekeeping forces, including 95 serving as part of the UNDOF in the Golan Heights. As of 2011 an additional 350 troops serve as part of the NATO-led ISAF force in Afghanistan and another 20 with the KFOR in Kosovo.

Croatia also has a significant military industry sector which exported around US$120 million worth of military equipment and armament in 2010. Croatian-made weapons and vehicles used by CAF include the standard sidearm HS2000 manufactured by HS Produkt and the M-84D battle tank designed by the Đuro Đaković factory. Uniforms and helmets worn by CAF soldiers are also locally produced and successfully marketed to other countries.


Croatian export treemap.
The largest Croatian companies by turnover in 2010
Rank Name Headquarters Revenue
(Mil. €)
(Mil. €)
1 Agrokor Zagreb Increase 3,568 Decrease 22.0
2 INA Zagreb Increase 3,547 137.3
3 Hrvatska elektroprivreda (HEP) Zagreb Increase 1,677 200.3
4 Konzum Zagreb Increase 1,574 Decrease 56.6
5 T-Hrvatski Telekom Zagreb Decrease 1,149 Decrease 251.0
Wine is produced in nearly all regions of Croatia.

Croatia has a high-income market economy. International Monetary Fund data shows that Croatian nominal GDP stood at $63.842 billion, or $14,457 per capita, at the same time in 2011 while purchasing power parity GDP was $80.334 billion or $18,191 per capita. According to Eurostat data, Croatian PPS GDP per capita stood at 61% of the EU average in 2010.

Real GDP growth in 2007 was 6.0 per cent. The average net salary of a Croatian worker in June 2012 was 5,492 kuna (US$ 912) per month. In 2007, the International Labour Organization-defined unemployment rate stood at 9.1%, after falling steadily from 14.7% in 2002. The registered unemployment rate was higher, though, standing at 13.7% in December 2008.

In 2010, economic output was dominated by the service sector which accounted for 66% of GDP, followed by the industrial sector with 27.2% and agriculture accounting for 6.8% of GDP. According to 2004 data, 2.7% of the workforce were employed in agriculture, 32.8% by industry and 64.5% in services. The industrial sector is dominated by shipbuilding, food processing, pharmaceuticals, information technology, biochemical and timber industry. In 2010, Croatian exports were valued at 64.9 billion kuna (€8.65 billion) with 110.3 billion kuna (€14.7 billion) worth of imports. The largest trading partner is the European Union.

Privatization and the drive toward a market economy had barely begun under the new Croatian Government when war broke out in 1991. As a result of the war, the economic infrastructure sustained massive damage, particularly the revenue-rich tourism industry. From 1989 to 1993, the GDP fell 40.5%. The Croatian state still controls a significant part of the economy, with government expenditures accounting for as much as 40% of GDP. A backlogged judiciary system, combined with inefficient public administration, especially on issues of land ownership and corruption, are particular concerns. In 2011 the country has been ranked 66th by Transparency International with a Corruption Perceptions Index of 4.0. Another problem is a large and growing national debt, which has reached over €34 billion or 89.1% of the nation's GDP.


Zlatni Rat beach on Brač Island, one of foremost spots of tourism in Croatia.

Tourism dominates the Croatian service sector and accounts for up to 20% of Croatian GDP. Annual tourist industry income for 2011 was estimated at €6.61 billion. Its positive effects are felt throughout the economy of Croatia in terms of increased business volume observed in retail business, processing industry orders and summer seasonal employment. The industry is considered an export business, because it significantly reduces the country's external trade imbalance. Since the conclusion of the Croatian War of Independence, the tourist industry has grown rapidly, recording a fourfold rise in tourist numbers, with more than 10 million tourists each year. The most numerous are tourists from Germany, Slovenia, Austria and the Czech Republic as well as Croatia itself. Length of a tourist stay in Croatia averages 4.9 days.

The bulk of the tourist industry is concentrated along the Adriatic Sea coast. Opatija was the first holiday resort since the middle of the 19th century. By the 1890s, it became one of the most significant European health resorts. Later a large number of resorts sprang up along the coast and numerous islands, offering services ranging from mass tourism to catering and various niche markets, the most significant being nautical tourism, as there are numerous marinas with more than 16 thousand berths, cultural tourism relying on appeal of medieval coastal cities and numerous cultural events taking place during the summer. Inland areas offer mountain resorts, agrotourism and spas. Zagreb is also a significant tourist destination, rivaling major coastal cities and resorts.

Croatia has unpolluted marine areas reflected through numerous nature reserves and 116 Blue Flag beaches. Croatia is ranked as the 18th most popular tourist destination in the world. About 15% of these visitors (over one million per year) are involved with naturism, an industry for which Croatia is world famous. It was also the first European country to develop commercial naturist resorts.


The A7, a part of Croatia's motorway network.

The highlight of Croatia's recent infrastructure developments is its rapidly developed motorway network, largely built in the late 1990s and especially in the 2000s (decade). By September 2011, Croatia had completed more than 1,100 kilometres (680 miles) of motorways, connecting Zagreb to most other regions and following various European routes and four Pan-European corridors. The busiest motorways are the A1, connecting Zagreb to Split and the A3, passing east–west through northwest Croatia and Slavonia. A widespread network of state roads in Croatia acts as motorway feeder roads while connecting all major settlements in the country. The high quality and safety levels of the Croatian motorway network were tested and confirmed by several EuroTAP and EuroTest programs.

Croatia has an extensive rail network spanning 2,722 kilometres (1,691 miles), including 985 kilometres (612 miles) of electrified railways and 254 kilometres (158 miles) of double track railways. The most significant railways in Croatia are found within the Pan-European transport corridors Vb and X connecting Rijeka to Budapest and Ljubljana to Belgrade, both via Zagreb. All rail services are operated by Croatian Railways.

There are international airports in Zagreb, Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik, Rijeka, Osijek and Pula. As of January 2011, Croatia complies with International Civil Aviation Organization aviation safety standards and the Federal Aviation Administration upgraded it to Category 1 rating.

The Port of Rijeka, the largest Croatian seaport.
Croatian Railways trains pass on Zagreb-Split line

The busiest cargo seaport in Croatia is the Port of Rijeka and the busiest passenger ports are Split and Zadar. In addition to those, a large number of minor ports serve an extensive system of ferries connecting numerous islands and coastal cities in addition to ferry lines to several cities in Italy. The largest river port is Vukovar, located on the Danube, representing the nation's outlet to the Pan-European transport corridor VII.

There are 610 kilometres (380 miles) of crude oil pipelines in Croatia, connecting the Port of Rijeka oil terminal with refineries in Rijeka and Sisak, as well as several transhipment terminals. The system has a capacity of 20 million tonnes per year. The natural gas transportation system comprises 2,113 kilometres (1,313 miles) of trunk and regional natural gas pipelines, and more than 300 associated structures, connecting production rigs, the Okoli natural gas storage facility, 27 end-users and 37 distribution systems.

Croatian production of energy sources covers 85% of nationwide natural gas demand and 19% of oil demand. In 2008, 47.6% of Croatia's primary energy production structure comprised use of natural gas (47.7%), crude oil (18.0%), fuel wood (8.4%), hydro power (25.4%) and other renewable energy sources (0.5%). In 2009, net total electrical power production in Croatia reached 12,725 GWh and Croatia imported 28.5% of its electric power energy needs. The bulk of Croatian imports are supplied by the Krško Nuclear Power Plant, 50% owned by Hrvatska elektroprivreda, providing 15% of Croatia's electricity.


With its population of 4.28 million in 2011, Croatia ranks 125th by population in the world. Its population density stands at 75.9 inhabitants per square kilometre. The overall life expectancy in Croatia at birth is 75.7 years. The total fertility rate of 1.5 children per mother, is one of the lowest in the world. Since 1991, Croatia's death rate has continuously exceeded its birth rate. Since the late 1990s, there has been a positive net migration into Croatia, reaching a level of more than 7,000 net immigrants in 2006.

The Croatian Bureau of Statistics forecast that the population may shrink to 3.1 million by 2051, depending on actual birth rate and the level of net migration. The population of Croatia rose steadily from 2.1 million in 1857 until 1991, when it peaked at 4.7 million, with exception of censuses taken in 1921 and 1948, i.e. following two world wars. The natural growth rate of the population is currently negative with the demographic transition completed in the 1970s. In recent years, the Croatian government has been pressured each year to add 40% to work permit quotas for foreign workers. In accordance with its immigration policy, Croatia is trying to entice emigrants to return.

Religion in Croatia
religion percent
Roman Catholicism
Atheism or Agnosticism
Others and unspecified

The population decrease was also a result of the Croatian War of Independence. During the war, large sections of the population were displaced and emigration increased. In 1991, in predominantly Serb areas, more than 400,000 Croats and other non-Serbs were either removed from their homes by the Croatian Serb forces or fled the violence. During the final days of the war in 1995, more than 120,000 Serbs, and perhaps as many as 200,000, fled the country before arrival of Croatian forces during Operation Storm. Within a decade following the end of the war, only 117,000 Serb refugees returned out of 300,000 displaced during the entire war. Most of Croatia's remaining Serbs never lived in areas occupied in the Croatian War of Independence. Serbs have been only partially re-settled in the regions they previously inhabited while some of the settlements previously inhabited by Serbs were settled by Croat refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina, mostly from Republika Srpska.

Croatia is inhabited mostly by Croats (90.4%) and is ethnically the most homogeneous of the six countries of former Yugoslavia. Minority groups include Serbs (4.4%), Bosniaks, Hungarians, Italians, Slovenes, Germans, Czechs, Romani people and others (5.9%). The main religions of Croatia are Roman Catholicism 86.3%, Orthodox Christianity 4.4%, other Christianity 0.6%, Islam 1.5%, other unspecified 0.4%, and none 6.7%.

Most populous cities of Croatia


Rank City County Urban population City-governed population


1 Zagreb City of Zagreb 686,568 792,875
2 Split Split-Dalmatia 165,893 178,192
3 Rijeka Primorje-Gorski Kotar 127,498 128,735
4 Osijek Osijek-Baranja 83,496 107,784
5 Zadar Zadar 70,674 75,082
6 Pula Istria 57,191 57,765
7 Slavonski Brod Brod-Posavina 53,473 59,507
8 Karlovac Karlovac 46,827 55,981
9 Varaždin Varaždin 38,746 47,055
10 Šibenik Šibenik-Knin 34,242 46,372
11 Sisak Sisak-Moslavina 33,049 47,699
12 Vinkovci Vukovar-Syrmia 31,961 35,375
13 Velika Gorica Zagreb 31,341 63,511
14 Dubrovnik Dubrovnik-Neretva 28,113 42,461
15 Bjelovar Bjelovar-Bilogora 27,099 40,443
16 Vukovar Vukovar-Syrmia 26,716 28,016
17 Koprivnica Koprivnica-Križevci 23,896 30,872
18 Solin Split-Dalmatia 20,080 23,985
19 Zaprešić Zagreb 19,574 25,226
20 Požega Požega-Slavonia 19,565 26,403
Source: 2011 Census


Croatian is the official language of Croatia, and it is expected to become the 24th official language of the European Union upon its accession in 2013. Minority languages are in official use in local government units where more than a third of population consists of national minorities or where local legislation defines so. Those languages are Czech, Hungarian, Italian, Ruthenian, Serbian and Slovakian.

According to the 2001 Census, 96% of citizens of Croatia declared Croatian as their native language, 1% declared Serbian as their native language, while no other language is represented in Croatia by more than 0.5% of native speakers among population of Croatia. Croatian is a South Slavic language. Most Croatian vocabulary is derived from the Slavic branch of the Indo-European language family. Croatian is written using the Latin alphabet. Croatian has three major dialects, with Shtokavian dialect used as the standard Croatian and Chakavian and Kajkavian dialects distinguished by their lexicon, phonology, and syntax.

