Croatia is a country of Europe
with a surface area of 56,542 km² (density of 75.88 inhab./km²). The population of Croatia is 4,290,612 inhabitants in the last census.The capital of Croatia is the city of Zagreb which has 799,145 inhabitants. The president of the unitary parliamentary constitutional republic is Ivo Josipović.
Croatia at a glance
Administrative divisions: 21 comitats
Population: more than 4 million inhabitants
Principal language: Croatian
Principal religion: Christianity (catholic)
President current: Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović
Currency: Kuna (1 kuna = 100 lipa)
Conversion into euro: 100 kuna = 13.50 euros
Tourism: no the restriction
A country in the shape of crescent
Croatia has more than 1,775 kilometers of coasts along the Adriatic Sea but also more than one thousands of islands, small islands and rocks disseminated with broad of the country. Only 47 of these islands are inhabited.
This huge archipelago which is largest of the complete Adriatic the broken relief and very cut out littoral bordering Dalmatia as well as the peninsula formed by the peninsula of Istria in the North-West of the country.
All the northern/north-eastern part of the country (the Croatian part of the plain of Pannonia and the Slavonia) consists of vast agricultural plains dominated by some hills and intersected with lakes of which the artificial lake formed by the dam Omladinsko jezero.
The sixteen remarkable big lakes of Plitvice by the network of cascades and torrents connecting them between them are protected by a vast national park which shelters an exceptional fauna and a flora. One frequently meets there brown bears, lynxes, foxes, wildcats and wolves as well as many batrachians and reptiles. One can also observe many often endemic plants living at the edge of the lakes while luxuriant forests with prevalence of beeches extend to their accesses.
There exist seven other national parks in Croatia what makes it possible 7.5% of the country to be part of a protected area.
Lastly, the mountainous solid mass of the dinaric Alps belonging to Balkans Western covers the center of the country and separates the plain from Pannonia and the Adriatic Sea while following a north-western/south-eastern directed axis. It is prolonged by the many islands of the Adriatic.
In Croatia, the dinaric Alps are divided into two solid masses, Gorski Kotar in north and Lika. More the Croatian high summit is the Dinara Mount located on the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It culminates with 1,813 meter altitudes.
Because of its shape in arc of a circle and its varied reliefs, Croatia benefits from several types of climate:
• Mediterranean climate of the littoral
• Continental climate of the plains of the North-East
• Mountainous climate of the dinaric Alps
First inhabitants of Croatia
Traces of a human occupation dating from Paleolithic were discovered in Croatia. Indeed, men of the type pre-Neanderthal man occupied of the caves with Šandalja and Ivanac while the sites of Krapina, Vindija and Veternica were occupied by Neanderthal men.
During the Neolithic era, between 6,000 and 3,000 before our era, the tribes turn into a sedentary population, build permanent dwellings and are organized in structured company. Thus several sites belonging to the printed ceramics culture develop in Smilčić in the area of Zadar, close to Šibenik, Sopot and Korenovo like on the island of Hvar.
The archaeological excavations of the Croatian Neolithic sites made it possible to determine that these tribes lived in huts gathered in fortified villages, that they knew agriculture and that they had a perfect command of the art of the pottery and the metallurgy.
The Chalcolithic one
During the Chalcolithic one, period hinge between the Neolithic era and the Bronze Age, of new cultures emergent of which those of Vučedol which is established in Slavonia, along the Danube, of Gradina established in Istria and Cetina in Dalmatia. They will improve in the production of objects out of bronze during 2nd and 1st millennia before JC.
End of prehistory and Antiquity
From 800 before our era, the occupants of Croatia discover how to produce and use objects out of iron and the first true communities settle in the various areas of the country.
Histriens or Illyriens, the Dalmatian ones, Liburnes and Lapodes (or lapydes) is mentioned in the Roman texts and Greeks during Antiquity. However, the history of these people still fuzzy in the absence of is much written in their languages.
Illyria gathers various Indo-European people at the beginning of the 20th century before JC. However, there is no central power and each tribe has its own sovereign.
The Greeks establish counters at the 8th century before JC in a vast territory including Albania, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo.
In 229 before JC, the troops Roman cross the Adriatic Sea and invade Illyrian grounds while taking as pretexts the undesirable presence of pirates in the area. The Roman province of Illyrie founded into -9 is very quickly divided into two, Pannonia including an area of Croatia in particular and Dalmatia gathering part of Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Dalmatia obtains the statute of imperial province and knows a great prosperity in particular thanks to the wealth of its basement which conceals goldmines and of money. The power of Dalmatia also made it possible this province to be the cradle of several Roman Emperors of which most known is Diocletian which reforms the territorial division of the Empire and reorganizes the tax system. It is also sadly famous to have launched the “Great persecution of Diocletian” the purpose of which was to eradicate Christianity.
Liburnians installed in the south of the peninsula of Istria are annexed to the Roman province of Dalmatia while Lapodes who occupy the area located inside the grounds, at the bottom of mountainous solid masses will be colonized by the Romans only during the second century of our era.
The time of the cruel invasions
The Roman provinces installed in Croatia know one period of peace and construction of buildings suitable for the civilization of Rome, in particular of the amphitheaters and the thermal baths. The trade develops and the exchanges are facilitated thanks to the authorization to strike currency. The immense palace of Diocletian built in Split at the end of the 3rd century is a witness of the importance of Dalmatia.
This period is completed at the time of great invasions, as from the 4th century. Various Germanic tribes whose Huns and Ostrogoth ones continue their territorial expansion and are interested in these flourishing areas. The Romans try to be opposed to the invasions but must also face tensions degenerating into civil wars inside the provinces. Diocletian founds the tetrastich which divides the Empire into two parts, first steps of the true scission between the Roman Empire of Occident and the Roman Empire of the East (future Byzantine Empire) in 395.
Dalmatia remains attached to the Roman Empire of Occident at the time of the division but it is taken by Odoacer after this former soldier was turned over against his emperor. Odoacer reverses Romulus Augustus into 476 and is recognized like Patrice of Italy by the Byzantine emperor. He will be assassinated by Theodoric, king of Ostrogoth into 483.
Dalmatia becomes Byzantine into 535, at the conclusion of the war opposing the Ostrogoth ones of Italy and the troops of the Roman Emperor of the Justinian East 1st.
The first Croatian State
At the 7th century, the Slavic people which have a culture close to that to German organize themselves in principalities and independent kingdoms and occupy most of the Central Europe and Eastern Europe. They annex in particular the old Roman provinces of Pannonia and Dalmatia. The Romans are pushed back towards the coast, settle along the littoral and base on a small island the town of Ragusa (Dubrovnik) which will become well later, at the 14th century, the capital of the maritime Republic of Ragusa.
However, of many Romans remain in Dalmatia and are integrated into the Slavic ones.
In parallel, other Slavic tribes originating in Poland or Ukraine invade Pannonia and take the Croat name. Those are probably combined to the Byzantines to hold head in Avars, Turkish people wandering what allows their installation in Pannonia but also in Dalmatia in the capacity as federate tribes of the Byzantine Empire. Historians lean for other versions like the installation of the Croats after the invasion of Goths or the arrival of the Croats without the support of the Byzantines.
At all events, it is certain that the Croatian State divided between the duchy of Pannonia and the duchy of Dalmatia is founded at the 7th century. These people speak a language which is clean and uses the alphabet for him Glagolitic, ancestor of the Cyrillic alphabet. The Croats will use the Latin alphabet starting from the middle of the 13th century.
The geographical location of Croatia and its broad opening on the sea attract the medieval great powers, the Roman Empire of the East, the Turks and the Francs.
At the beginning of the 9th century, Charlemagne seizes Dalmatia. The Byzantine Empire declares the war to him and, at the conclusion of the conflict, preserves the territories located along the Dalmatian coast while the Francs grant the rest of the area.
The Duchy and the Kingdom of Croatia
After the death of Charlemagne, the Croatian dukes rise, starting new conflicts and a new division, this time betweenLothar the 1st of Italy and the German King.
The Dukes of Croatia will turn sometimes to one, sometimes towards another great power and the country must face many conflicts, in particular with the Bulgarian ones, the Byzantines and the Venetian ones.
Finally, the Duchy of Croatia is recognized independent into 879 with the support of the pope John VIII but it should be expected 925 so that the Croats of Pannonia and Dalmatia are brought together and found the Kingdom of Croatia. The first king, Tomislav 1st is the founder of the dynasty of Trpimirović.
This dynasty reigns on the territories including Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina current until 1102. During this period, the kingdom adopts a feudal system, the close relations of the court become great landowners of fields and the despoiled peasants their grounds become the serfs about it.
At the conclusion of quarrels of succession which shakes the kingdom at the end of the 11th century, king Ladislas 1st of Hungary asserts the vacant throne left by his brother-in-law Dmitar Zvonimir. He invades the country which he does not hesitate to annex in Hungary. The Byzantine emperor tries to take again the territory but is defeated and must even give up part of Serbia (Belgrade and Sremska).
Ladislas had chosen its Almos nephew like successor and Croatia in stronghold had given him. However, it is the brother of Almos, Coloman who goes up on the throne of Hungary in 1095. After a difficult beginning of reign marked by conflicts and successive alliances, Coloman however succeeds in controlling the whole of Croatia from which he proclaims king in 1102.
A round of applause is charged to control on its behalf Croatia while certain cities as Zagreb obtain the statute of “free royal cities”.
Croatia is then an important territory that the Ottomans dispute, the Venetian ones and the house of Habsbourg because of its geographical location and policy. Very quickly, the surface of the country is reduced considerably. Dalmatia and the peninsula of Istria become grounds belonging to the Republic of Venice and the Turks also seize territories. Only the town of Dubrovnik which had obtained the right of trade remains independent after more than one century and half of Venetian domination. The maritime Republic of Ragusa is created in 1358 after the loss of the Venetian territories to the profit of Hungary.
However, the Ottomans continue their expansion during the 16th century, annexing on their passage the Slavonia, part of Bosnia and the current area of Lika, in Croatia. The known Croatian army for its power manages to stop the Othman expansion and to take again several lost territories.
At the 18th century, the Ottomans still lose ground, giving up Hungary and Croatia with the profit of Austria. Croatia supports Marie-Thérèse of Austria during the war of succession which it delivers against the States which do not want to recognize its legitimacy as a heiress of the kingdoms of Hungary and Boehme. After being a time annexed by France of Napoleon, Dalmatia and Istria is taken again in the possessions of Ciisleithanie while the Croatia-Slavonia integrates Transleithanie, two States of the Austria-Hungary Empire.
To the independence
In second half of the 19th century, independence movements are born in Croatia in order to defend the cultural identity of the country which refuses to be comparable to the Magyar culture (Hungarian).
During the First World War, the movement becomes extensive and, when the double monarchy of Austria-Hungary is dissolved, all the Slavic countries of origin whose Croats link themselves to found the State of the Slovenians, Croats and Serb.
Even if this new State, which becomes a kingdom after its fusion with Serbia and Montenegro in December 1918, is not intended to survive a long time, it marks a decisive step towards the independence of these countries.
Formation of Yugoslavia
Pierre 1st of Serbia becomes king and must very quickly face Italy which asserts all the Dalmatian coast but also internal tensions supplied with the too strong cultural and economic differences existing between the various people. A party emerges in Croatia, the Croatian country Party, and is opposed to the government. In 1928, the founder of the party is assassinated what puts fire at the powders. Riots burst and, in 1929, King Alexandre 1st decides to modify the constitution and to found the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
It establishes an absolute monarchy based on a repressive police mode charged to eliminate all the opponents and freedom fighters. The king is assassinated in 1934 whereas it is in visit in France. His/her son, Pierre II succeeds to him but it is only 11 years old and the country is placed under the regency of his/her cousin, Prince Paul. The regent who signs an agreement with Hitler to join the Axis in 1941 is reversed by the army which places the young person Pierre II on the throne in order to make null and void this agreement.
The shortly after this coup d'etat, Hitler invades Yugoslavia which capitulates a few days later. The occupied country returns then in resistance during all the Second World War while the royal family flees in exile.
After the war, Pierre II tries to return to Yugoslavia but it is prevented by it by the assembly of the country which places Josip Broz Tito in charge of the country. The king will however never abdicate and remains applicant with the throne until his death in the United States, in 1970. His/her son, Alexandre is itself still claiming with the throne of Yugoslavia until 2003 and then of Serbia.
The Marshal Tito
The Marshal Tito, Croatian of origin, found a Communist regime of “people's democracy” in Yugoslavia. During 27 years, until its death in 1980, Tito sets up an economy in self-management allowing the blue-collar workers and employees to manage themselves their companies. If, initially, the country makes beautiful great strides, it quickly will be confronted with tensions resulting from competition. Unemployment, the inflation and a bad distribution of the wages oblige the government to adopt new reforms, to introduce the concept of profitability and to abolish technocracy in the years 1960. The country is rectified and become the “socialist Republic federative of Yugoslavia” in 1963 what makes it possible to the Croats to have as much to be able that the Serb ones.
This reform however will not prevent the rise of the Croatian student's movement which wishes to obtain more freedom. This episode known under the name of “Croatian Spring” proceeds in 1971. The demonstrations are repressed with violence and the leaders are imprisoned. However, in 1974, the various federate states obtain more autonomy and especially the right to separate from Yugoslavia.
After 27 years of being able without division, Tito dies on May 4th, 1980 at the 87 years age. Very quickly, the country knows one dark period and of the difficulties as well political as economic emerge within the government and in the various states.
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 announcement end of Yugoslavia. Indeed, Croatia declares its independence later two years, causing armed conflicts with Serbia while Croats emigrate in Serbia and that the Serb ones emigrate in Croatia. In 1992, Croatia is recognized like independent country by the international community.
