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Republic of Croatia

Republika Hrvatska


FLAG: Red, white, and blue horizontal bands with the Croatian coat of arms (red and white checkered).

ANTHEM: Lijepa Nasa Domovina.

MONETARY UNIT: The Croatian kuna (HrK was introduced in 1994, consisting of 100 lipa. HrK1 = $0.16892 (or $1 = HrK5.92) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Epiphany, 6 January; Labor Day, 1 May; Republic Day, 30 May; National Holiday, 22 June; Assumption, 15 August; Christmas, 2526 December.

TIME: 7 pm = noon GMT.


Croatia is located in southeastern Europe. Comparatively, the area occupied by Croatia is slightly smaller than the state of West Virginia with a total area of 56,542 sq km (21,831 sq mi). Croatia shares boundaries with Slovenia on the w, Hungary on the n, Serbia on the e, Bosnia and Herzegovina on the s and e, and the Adriatic Sea on the w, and has a total boundary length of 8,020 km (4.983 mi), including 5,835 km (3,626 mi) of coastline. Croatia's capital city, Zagreb, is located in the northern part of the country. Croatia's territory includes 1,185 nearby islands in the Adriatic Sea, of which only 66 are inhabited.


The topography of Croatia is geographically diverse, with flat plains along the Hungarian border, as well as low mountains and highlands near the Adriatic coast. The country is generally divided into three main geographic zones: the Pannonian and Peri-Pannonian Plains in the east and northwest, the central hills and mountains, and the Adriatic coast. Approximately 24% of Croatia's land is arable. Croatia's natural resources include: oil, some coal, bauxite, low-grade iron ore, calcium, natural asphalt, silica, mica, clays, and salt. Croatia's natural environment experiences effects from frequent earthquakes, air pollution from metallurgical plants, coastal pollution from industrial and domestic waste, and forest damage.


Croatia's climate in the lowlands features hot, dry summers and cold winters. In Zagreb, the average annual temperature is 12°c (53°f) with average highs of 2°c (35°f) in January and 27°c (80°f) in July. In the mountains, summers are cool and winters cold and snowy. Along the coast, the climate is Mediterranean with mild winters and dry summers. In Split, the average annual temperature is 17°c (62°f). Annual average precipitation is about 94 cm (37 in).


The region's climate has given Croatia a wealth of diverse flora and fauna. Ferns, flowers, mosses, and common trees populate the landscape. Along the Adriatic Sea there are subtropical plants. Native animals include deer, brown bears, rabbits, fox, and wild boars. As of 2002, there were at least 76 species of mammals, 224 species of birds, and over 4,200 species of plants throughout the country.


Air pollution (from metallurgical plant emissions) and deforestation are inland environmental problems. In 1996 industrial carbon dioxide emissions totaled 17.5 million metric tons. In 2000, total emissions were at 19.6 million metric tons. Coastal water systems have been damaged by industrial and domestic waste. All of Croatia's urban dwellers have access to safe drinking water. Environmental management is becoming more decentralized, thereby empowering city and municipal administrations to determine environmental policy. Croatia's 195 protected areas cover 421,000 hectares (1,040,000 acres), or 7.5% of the country's natural areas. The Plitvice Lakes National Park is a natural UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are four Ramsar wetland sites. In 2000, about 31% of the total land area was forested.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 7 types of mammals, 9 species of birds, 1 type of reptiles, 2 species of amphibians, 27 species of fish, and 11 species of invertebrates. Endangered species include the Atlantic sturgeon, slender-billed curlew, and the Mediterranean monk seal.


The population of Croatia in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 4,438,000, which placed it at number 117 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 16% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 17% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 93 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be -0.3%, a rate the government viewed as too low. The projected population for the year 2025 was 4,318,000. The population density was 78 per sq km (203 per sq mi).

The UN estimated that 56% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 0.50%. The capital city, Zagreb, is by far the largest city in the country. It had a population of 688,000 in 2005. Other cities and their estimated populations include Split, 265,000; Rijeka, 206,000; and Osijek, 165,000.


In the early 1990s, some 160,000 people living in Croatia fled to neighboring countries to escape ethnic conflict, with another 120,000 fleeing to countries abroad. Total returns to Croatia as of February 2000 numbered over 112,000, including 36,000 Croatian Serbs who repatriated from Serbia and Montenegro. Also, nearly 74,000 internally displaced people had returned to their homes within Croatia. In February 2000, an estimated 250,000 Croatian Serb refugees were still registered in Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Of these, more than 25,000 had applied for return under the government's Return Programme. The total number of migrants living in Croatia in 2000 was 425,000. In 2004, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was assisting some 23,744 people in Croatia: 3,663 refugees, 7,468 returnees, and over 12,500 internally displaced people. In addition, there were 852 voluntary repatriations to Bosnia and Herzegovina and 6,616 to Serbia and Montenegro. In 2004, an estimated 200 Croatians sought asylum in Ireland and Sweden. The net migration rate in 2005 was estimated at 1.58 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views the emigration level as too high.


As of the 2001 census, Croats make up about 89.6% of the population and Serbs account for 4.5%. The remainder include Bosniaks, Hungarians, Slovenians, Czechs, and Roma.


Serbo-Croatian is the native language and is used by 96% of the populace. Since 1991, Croats have insisted that their tongue (now called Croat) is distinctive. The spoken language is basically the same, but Serbs use the Cyrillic alphabet and Croats the Roman alphabet. The Croatian alphabet has the special consonants č, ć, š, ž, dj, dž, and nj, representing sounds provided by the Cyrillic alphabet. The remaining 4% of the population speak various other languages, including Italian, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak, and German.


Christianity was introduced into the area in the 7th century. Under the Yugoslav Socialist Republic, churchesRoman Catholic in particularexperienced repression by the state. This moderated in 1966, when an agreement with the Vatican recognized a religious role for the clergy. The latest estimates recorded a Roman Catholic population of 85%, with 6% Orthodox Christians, and 1% Muslims. Less than 1% were Jewish and about 4% belong to other faiths, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jehovah's Witnesses, Greek Catholic, Pentecostal, Hare Krishna, Baptist, Seventh-Day Adventist, and the Church of Christ. About 2% of the population are atheists. The Orthodox are primarily Serbs; other minority religions can be found mostly in urban areas. No formal restrictions are placed on religious groups, and all are free to conduct public services and run social and charitable institutions.

The constitution provides for freedom of conscience and religion and this right is generally respected in practice. Though there is no official state religion, the Roman Catholic Church, the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Islamic community, and several smaller Christian denominations have signed agreements with the government through which they qualify for state support. A 2003 Regulation on Forms and Maintaining Records of Religious Communities in Croatia requires all religious organizations to register with the government in order to receive legal status under the Law on Religious Communities.


Croatia's railroads consist of two main routes. An eastwest route originating in Serbia nearly parallels the Sava before reaching Zagreb and continuing on to Slovenia and Hungary. The northsouth route connects the coastal cities of Split and Rijeka to Zagreb. Another railway connects Dubrovnik to Bosnia and Herzegovina. As of 2004, there were 2,726 km (1,694 mi) of standard gauge railroad line. However, some parts remain inoperative or out of use due to territorial disputes. Highways totaled 28,588 km (17,782 mi) in 2003, of which 24,186 km (15,044 mi) were paved roads, including 583 km (363 mi) of expressways. As of 2003, there were 1,293,400 passenger cars and 143,100 commercial vehicles registered for use.

Rijeka, Split, and Kardeljevo (Ploce) are the main seaports along the Adriatic. There are 785 km (488 mi) of perennially navigable inland waters. Vukovar, Osijek, Sisak, and Vinkovci are the principal inland ports. In 2005, Croatia had 73 ships of at least 1,000 GRT, for a total capacity of 750,579 GRT.

Croatia had an estimated 68 airports in 2004. As of 2005 a total of 23 had paved runways, and there was one heliport. Principal airports include Dubrovnik, Split, and Pleso at Zagreb. In 2003, about 1.267 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international flights.


Origins through the Middle Ages

Slavic tribes penetrated slowly but persistently into the Balkan area beginning in the 5th century. Their migration, and that of the Serbians, occurred upon the invitation of the Byzantine emperor Heraclius I (r. 610641) in 626, to repel the destructive inroads of the Avars. A coalition of Byzantine and Croat forces succeeded in forcing the Avars out of Dalmatia first, and then from the remainder of Illirycum and the lands between the Drava and Sava rivers. The Croats settled on the lands that they had freed from the Avars and established their own organized units that included indigenous Slavic tribes.

By the year 1000, Venice, having defeated the Croatian fleet, controlled the entire Adriatic coast. The coastal cities, while welcoming the Italian cultural influence of Venice, feared potential Venetian domination over their trading interests with the enormous Balkan hinterland. Thus Dubrovnik (formerly called Ragusa), with its growing fleet, preferred to remain tied to the more distant Byzantine Empire.

Zvonimir, son-in-law of the Hungarian king Bela I, was crowned king of Croatia in 1075. Zvonimir died around 1089 without an heir, leaving his widow with the throne, but the nobles opposed her rule because of her Hungarian ancestry. The king of Hungary intervened to protect his sister's interests (and his own) by occupying Pannonian Croatia. The area was recovered in 1095 by Peter Svacic from Knin (109397). Peter, the last independent king of Croatia, was killed in battle in 1096 by King Koloman of Hungary, who then conquered Croatia. After concluding a nonaggression pact with Venice, which had retained control of the coastal islands and cities, the Croats rebelled and drove the Hungarian forces back to the Drava River frontier between Croatia and Hungary.

Royal Union with Hungary

In 1102, Koloman regrouped and attacked Croatia. He stopped at the Drava River, however, where he invited the nobles representing the 12 Croatian tribes to a conference. They worked out the so-called Pacta Conventa, an agreement on a personal royal union between Hungary and Croatia (including Slavonia and Dalmatia). The overall administration of the state would be by a "ban" (viceroy) appointed by the king, while regional and local administration were to stay in the hands of the Croatian nobles. This legal arrangement, with some practical modifications, remained the basis of the Hungarian-Croatian personal royal union and relationship until 1918.

Internal warfare among Croatia's nobility weakened its overall ability to resist attack from Venice. In 1377, Tvrtko (13531390) proclaimed himself king of the Serbs, Bosnia, and the Croatian coast. Venice was defeated in 1385, and was forced to surrender all rights to the coastal cities all the way to Durazzo in today's Albania. Dubrovnik also gained its independence from Venice, recognizing the sovereignty of the Hungarian-Croatian king.

Defense against the Turks

By the mid-15th century the threat from both the Turks and Venice was growing more ominous, leading King Sigismund to establish three military defense regions in 1432. As these defensive regions were further developed, they attracted new, mostly Serbian, settlers/fighters who became the strong Serbian minority population in Croatia. The Ottoman threat brought about the appointment of Vladislav Jagiellon, the king of Poland, as king of Hungary and Croatia in 1440. Vladislav was succeeded in 1445 by Ladislas, son of Albert of Hapsburg, and therefore king of both Austria and Hungary/Croatia. Since Ladislas was a minor, John Hunyadi, a brilliant general, was appointed regent. Hunyadi had to protect the throne from the counts of Celje, who, in 1453, also claimed the title of ban of Croatia. Ulrich, one of the counts of Celje, fell victim to Hunyadi's assassins at the defense of Belgrade from the Turks in 1456. This murder was avenged by King Ladislas V, who had Hunyadi executed in 1456.

After 1520, the Turks began effective rule over some Croatian territory. In 1522, the Croatian nobility asked Austrian archduke Ferdinand of the Hapsburgs to help defend Croatia against the Turks, but by 1526, the Turks had conquered Eastern Slavonia and had advanced north into Hungary. On 29 August 1526, in a massive battle at Mohacs, the Turks defeated the Hungarian and Croatian forces, killing King Louis. By 1528, the Ottomans held the southern part of Croatia, and by 1541 had conquered Budapest. Dubrovnik, on the other hand, had accepted the Ottoman suzerainty in 1483, keeping its autonomy through its extensive trade with the Turkish empire. Most coastal towns were under the protection of Venice, with its good trade relations with the Turks.

In 1526, after King Louis's death at Mohacs, Ferdinand of Hapsburg was elected king of Hungary and Croatia. The Hapsburg rulers began to encroach on the rights of Croats by turning the throne from a traditionally elected position into a hereditary one, and by allocating Croatian lands as fiefs to their supporters, turning the Croatian peasants from free men into serfs.

King Ferdinand III (r.16371657) consolidated Hungary and Croatia under Hapsburg rule. Under Ferdinand's son, Leopold I (who in 1658 had also become the German emperor), the status of Hungary and Croatia continued to deteriorate. All power was centralized in the hands of the king/emperor and his court. Leopold tried to emulate the absolutist model practiced by Louis XIV of France. The Turkish offensives of 1663 were successfully repelled by the Croatian brothers Nicholas and Peter Zrinski. Following the defeat of the Turks at Saint Gotthard in western Hungary in 1664, Leopold I unilaterally concluded a 20-year peace treaty with the Turks based essentially on the prewar situation.

The Peace of Vasvar proved to the Hungarians and Croats that the Hapsburg court was not interested in fighting the Turks for Hungary and Croatia. This situation led to a conspiracy by the Zrinski brothers and key Hungarian nobles against the Hapsburg Court. But the Turks warned the Hapsburgs of the conspiracy, and Peter Zrinski and his coconspirator Francis Frankopan were executed on 30 April 1671 (Nicholas Zrinski had died in 1664). Leopold I suspended for 10 years the office of the Croatian ban.

The last king of the male Hapsburg line was Charles III (r.17111740). In 1722, during his reign the Hungarian parliament agreed to extend the Hapsburg hereditary right to its female line (Charles had no son), something already agreed to by the Croatian parliament in 1712. At the same time the Hungarians obtained a legal guarantee on the indivisibility of the realm of the Crown of Saint Stephen, which included Croatia. Charles was thus followed by his daughter Maria Teresa (r.17401780) who, by decree, divided Croatia into regions headed by her appointees. Joseph II, her son, emancipated the serfs, tried to improve education, tried to impose the German language as a unifying force, closed monasteries in an attempt to control the Roman Catholic Church, and decreed religious toleration. In the 1788 war against the Turks, Joseph II suffered a devastating defeat; he died two years later.

Leopold II, Joseph II's brother, succeeded him, and recognized Hungary and Croatia as kingdoms with separate constitutions. Hungarian replaced Latin as the official language of the Hungarian parliament. Hungarians then began trying to establish the Hungarian language in Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia, thus initiating a hundred-year struggle of the Croats to preserve their identity.

Napoleon and the Spring of Nations

With the peace treaty of Campoformio ending the war against Napoleon in 1797, Austria obtained the territories of the Venice Republic, including the Adriatic coast as far as Kotor. In 1806, Napoleon seized Dubrovnik, and in 1809 he obtained control of Slovenian and Croatian territories and created his Illyrian Provinces. The French regime levied heavy taxes and conscription into Napoleon's armies. With Napoleon's defeat, all of Dalmatia reverted back to direct Austrian administration until the end of World War I in 1918.

In 1825, Francis I called the Hungarian parliament into session and the Hungarians resumed their pressure to introduce the Hungarian language into Croatian schools. Ljudevit Gaj became the leader of the movement calling for the reassertion of the independent Kingdom of Croatia and advocated the introduction of "Illyrian" (Croatian) as the official language to replace Latin. A member of the Illyrian movement, Count Janko Draškovic, also promoted the idea of reorganizing the Hapsburg lands into a federation of political units with coequal rights. The Croatian parliament then nullified the previous agreement on using Hungarian, and made Croatian the official language of parliament. In 1840, the Croatian Sabor voted for the introduction of Croatian as the language of instruction in all Croatian schools and at the Zagreb Academy.

The struggle over the Croatian language and national identity brought about the establishment of the first political parties in Croatia. The Croatian-Hungarian Party supported a continued Croat-Hungarian commonwealth. The Illyrian Party advocated an independent kingdom of Croatia comprising all the Croatian lands including Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Austrian government banned the term "Illyrian" and the name of the Illyrian party of Ljudevit Gaj and Draskovic was changed to the National Party.

At the next session of the Hungarian parliament in 1843, the Croatian delegation walked out when not permitted to use Latin instead of Hungarian. The Croatian National Party submitted to the emperor its demands to reestablish an independent government of Croatia, elevate the Zagreb Academy to university status, and raise the Zagreb bishopric to the archbishopric rank. The lines were thus drawn between the Hungarian and Croatian nationalists. This situation came to a head in 1848 when great unrest and revolts developed in Austria and Hungary.

Autonomy or Independence

Francis Joseph I (r.18481916) ascended to the Hapsburg throne on 2 December 1848 and ruled for a long time, favoring the Hungarians against the Croats. Croatian parties had split between the pro-Hungarian union and those advocating Croatian independence based on ancient state rights. The latter evolved into the "Yugoslav" (South Slavic Unity) movement led by Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer and the "Pravaši" movement for total Croatian independence led by Ante Starcevic. Austria and Hungary resolved their problems by agreeing on the "dual monarchy" concept. The Hungarian half of the dual monarchy consisted of Hungary, Transylvania, Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia. A ban would be appointed by the emperor-king of Hungary upon the recommendation of the Hungarian premier, who would usually nominate a Hungarian noble. Croatia-Slavonia-Dalmatia was recognized as a nation with its own territory, the Croatian language was allowed, and it was granted political autonomy in internal affairs. But in reality, the Hungarians dominated the political and economic life of Croatia.


In the 1870s, Ivan Mazuranic was appointed ban of Croatia. He implemented general administrative reform and a modern system of education. The Sabor instituted a supreme court and a complete judicial system. The 1878 Congress of Berlin allowed Austria's military occupation and administration of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Sandzak area (lost by the Turks after their defeat by Russia in 1877). The Croatian Sabor then requested the annexation of those areas, but Austria and Hungary refused. Croatia and Serbia were deeply disappointed, and Serbia began supporting terrorist activities against the Austrians. In 1881, the military region was joined to Croatia, thus increasing the size of its Serbian Orthodox population. This offered the Hungarian ban Khuen Hedervary the opportunity to play Serbs against Croats in order to prevent their joint front. The relations between Croats and Serbs continued to deteriorate.

By 1893, there was a united Croatian opposition that called for equality with Hungary, the unification of all Croatian lands, and which invited the Slovenes to join Croatia in the formation of a new state within the framework of the Hapsburg monarchy. This united opposition took the name of Croatian Party of Right ("Stranka Prava"). National unification, however, had strong opposition from powerful forces: the Hungarians with their Great Hungary Drive; the Serbs, who wanted to annex Bosnia and Herzegovina into Serbia; the Italians, claiming Istria, Rijeka, and Dalmatia; and the Austrians, and their Pan-Germanic partners.

Croats and Serbs formed a Croat-Serbian coalition, winning a simple majority in the 1908 Croatian parliamentary elections, followed by the Party of Right and the Peasant Party, led by the brothers Anthony and Stephen Radic. Also in 1908, the direct annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria took place. The Party of Right and the Peasant Party supported the annexation, hoping that the next step would be Bosnia and Herzegovina's incorporation into a unified Croatia. Serbia, conversely, was enraged by the annexation. Assassination attempts increased and led to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. These tragedies followed the Serbian victories and territorial expansion in the wake of the 1912 and 1913 Balkan wars.

The idea of a separate state uniting the South Slavic nations ("Yugoslavism") grew stronger during World War I (191818). An emigré "Yugoslav Committee" was formed and worked for the unification of the South Slavs with the Kingdom of Serbia. In 1917, an agreement was reached on the formation of a "Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes" upon the defeat of Austro-Hungary.

Royal Yugoslavia

The unification of Croatia and the new "Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes" on 1 December 1918 was flawed by the inability to work out an acceptable compromise between the Serbs and Croat-Slovenes. The National Council for all Slavs of former Austro-Hungary was formed on 12 October 1918 in Zagreb (Croatia) and was chaired by Monsignor Anton Korošec, head of the Slovenian People's Party. On 29 October 1918, the National Council proclaimed the formation of a new, separate state of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs of the former Austro-Hungary. The Zagreb Council intended to negotiate a federal type of union between the new state and the Kingdom of Serbia that would preserve the respective national autonomies of the Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs. Monsignor Korošec had negotiated a similar agreement in principle with Serbian prime minister Nikola Pašic in Geneva, but the Serbian government reneged on it. While Korošec was detained in Geneva, a delegation of the National Council went to Belgrade and submitted to Serbia a declaration expressing the will to unite with the Kingdom of Serbia, and Serbia readily agreed. On 1 December 1918, Prince Alexander of Serbia declared the unification of the "Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes."

The provisional assembly convened in 1918, with the addition to the Serbian parliament of representatives from the other south Slavic historical regions, while the Croatian Sabor was deprived of its authority. The elections to the Constituent Assembly were held on 28 November 1920 but the 50-member delegation of the Croatian Republican Peasant Party refused to participate. The new Vidovdan Constitution was adopted on 28 June 1921 by a "simple majority" vote of 223 to 35, with 111 abstentions in the absence of the Croatian delegation with 50 votes.

The period between 1921 and 1929 saw a sequence of 23 governments, a parliament without both the Croatian delegation's 50 votes and the Communist Party's 58 votes (it continued its work underground). This situation assured control to the Serbian majority, but it was not possible to govern the new country effectively without the participation of the Croats, the second-largest nation.

Finally, in 1925, Prime Minister Pašic invited Stjepan Radic, head of the Croatian Peasant Party, to form a government with him. However, not much was accomplished and Pašic died just a few years later. On 20 June 1928 Radic was shot in parliament by a Serbian deputy and died the next month. Riots broke out as a result of his assassination.

Dr. Vlatko Macek, the new Croatian Peasant Party leader, declared that "there is no longer a constitution, but only king and people." A coalition government under Prime Minister Monsignor Anton Korošec, head of the Slovene People's Party, lasted only until December 1928. King Alexander dissolved the parliament on 6 January 1929, abolished the 1921 constitution, and established his own personal dictatorship as a temporary arrangement.

At first, most people accepted King Alexander's dictatorship as a necessity, which gave the country an opportunity to focus on building its economy from the foundation of postwar reconstruction. Royal decrees established penalties of death or 20 years in prison for terrorism, sedition, or Communist activities. All elected local councils and traditional political parties were dissolved. Freedom of the press was severely constrained and government permission was required for any kind of association. All power was centralized and exercised by the king through a council of ministers accountable only to him.

On 3 October 1929, the country was renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and the terroritorial regions (banovinas) were named after rivers to emphasize the king's opposition to national names. One of the consequences of the dictatorship and its harsh measures against political opposition and cultural nationalism was the emigration of some political opponents, among them some of the top leadership of the Croatian Peasant Party and the leader of the Ustaša movement, Ante Pavelic.

The new constitution, initiated by King Alexander on 3 September 1931, was in theory a return to civil liberties and freedoms of association, assembly, and expression. But in reality, all such freedoms were limited by the king's decrees that remained in force. Parliament was to consist of two houses with a council of ministers still accountable directly to the king. The Croatian opposition grew stronger, and in the winter of 1932, their Zagreb Manifesto called for the removal of Serbian hegemony, and for popular sovereignty. In reaction, the regime interned or imprisoned political opponents. Croatia was seething with rebellion, and the three-year prison sentence for opposition leader Macek would have sparked an open revolt, were it not for the danger of Fascist Italy's intervention.

The worldwide economic depression hit Yugoslavia hard in 1932. Opposition continued to grow to the king's dictatorship, which had not proffered any solutions to the so-called Croatian question. In late 1934, the king planned to release Macek from prison, reintroduce a real parliamentary system, and try to reach some compromise between Serbs and Croats. Unfortunately, King Alexander was assassinated in Marseille on 9 October 1934 by agents of the Ustaša group, which was trained in terrorism in Hungary with Mussolini's support. Prince Paul, King Alexander's cousin, headed the interim government, releasing Macek and other political leaders, but otherwise continuing the royal dictatorship. On 5 May 1935, the elections for a new parliament were so shamefully improper that a boycott of parliament began. Prince Paul consulted with Macek, and a new government of reconstruction was formed by Milan Stojadinovic. The new government initiated serious discussions with Macek on a limited autonomous Croatian entity that would be empowered on all matters except the armed forces, foreign affairs, state finance, customs, foreign trade, posts, and telegraphs.

Since 1937, the thorniest issue discussed had been the makeup of the federal units. Serbs wanted to unite with Macedonia, Vojvodina, and Montenegro. Croatia wanted Dalmatia and a part of Vojvodina. Slovenia was recognized as a separate unit, but Bosnia and Herzegovina posed a real problem, with both Croats and Serbs claiming ownership over a land that contained a substantial minority of Bosnian Muslims. Meanwhile, intense trade relations with Germany and friendlier relations with Italy were bringing Yugoslavia closer to those countries. Adolph Hitler's annexation of Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938 made it imperative that Yugoslavia resolve its internal problem before Hitler and Mussolini attempted to destabilize and conquer Yugoslavia.

Stojadinovic resigned, and Prince Paul appointed Dragiša Cvetkovic as prime minister, charging him with the task of reaching a formal agreement with the Croatian opposition. The agreement was concluded on 26 August 1939. Macek became the new vicepremier, a territorial region of Croatia was established that included Dalmatia and western Herzegovina, and the traditional Sabor of Croatia was revived. But autonomy for Croatia was not received well by most of Serbia. Concerned with the status of Serbs in Croatia, Serbia was anxious to incorporate most of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Even less satisfied was the extreme Croatian nationalist Ustaša movement, whose goal was an independent greater Croatia inclusive of Bosnia and Herzegovina. For the Ustaša, this goal was to be achieved by any means and at any cost, including violence and support from foreign powers. Tensions between the extremes of the failed Yugoslavia had seemingly reached the boiling point.

World War II

Meanwhile, the clouds of World War II had gathered with Italy's takeover of Albania and its war with Greece, and Hitler's agreement with Stalin followed by his attack on Poland in the fall of 1939, resulting in its partitioning. Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria had joined the Axis powers and England and France had entered the war against Germany and Italy. With the fall of France in 1940, Hitler decided to assist Mussolini in his war with Greece through Bulgaria, and therefore needed Yugoslavia to join the Axis so Germany would be assured of ample food and raw materials.

The Yugoslav Government had limited choiceseither accept the possibility of immediate attack by Germany, or join the Axis, with Hitler's assurance that no German troops would pass through Yugoslavia towards Greece. The regent was aware of Yugoslavia's weak defense capabilities and the inability of the Allies to assist Yugoslavia against the Axis powers, despite security agreements with Britain and France. Yugoslavia signed a treaty with Hitler on 26 March 1941 and on 27 March a coup d'etat by Serbian military officers forced the regent to abdicate. The military declared Prince Peter the new king, and formed a government with General Dušan Simovic as premier and Macek as vice-premier. The new government tried to temporize and placate Hitler, who was enraged by the deep anti-German feeling of the Yugoslav people who shouted in demonstrations, "Bolje rat nego pact" (Better war than the pact). Feeling betrayed, Hitler unleashed the German fury on Yugoslavia on 6 April 1941 by bombing Belgrade and other centers without any warning or formal declaration of war.

The war was over in 11 days, with the surrender signed by the Yugoslav Army Command while the Yugoslav government (with young King Peter II) fled the country for allied territory and settled in London. Yugoslavia was partitioned among Germany, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Italian-occupied Albania, while Montenegro, under Italian occupation, was to be restored as a separate kingdom. Croatia was set up as an independent kingdom with an Italian prince to be crowned Tomislav II. Ante Pavelic was installed by the Italians and Germans as head of independent Croatia (after Macek had declined Hitler's offer). Croatia was forced to cede part of Dalmatia, with most of its islands and the Boka Kotorska area, to Italy. In exchange, Croatia was given Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Srijem region up to Belgrade.

On 10 April 1941, the "resurrection of our independent State of Croatia" was proclaimed in Zagreb by Slavko Kvaternik for Ante Pavelic, who was still in Italy with some 600 of his Ustaše. With Pavelic's arrival in Zagreb five days later, the Ustaša regime was established, with new laws that expressed the basic Ustaša tenets of a purely Croatian state viewed as the bulwark of Western civilization against the Byzantine Serbs. Slavko Kvaternik explained how a pure Croatia would be builtby forcing one-third of the Serbs to leave Croatia, one-third to convert to Catholicism, and one-third to be exterminated. Soon Ustaša bands initiated a bloody orgy of mass murders of Serbs unfortunate enough not to have converted or left Croatia on time. The enormity of such criminal behavior shocked even the conscience of German commanders, but Pavelic had Hitler's personal support for such actions which resulted in the loss of lives of hundreds of thousands of Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, the Ustaša regime organized extermination camps, the most notorious one at Jasenovac where Serbs, Jews, Gypsies, and other opponents were massacred in large numbers. The Serbs reacted by forming their own resistance groups ("Cetniks") or by joining with the Communist-led partisan resistance, and thus struck back at the Ustaša in a terrible fratricidal war encouraged by the Germans and Italians.

The Ustaša regime organized its armed forces into the Domobrani, its Ustaša shock troops, and the local gendarmerie. Its attempt at organizing the Croatian people in the fascist mode failed, however. Most Croats remained faithful to the Croatian Peasant Party Democratic principles, or joined the Partisan movement led by Josip Broz-Tito that offered a federal political program. With respect to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Ustaša regime never attained real control. The continuous fighting generated by Cetniks and Partisans fighting one another while being pursued by the Ustaša, the Germans, and the Italians made it impossible for the Ustaša to dominate. Most Croats rejected (and deeply resented) the trappings of an imported Fascist mystique and the abuse of their Catholic faith as a cover or justification for the systematic slaughter of their Serbian neighbors.

By the spring of 1942, the Ustaša regime began to retreat from its policy and practice of extermination of Serbs. But the terrible harm was done, and one consequence was the deep split between the Serbian members and their Croatian colleagues within the cabinet of the Yugoslav government-in-exile. The Serbs held the entire Croatian nation accountable for the Ustaša massacres, and reneged on the 1939 agreement establishing the Croatian Banovina as the basis for a federative reorganization in a postwar Yugoslavia. This discord made the Yugoslav government-in-exile incapable of offering any kind of leadership to the people in occupied Yugoslavia. The fortunes of war and diplomacy favored the Communist Partisansafter Italy's surrender in September 1943, it handed over to the Partisans armaments and supplies from some 10 Italian divisions. More and more Croats left their homeguard, and even some Ustaša units, to join the Partisans. Some Ustaša leaders, on the other hand, conspired against Pavelic in order to negotiate with the allies for recognition of the "independent" state of Croatia. But they were caught and executed in the summer of 1944.

With the entry of Soviet armies into Yugoslav territory in October 1944, the Communist Partisans swept over Yugoslavia in pursuit of the retreating German forces. Pavelic and his followers, along with the Croatian homeguard units, moved north to Austria at the beginning of May 1945 to escape from the Partisan forces and their retaliation. The Partisans took over Croatia, launching terrible retaliation in the form of summary executions, people's court sentences, and large scale massacres, carried out in secret, of entire homeguard and other Ustaša units.

Communist Yugoslavia

Such was the background for the formation of the second Yugoslavia led by Tito as a Federative People's Republic of five nationsSlovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegrowith Bosnia and Herzegovina as a buffer area with its mix of Serbs, Muslims, and Croats. The problem of large Hungarian and Muslim Albanian populations in Serbia was solved by creating the autonomous regions of Vojvodina (Hungarian minority) and Kosovo (Muslim Albanian majority) that assured their political and cultural development. Tito attempted a balancing act to satisfy most of the nationality issues that were still unresolved from the first Yugoslavia, and decades of ethnic and religious conflict.

In pre-1941 Yugoslavia, Serbs had enjoyed a controlling role. After 1945 the numerically stronger Serbs had lost the Macedonian area they considered Southern Serbia, lost the opportunity to incorporate Montenegro into Serbia, and had lost direct control over both the Hungarian minority in Vojvodina and Muslim Albanians of Kosovo, which had been viewed as the cradle of the Serbian nation since the Middle Ages. They could no longer incorporate into Serbia the large Serbian-populated areas of Bosnia, and had not obtained an autonomous region for the large minority of Serbian population within the Croatian Republic. The Croatswhile gaining back from Hungary the Medjumurje area and from Italy the cities of Rijeka (Fiume), Zadar (Zara), some Dalmatian islands, and the Istrian Peninsulahad lost the Srijem area to Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, the Croats were confronted with a deeply resentful Serbian population that became ever more pervasive in public administrative and security positions.

The official position of the Marxist Yugoslav regime was that national rivalries and conflicting interests would gradually diminish through their sublimation into a new Socialist order. Without capitalism, nationalism was supposed to wither away. Therefore, in the name of unity and brotherhood, nationalistic expression of concern was prohibited, and repressed by the dictatorial and centralized regime of the League of Yugoslav Communists acting through the Socialist Alliance as its mass front organization. After a short postwar coalition government, the elections of 11 November 1945, boycotted by the non-communist coalition parties, gave the communist People's Front 90% of the votes. A constituent assembly met on 29 November, abolished the monarchy, and established the Federative People's Republic of Yugoslavia. In January 1946, a new constitution was adopted, based on the 1936 Soviet constitution.

The Communist Party of Yugoslavia took over total control of the country and instituted a regime of terror through its secret police. To destroy the bourgeoisie, property was confiscated, and the intelligentsia were declared "enemies of the people," to be executed or imprisoned. Large enterprises were nationalized, and forced-labor camps were formed. The church and religion were persecuted, properties confiscated, religious instruction and organizations banned, and education used for Communist indoctrination. The media was forced into complete service to the totalitarian regime, and education was denied to "enemies of the people."

The expulsion of Yugoslavia from the Soviet-dominated Cominform Group in 1948, engineered by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, was actually a blessing for Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia's "road to Socialism" evolved quickly in response to Stalin's pressures and Yugoslavia's need to perform a balancing act between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Soviet bloc. Tito also pushed the nationalization of the economy through a policy of forced industrialization supported by the collectivization of agriculture.

By the 1950s, Yugoslavia had initiated the development of what would become its internal trademark: self-management of enterprises through workers' councils and local decision-making as the road to Marx's "withering away of the state." Following the failure of the first five-year plan (194751), the second five-year plan (195761) was completed in four years by relying on the well-established self-management system. Economic targets were set from the local to the republic level and then coordinated by a federal planning institute to meet an overall national economic strategy. This system supported a period of very rapid industrial growth in the 1950s. But a high consumption rate encouraged a volume of imports financed by foreign loans that exceeded exports. In addition, inefficient and low productivity industries were kept in place through public subsidies, cheap credit, and other artificial protective measures, leading to a serious crisis by 1961. Reforms were necessary and, by 1965, market socialism was introduced with laws that abolished most price controls and halved import duties while withdrawing export subsidies. The agricultural reform of 194546 limited private ownership to a maximum of 35 hectares (85 acres). The limited free market (after the initial forced delivery of quotas to the state at very low prices) had to be abandoned because of resistance by the peasants. The actual collectivization efforts were initiated in 1949 using welfare benefits and lower taxes as incentives, along with direct coercion. But collectivization had to be abandoned by 1958 simply because its inefficiency and low productivity could not support the concentrated effort of industrial development.

The government relaxed its restrictions to allow labor migration, particularly large from Croatia to West Germany, where workers were needed for its thriving economy. Foreign investment was encouraged (up to 49%) in joint enterprises, and barriers to the movement of people and exchange of ideas were largely removed. The role of trade unions continued to include transmission of instructions from government to workers, allocation of perks, the education/training of workers, monitoring of legislation, and overall protection of the self-management system. Strikes were legally allowed, but the 1958 miners' strike in Trbovlje, Slovenia, was not publicly acknowledged and was suppressed. After 1958, strikes were tolerated as an indication of problems to be resolved.

After the split from the Cominform, Yugoslavia began also to develop a foreign policy independent of the Soviet Union. By mid-1949, Yugoslavia ceased its support of the Greek Communists in their civil war against the then-Royalist government of Greece. In October 1949, Yugoslavia was elected to one of the nonpermanent seats on the UN Security Council and openly condemned Communist-supported North Korea's aggression towards South Korea. Following Nikita Khrushchev's 1956 denunciation of Stalin, Tito intensified his work on developing the movement of nonaligned "third world" nations. This would become Yugoslavia's external trademark, in cooperation with Nehru of India, Nasser of Egypt, and others. With the September 1961 Belgrade summit conference of nonaligned nations, Tito became the recognized leader of the movement. The nonaligned position served Tito's Yugoslavia well by allowing Tito to draw on economic and political support from the Western powers while neutralizing aggressive behavior from the Soviet bloc.

While Tito had acquiesced, reluctantly, to the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary for fear of political chaos and its liberalizing impact on Yugoslavia, he condemned the Soviet invasion of Dubcek's Czechoslovakia in 1968, as did Romania's Ceausescu, both fearing their countries might be the next in line for "corrective" action by the Red Army and the Warsaw Pact. Just before his death on 4 May 1980, Tito also condemned the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Yugoslavia actively participated in the 1975 Helsinki Conference and Agreements, and the first 197778 review conference that took place in Belgrade, even though Yugoslavia's one-party Communist regime perpetrated and condoned numerous human rights violations.

The debates of the 1960s led to a closer scrutiny of the Communist experiment. The 1967 Declaration in Zagreb, claiming a Croatian linguistic and literary tradition separate from the Serbian one, undermined the validity of the "Serb-Croatian" language and a unified Yugoslavian linguistic heritage. Also, Kosovo Albanians and Montenegrins, along with Slovenes and Croats, began to assert their national rights as superior to the right of the Yugoslavian federation. The eighth congress of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (LCY) in December 1964 acknowledged that ethnic prejudice and antagonism existed in socialist Yugoslavia, and that Yugoslavia's nations were disintegrating into a socialist Yugoslavism. Thus the republic, based on individual nations, became an advocate of a strong federalism that devolved and decentralized authority from the federal to the republic level. Yugoslav Socialist Patriotism was defined as a feeling for both national identity and for the overall socialist self-management framework of Yugoslavia, despite the signs of a deeply divided country.

As the Royal Yugoslavism had failed in its assimilative efforts, so did the Socialist Yugoslavism fail to overcome the forces of nationalism. In the case of Croatia, there were several key factors sustaining the attraction to its national identity: more than a thousand years of its historical development, the carefully nurtured tradition of Croatian statehood, a location bridging central Europe and the Balkan area, an identification with Western European civilization, and the Catholic religion with the traditional role of Catholic priests (even under the persecutions by the Communist regime). In addition, Croatia had a well-developed and productive economy with a standard of living superior to most other areas of the Yugoslav Federation other than Slovenia. This generated a growing resentment against the forced subsidizing by Croatia and Slovenia of less developed areas, and for the buildup of the Yugoslav Army. Finally, the increased political and economic autonomy enjoyed by the Republic of Croatia after the 1974 constitution and particularly following Tito's death in 1980, added impetus to the growing Croatian nationalism.

Croatian Spring

The liberal bloc (Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Vojvodina) prevailed over the conservative group, and the reforms of 1965 did away with central investment planning and political factories. The positions of the two blocs hardened into a national-liberal coalition that viewed the conservative, centrist group led by Serbia as the Greater Serbian attempt at majority domination. The devolution of power in economic decision making, spearheaded by the Slovenes, assisted in the federalization of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia as a league of quasi-sovereign republican parties. Under strong prodding from the Croats, the party agreed in 1970 to the principle of unanimity for decision making. In practice, this meant each republic had veto power. However, the concentration of economic resources in Serbian hands continued, with Belgrade banks controlling half of total credits and some 80% of foreign credits. Fear of Serbian political and cultural domination continued, particularly with respect to Croatian language sensitivities aroused by the use of the Serbian version of Serbo-Croatian as the norm, with the Croatian version as a deviation.

The language controversy thus exacerbated the economic and political tensions between Serbs and Croats, spilling easily into ethnic confrontations. To the conservative centrists the devolution of power to the republic level meant the subordination of the broad Yugoslav and Socialist interests to the narrow nationalist interest of national majorities. With the Croat League of Communists taking the liberal position in 1970, nationalism was rehabilitated. Thus the "Croatian Spring" bloomed and impacted all the other republics of Yugoslavia. Meanwhile, through a series of constitutional amendments in 196768 that limited federal power in favor of republics and autonomous provinces, the federal government came to be viewed by liberals as an inter-republican problem-solving mechanism bordering on a confederalist arrangement. A network of inter-republican committees established by mid-1971 proved to be very efficient, resolving a large number of difficult issues in a short time. The coalition of liberals and nationalists in Croatia, however, also generated sharp condemnation in Serbia, where its own brand of nationalism grew stronger, but as part of a conservative-centrist alliance. Thus, the liberal/federalist versus conservative/centrist conflict became entangled in the rising nationalism within each opposing bloc.

Particularly difficult were the situations in Croatia and Serbia because of their minorities issues. Serbs in Croatia sided with the Croat conservatives and sought a constitutional amendment guaranteeing their own national identity and rights. In the process, the Serbs challenged the sovereignty of the Croatian nation. The conservatives prevailed, and the amendment declared that "the Socialist Republic of Croatia (was) the national state of the Croatian nation, the state of the Serbian nation in Croatia, and the state of the nationalities inhabiting it."

Meanwhile, Slovenia, not burdened by large minorities, developed in a liberal and nationalist direction. This fostered an incipient separatist sentiment opposed by both the liberal and conservative party wings. Led by Stane Kavcic, head of the Slovenian Government, the liberal wing gained as much political local latitude from the federal level as possible during the "Slovenian Spring" of the early 1970s. By the summer of 1971, the Serbian Party leadership was pressuring President Tito to put an end to what was in their view the dangerous development of Croatian nationalism. While Tito wavered because of his support for the balancing system of autonomous republic units, the situation quickly reached critical proportions. Croat nationalists, complaining about discrimination against Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, demanded the incorporation of western Herzegovina into Croatia. Serbia countered by claiming southeastern Herzegovina for itself. Croats also advanced demands for a larger share of their foreign currency earnings, the issuance of their own currency, their own national bank that would directly negotiate foreign loans, the printing of Croatian postage stamps, to a Croatian Army, to recognition of the Croatian Sabor as the highest Croatian political body and, finally, to Croatian secession and complete independence.

Confronted with such intensive agitation, the liberal Croatian Party leadership could not back down and did not restrain the public demands nor the widespread university students' strike of November 1971. This situation caused the loss of support from the liberal party wings of Slovenia and even Macedonia. Tito intervened, condemning the Croatian liberal leadership on 1 December 1971, while supporting the conservative wing. The liberal leadership group resigned on 12 December 1971. When Croatian students demonstrated and demanded an independent Croatia, the Yugoslav Army was ready to move in if necessary. A wholesale purge of the party liberals followed with tens of thousands expelled. Key functionaries lost their positions, several thousands were imprisoned (including Franjo Tudjman who later became president of independent Croatia), and leading Croatian nationalist organizations and their publications were closed. On 8 May 1972 the Croatian Party also expelled its liberal wing leaders and the purge of nationalists continued through 1973.

However, the issues and sentiments raised during the "Slovene and Croat Springs" of 196971 did not disappear. Tito and the conservatives were forced to satisfy nominally some demands, and the 1974 Constitution was an attempt to resolve the strained inter-republican relations as each republic pursued its own interests over and above any conceivable overall Yugoslav interest. The repression of liberal-nationalist Croats was accompanied by the growing influence of the Serbian element in the Croatian Party (24% in 1980) and police force (majority). This influence contributed to the ongoing persecution and imprisonments of Croatian nationalists into the 1980s. Tito's widespread purges of the "Croatian Spring" movement's leadership and participants in 1971 had repressed the reawakened Croatian nationalism, but could not eliminate it. Croatian elites had realized the disadvantages of the Croatian situation and expressed it in 197071 through the only channel then availablethe Communist Party of Croatia and its liberal wing. With the purges, this wing became officially silent in order to survive, but remained active under the surface, hoping for its turn. This came with the 1974 constitution and its devolution of power to the republic level, and was helped along by the growing role of the Catholic church in Croatia. The Catholic church, as the only openly organized opposition force in the country, became the outspoken defender of Croatian nationalism. As a result, Catholic leaders and priests were subjected to persecution and furious attacks by the government.

Yugoslaviaa House Divided

After Tito's death in 1980, relations between the Croatian majority and the Serbian minority became strained. Tito had set up a rotating presidency in which the leaders of each of the six republics and two autonomous regions of Serbia would have the Yugoslavian presidency for one year at a time. Unfortunately, the Serbian president that first held the office was not recognized by the Croats. Demands for autonomy by the half million Serbs in Croatia were brushed aside by the Croats, who pointed out the absence of such autonomy for Croats in Vojvodina and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Thus the conservatives' control of the League of Communist of Croatia between 1972 and 1987 could not prevent the resurfacing of the Croat question, which led in a few years to Croatia's disassociation from Yugoslavia and to war.

As the Communist parties of the various republics kept losing in membership and control, the clamoring for multiparty elections became irresistible. The first such elections were held on 8 April 1990 in Slovenia where a coalition of non-Communist parties (Demos) won, and formed the first non-Communist Government since 1945. In Croatia, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) under the leadership of Dr. Franjo Tudjman, had worked illegally since 1989 and had developed an effective network of offices throughout Croatia and in Vojvodina and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The HDZ had also established its branches abroad from where, particularly in the United States, it received substantial financial support. Thus, in the elections of late April-early May 1990 the Croatian Democratic Union was able to obtain an overwhelming victory with 205 of 356 seats won and a majority in each of the three chambers of the Croatian Assembly. In the most important Socio-Political Chamber, Dr. Tudjman's party won 54 of the 80 seats, with the Communists and their allies obtaining only 26 seats. On 30 May 1990, Dr. Tudjman was elected president of Croatia with 281 of 331 votes and Stjepan Mesic became prime minister. Krajina Serbs voted either for the former Communists or for their new Serbian Democratic Party (SNS) led by Jovan Raškovic. The Serbian Democratic Party gained five delegates to the parliament and became the main voice of the Serbs in Croatia.

The overwhelming victory of Dr. Tudjman's party made the Serbs very uncomfortable. Their traditional desire for closer political ties to Serbia proper, the prospect of losing their overrepresentation (and jobs) in the Croatian Republic's administration, and fear of the repetition of the World War II Ustaša-directed persecutions and massacres of Serbs made them an easy and eager audience for Slobodan Miloševic's policy and tactics of unifying all Serbian lands to Serbia proper. Tensions between Croats and Serbs increased when Tudjman proposed constitutional amendments in June 1990 defining Croatia as the Sovereign State of the Croats and other nations and national minorities without specifically mentioning the Serbs of Croatia. The Serbs feared they would be left unprotected in an independent Croatia and therefore strongly supported Miloševic's centralist policies. This fear, and the anti-Croatian propaganda from Belgrade that claimed the revival of the Ustaša, and called upon Serbs to defend themselves, caused Jovan Raškovic to reject the invitation from Tudjman to join the new government as its deputy prime minister. Instead, Raškovic ended the participation in legislative activities of the five Serbian Democratic Party deputies. At the end of August 1990, a new Serbian National Council adopted a "Declaration on the Sovereignty and Autonomy of the Serbian People" implying the need for cultural autonomy for the Serbs if Croatia were to remain a member of the Yugoslav Federation, but claiming political autonomy for the Serbs if Croatia were to secede from the Yugoslav Federation. A referendum held on 18 August 1990 by Serbs in Croatia gave unanimous support to their "Declaration on Sovereignty" as the foundation for the further development of their Knin Republicas their council of Serbian-majority communes was called, from the name of the Dalmatian city of Knin where it was based.

The Tudjman government refrained from taking any action against the Knin Republic in order to avoid any reason for interference by the Yugoslav Army. But Tudjman made very clear that territorial autonomy for the Serbs was out of the question. When in December 1990 Croatia proclaimed its sovereignty and promulgated its new constitution, the Serbs of Croatia established a "Serbian Autonomous Region," immediately invalidated by the constitutional court of Croatia. Then in February 1991, Croatia and Slovenia declared invalid all federal laws regarding the two republics. On 28 February, the Krajina Serbs declared their autonomy in response to Croatia's call for disassociation from the Yugoslav Federation. Violence spread in many places with clashes between the Serbian paramilitary and special Croatian police units with Yugoslav Army units ordered to intervene. The Yugoslav Army was also used in Serbia in March 1991 to aid Serbian authorities against large Serbian opposition demonstrations in Belgrade. The sight of Yugoslav tanks in the streets of Belgrade, with two dead and some 90 wounded, signaled the decision of the Yugoslav Army to defend Yugoslavia's borders and oppose interethnic clashes that could lead to a civil war. Clearly the Serbian leadership and the Yugoslav Army top command (mostly Serbian) had cemented their alliance, with the goal of preserving Yugoslavia as a centralized state through pressuring Slovenia and Croatia into disarming their territorial defense units and by threatening forceful intervention in case of their refusal. But Slovenia and Croatia continued to buy arms for their defense forces, and to proclaim their intentions to gain independence.

At the end of March 1991, there were again bloody armed clashes between the Krajina Serbs and Croatian police, and again the Yugoslav Army intervened around the Plitvice National Park, an area the Serbs wanted to join to their Knin Republic. For President Tudjman this Serbian action was the last strawCroatia had been patient for eight months, but could wait no longer. The overall determination of Serbia to maintain a unitary Yugoslavia hardened, as did the determination of Slovenia and Croatia to attain their full independence. This caused the Yugoslav Army leadership to support Serbia and Slobodan Miloševic, who had made his position clear by the spring of 1991 on the potential unilateral separation of Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since there was no substantial Serbian population in Slovenia, its disassociation did not present a real problem for Miloševic. However, separation by Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina would necessitate border revisions in order to allow for lands with Serbian populations to be joined to Serbia.


A last effort to avoid Yugoslavia's disintegration was made by Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia with their 3 June 1991 compromise proposal to form a Community of Yugoslav Republics whereby national defense, foreign policy, and a common market would be administered centrally while all other areasother than armed forces and diplomatic representationwould fall into the jurisdiction of the member states. But it was already too late. Serbia opposed the federal nature of the proposal and this left an opening for the establishment of separate armed forces. In addition, Miloševic and the Yugoslav Army had already committed to the support of the Serbs' revolt in Croatia. In any case, both Miloševic and Tudjman were past the state of salvaging Yugoslavia. They met in Split on 12 June 1991 to discuss how to divide Bosnia and Herzegovina into ethnic cantons.

The federal government of Yugoslavia ceased to exist when its last president (Stjepan Mesic, Croatia's future president) and prime minister (Ante Markovic), both Croatian, resigned on 5 December 1991. Both Croatia and Slovenia reaffirmed their decision to disassociate from federal Yugoslavia after a three-month moratorium, in the Brioni Declaration of 7 July 1991. The European Community held a conference on Yugoslavia, chaired by Lord Carrington, where a series of unsuccessful cease-fires was negotiated for Croatia. The conference also attempted to negotiate new arrangements based on the premise that the Yugoslav Federation no longer existed, a position strongly rejected by Serbia, who viewed with great suspicion Germany's support for the independence of Slovenia and Croatia. Germany granted recognition to Slovenia and Croatia on 18 December 1991, while other European community members and the United States followed suit. The European community continued its efforts to stop the killing and destruction in Croatia, along with the UN special envoy, Cyrus Vance, who was able to conclude a peace accord on 3 January 1992 calling for a major UN peacekeeping force in Croatia. Part of the accord was also an agreement by the Serbian side to hand over to the UN units their heavy weapons and to allow the return to their homes of thousands of refugees. The international community stood firmly in support of the preservation of Yugoslavia. The United States and the European community had indicated that they would refuse to recognize the independence of Slovenia and Croatia if they unilaterally seceded. At the same time, Slovenia and Croatia defined their separation as a disassociation by sovereign nations, and declared their independence on 25 June 1991. Miloševic was prepared to let Slovenia go, but Croatia still held around 600,000 ethnic Serbs. Miloševic knew that a military attack on a member republic would deal a mortal blow to both the idea and the reality of a "Yugoslavia" in any form. Thus, following the Yugoslav Army's attack on Slovenia on 27 June 1991, Miloševic used the Yugoslav Army and its superior capabilities toward the goal of establishing the Serbian autonomous region of Krajina in Croatia. Increased fighting from July 1991 caused the tremendous destruction of entire cities (for example, Vukovar) and large-scale damage to medieval Dubrovnik. Croatia had been arming since 1990 with the financial aid of émigrés, and thus withstood fighting over a seven-month period, suffering some 10,000 deaths, 30,000 wounded, over 14,000 missing and lost to the Krajina Serbs (and to the Yugoslav Army). Croatia also lost about one-third of its territoryfrom Slavonia to the west and around the border with Bosnia and south to northern Dalmatia.

By late 1992, rebel Serbs controlled about one-third of Croatia's territory. In 1993, the Krajina Serbs voted to integrate with Serbs in Bosnia and Serbia. Although the Croatian government and the Krajina Serbs agreed to a cease-fire in March 1994, further talks disintegrated. This portion of land was strategically important to Croatia because it held the land routes to the Dalmatian coast (supporting the once-thriving tourist industry), the country's petroleum resources, and the access route from Zagreb into Slavonia. Also in 1994, the Croatian government agreed to give up its plan to partition Bosnia with Serbia. In return for US political support (which included military training and equipment), Croatia began cooperating with the Bosnian Muslims and recognized the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In May 1995, the Croatian Armyin a mission it called "Operation Storm"quickly occupied western Slavonia, and by August 1995, the Krajina region was under Croatian control. International reaction to the military mission was mild, and was largely judged as vindication for earlier Serb aggression. An estimated 200,000 Serbs fled from the region their ancestors had occupied for 200 years. Before the Croatian Army could move into eastern Slavonia, the government halted the mission, upon insistence by the United States. The cessation of the Croatian military campaign before it reached eastern Slavonia probably prevented a future round of revenge killings.

Eastern Slavonia was then put under UN control, with a force of about 5,500 military and police peacekeepers. With the signing of a basic agreement between the Croatian government and the Eastern Slavonia Serbs at the Dayton Peace Accords in Dayton, Ohio, in 1995, the UN had the support to establish the UN Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia (UNTAES) on 15 January 1996. The UNTAES established a Transitional Police Force, in which Serb and Croat police forces jointly administered the region, in order to prepare the area for reversion to Croatian control in July 1997. On 15 January 1998, any Serbs remaining in eastern Slavonia became Croatian citizens. Also, the Serbs that fled Croatia for fear of persecution were invited back into the country on 26 June 1998, when the Croatian parliament adopted the Croatian government's Return Program.

The 1997 elections that supported the reigning President Tudjman and his HDZ party were considered "fundamentally flawed." The tight grip that Tudjman kept on the Croatian nation through control of the media, police, and judicial system were considered not only undemocratic, but unconstitutional. In 1999, President Tudjman announced that "National issues are more important than democracy," alienating many Croatians and concerning international observers. Tudjman cooperated with some requests of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), but refused to comply with others, especially the insistence on field investigations into the military operations of the 1990s. The ruling party agreed in 1999 to hold new parliamentary elections in January 2000, but these were scheduled too late for Tudjman to organize his resistance. He died on 10 December 1999, and Speaker of Parliament Vlatko Pavletic assumed interim power. On 18 February 2000, Stjepan Mesic was elected president of Croatia, signaling a new era in Croatian history that promised to be more European and more peaceful. In February 2005, Mesic was elected for a second term, with 66% of the vote, over his main contenderJadranka Kosor.

The parliamentary elections held in early 2000 resulted in an end to the rule of the HDZ party, which won only 46 of 151 seats in the House of Representatives; Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Ivica Racan led a center-left coalition government as prime minister. Constitutional reforms later that year reduced the powers exercised by the president, and replaced the semi-presidential system of government with a parliamentary one. In 2001, parliament approved a constitutional amendment abolishing its upper house, the House of Counties. The HDZ branded the government's move as politically motivated, as it controlled the upper house, and had been able to delay reform-minded legislation.

In November 2003, the parliamentary elections were won by the HDZ, which took 66 out of 152 seats in the House of Representatives. The SDP got only 34 seats, while other parties, and representatives, had to settle for 10 seats or less. Ivo Sanader, the leader of HDZ, was invited by president Mesic to form a government. Subsequently, the parliament gave its consent, and Sanader was appointed prime minister with 88 votes in favor. Sanader promised his party underwent major changes since the death of Tudjman, and pledged to uphold democracy and the rule of law. He is a strong supporter of EU and NATO membership.

In September 2001, the ICTY indicted Miloševic for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the war in Croatia. He went on trial in The Hague in February 2002. However, in September 2002, under pressure from nationalists, the Croatian government declined to turn over to the Hague tribunal former Army chief-of-staff Janko Bobetko, indicted for war crimes. In March 2003, former Maj. Gen. Mirko Norac was sentenced in a Croatian court to 12 years in prison for orchestrating the killings of Serb civilians in 1991. He was the most senior Croatian Army officer to be convicted for war crimes in a Croatian court. Norac had given himself up to Croatian authorities in March 2001 on the understanding that he would not be extradited to the ICTY.

In February 2003, Croatia submitted its application for membership to the EU; it concluded its Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU in May 2001. In October 2005, the EU gave Croatia the green light for the continuation of accession talks although some of its deemed war criminals were still at large. Croatia is also an aspirant for NATO membership.


Croatia is a democratic republic with a president and parliamentary system of government. The parliament of Croatia, formed on 30 May 1990, adopted a new constitution on 22 December 1990. The executive authority is held by the president, elected for five years, and a government cabinet headed by the prime minister. Constitutional reforms in 2000 significantly reduced the powers exercised by the president. However, the president remains the supreme commander of the armed forces, and participates in foreign and national security policy decision-making. The constitutional court assures legality. In October 2005, the president was Stjepan Mesic, and the prime minister was Ivo Sanader.

In March 2001, amendments to the constitution abolished the upper house of parliament (House of Counties) in what had been a bicameral legislature (also including the lower house, or House of Representatives). The unicameral parliament, known as the Sabor (Assembly), has up to 160 members elected for four-year terms. In 2005 there were 140 domestic representatives, 8 representatives for the minorities, and 4 Diaspora representatives.

The threshold that parties must cross for representation in parliament is 5% of the turnout in each of the 10 electoral districts. Croatian citizens that live outside the country's borders are counted in a distinct electoral unit, and their votes are weight directly against the number of domestic votes to determine the number of parliamentary seats the Diaspora will receive. (To vote, one must be 18 or older, or 16 if employed.) The prime minister is nominated by the president, in line with the balance of power in the Assembly. Domestic policy-making is the responsibility of parliament.


In the presidential elections of May 1997, Tudjman, founder of the Christian Democratic Union (HDZ) in 1988, won a second term as president of Croatia, with 61.2% of the vote. International monitors, however, condemned the elections as seriously biased in favor of the incumbent. Zdravko Tomac of the socialist Social Democrat Party won 21.1% of the vote, and Vlado Gotovac of the moderate Social Liberal Party received 17.7%. After the death of Tudjman at the end of 1999, presidential elections were held in January and February 2000. Thirteen candidates successfully registered for the election. Stjepan Mesic of the Croatian People's Party (HNS), supported by the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS)/Istrian Democratic Sabor (IDS)/LS liberal coalition, defeated rival Drazen Budiša of the Social Democratic Party (SDP)/Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS) coalition, 41.1% to 27.7% in the first round, with Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) candidate Mate Granic gaining 22.5% of the vote, and 56% to 44% in the second round of the ballot. Mesic won in 17 out of 21 counties. Voter turnout in round one was 63% and 61% in round two. Mesic was voted in, for a second term, in 2005. He had the support of eight political parties and defeated his main contenderJadranka Kosorin the second round of the elections, with 66% of the popular vote.

In the parliamentary elections held 23 November 2003, HDZ garnered 66 seats in the House of the Representatives; the SDP won 34; the HSS and HNS both won 10; the HSP (the Croatian Party of Rights) won 8; the IDS won 4; Libra, HSU (the Croatian Party of Pensioners), and SDSS (Independent Democratic Serb Party), all won 3; while 11 seats went to others. The HDZ formed a minority government coalition with DC (Democratic Center), HSLS, HSU, and SDSS. The leader of HDZ, Ivo Sanader, became the new prime minister.


Local government in Croatia consists of municipalities that are grouped into 20 counties and 1 city. Citizens are guaranteed the right to local self-government with competencies to decide on matters, needs, and interest of local relevance. Counties consist of areas determined by history, transportation, and other economic factors. The 20 counties are: Zagreb, Kradina-Zagorje, Sisacko-Moslavacka, Karlovac, Varazdin, Koprivnica-Krizevci, Bjelovar-Bilogora, Hrvatsko Primorje-Gorski Kotar, Lika-Senj, Virovitica-Podravina, Pozega-Slavonija, Slavonski Brod-Posavina, Zadar-Knin, Osijek-Baranja, Šibenik, Vukovar-Srijem, Dalmatia-Split, Istria, Dubrovnik-Neretva, Medjimurje; and the City of Zagreb.

The mayor of Zagreb is elected by the city assembly and is approved by the president. In the local elections of 2001, tens of thousands of candidates contested 566 councils and assemblies at the municipal, town, county, and Zagreb City levels. (There are approximately 440 municipalities and 120 towns in Croatia). A total of 3.8 million voters were registered for the elections. The local election results roughly mirrored those of the parliamentary elections of 2000. However, in the May 2005 local elections voter turn out was estimated to be lower than 35%, with the SDP prevailing in the bigger citiesZagreb, Split, and Rijeka. HDZ's popularity decreased dramatically since the parliamentary elections in 2003the party garnered only about 16% of the local vote, mostly in rural areas and small towns.


The judicial system is comprised of municipal and county courts, a Supreme Court, an Administrative Court, and a Constitutional Court. A High Judicial Council (made up of 11 members serving eight-year terms) appoints judges and public prosecutors. The judicial system, supervised by the justice and administration ministry, remains subject to ethnic bias and political influence, especially at the local level. Judges are prohibited constitutionally from being members of any political party.

A commercial court system handles all commercial and contractual disputes. The Supreme Court judges are appointed for an eight-year term by the Judicial Council. The Constitutional Court has 13 judges (11 prior to March 2001) who are also elected in the same manner. The military court system was abolished in November 1996. The constitution prohibits the arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home or correspondence, but these freedoms are not always protected by the government.


The armed forces of Croatia are restricted by the Dayton Peace Accords. In 2005 the number of active armed forces personnel totaled 20,800 with 108,200 reservists. The Army had 14,050 active personnel, followed by the Navy with 2,500 and the Air Force with 2,300. The Army had 291 main battle tanks, 104 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 53 armored personnel carriers, and 1,452 artillery pieces. The Navy's principal units included one tactical submarine, two corvettes, five patrol/coastal vessels, five amphibious landing craft, and seventeen logistics/support vessels. The Air Force had 27 combat capable aircraft, including 20 fighters and 9 attack helicopters. Croatia also had a paramilitary force of 10,000 armed police. Croatia as of 2005 was involved in 12 foreign countries or regions as part of NATO and UN military and peacekeeping missions. Croatia's military budget in 2005 was $626 million.


Croatia was admitted to the United Nations on 22 May 1992; it is part of the ECE and serves on several specialized agencies, such as the FAO IAEA, ICAO, IMF, UNESCO, UNIDO, WHO, and the World Bank. The nation was admitted to the WTO on 30 November 2000. Croatia is a member of the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the Central European Initiative, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The nation is a candidate for membership in the European Union. Croatia participates in the NATO Partnership for Peace and the Adriatic Charter, and sits as an observer in the OAS.

Croatia is an observer in the Nonaligned Movement and is part of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons The UN sent peacekeeping troops to Croatia in the spring of 1992 to mediate an ongoing civil war in the region. In environmental cooperation, Croatia is part of the Basel Convention, Conventions on Biological Diversity and Air Pollution, Ramsar, CITES, the London Convention, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change and Desertification.


Before the dissolution of the Yugoslav SFR, Croatia was its second-most prosperous and industrialized area (after Slovenia). Per capita output in Croatia was comparable to that of Portugal and about 33% above the Yugoslav average. Croatia's economic problems were largely inherited from a legacy of Communist mismanagement and a bloated foreign debt. More recently, fighting caused massive infrastructure and industrial damage to bridges, power lines, factories, buildings, and houses. Croatia's economy also had to grapple with a large population of refugees and internally displaced persons. As a result of the war and loss in output capacity, GDP fell by more than 40%.

Yet while the economy has stabilized in recent years, Croatia continues to suffer from structural problems. Under the late President Franjo Tudjman, the Croatian government regularly bailed out failing banks and businesses, regardless of their survivability. This practice needs to be stopped and industry restructured if Croatia is to progress on the path of market reforms. Although unemployment remains high and the country has a growing trade deficit, Croatia in the early 2000s experienced a growth in tourism and an increase in remittances and investment from expatriate Croats. Many small and medium-sized businesses have been privatized, and even larger state-owned industries were in the process of being restructured in 2002, such as shipbuilding. In October 2001, the government signed a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU, which moves the country in the direction of integration with the EU. Croatia joined the WTO in 2000. Major growth sectors are energy, tourism, construction, transportation, and telecommunications.

In 2002, the GDP growth rate reached a peak at 5.2%, falling in subsequent years at 4.3% (2003), and 3.7% (2004); for 2005, it was expected to fall even further at 3.1%. The inflation has dropped substantially since 2000, and has stabilized at around 2%. Unemployment, although on a downward path, remained a problem in 2004, at 18.7%. Despite recent moderate economic performance, Croatia's prospects for the future appeared positive. In January 2005, presidential elections were held, and the coalition government started negotiations for EU entry, with the expected accession date being set for 2009 or 2010. A number of privatizations were to be completed by that date, and the government was to prove that Croatia stood as a politically stable and trustworthy country.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Croatia's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $53.3 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $11,600. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 3.2%. The average inflation rate in 2002 was 3.2%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 7% of GDP, industry 32.8%, and services 62.2% in 2005.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $1.069 billion or about $241 per capita and accounted for approximately 3.7% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $121 million or about $27 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.4% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Croatia totaled $16.91 billion or about $3,805 per capita based on a GDP of $28.8 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 3.4%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 24% of household consumption was spent on food, 18% on fuel, 4% on health care, and 3% on education. It was estimated that in 2003 about 11% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.


In 2005, there were an estimated 1.7 million persons in Croatia's labor force. As of 2004, employment by sector was as follows: industry 32.8%; agriculture, 2.7%; and 64.5% in the services sector. In 2004, the official unemployment rate was placed at 18.7%. However, labor force surveys indicated that unemployment was at an estimated 14%.

All workers, except the military and police, may form and join unions of their own choosing without prior authorization. Generally, unions were independent of political parties and of the government. About 64% of the workforce was unionized in 2005. The right to strike and bargain collectively is protected by law, although there are restrictions and limitations. Nonpayment of wages continues to be a serious problem.

National minimum wage standards are in place, but are insufficient in providing a worker and family with a decent living standard. The minimum wage was set at $308 per month as of 2005. In 2002 the standard workweek was shortened from 42 to 40 hours. Workers are also entitled to a 30-minute break every day, one day off every seven days, and a minimum of eighteen days paid vacation per year. The minimum working age is 15 and this is generally enforced. In addition, workers under the age of 18 are prohibited from working overtime, at night or under hazardous conditions. There are also occupational safety and health standards, but these are not routinely respected.


An estimated 1,588,000 hectares (3,924,000 acres), or 28.4% of total land, was arable in 2002. About 2.7% of the economically active population was engaged in agriculture in 2004; in 2005 it accounted for about 7% of GDP.

The civil war reduced agricultural output in the years immediately following the breakup of the Yugoslav SFR. Production of 2004 major crops included (in thousands of tons): wheat, 840; corn, 2,200; sugar beets, 1,000; grapes, 350; apples, 58; and plums, 30. Total production of cereals fell from 3,179,000 tons in 1997 to 2,355,000 in 2004. Plums are used in the production of slivovitz, a type of plum brandy.


About 28% of the total land area consists of pastures. In 2004, there were 1,489,000 pigs, 466,000 cattle, 721,000 sheep, 93,000 goats, 10,000 horses, and 10,235,000 chickens. That year, 140,686 tons of meat were produced, including 70,000 tons of pork, 35,500 tons of poultry, 23,000 tons of beef, and 1,800 tons of mutton. Milk production in 2004 totaled 768,500 tons; eggs, 45,700 tons; and cheese, 23,935 tons. Cattle breeding accounts for about 50% of agriculture's contribution to the GDP.


With a mainland coastline of 1,778 km (1,105 mi) and island coastlines totaling 4,012 km (2,493 mi) on the Adriatic, Croatia is suited to the development of marine fishing. However, Croatia lacks adequate fishing vessels as well as the infrastructure to transport and process seafood. The total catch in 2003 was 19,946 tons, of which 98% was from marine waters. Sardine is the principal saltwater species caught; carp is the most common freshwater species. Croatia's annual catch has declined steadily due to overfishing for a variety of species. However, fish farming has resulted in an overproduction of freshwater species and a decline in prices. Aquaculture produced 7,605 tons of fish in 2003.


About 32% of the total area was forest or woodland in 2000. Croatia supplies small but good quality oak and beech; the wood industry has traditionally been oriented to the Italian market (accounting for over 35% of exports), and suffered damages during the civil war. Total roundwood production in 2003 was 3.8 million cu m (136 million cu ft), with exports of 560,000 cu m (19.8 million cu ft). Croatian exports of hardwood lumber typically consist of 50% beech, 30% oak, and 6% ash. Panels and veneer are also exported and Croatia is starting to increase the output of value-added products such as veneer sheets, plywood, and particle board. Total exports of wood products amounted to $274.9 million in 2003. The forestry sector along with the whole of Croatian industry is also attempting to produce in accordance with European standards and develop standardized contracts.


Aside from petroleum, the chief minerals industry, Croatia produced small quantities of ferrous and nonferrous metals and industrial minerals, mainly for domestic needs. In 2003, the mining and quarrying sector saw production increase by about 15% from 2002. Cement output in 2003 was up 8% from 2002. The production of clays, lime, nitrogen, pumice, stone, and sand and gravel satisfied most of Croatia's demand for construction materials; the importance of industrial minerals was expected to grow with continued postwar reconstruction. Mineral production in 2003 included cement, 3.654 million tons; salt, processed at Pag Island, 31,281 metric tons; bentonite, 13,568 metric tons; crude gypsum, 166,000 metric tons; and quartz, quartzite, and glass sand, 237,141 metric tons. Bauxite production dropped to zero in 2003, from 1,500 tons in 1996. Prior to the breakup of Yugoslavia, Croatia was the federation's chief producer of natural gas and petroleum, and a leading producer of iron and steel. The minerals sector was heavily hurt by the 199192 war, which damaged facilities, affected the market for raw materials, and disrupted normal commercial activities; the outlook remained captive to political and social stabilization in the region.


Croatia's electric power generating capacity totaled 3.595 million kW in 2002, of which 2.076 million kW was hydroelectric and 1.519 kW conventional thermal sources. Although for that same year, a total of 11.755 billion kWh was produced, of which 6.443 billion kWh came from conventional thermal fuel sources and 5.311 billion kWh came from hydropower, consumption of electricity outstripped output, at 14.453 billion kWh, thus requiring Croatia to import 3.927 billion kWh in that year.

As of 1 January 2004, Croatia had proven oil reserves of 75 million barrels. In 2002 estimated oil production totaled 22,000 barrels per day. As with electricity, Croatia's demand for oil outstripped its output in that year. Consumption that year totaled an estimated 91,000 barrels daily, thus forcing Croatia to rely on imports to make up the difference. Imports in 2002 were estimated at 69,000 barrels per day.

Croatia, as of 1 January 2004, had proven natural gas reserves totaling 0.87 trillion cu ft. In 2001 production of natural gas was estimated at 62 billion cu ft, while consumption came to 100 billion cu ft. As a result, Croatia imported an estimated 38 billion cu ft of natural gas in 2001.

Although Croatia has recoverable coal reserves in 2001 of 43 million short tons, there was no known production. Thus to meet its need for coal, all the coal consumed in 2001, 0.88 million short tons, was imported.


Light industry, especially for the production of consumer goods, was more advanced in Croatia than in the other republics of the former Yugoslav SFR. Croatia's main manufacturing industries include chemicals and plastics, machine tools, fabricated metal products, electronics, pig iron and rolled steel products, aluminum processing, paper and wood products (including furniture), building materials (including cement), textiles, shipbuilding, petroleum and petroleum refining, and food processing and beverages.

The collapse of Yugoslavia and the hostilities following Croatia's declaration of independence in 1991 damaged industrial production. Manufacturing employed about 335,000 people in 1995. The textile and clothing industry accounted for about 11% of total industrial output in 1995; the food industry, 17%. Industrial production increased 3.7% in 1998 and accounted for 24% of GDP. Industrial production increased to 33% of GDP in 2002. There is a need for reconstruction of basic infrastructure and housing, which should provide increased activity in the construction sector. The government was pursuing privatization of state-owned enterprises; the sale of INA, the national oil and gas company (which was expected to be completed by 2002) was finalized in 2003.

Although industry is an important part of the Croatian economy, in 2004 it performed sub parthe industrial production growth rate was only 2.7%, as compared to the 3.7% GDP growth rate. Still, it made 30.8% of the Croatian economy, and employed 32.8% of the labor force; agriculture participated with 7% to the overall GDP, and employed 2.7% of the working people; services came in first with 62.2% and 64.5% respectively. Croatia has to increase the privatization pace of state-owned companies if it is to accede to the EU by 2009/2010.


The Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (founded in 1866 and headquartered in Zagreb) has sections devoted to mathematical sciences and physics, natural sciences, and medical sciences. The country also had, as of 1996, 13 medical, scientific, and technical research institutes. The Museum of Natural Sciences (founded in 1924) is located in Split and the Croatian Natural History Museum (founded in 1846) and the Technical Museum (founded in 1954) are in Zagreb. The universities of Zagreb (founded in 1669), Osijek (founded in 1975), Rijeka (founded in 1973), and Split (founded in 1974) offer degrees in basic and applied science. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 30% of university enrollment.

As of 2002, Croatia had 1,920 researchers and 444 technicians per million people engaged in research and development (R&D). In 2002, Croatian R&D expenditures totaled $519.726 million, or 1.14% of GDP. High technology exports that year were valued at $432 million, accounting for 12% of the country's manufactured exports. R&D spending for the year 2000 (the latest year for which there is spending breakdown data) came mostly from the government, accounting for 54.2% of R&D spending. Business accounted for 44.2%, with foreign sources accounting for the rest.