From 1961 to 1991, the official language was Serbo-Croatian. Even during socialist rule, Croats often referred to their language as Croato-Serbian (instead of Serbo-Croatian) or as Croatian. Croatian and Serbian variants of the language were not officially recognised as different at the time, but referred to as the west and east version, and had different alphabets: the Latin alphabet and Serbian Cyrillic. Croatians are protective of their Croatian language from foreign influences, as the language was under constant change and threats imposed by previous rulers (i.e. Austrian German, Hungarian, Italian and Turkish words were changed and altered to "Slavic" looking/sounding ones). Efforts made to impose policies to alter Croatian into "Serbo-Croatian" or "South Slavic" language, met resistance from Croats in form of Croatian linguistic purism. Croatian replaced Latin as the official language of the Croatian government in the 19th century.

A 2009 survey revealed that 78% of Croatians claim knowledge of at least one foreign language. According to a survey ordered by the European commission in 2005, 49% of Croatians speak English as the second language, 34% speak German, and 14% speak Italian. French and Russian are spoken by 4% each, and 2% of Croatians speak Spanish. A substantial proportion of Slovenes (59%) have a certain level of knowledge of Croatian language.


The University of Zagreb

Literacy in Croatia stands at 98.1 percent. A worldwide study about the quality of living in different countries published by Newsweek in August 2010 ranked the Croatian education system at 22nd, to share the position with Austria. Primary education in Croatia starts at the age of six or seven and consists of eight grades. In 2007 a law was passed to increase free, noncompulsory education until 18 years of age. Compulsory education consists of eight grades of elementary school. Secondary education is provided by gymnasiums and vocational schools. As of 2010, there are 2,131 elementary schools and 713 schools providing various forms of secondary education. Primary and secondary education are also available in languages of recognised minorities in Croatia, where classes are held in Czech, Hungarian, Italian, Serbian and German languages.

There are 84 elementary level and 47 secondary level music and art schools, as well as 92 schools for disabled children and youth and 74 schools for adults. Nationwide leaving exams ( Croatian: državna matura) were introduced for secondary education students in the school year 2009–2010. It comprises three compulsory subjects (Croatian language, mathematics, and a foreign language) and optional subjects and is a prerequisite for university education.

University Library in Zagreb

Croatia has eight universities, the University of Zagreb, University of Split, University of Rijeka, University of Osijek, University of Zadar, University of Dubrovnik, University of Pula and Dubrovnik International University. The University of Zadar, the first university in Croatia, was founded in 1396 and remained active until 1807, when other institutions of higher education took over until the foundation of the renewed University of Zadar in 2002. The University of Zagreb, founded in 1669, is the oldest continuously operating university in Southeast Europe. There are also 11 polytechnics and 23 higher education institutions, of which 19 are private. In total, there are 132 institutions of higher education in Croatia, attended by more than 145 thousand students.

There are 205 companies, government or education system institutions and non-profit organizations in Croatia pursuing scientific research and development of technology. Combined, they spent more than 3 billion kuna (€400 million) and employed 10,191 full-time research staff in 2008. Among the scientific institutes operating in Croatia, the largest is the Ruđer Bošković Institute in Zagreb. The Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Zagreb is a learned society promoting language, culture, arts and science from its inception in 1866. Croatia has also produced inventors and two Croatians received the Nobel Prize.


Croatia has a universal health care system, whose roots can be traced back to the Hungarian-Croatian Parliament Act of 1891, providing a form of mandatory insurance of all factory workers and craftsmen. The population is covered by a basic health insurance plan provided by statute and optional insurance. In 2009, annual healthcare related expenditures reached 20.6 billion kuna (€2.75 billion). Healthcare expenditures comprise only 0.6% of private health insurance and public spending.In 2010, Croatia spent 6.9% of its GDP on healthcare.

Clinical Hospital Dubrava in Zagreb.

Croatia ranked around the 40th in the world in life expectancy with 74 years for men and 80 years for women, and it had a low infant mortality rate of 5 per 1,000 live births.

