Croatia (Hrvatska) has come a long way since the summer of 1991, when foreign tourists fled from a region standing on the verge of war. Now that stability has returned, visitors are steadily coming back to a country which boasts one of the most outstanding stretches of coastline that Europe has to offer. This return to normality has been keenly awaited by Croats, but patriotism - and a sense of the nation's place in history - remains a serious business here. Croatia was an independent kingdom in the tenth century, fell under the rule of Hungary in the eleventh, and was subsequently absorbed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire before becoming part of the new state of Yugoslavia in 1918. Croatian aspirations were frustrated by a Yugoslav state which was initially dominated by Serbs, and then (after 1945) ruled by Communists. Croatia's declaration of independence on June 25, 1991 was fiercely contested by a Serb-dominated Yugoslav army eager to preserve their control over portions of Croatia in which groups of ethnic Serbs lived. The period of war - and fragile, UN-supervised ceasefire that followed - was finally brought to a close by Croatian offensives during the summer of 1995. Croatia's capital, Zagreb , is a typical central-European metropolis, combining elegant nineteenth-century architecture with plenty of cultural diversions and a vibrant café life. At the northern end of the Adriatic coast, the peninsula of Istria contains many of the country's most developed resorts, with old Venetian towns like Porec and Rovinj rubbing shoulders with the raffish port of Pula . Further south lies Dalmatia , a dramatic, mountain-fringed stretch of coastline studded with islands. Dalmatia's main town is Split , an ancient Roman settlement and modern port which provides a jumping-off point to the most enchanting of Croatia's islands, Brac , Hvar , Vis and Korcula , where you'll find lively fishing villages and the best of the beaches. South of Split lies the walled medieval city of Dubrovnik , site of an important festival in the summer and a magical place to be whatever the season.
In 1918, the Croats, Serbs, and Slovenes formed a kingdom known after 1929 as Yugoslavia. Following World War II, Yugoslavia became a federal independent Communist state under the strong hand of Marshal TITO. Although Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, it took four years of sporadic, but often bitter, fighting before occupying Serb armies were mostly cleared from Croatian lands. Under UN supervision, the last Serb-held enclave in eastern Slavonia was returned to Croatia in 1998.
Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea, between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia
45 10 N, 15 30 E
total: 56,542 sq km water: 128 sq km land: 56,414 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than West Virginia
total: 2,197 km border countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina 932 km, Hungary 329 km, Serbia and Montenegro (north) 241 km, Serbia and Montenegro (south) 25 km, Slovenia 670 km
5,835 km (mainland 1,777 km, islands 4,058 km)
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation territorial sea: 12 NM
Mediterranean and continental; continental climate predominant with hot summers and cold winters; mild winters, dry summers along coast
geographically diverse; flat plains along Hungarian border, low mountains and highlands near Adriatic coastline and islands
lowest point: Adriatic Sea 0 m highest point: Dinara 1,830 m
oil, some coal, bauxite, low-grade iron ore, calcium, natural asphalt, silica, mica, clays, salt, hydropower
arable land: 23.55% permanent crops: 2.24% other: 74.21% (1998 est.)
30 sq km (1998 est.)
Environment - current issues:
air pollution (from metallurgical plants) and resulting acid rain is damaging the forests; coastal pollution from industrial and domestic waste; landmine removal and reconstruction of infrastructure consequent to 1992-95 civil strife
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic...