Republic of Croatia
Republika Hrvatska
Anthem: Lijepa nasa domovino
Our beautiful homeland

Capital
(and largest city)
Zagreb
4548'N 160'E? / ?45.8N 16E? / 45.8; 16
Official languages Croatian1
Demonym Croat/Croats
Croatian/Croatians
Government Parliamentary republic
President Stjepan Mesic
Prime Minister Ivo Sanader
President of Parliament Luka Bebic
Establishment
Founded First half of 7th century 
Medieval duchy March 4, 852 
Recognized by the Pope May 21, 879 
Elevated to kingdom 925 
Union with Hungary 1102 
Joined Habsburg Empire January 1, 1527 
Independence from Austria-Hungary
October 29, 1918 
Joined Yugoslavia (co-founder)
December 1, 1918 
Declared independence June 25, 1991 
Area
Total 56,542 km2 (126th)
21,831 sq mi 
Water (%) 0.2
Population
2008 estimate 4,453,500 (114th)
2001 census 4,437,460 
Density 81/km2 (115th)
208/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
Total $73,087 billion 
Per capita $16,754(51st)
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
Total $63.948 billion 
Per capita $14,414 
Gini (2005) 29 (low
HDI (2006) 0.850 (high) (47th)
Currency kuna (HRK)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .hr
Calling code 385

(Croatian: Hrvatska , officially the Republic of Croatia (Republika Hrvatska, is a Southeastern European and Central European country at the crossroads between the Pannonian Plain and the Mediterranean Sea. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. Croatia borders with Slovenia and Hungary to the north, Serbia to the northeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the east, and Montenegro to the far southeast. Its southern and western flanks border the Adriatic Sea, and it also shares a sea border with Italy in the Gulf of Trieste.

Croatia is a member of the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Council of Europe and is a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the 2008-2009 term. The country is also a candidate for membership of the European Union and a NATO acceding member. Croatia is expected to formally join NATO in April 2009, making it the second former Yugoslav nation to join the military alliance following Slovenia. Additionally, Croatia is also a founding member of the Union for the Mediterranean upon its establishment in 2008.

History

Croats and other Slavs settled on the east coast of the Adriatic Sea and the Pannonian lands in the early 7th century, forming two principalities, Dalmatia and Pannonia. The establishment of the Trpimirovic dynasty ca. 850 brought strengthening to the Dalmatian Croat duchy, which became a kingdom in 925.

In 1102, Croatia entered into a personal union with the Kingdom of Hungary. After the 1526 Battle of Mohács, the "Reliquiae reliquiarum olim inclyti Regni Croatiae" (the remains of the Kingdom of Croatia) became a part of the Habsburg Monarchy in 1527. In 1918 Croatia became a part of the Kingdom of SHS which is later renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

In 1941-1945, during World War II, an Axis puppet state known as the Independent State of Croatia existed in service to the Nazi regime. Modern Croatia is created on AVNOJ partisans foundations during WWII and she has became a constitutive federal republic of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

In 1990, after holding the first democratic elections in the country election win of Croatian Democratic Union has been opposed by municipalities with Serbian majority proclaimed autonomy and secession and then in 1991 started rebellion which started a long and bloody war. War was waged between Croatian forces and the self proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina helped by Yugoslav People's Army. War ended in 1995 with Croatian victory and order of Republic of Serbian Krajina leadership for evacuation of population towards Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Croatia was recognized on January 15, 1992, by the European Union and the United Nations. The first country to recognize Croatia was Iceland on December 19, 1991.

Geography

Croatia is located between South-Central Europe and Middle Europe. Its shape resembles that of a crescent or a horseshoe, which flanks its neighbours Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. To the north lie Slovenia and Hungary; Italy lies across the Adriatic Sea. Its mainland territory is split in two non-contiguous parts by the short coastline of Bosnia and Herzegovina around Neum.

Its terrain is diverse, including:

  • plains, lakes and rolling hills in the continental north and northeast (Central Croatia and Slavonia, part of the Pannonian Basin);
  • densely wooded mountains in Lika and Gorski Kotar, part of the Dinaric Alps;
  • rocky coastlines on the Adriatic Sea (Istria, Northern Seacoast and Damatia).

Phytogeographically, Croatia belongs to the Boreal Kingdom and is shared between the Central European and Illyrian provinces of the Circumboreal Region and the Adriatic province of the Mediterranean Region. According to the WWF, the territory of Croatia can be subdivided into three ecoregions: the Pannonian mixed forests, Dinaric Mountains mixed forests and Illyrian deciduous forests.