Domestic trade occurs mainly between urban industry and rural agriculture. Civil strife and economic recessions in the past decade have severely weakened the domestic economy. The government has looked toward foreign investments to boost the economy. Privatization and anticorruption programs are likely to attract such foreign investments. A boost in the tourism industry has also aided the economy. As of 2002, about 58% of the GDP was contributed by the services sector.

Normal working hours for public offices are 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Banks are typically open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday, and from 7:00 am until noon on Saturdays. During the week, shops are open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm, and from 7:00 am until 3:00 pm on Saturdays. Summer holidays may translate into closed businesses during the months of July and August.


Ships are Croatia's major export (13.6% of exports), while other commodities fall close behind, including refined petroleum products (8.1%), polymers (2.9%), men's outerwear (3.4%), and women's outerwear (2.6%). Croatia's diverse export market also includes various chemicals, foodstuff, and raw materials.

In 2004, exports reached $7.8 billion (FOBFree on Board), but were more than doubled by imports at $16.7 billion (FOB). Croatia mainly exports transport equipment, textiles, chemicals, foodstuffs, and fuels, and its most important export partners are Italy (which received 23% of Croatia's total exports), Bosnia and Herzegovina (13.4%), Germany (11.4%), Austria (9.6%), and Slovenia (7.6%). The most important import commodities were machinery, transport and electrical equipment, chemicals, fuels and lubricants, and foodstuffs, and they mainly came from Italy (17.1%), Germany (15.5%), Russia (7.3%), Slovenia (7.1%), Austria (6.9%), and France (4.4%).


Before the civil war, Croatia led the Yugoslav SFR in worker remittances, as thousands of Croats held factory jobs in Germany and elsewhere. In order to provide a framework for economic recovery, the government organized the Ministry for Reconstruction, which plans to rebuild war-damaged regions and infrastructure for tourism, which could bring in much needed foreign currency. Croatia had almost no foreign exchange reserves in 1991, but by the beginning of 1996 the National Bank of Croatia reported $1,386 million in foreign exchange reserves.

Croatia's balance of payments situation has been helped by tourism receipts, but its strong export sectors registered declines in the early 2000s. In 2000, Croatia's main exports were ships and boats, petroleum products, and textiles and apparel. The textiles and apparel sectors were faced with competition from low-wage countries, and in wood product exports, Croatian producers compete with lower-priced Southeast Asian products. Croatian farmers state they are unable to compete with subsidized farm products in the EU. The food processing and chemical industries have been losing their markets due to their inability to produce competitively priced goods of high quality.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2002 the purchasing power parity of Croatia's exports was $5.1 billion while imports totaled $9.7 billion resulting in a trade deficit of $4.6 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2001 Croatia had exports of goods totaling $4.75 billion and imports totaling $8.76 billion. The services credit totaled $4.87 billion and debit $1.94 billion.

Exports of goods and services totaled $17.8 billion in 2004, up from $14.9 billion in 2003. Imports grew from $17.2 billion in 2003, to $20.2 billion in 2004. The resource balance was relatively stable over this time period, slightly depreciating from -$2.3 billion in 2003, to -$2.4 billion in 2004. A reverse trend was registered for the current account balance, which improved from - $2.1 billion in 2003, to -$1.6 billion in 2004. The national reserves (including gold) were $8.2 billion in 2003, covering less than 6 months of imports; by 2004, they increased to $8.8 billion.


The National Bank of Croatia was founded in 1992. It has the responsibility of issuing currency and regulating the commercial banking sector. The Croatian dinar was issued 23 December 1991, and was replaced in 1994 by the kuna.

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 6,164.2 14,153.3 -7,989.1
Italy-San Marino-Holy See 1,629.5 2,573.7 -944.2
Bosnia-Herzegovina 892.3 230.7 661.6
Germany 733.0 2,205.3 -1,472.3
Slovenia 510.9 1,048.4 -537.5
Austria 479.5 936.1 -456.6
Serbia and Montenegro 191.0 85.8 105.2
France-Monaco 174.7 748.6 -573.9
United States 164.0 366.6 -202.6
Liberia 100.3 100.3
Malta 93.1 93.1
() data not available or not significant.
Current Account -2,098.6
    Balance on goods -7,921.0
      Imports -14,206.3
      Exports 6,285.2
    Balance on services 5,641.5
    Balance on income -1,212.9
    Current transfers 1,393.7
Capital Account 83.6
Financial Account 4,612.9
    Direct investment abroad 4,612.9
    Direct investment abroad -80.5
    Direct investment in Croatia 1,955.9
    Portfolio investment assets 155.1
    Portfolio investment liabilities 854.4
    Financial derivatives
    Other investment assets -2,520.6
    Other investment liabilities 4,248.7
Net Errors and Omissions -1,206.4
Reserves and Related Items -1,391.6
() data not available or not significant.

Commercial banks in Croatia include: Dalmatinska Banka, Zadar (1957), Dubrovačka Banka, Dubrovnik (1990), Slavonska Banka, Samobor (1873), Istarska Banka, Pula, and Osijek (1990). As of February 1996 Croatia had 57 banks. In 1995, Raiffeisenbank Austria d.d. Zagreb began operating in Croatia as the first bank with 100% foreign capital.

Bad lending practices, whereby banks willingly lend to local companies regardless of creditworthiness, has plagued the Croatian banking sector. Many Croatian banks remained in crisis into 2000. Since independence, a total of 15 Croatian banks have gone bankrupt.

The Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR) was established in 1992 as a 100% government-owned institution, with the tasks of financing reconstruction and development and promoting exports through credits and credit guarantees. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $2.8 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $12.7 billion. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 3.9%. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 5.9%.

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) started operations in 1991. However, out of the entire portfolio of the Croatian Privatization Fund only 2% was privatized through the exchange. The introduction of the new Privatization Act in 1996 was expected to increase the role of the stock exchange, as was the adoption of an Investment Funds Act and a Securities Act. The Securities Law regulates the public offer of securities, legal entities who are authorized to conduct business with securities, securities transactions, prohibitions regarding businesses with securities, and the protection of investors. As of 2004, a total of 145 companies were listed on the ZSE, which had a capitalization of $10.959 billion. In 2004, the CROBEX rose 32.1% to 1,565.8.


The Insurance Companies Supervision Directorate grants approvals for insurance companies' operations and supervises the operations of insurance companies doing business in Croatia. Insurance companies may be established by domestic or foreign entities and may be formed as a joint-stock, mutual, private, or public company. Pension funds (divided between employees, self-employed and independent farmers) controlled substantial financial assets in Croatia as of 1997. In 2003, direct premiums written totaled $905 million, of which nonlife premiums accounted for $704 million. In 2002, the country's top nonlife insurer was Croatia, with $304.2 million in gross nonlife premiums written. The top life insurer, that same year was Grawe, with $33 million in gross life premiums written.


The fiscal year follows the calendar year. The IMF and World Bank have granted Croatia $192 million and $100 million, respectively, to repair economic imbalances from war and to curb hyperinflation. The EBRD has approved financial support totaling $230 million for infrastructure, telecommunications, and energy

Revenue and Grants 65,484 100.0%
   Tax revenue 40,492 61.8%
   Social contributions 21,778 33.3%
   Other revenue 3,214 4.9%
Expenditures 73,796 100.0%
   General public services 6,969 9.4%
   Defense 3,894 5.3%
   Public order and safety 4,137 5.6%
   Economic affairs 6,001 8.1%
   Environmental protection
   Housing and community amenities 2,549 3.5%
   Health 11,815 16.0%
   Recreational, culture, and religion 925 1.3%
   Education 5,896 8.0%
   Social protection 31,610 42.8%
() data not available or not significant.

projects which otherwise would be unobtainable by the Croatian government.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Croatia's central government took in revenues of approximately $17.6 billion and had expenditures of $19.3 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$1.6 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 52.1% of GDP. Total external debt was $29.28 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2001, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues were HrK65,484 million and expenditures were HrK73,796 million. The value of revenues was us$7,852 million and expenditures us$8,848 million, based on an exchange rate for 2001 of us$1 = HrK8.340 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 9.4%; defense, 5.3%; public order and safety, 5.6%; economic affairs, 8.1%; housing and community amenities, 3.5%; health, 16.0%; recreation, culture, and religion, 1.3%; education, 8.0%; and social protection, 42.8%.


In December 2000 the government adopted a package of tax laws including the General Tax Law, the Law on Tax Advising, the Law on Corporate Profit Tax, and the Income Tax Law. In general, the new laws reduced some rates, but widened the tax base. The corporate profits tax was reduced from 35% to 20%. Reduced corporate tax rates of 5%, 10% and 15% are available for companies locating in "special care areas" (62 municipalities and towns deemed to be undeveloped) and in the Vukovar area. The corporate tax rate is also reduced for larger new investments: 7% for investments of at least HrK10 million (about $1.56 million); 3% for investments of at least HrK20 million (about $3.12 million); and 0% on investments over HrK60 million (about $9.3 million). Companies operating in one of Croatia's 12 free trade zones (FTZs) pay half the standard corporate tax rate (10%) or 0% if their investment is more that HrK1 million (about $156,000). There is no separate foreign investment law in Croatia, so branches of foreign companies are taxed the same as domestic companies, though only on profits made in Croatia. There is also a municipal firm tax of up to HrK2,000 (about $312).

Changes to the Personal Income Tax (PIT) Law, effective 1 January 2003, increased the number of PIT tax brackets from four to five (counting the personal allowance tax free amount), increasing slightly the bands for the lower rates, but introducing a new highest rate of 45%. The new rates were 0% up to about $2,609 a year (using $1 = HrK6.9); 15% for the next increment of income up to $5,217 a year; 25% on the next increment to $11,740 a year; 35% on the next increment to $39,364 a year; and 45% on income above $36,522 a year. Croatians are taxed on their worldwide income while foreigners pay only on income realized in Croatia. Deductions from taxable income are allowed for medical and housing expenses. There is a 15% withholding tax on dividend, interest and royalty income. Local surcharges on state income taxes range from up to 10% in small municipalities to up to 30% in Zagreb. The inheritance and gift tax is 5%, and there is a 5% real property transaction tax. Property taxes are assessed locally.

The employee's contribution to social security is 20%. By the pension reform legislation effective as of 1 January 2002, 15% goes to the national pension fund and 5% to new private pension funds. The new pension system is mandatory for workers under 40 as of 1 January 2002, and optional for workers 40 to 50 years old. Workers over 50 continue to contribute all 20% to the national pension fund. As of January 2003, the cap on social security contributions by an employee was set at $54,620 per year. The employers' contributions to social security, amounting to 17.2%, go for health and unemployment insurance: 15% for general health insurance, 0.5% for work-related accident insurance, and 1.7% for unemployment insurance.

The main indirect taxes in Croatia are the value-added tax (VAT), with a flat rate of 22%, and excise taxes. Specified goods and services, such as those from banks and insurance companies, are exempt from the VAT (0% rate). Slot machines are taxed at about $14.50 per month, while winnings from games of chance are subject to the 22% VAT. Per-unit excise taxes are assessed on petroleum products, tobacco, beer, alcoholic drinks, coffee, and nonalcoholic drinks. Luxury goods carry a 30% excise. Producers and importers of vehicles (cars, motorbikes, boats and airplanes) pay excise taxes, while buyers of used vehicles pay a sales tax. Auto insurance premiums are taxed at 15%, for liability insurance, and 10%, for comprehensive insurance. There are local consumption taxes on alcoholic drinks up to 3%.


The Customs Law, Law on Customs Tariffs, and Law on Customs Services were implemented in 1991. Croatia adopted all of the international tariffs and protection agreements ratified by the former Yugoslav SFR that did not contravene Croatia's constitution. The customs system was considerably changed in 1996 with a new customs law that harmonized the system with that of the European Union. In 2000, customs laws were revamped yet again to allow the government to change tariff rates annually. Customs duties range mainly from 018%. The average tariff for industrial goods is 5% and for agricultural goods 27%. In 1996, goods such as raw materials, semifinished goods, spare parts, supplies used for repairing war damage, and the household possessions of returning Croatian refugees were exempted from customs duty and subject only to an administrative charge of 1%. The Customs Tariff lists all the goods specified and grouped into a system of 11 sections and 97 chapters with remarks on each chapter to simplify the customs declaration procedure.

Croatia has free trade agreements with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Macedonia, and Slovenia, and has an Association Agreement with the European Union.


Attracting foreign investment is a key goal of the comprehensive strategy for long-term development, "Croatia in the 21st Century," adopted 21 June 2001 with an aim of becoming a fully integrated member of the European Union. The day before, the bilateral investment treaty (BIT) with the United States entered into force. Croatia does not have a separate foreign investment law, so foreign firms generally receive national treatment under the 1995 Company Law. The Law on Free Trade Zones (FTZs) was adopted in June 1996. Companies making infrastructure investments of at least $125,000 are eligible for a five-year tax holiday, while others (except those in retail trade, which are excluded from FTZs) pay half Croatia's corporate income tax rate (10% instead of 20%). Exported goods are fully exempt from custom duties and taxes. The government has designated 12 FTZ locations. The Croatian constitution states that rights acquired through capital investments cannot be withdrawn by law or any legal act and it also insures free repatriation of profits and capital upon disinvestment.

From 1993 to 2000, total foreign investment in Croatia totaled $4.68 billion, about 24% from the United States and 24% from Germany. Most foreign direct investment (FDI) has come through the privatization of government-owned assets and most has been directed to trade, services, banking, and telecommunications, rather than industry. The inflow of FDI was $0.55 billion in 1997, $1 billion in 1998, and peaked at $1.6 billion in 1999, due largely to the sale of 35% of the state telecommunications company, Hrvatske Telekomunikacye (HT), to Deutsche Telekom (DT) for $830 million. In 2000, FDI inflow fell back to $1.1 billion, then recovered to almost $1.5 billion in 2001 due to the sale of another 16% of HT to DT for $422 million, giving DT a 51% majority ownership. In 2002, FDI fell back to $900 million.

In foreign portfolio investment, as of 31 December 2001, US investors held $734 million of Croatia securities, $255 million in equity shares in Croatian companies, and $479 million in long-term debt securities. Outward investment by Croatian firms from 1993 through the first quarter of 2001 totaled $413 million, 39% going to Poland and 28% to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The total stock of FDI that entered into Croatia between 1993 and 2003 was $10.1 billion, averaging around $1 billion per year. In the first three quarters of 2004, $877 million was invested in Croatia, which appeared to be down significantly over 2003, when total FDI amounted to $1.7 billion. Most of these investments went to telecommunications (20.9%), banking (19.6%), pharmaceuticals (11.3%), and petroleum production (7.8%). The largest investors were Austria (with 25.7% of total foreign capital inflows), Germany (20.7%), and the United States (14.7%).

Croatia's performance in terms of FDI inflow has been average if compared to other countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Most foreign capital was used for acquiring state-owned enterprises (or shares in those), and less was used for greenfield investments. The situation was expected to change in future years though, as the political system in the country has become more stable, and the government was gearing up for the EU accession.