There are hundreds of healthcare institutions in Croatia, including 79 hospitals and clinics with 23,967 beds. The hospitals and clinics care for more than 700 thousand patients per year and employ 5,205 medical doctors, including 3,929 specialists. There are 6,379 private practice offices, and a total of 41,271 health workers in the country. There are 63 emergency medical service units, responding to more than a million calls. The principal cause of death in 2008 was cardiovascular disease at 43.5% for men and 57.2% for women, followed by tumours, at 29.4% for men and 21.4% for women. In 2009 only 13 Croatians had been infected with HIV/AIDS and 6 had died from the disease. In 2008 it was estimated by the WHO that 27.4% of Croatians over age of 15 are smokers. According to 2003 WHO data, 22% of the Croatian adult population is obese.


Trakošćan Castle is one of the best preserved historic buildings in the country.

Because of its geographic position, Croatia represents a blend of four different cultural spheres. It has been a crossroad of influences of the western culture and the east—ever since division of the Western Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire—as well as of the Mitteleuropa and the Mediterranean culture. The Illyrian movement was the most significant period of national cultural history, as the 19th-century period proved crucial in emancipation of the Croatian language and saw unprecedented developments in all fields of art and culture, giving rise to a number of historical figures.

The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia is tasked with preserving the nation's cultural and natural heritage and overseeing its development. Further activities supporting development of culture are undertaken at local government level. The UNESCO inscribed seven sites in Croatia on the World Heritage List. The country is also rich with Intangible culture and holds ten of UNESCO's World's intangible culture masterpieces, surpassing all countries in Europe except Spain which possesses an equal number of the listed items. A global cultural contribution from Croatia is the necktie, derived from the cravat originally worn by the 17th-century Croatian mercenaries in France.

The necktie originates from cravat worn by 17th-century Croat soldiers.

As of 2009, Croatia has 23 professional theatres, 14 professional children's theatres and 27 amateur theatres visited by more than two million viewers per year. The professional theatres employ 1,100 artists. There are 24 professional orchestras, ensembles and choirs in the country, attracting an annual attendance of 323 thousand. There are 117 cinemas with attendance exceeding 3.5 million. Croatia has 175 museums, visited by nearly 2.2 million people in 2009. Furthermore, there are 1,685 libraries in the country, containing more than 23.5 million volumes, and 15 archives.

In 2009, more than 7,200 books and brochures were published, along with 2,678 magazines and 314 newspapers. There are also 146 radio stations and 21 TV stations operating in the country. In past five years, film production in Croatia produced up to five feature films and 10 to 51 short films, with an additional 76 to 112 TV films. As of 2009, there are 784 amateur cultural and artistic associations and more than 10 thousand cultural, educational and artistic events held annually. The book publishing market is dominated by several major publishers and the industry's centrepiece event—Interliber exhibition held annually at Zagreb Fair.

Croatia has established a high level of human development and gender equality in terms of the Human Development Index. It promotes disability rights, and is legally tolerant towards homosexuals. LGBT civil unions have been permitted since 2003, however legal regulation of the area is considered by LGBT activists in the country as inadequate. Immigration to Croatia is generally viewed as necessary and beneficial to its economic development, and is expected to rise following EU accession of Croatia.

Arts and literature

Grgur Ninski statue by Ivan Meštrović, with a tower of the Diocletian's Palace in the background

Architecture in Croatia reflects influences of bordering nations. Austrian and Hungarian influence is visible in public spaces and buildings in the north and in the central regions, architecture found along coasts of Dalmatia and Istria exhibits Venetian influence. Large squares named after culture heroes, well-groomed parks, and pedestrian-only zones, are features of these orderly towns and cities, especially where large scale Baroque urban planning took place, for instance in Varaždin and Karlovac. Subsequent influence of the Art Nouveau was reflected in contemporary architecture. Along the coast, the architecture is Mediterranean with a strong Venetian and Renaissance influence in major urban areas exemplified in works of Giorgio da Sebenico and Niccolò Fiorentino such as the Cathedral of St. James in Šibenik. The oldest preserved examples of Croatian architecture are the 9th-century churches, with the largest and the most representative among them being Donatus of Zadar.

Besides the architecture encompassing the oldest artworks in Croatia, there is a long history of artists in Croatia reaching to the Middle Ages. In that period the stone portal of the Trogir Cathedral was made by Radovan, representing the most important monument of Romanesque sculpture in the Balkans. The Renaissance had the greatest impact on the Adriatic Sea coast since the remainder of Croatia was embroiled in the Hundred Years' Croatian–Ottoman War. With the waning of the Ottoman Empire, art flourished during the Baroque and Rococo. The 19th and the 20th centuries brought about affirmation of numerous Croatian artisans, helped by several patrons of the arts such as bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer. Croatian artists of the period achieving worldwide renown were Vlaho Bukovac and Ivan Meštrović.

The Baška tablet, a stone inscribed with the glagolitic alphabet found on the Krk island and dated to 1100, is considered to be the oldest surviving prose in Croatian. The beginning of more vigorous development of Croatian literature is marked by the Renaissance and Marko Marulić. Besides Marulić, Renaissance playwright Marin Držić, Baroque poet Ivan Gundulić, Croatian national revival poet Ivan Mažuranić, novelist, playwright and poet August Šenoa, poet and writer Antun Gustav Matoš, poet Antun Branko Šimić, expressionist and realist writer Miroslav Krleža, poet Tin Ujević and novelist and short story writer Ivo Andrić are often cited as the greatest figures in Croatian literature.


Fritule, a traditional pastry in Dalmatia

Croatian traditional cuisine varies from one region to another. Dalmatia and Istria draw upon culinary influences of Italian and other Mediterranean cuisines which prominently feature various seafood, cooked vegetables and pasta, as well as condiments such as olive oil and garlic. The continental cuisine is heavily influenced by Hungarian, Austrian and Turkish culinary styles. In that area, meats, freshwater fish and vegetable dishes are predominant.

There are two distinct wine-producing regions in Croatia. The continental region in the north-east of the country, especially Slavonia is capable of producing premium wines, particularly whites. Along the north coast, Istrian and Krk wines are similar to those produced in neighbouring Italy, while further south in Dalmatia, Mediterranean-style red wines are the norm. Annual production of wine exceeds 140 million litres. Croatia was almost exclusively a wine-consuming country up until late 18th century when a more massive production and consumption of beer started, the annual consumption of beer in 2008 was 83.3 litres per capita which placed Croatia on a relatively high 15th place among the world's countries.


Arena Zagreb, one of venues of the 2009 World Men's Handball Championship

There is more than 400 thousand active sportspeople in Croatia. Out of that number, 277 thousand Croatians are members of sports associations and nearly four thousand are members of chess and contract bridge associations. Association football is the most popular sport. The Croatian Football Federation ( Croatian: Hrvatski nogometni savez), with more than 118 thousand registered players, is the largest sporting association in the country. The Prva HNL football league attracts the highest average attendance of any professional sports league in the country. In season 2010/2011, it attracted 458,746 spectators.

Croatian athletes competing at international events since Croatian independence in 1991 won 33 Olympic medals, including ten gold medals—at the 2012 Summer Olympics in discus throw, trap shooting, and water polo; at the 1996 Summer Olympics and the 2004 Summer Olympics in handball, at the 2000 Summer Olympics in weightlifting and four gold medals in alpine skiing at the 2002 Winter Olympics and the 2006 Winter Olympics. In addition, Croatian athletes won 13 gold medals at world championships, including two in athletics at the World Championships in Athletics held in 2007 and 2009, one in handball at the 2003 World Men's Handball Championship, one in water polo at the 2007 World Aquatics Championships, one in rowing at the 2010 World Rowing Championships, six in alpine skiing at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships held in 2003 and 2005 and two at the World Taekwondo Championships in 2011 and 2007. Croatian athletes also won the 2005 Davis Cup.

Poljud stadium, Split was the 1990 European Athletics Championships venue.

Croatia hosted several major sport competitions, including the 2009 World Men's Handball Championship, the 2007 World Table Tennis Championships, the 2000 World Rowing Championships, the 1987 Summer Universiade, the 1979 Mediterranean Games and several European Championships. The governing sports authority in the country is the Croatian Olympic Committee ( Croatian: Hrvatski olimpijski odbor), founded on 10 September 1991 and recognised by the International Olympic Committee since 17 January 1992, in time to permit the Croatian athletes to appear at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France representing the newly independent nation for the first time at the Olympic Games.

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