The country is famous for its many national parks. Croatia has a mixture of climates. In the north and east it is continental, Mediterranean along the coast and a semi-highland and highland climate in the south-central region. Istra has a temperate climate, while the Palagru?a archipelago is home to a subtropical climate.

Offshore Croatia consists of over one thousand islands varying in size. The largest islands in Croatia are Cres and Krk which are located in the Adriatic Sea. The Danube, Europe's second longest river, runs through the city of Vukovar. Dinara, the eponym of the Dinaric Alps, is the highest peak of Croatia at 1,831 metres above sea level.

There are 49 pits deeper than 250 m in Croatia, 14 of them are deeper than 500 m and three deeper than 1000 m (Cave system Lukina jama-Trojama, Slovacka jama and Cave system Velebita). The deepest Croatian pits are mostly found in two regions - Mt. Velebit and Mt. Biokovo.

Counties

Croatia is divided into 20 counties (Zupanija) and the capital Zagreb's city district (in italics below):

Anglicized name Native name
1 Zagreb Zagrebacka
2 Krapina-Zagorje Krapinsko-zagorska
3 Sisak-Moslavina Sisacko-moslavacka
4 Karlovac Karlovacka
5 Varazdin Varazdinska
6 Koprivnica-Krizevci Koprivnicko-krizevacka
7 Bjelovar-Bilogora Bjelovarsko-bilogorska
8 Primorje-Gorski Kotar   Primorsko-goranska
9 Lika-Senj Licko-senjska
10 Virovitica-Podravina Viroviticko-podravska
11 Pozega-Slavonia Pozecko-slavonska
12 Brod-Posavina Brodsko-posavska
13 Zadar Zadarska
14 Osijek-Baranja Osjecko-baranjska
15 Sibenik-Knin Sibensko-kninska
16 Vukovar-Srijem Vukovarsko-srijemska
17 Split-Dalmatia Splitsko-dalmatinska
18 Istria Istarska
19 Dubrovnik-Neretva Dubrovacko-neretvanska
20 Medimurje Medimurska
21 City of Zagreb Grad Zagreb

Infrastructure

The highlight of Croatia's recent infrastructure developments is its rapidly-growing highway network, of which plans were drawn and work commenced in the 1970s, but was realised only after independence due to the (then) Yugoslav Government plans of road projects of 'national' importance.

Croatia has now over 1,200 km of highways connecting Zagreb to most other regions. The best known highways are A1, connecting Zagreb to Split and A3, passing east-west through northwest Croatia and Slavonia. Most highways are tolled, except the Zagreb bypass and sections of A3, A7, B8 and B9. There is also a smaller and more obscure network of expressways connecting to the highways. One of the most used is the B28 expressway, connecting A4 near Zagreb to Bjelovar, but also serving as the main shunpiking alternative to the A3. The Croatian highways network its considered one of very good overall quality and excellent security, winning several EUROTAP awards.

Croatia has an extensive rail network, although due to historical circumstances, some regions (notably Istria and even more so Dubrovnik) are not accessible by train without passing through neighbouring countries. Serious investment is needed in the rail network over the coming decades to bring it up to European standards in both speed and operational efficiency. All rail services are operated by Croatian Railways (Croatian: Hrvatske Zeljeznice). The inter-city bus network (operated by private operators) is extensively developed, with higher levels of coverage and timetables than the railways.

Croatia has three major international airports, located in Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik. Other important airports include Zadar, Rijeka (on the island of Krk), Osijek, Bol, Losinj and Pula. Croatia Airlines is the national airline and flag carrier. An extensive system of ferries, operated by Jadrolinija, serves Croatia's many islands and links coastal cities. Ferry services to Italy are also available.

Education

University of Zagreb

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 but not compulsory education until eighteen years of age. Compulsory education consists of eight grades ( Elementary School ) Secondary education is provided by gymnasiums and vocational schools.

Croatia has seven universities, the University of Zagreb, University of Split, University of Rijeka, University of Osijek, University of Zadar, University of Dubrovnik and the University of Pula. 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 Southeastern Europe. There are also polytechnic higher education institutions.

Culture

Croatian culture is the result of a fourteen century-long history which has seen the development of many cities and monuments. The country includes seven World Heritage sites and eight national parks. Croatia is also the birthplace of a number of historical figures. Included among the notable people are three Nobel prize winners and numerous inventors.

Some of the world's first fountain pens came from Croatia. Croatia also has a place in the history of clothing as the origin of the necktie (kravata). The country has a long artistic, literary and musical tradition. Also of interest is the diverse nature of Croatian cuisine.