It is however necessary to still wait several years before seeing the peace restored between the various states of ex-Yugoslavia. Croatia recovers various occupied territories by Serbia during the “Operation Storm” in 1995, an offensive which made many victims among the Serb population.
In 2000, Stjepan Mesić, member of the Croatian Popular party (HNS) become president of the republic. This election marks a new turning in the history of Croatia. Indeed, Stjepan Mesić carries out a liberal policy, opens its country with the foreign investors, recognizes the war crimes committed by its country during the wars against Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and invests itself largely in the project of accession of Croatia to the European Union.
Croatia is a parliamentary, democratic Republic and multi-partite whose president is
elected by the universal direct suffrage for one 5 years duration, the mandate is renewable only once.
President (currently Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, member of the Croatian democratic Union (HDZ)) is at the same time the Head of the State and the chief of the Armies.
It is also him who which is charged to name the Prime Minister, chief of the Government.
The executive power is exerted by a Parliament monocameral Sabor, makes up by 151 deputies elected for 4 years by the universal direct suffrage.
An economic revival based on tourism
After several years of recession, Croatia found a positive economic growth in 2016. The national debt remains however heavy and unemployment rate is higher than 16%.
The agricultural sector (wheat, corn, beets, fruits, wine…) represent less than 5% of the GDP while industries (textile, wood, iron and steel industry) account for 26% of them.
The tertiary sector, and more particularly tourism, are not only the main source of the incomes of Croatia but it also provides with employment for more two thirds of the inhabitants. The improvement of the infrastructures intended to accommodate the tourists should still support this sector in the next years.
A cultural co-education
The total population of Croatia approaches the 4.5 million inhabitants but the natural rate of increase is negative with an index of fertility lower than 1.5 child by woman.
Nearly 90% of the inhabitants are of Croatian origin but the Serb community accounts for 5% of the population roughly.
The official language is Croatian who is spoken by almost the whole about the inhabitants. This language is similar to the Bosnian, Serb and to the Montenegrin. Only some lexical differences distinguish them from/to each other. These four languages are gathered under abbreviation BCMS (Serbo-croatian in the past) and are spoken by more than 21 million people in the world.
On the other hand, if the Latin alphabet are used in Croatia and in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Serb ones and the Montenegrins use at the same time the Cyrillic alphabets and Latin.
Christianity is the principal religion from Croatia which counts 90% of Catholics and 4% the orthodox ones.
The Croatian culture is influenced at the same time by the Slavic culture common to the countries of ex-Yugoslavia and by those of the Mediterranean and Balkans. Croatia is also a country of traditions and craft industry what is worth the inscription of 13 elements to him on the list of the immaterial patrimony of the humanity of UNESCO, in particular the lace factory, the gingerbread, the manufacturing of toys out of wooden and several festivities, dances and folk music.
This co-education is found in the Croatian cuisine which rich and is varied. It differs from one area to another. Along the coast, the dishes containing fish and of seafood are legions, of the fish soup to the grills, the whole accompanied in abundance by vegetables and wild plants. In the interior of the country, the meat supplants fish. It is consumed simmered, seasoned paprika and accompanied by vegetables and mushrooms. The cheese also occupies a choice place on the Croatian tables.
Croatia has vineyards of good quality producing mainly white wines which are consumed with the daily newspaper.
Even if Croatia is part of the EU, it is not member of Schengen space and it is thus necessary to have identity documents in order of validity to return on his territory (identity card or passport for a stay lower than 3 months).
Croatia is a sure destination for the tourists who must however be vigilant because of the theft risks in the places with strong multitude.
It is also necessary to be careful with the accesses of the not cleared of mines zones announced by panels and to remain on the main roads or secondary marked out.
No vaccination is obligatory and the health risks are very weak.
For a few years, Croatia has set up a policy aiming at attracting the tourists. Thus the hotel infrastructures henceforth propose services and a comfort adapted to the request. The top-of-the-range hotels are however rather expensive but there exist many alternatives of accommodation like the camp-sites, the youth hostels and the rooms proposed by the inhabitants.
The in love ones with nature as impassioned history will appreciate their stay in Croatia. Lakes Plitvice to the excursions in the wild islands via the many sports activities, the discovery of Croatia holds many surprises.
The town of Dubrovnik is particularly remarkable and charms its visitors by its lanes and its historic monuments at the edge of the Adriatic Sea.
Roman vestiges, picturesque Baroque palaces and villages… each site is worth largely the turning. To miss under no pretext: the visit of Split and the palace of Diocletian and that of the historic district of the Zagreb capital.