In October 1993, the government adopted an ambitious three-phase program intended to stabilize the economy through fiscal stabilization, currency reform, and accelerated privatization. The plan, however, relies upon cooperation with international financial organizations.

Economic development has been closely tied with privatization. By 1995, the process of ownership transformation had been fully completed by 2,554 companies. There were 221 companies that had the two Croatian Pension Funds and Croatian Privatization Funds (CPF) as majority owners, and 1,225 companies having the same funds as minority owners. The CPF is legally obliged to offer the shares of its portfolio for sale at auction, and as a rule sells its shares through the Zagreb Stock Exchange. Continued liberalization is expected by the reformist government of Ivica Racan, who aimed in 2003 to speed Croatia's anticipated membership in the European Union. The national insurance, oil, and gas companies were planned to be privatized during 200203. Croatia is a member of the IMF, IBRD, and EBRD (as one of the Yugoslav SFR's successor states). Upon the outbreak of conflict in Yugoslavia, the United States suspended all benefits to Yugoslavia under the General System of Preferences, but benefits under this program were subsequently extended on 11 September 1992 to all the former Yugoslav SFR republics except Serbia and Montenegro. Despite the economic adversity, foreign investors have been keen to identify business opportunities in Croatia's relatively stable economy.

In February 2003, Croatia negotiated a 14-month, $146-million Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF to support the government's economic and financial program. Strong domestic demand and business and government investment contributed to a 5% real gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the first nine months of 2002, compared to 3.8% in 2001. The government deficit declined in 2002, and inflation fell. The currency remained stable as well. The public debt rose, however, to 57.5% of GDP at the end of 2002, up from 55% at the end of 2001. This general economic success was due in part to a good tourist season, and a large highway construction program, in addition to increased private consumption and rising investment.

Croatia's economic performance was weaker in 2003 and 2004, partly due to a relatively unattractive investment climate. Croatia has failed to attract major greenfield investments which would have renewed its economic base, and would have created more dynamism in the market. Red tape, corruption, and problems posed by domestic companies, have also kept a lot of investors away. Nonetheless, the country boasts an educated workforce, a stable government, equality under the law, and the prospects of joining both the EU and NATOall factors that make it a very attractive market, with great future potential.


The effects of the 1991 war, the great refugee burden, the disruptions of the Bosnian war, the absence of significant international aid, and other factors combined to strain the country's social fabric and economy. In 1993, the average standard of living stood at less than 50% of its level before 1991. Over 400,000 Croats were displaced by the war and its aftermath.

Croatia's first pension laws date back to 1922, with most recent changes in 2003. The law provides for a dual system of a social system and mandatory private insurance. Health and maternity benefits, workers' compensation, unemployment coverage, and family allowances are also provided. Retirement is set at age 63 for men and age 58 for women.

Women hold lower paying positions in the work force than men even though gender discrimination is prohibited by law. Also, women are more likely to be unemployed. Rape and spousal rape are grossly underreported, and there are only four women's shelters. Domestic abuse rose considerably in 2004, with 50% more cases registered. The weak economic situation, the aftermath and uncertainty from the war, and alcohol abuse are considered aggravating factors.

The constitution states that all persons shall enjoy all rights and freedoms, regardless of race, color, sex, language, religions, political opinion, national origin, property, birth, education or social status. However, ethnic tensions continue. Muslims and Serbs in Croatia face considerable discrimination. Arbitrary detention and torture, abuse of detainees, and other human rights violations continue. The Roma population also suffers discrimination.


Croatia is in the process of improving health care since the war years in the 1990s. Life expectancy in 2005 was 74.45 and infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births was 6.84. The overall mortality rate was 11 per 1,000 people.

Croatia had 84 hospitals in 1997, including both general and tertiary care facilities. The country is known for its spas, where patients receive preventive and rehabilitative care that makes use of spring water and other natural resources, as well as such treatments as massage. As of 2004, there were an estimated 237 physicians, 499 nurses, 68 dentists, 50 pharmacists, and 34 midwives per 100,000 people. Approximately 95% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 100% had adequate sanitation.

Immunization rates for children under the age of one were as follows: tuberculosis, 98%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 92%; measles, 93%; and polio, 92%. In 1999, the incidence of tuberculosis was 61 per 100,000 people.

The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.10 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 200 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 10 deaths from AIDS in 2003.


After years of war, the country is just beginning the process of rebuilding not only homes for the thousands who were displaced by the conflict, but industries, businesses, and civic buildings as well. As of the mid-1990s, nearly 800,000 displaced persons and refugees from Bosnia and occupied Croat territories were in Croatia, of whom approximately 640,000 have found temporary housing with families in Croatia. By 1997, thousands of refugees (mostly from Eastern Slavonia) still remained housed in coastal hotels.

According to the 2001 census, there were a total of 1,877,126 dwellings in the nation; about 1,660,649 dwellings were for permanent residents. Most dwellings had between two to four rooms. About 70,817 dwellings had been built since 1996. There were about 1,455,116 households representing 4,272,590 people. Most households had between two to four members.

As of 2001, the government has implemented a Welfare Supported Housing Construction Program to assist low-income families unable to purchase apartments.


Education at the elementary level is free and compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 15 years. Primary education covers an eight-year course of study. Secondary education covers a four-year course of study in one of three tracks: grammar schools, technical and vocational schools, and art schools. The academic year runs from October to June. The primary language of instruction is Croatian.

In 2001, about 38% of children between the ages of three and six were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 89% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 87% of age-eligible students. It is estimated that about 95.5% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 18:1 in 2003. The ratio for secondary school was about 11:1.

In higher education, there are five universities: University of Osijek (founded in 1975), University of Rijeka (founded in 1973), University of Split (founded in 1974), University of Zadar, and University of Zagreb (founded in 1669). There are also 7 polytechnic schools and 17 professional schools. In 2003, about 39% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 98.1%, with 99.3% for men and 97.1% for women.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4.5% of GDP, or 10% of total government expenditures.


The National and University Library of Croatia in Zagreb (founded in 1606) had 2.5 million volumes in 2002. The Zagreb public library holds close to 300,000 volumes. In 1995, the country reported having 232 public libraries with a combined collection of 4.6 million volumes. The Information and Documentation Centre and Library of the Institute for International Relations is also in Zagreb, with holdings that include books, periodicals and journals, and official documents from various countries and in a variety of languages. The Croatia Library Association was founded in 1940.

Major museums in Zagreb include the Historical Museum of Croatia, Strossmeyer's Gallery of Old Masters, and the Gallery of Modern Art. Other major cultural centers include Split, which houses the Museum of Croatian Medieval Archeology, and Dubrovnik, with the Natural Sciences Museum among others. In all, the country boasts over 100 museums.


In 2003, there were an estimated 417 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were approximately 584 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

Government controlled Croatian Radio-Television (Hrvatska Radiotelevizija) has charge of all broadcasting. In 1999, Croatian Radio ran 16 AM and 98 FM stations with 5 shortwave options. In 1995, there were 36 television stations. It has been estimated that 80% of the population relies on the government-sponsored television news program, Dnevnik, for national news. Independent local stations can only cover about 65% of the country's territory. In 2003, there were an estimated 330 radios for every 1,000 people; the number of televisions was not available in the same survey. In 2003, there were 173.8 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 232 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 146 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

In 1995, there were nine daily newspapers with a combined circulation of over 400 million, and 563 nondailies (including over 60 weeklies); there were about 400 periodicals. As of 2002, the major dailies included Vecernji List (circulation 200,000), published in Zagreb, and Novi List (60,000), published in Rijeka, as well as the sports daily Sportske Novosti (55,000), published in Zagreb. In 1994, there were some 2,600 book titles published.

In October 1996, a comprehensive Law on Public Information was passed in Parliament with general support from all parties to regulate the media. In general, government influence on media through state ownership of most print and electronic media outlets restricts constitutionally-provided freedoms of speech and press.


In 1852, the Chamber of Commerce and Crafts was first organized in Zagreb. In 1990, the Croatian Chamber of the Economy (CCE) was established as the authentic representative of the Croatian economy. The CCE consists of 20 county chambers and promotes trade and commerce in world markets along with the Association of Independent Businesses and the Zagreb Trade Fair.

Since 1994, over 30 professional organizations have been founded in the CCE. A number of organizations promoting research and education in various medical and scientific fields have also formed, including the Croatia Medical Association. The Rudjer Boskovic Institute is a national organization that conducts research and educational programs for the natural sciences. The Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts has been active since 1861. The Croatian Physical Society formed in 1990.

There are many sports associations throughout the country, including the general Croatian Athletic Federation and a chapter of the Special Olympics. Youth organizations include the umbrella organization of the Croatian National Youth Council (NSMH), the Croatian Club for the United Nations (CCUN), and the Junior Chamber of Croatia (JCC), as well as scouting programs. Among many national women's organizations are the Croatian Association of University Women the Women's Infoteka, and Be Active, Be Emancipated (BABE).

There are national chapters of the Red Cross Society and Amnesty International.


Tourist attractions include visits to Dubrovnik and Split to enjoy the climate, scenery, and excellent swimming from April to October. Beautiful historic churches and ancient palaces can be found in the major cities. The many nudist camps and casinos are also popular attractions.

Approximately 3,086,506 foreign visitors arrived in Croatia in 2003. That year the average length of stay was five nights. There were 77,113 hotel rooms with 193,538 beds and a 27% occupancy rate. Tourism expenditure receipts totaled $6.5 billion.

In 2003, the US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Zagreb at $220.


Dr. Franjo Tudjman was president of Croatia from May 1990 until his death in 1999. Stjepan Mesić (b.1934) has been president since 2000. Nikica Valentić, Ivica Račan, and Ivo Sanader have all served as prime minister in recent years. Two Nobel prize winners have come from Croatia, both chemists: Lavoslav Ružička (18871976) and Vladimir Prelog (190698).

Josip Broz-Tito (18921980) was the leader of Communist Yugoslavia for many years after World War II. In 1948, he led his country away from the Communist bloc formed by the Soviet Union. Tito served in the Red Army during the Russian Civil War and led the Yugoslav resistance movement during World War II.

There are several internationally known figures in literature and the arts: Ivan Gundulic (15891638) wrote about the Italian influences in Croatia in Dubravka. Count Ivo Vojnović (18571929) is best known for A Trilogy of Dubrovnik. Miroslav Krleya (18571981) captured the concerns of prerevolutionary Yugoslavia in his trilogy of the Glembay family (192832) and in novels like Return of Philip Latinovicz (1932) and Banners (1963).

Double-agent Duško Popov (19121981), who worked during World War II, was the model for Ian Fleming's James Bond. The wartime figure, Andrija Artukovic (18991988), known as "Butcher of the Balkans" for his activities in support of Germany, is from Croatia. Religious leader Franjo Seper (18841981) was born in Croatia, as was inventor Nikola Tesla (18561943). Musician Artur Radzinski (18941958) became conductor of the New York Philharmonic in 1943 and of the Chicago Symphony in 1947. Zinka Kumc Milanov (19061989) was a dramatic opera soprano with the New York Metropolitan Opera in the 1950s and 1960s. Mathilde Mallinger (18471920) was a famous Croatian soprano who performed with Berlin Opera from 18691882.


Croatia has no territories or colonies.


Ceriani, Conatella. Croatia. New York: DK Publishing, 2003.

Frucht, Richard (ed.). Eastern Europe: An Introduction to the People, Lands, and Culture. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2005.

Glenny, Michael. The Fall of Yugoslavia: The Third Balkan War. New York: Penguin, 1992.

Malovic, Stjepan. The People, Press, and Politics of Croatia. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2001.

McElrath, Karen (ed.). HIV and AIDS: A Global View. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Stallaerts, Robert. Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Croatia. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow, 2003.

Terterov, Marat and Visnja Bojanic, (eds.). Doing Business with Croatia. 2nd ed. Sterling, Va.: Kogan Page, 2004.

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Major City:

Other Cities:
Dubrovnik, Karlovac, Osijek, Pula, Rijeka, Split, Zadar


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report 1999 for Croatia. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


Croatia, located in the middle of Europe, declared independence from Communist Yugoslavia in 1991, making it one of Europe's youngest nations. The capital, Zagreb, has all the characteristics of a historic and modern central European city.



Zagreb, a city of some 1 million people, is the political, cultural, scientific, industrial, and commercial center of Croatia. The city is located between the green hillsides of Medvednica in the north and the Sava River in the south. Sljeme (3,354 feet) is a mountain park on the north part of town. It is easily accessible from the city by public transportation. It has many hiking trails and during the winter some skiing is possible if there is enough snow. Zagreb is an ancient trading center with an old European look to it. Narrow streets slip between the walls of former houses of 18th-century nobility, and gardens bloom in the center. In the spring and summer the streets are lined with outside cafes that are always full of people enjoying coffee or a beer. In the winter, poorly maintained houses and buildings combine with gray skies and fog to give it a drab and gloomy look.

Medieval Zagreb developed from the 11th-13th centuries in the twin towns of "Kaptol" and "Gradec." In "Kaptol" the oldest part of town, is found the cathedral Sveti Stjepan, the Bishop's Palace, and remains of the towers from an 11th century fortress. On an adjoining hill of the upper city called "Gradec," there are the ancient city gates, St. Mark's Church (which sports a distinctive multicolored tiled roof), several museums, the Parliament building, and other government offices. Kaptol was the seat of the diocese, but Gradec was the free royal city. They often fought one another, particularly during the 15th and 16th centuries.

In the late 19th century, the city spread out onto the flat area between the hills and river. Since WWII extensive high-rise construction has occurred in "New Zagreb" across the Sava to the south. Fortunately, the city weathered the chaotic period that followed Yugoslavia's breakup without sustaining much damage.


All quarters have central heating and hot water. Window-unit air-conditioners are installed in some properties' bedrooms. Most cooking is by electric range oven, but a few units have gas ranges. Standard electric power is 220v, 50 cycles. Receptacles are standard mainland European-type with 2 round prongs.

Transformers are not readily available in Croatia, but Aviano AFB, Italy, sometimes has them in stock. Adapter plugs can be found at most U.S. military bases and travel stores in the U.S. Bring transformers, or dual-voltage, or 220v appliances, since transformers are limited in quantity. (Note that 110v/60Hz appliances such as record players, clocks, etc., often will not operate correctly even when used with a transformer unless other adjustments are made. These adjustments usually must be performed by a trained technician and can be expensive.) A power surge regulator is recommended for personal computers.


Zagreb's food supply has improved in the last couple of years in terms of quality and variety. Many fruit and vegetable markets in town sell varied and fresh selections. Several new large supermarkets with parking areas have opened recently. It is becoming possible to find fruits and vegetables that are not in season, but prices are high. Generally, fruits and vegetables do not require extra sanitation procedures, such as soaking them in iodine.

Around or near the market there are places in which to buy meat. Pork and chicken are particularly good, and cold cuts with prices comparable to those in the U.S. are sold. There is a variety of dairy products. Cheese and yogurt are good and inexpensive. Fresh and long-life milk is available.

Local bread is delicious and inexpensive, but no preservatives are used, so you must buy it daily.

Some supermarkets offer what you would normally find in a small supermarket in the U.S., but with a much smaller selection of brands. Some imported products from Germany and Italy are available regularly. Numerous small neighborhood stores sell mainstays-milk, eggs, flour, juice, etc. The selection is always subject to change, and the assortment can be bewildering at times! You'll probably find one within walking distance of your home.

Zagreb has one very complete spice shop in town. Anyone fond of a particular cuisine should bring spices and be ready to substitute.

For the most part, everything is available. Nonetheless, many Croatians shop in Austria, Italy, and Hungary because they believe products are cheaper and of a better quality than in Croatia.

Local specialties will please your palate. Croatia's Dalmatian coast excels in seafood, including scampi and shellfish. A Zagreb specialty that sticks to your ribs is "strukli," a type of cheese strudel. Homemade Slavonian "kulen," a paprika-flavored salami, is widely available. Croatia is also famous for its plum brandies ("sljivovica"), herbal brandies ("travarica"), cognacs ("vinjak "), and liqueurs such as maraschino, a cherry liqueur made in Zadar. Italian-style espresso coffee is popular, as are Ozujsko and Karlovacko beers ("pivos"). Several good ice cream parlors in Zagreb make their own gelato-style flavors.


Although some good-quality clothing is available, prices are generally much higher than those in the U.S, and fabrics generally don't hold up too well.

Men: Most entertaining is informal (coat and tie). Seasonal clothing needs are similar to those of New York or Washington, D.C. Zagreb has several very nice, but expensive, tie shops with designs which incorporate ancient Croatian motifs and symbols.

Women: Professional dresses are the normal dress for women. Women's suits, dress pants, and knitwear are practical and often worn to lunches, receptions, and cocktail parties.

Children: Bring a supply of children's clothes. Snowsuits, heavy jackets, coats, hats, mittens, ski pants, and warm boots are necessary for winter when temperatures dip below freezing and snow and ice can linger on the ground for weeks at a time. For summer, bring clothes for sports such as tennis and swimming. Temperatures reach the 90°F range in summer, so bring shorts and T-shirts. Bring special items like Halloween costumes, soccer cleats, ballet shoes, etc., with you.

Supplies & Services

Local stores seldom stock U.S. products, but several Croatian brands of shampoo, laundry detergent, lip balm, creams, and cleaning supplies are satisfactory and reasonably priced. In general, although you can find most anything you need here, it will be more expensive, and the shopping is not efficient, as parking is always difficult downtown and shops often run out of products on a weekly basis. High-quality brand-name cosmetics and toiletries locally will cost almost three times the U.S. price.

An English-language bookstore sells some children's books and cassettes, but most parents subscribe to children's book clubs or order books from catalogs. Parents of children at the American School of Zagreb can order books from the Scholastic Book Club every 2 months or so.

Tailors, dressmakers, and cobblers are available locally and offer excellent service at fair prices. Cloth is available at bargain prices, and all you need is a picture from a catalog, and most clothing items can be duplicated. Local dry cleaners, beauty and barbershops, radio and small electronics repair shops, and other service facilities are adequate and reasonably priced. Such beauty treatments as facials, waxing, and pedicures are available by appointment. Photo developing is quite expensive here, so many people send film to the U.S. (Mystic Photo) for developing through the mail, but the drawback is that it takes weeks to get your pictures.

Domestic Help

Domestic help is available. Many English-speaking young university students in Zagreb like to babysit. The average wage for childcare is $4-$5 a hour.

If you plan to bring a domestic employee, the Government of Croatia requires the individual to be declared through the local police (Department for Foreigners). If domestic help is employed full time (40 hours a week), your total gross monthly expenses would be about: Maid, from $800-$1,000; cook, $1,200-$1,400; driver, $1,000-$1,200; gardener, $1,000-$1,200.

The employee is responsible to report and to pay social security contributions and personal income tax.

The employer is responsible for: Signing a written contract (to include effective date, brief job description, expiration date, probationary period, annual leave, notice period, salary and benefits, work schedule); Ensuring secure working conditions (the employer is responsible for work injuries and damages as a result of working conditions that are not in accordance with Croatian regulations); Providing at least 18 working days of annual leave each calendar year; Providing maternity leave from 6 months to 1 year (compensation during maternity leave is paid with Croatian Social Security Funds); Paying for sick leave for a period of up to 42 calendar days (an authorized physician's approval is necessary); and Providing a separation notice in writing giving 2 weeks' notice if employed for less than 1 year, 1 month's notice if employed 1 year with the same employer, and 2 months' notice if employed 2 years with the same employer, etc.

If employees are employed from time to time, or just a few hours/week, there is no employer-employee relationship, and employees are paid hourly. Hourly rates vary.

Religious Activities

Zagreb is predominantly Roman Catholic, but the Serbian-Orthodox, Lutheran, Baptist, Church of Christ, Seventh-day Adventist, Mormon, Moslem, and Jewish faiths are represented. Although there is no Rabbi, Jewish services are held in the Community Center on Friday evenings.

A small English-speaking Catholic group says regular Sunday Mass and offers a First Communion and CCD program for children. A Baptist Church offers a service with translation into English.


The Department of State partially supports the American School of Zagreb (ASZ), founded in 1966, but most income is through tuition. It is a private, nonprofit school that provides complete coeducational and nonsectarian instruction (from kindergarten through grade 8) based on a U.S. curriculum, principles, and standards for children of Americans and foreigners temporarily living in Zagreb. ASZ is not legally recognized by the Croatian Government. Although not incorporated with any state in the U.S., it is fully accredited by the Middle States Association of Schools and is a member of the European Council of International Schools.

ASZ is governed by a school board. The board has the authority to develop policy and to make regulations for the conduct of school business and to administer school affairs. The school occupies a private home for the lower school (kindergarten through grade 4) and two apartments next door for the upper school (grades 5 to 8) in a nice neighborhood in the north hills of Zagreb. The school has nine classrooms, a library, a computer laboratory, an art room, and three workrooms. The school has no athletic facilities, so students go to a local gym twice a week for physical education. Enrollment during the 1997-98 school year was about 90 children. School usually opens the first week of September and dismisses the second week in June, with vacations comparable to those ordinarily observed in the U.S. (Christmas and spring break).

Children who are 5 years old by October 31 of the year of entrance are eligible to enroll in kindergarten, which runs for the full school day (8:15 am to 2:30 pm).

The school has witnessed incredible growth in the last few years, and a new facility is being sought in Zagreb.

The curriculum is that of the U.S. general academic, public schools. Instruction is in English. English-as-a-Second Language instruction is offered to students with limited English proficiency. Special education programs are not available. The foreign-language program includes German and French. Croatian is not taught at the school.

The children take the ITBS (Iowa) test annually.

For preschoolers there are privately owned playschools for children ages 2-5 (potty-training is necessary). There are several English-speaking preschools as well as a newly opened French preschool and Montessori School. The preschools generally run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., but for working parents, some have hours until 4 p.m. Costs range from $100-$250 a month, depending on the program.

Special Educational Opportunities

Mirogoj, Zagreb's main cemetery, is a beautiful place to take a walk. Built in 1876 in the Renaissance style, the cemetery walls look almost like a fortress. Inside there are quiet wooded walking paths. It's interesting to see how burial places have been arranged according to religion. All Saint's Day is a fascinating time to visit the cemetery and see the thousands of burning candles and bunches of flowers placed on the graves of loved ones.

Extracurricular activities for children include karate, Tae Kwon Do, ice skating, tennis, swimming, piano, guitar, ballet and modern dance, and soccer. Costs for children to participate with a private instructor, or in a club, are comparable to, or less than, U.S. prices. Private tutoring in various languages is also available.


Zagreb has a variety of recreational facilities. The following sports are popular: skiing, ice hockey, hunting, water polo, handball, basketball, tennis, soccer, and sailing. For swimming, Zagreb has several indoor/outdoor swimming pools with lap lanes, diving platforms, and baby pools. There are many private tennis clubs. The cost to play once a week is about $150 a year. Indoor courts are available in winter. At Maksimir Park, tennis courts can be rented for $4 an hour. Squash courts are available at certain clubs and can be rented by the hour.

Basketball is popular in Zagreb, and from October to April games take place at the Cibona Centar. On Saturday afternoons soccer games are held at the Maksimir Stadium.

Yoga and aerobics classes are available in Zagreb through health clubs and private lessons.

Outdoor sports possibilities in Zagreb during winter are limited to skiing, horseback riding, skating, and sledding. Sledding is very popular in hilly Zagreb and its many parks. There are many natural hot springs (Toplice) with indoor/out-door swimming facilities. Skiing in Sljeme is popular and easily accessible; however, most people drive to Slovenia, Italy, or Austria to ski. There are excellent downhill and cross-country trails for experts and beginners. Several ice-skating rinks offer skates to rent and children's lessons.

Foreigners in Croatia can hunt deer, birds, etc., as guests of Croatians. Without such an invitation, you must belong to a hunting club. Fishing licenses cost 40 kuna a day.

On Croatia's Dalmatian coast, sailing, wind surfing, and other water sports are very popular. Scuba diving certification is available in Zagreb. The rugged islands off Croatia's mountainous coast from Istria to Dubrovnik provide a yachting paradise. The channels are deep, and the winds are steady. Of the some 39 modern marinas dotting the coast, the Adriatic Croatia International Club (ACI) operates 19 of them. Yacht rentals can be arranged. You can hire a "bare boat" (no crew) for your party and set out on your own (you must prove your competence), or join a "flotilla" of yachts sailing along a fixed route. Crewed yacht charters are also available. All charters are for at least 1 week. Prices range fromUS $1,350 to US $5,375 a week, depending on the type of yacht, plusUS$100 a day for the skipper.

Sea kayaking is popular around the Kornati Islands. There are package tours available.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Pleasant excursions can be taken within the city of Zagreb and the surrounding areas. The hills and wooded areas around Zagreb are great for weekend walks and picnics. The Germans built and donated a particularly nice children's playground to Zagreb in Odranska, but otherwise children's playground equipment is substandard and does not conform to international safety standards. Good hiking trails go up to Medvedgrad, a medieval fortress on the southwestern part of Mount Medvednica, above western Zagreb. It was built in the mid-13th century to protect Zagreb from Tartar attacks. It has been partly restored. You can enjoy good hiking trails up and down Sljeme Mountain-and a cable car to ride-in case you get tired! There is also a paved road running to the top of Sljeme from Zagreb for those who want to drive.

Maksimir is Zagreb's largest and most beautiful park. The park has a zoo, several artificial lakes, and nice areas for biking and walking. Jarun is a lake with water slides, bike riding areas, picnic barbecue areas, and swimming. The Botanical Gardens were planted over a century ago and boast a wide variety of alpine and Mediterranean plants.

Though it may seem a strange destination, Mirogoj, Zagreb's main cemetery, is a beautiful place to take a walk. Built in 1876 in the neo-Renaissance style, the cemetery walls look almost like a fortress. Inside there are quiet wooded walking paths. It's interesting to see how the burial places have been arranged according to religion. All Saints' Day is a fascinating time to visit the cemetery and see the thousands of burning candles and bunches of flowers placed on the graves of loved ones.

There are nice "day trips" within a few hours' drive of Zagreb. Zagorje is a region north of Zagreb known for its rolling hills, vineyards, orchards, small villages, streams, ancient castles, spas, and health resorts. Of Zagorje's castles, Trakoscan, Miljana, and Veliki Tabor are the most beautiful. The scenery is reminiscent of West Virginia's Appalachian region in the U.S. In Zagorje, Varazdin is a pleasant little town with a few Baroque churches and a medieval castle that now contains the municipal museum.

Risnjak National Park at Crni Lug, between Zagreb and Rijeka, is a good hiking area in the summer. There's a small park-operated hotel at Crni Lug with rooms at US$20 per person. It's a 9-km, 2½-hour-climb from the park entrance at Bijela Vodica to Veliki Risnjak.

Kurnrovec is the birthplace of Josip Tito. His house was built in 1860 in the center of town. Today, it is a memorial museum with furniture and household implements from the time of Tito's childhood. Around Tito's house about 30 village houses and farm buildings from the turn-of-the-century have been preserved. They were restored and reconstructed to form the Staro Selo (Old Village).

Samobor is a small town west of Zagreb with a tradition in crafts and inn keeping. It's a nice area for fishing, swimming, and Carnival festivities. Many people enjoy shopping in a crystal factory there.

Krapina is a small town situated in Zagorje only 50 km from Zagreb. Krapina became famous in 1899, when the remains of an early human settlement 30,00040,000 years old were discovered at this site. Today, an archeological park features sculptures of early humans and animals. The Plitvice Lakes National Park occupies 195 km of forests, lakes, and meadows. There are hiking trails along the waterfalls and lakes. The color of the lakes depends on the plankton density-they range from a dark blue to a strikingly bright emerald color. The park, established in 1929, is on UNESCO's World Heritage List. It is a nice day trip, or the hotel is reasonable if you wish to stay longer.

The Adriatic coast is famous for its Mediterranean landscapes and climate. Istria, the peninsula just south of Trieste, Italy, offers many lovely weekend getaways (4-5 hour-drive from Zagreb). Porec, even after the fall of Rome, remained important as a center of early Christianity, with a bishop and a famous Basilica. There are many places to swim in the clear water by the old town. Rovinj is an active fishing port with a large Italian community. Its high peninsula is topped by the 57-meter high tower of St. Euphemia Cathedral. The 13 green offshore islands of the Rovinj Archipelago offer pleasant, varied views. The cobbled, inclined streets in the old town are where local artists sell their works. Each year in mid-August Rovinj's painters stage a big open-air art show. Pula is a large commercial harbor. The old town has many well-preserved Roman ruins such as the first-century AD Roman amphitheater overlooking the harbor. The rocky-wooded peninsulas overlooking the Adriatic waters are dotted with resort hotels and campgrounds. Brijuni is a fascinating group of islands. Each year from 1949 until his death in 1980, Marshal Tito spent 6 months at his summer residences on Brijuni.

Brijuni is a national park with some 680 species of plants, including many exotic subtropical species planted at Tito's request. In Brijuni, visitors can see Tito's three palaces, the luxury hotels where his guests once stayed, St. German Church-now a gallery of copies of medieval frescoes-and an exhibit of Tito photos.

The Gulf of Kvarner is also a nice part of the coast for weekend getaways (a 3-4 hour-drive). South of Rijeka, between the Istrian Peninsula and the Croatian mainland, are many islands, including Krk, Cres, and Pag. Many people frequent Opatija, once a fashionable bathing resort of the Hapsburg elite until WW I. Many grand old hotels remain from this time, and the promenade along the water affords a fine view. A massive concrete arch bridge links Island Krk to the mainland. It has many tourist hotels and many medieval churches and walls built in the 12th-15th centuries. Medieval Rab was an outpost of Venice for hundreds of years until the Austrians took over in the 19th century. Tall church towers rise above the red-roofed mass of houses on Rab's high peninsula. Places to stay in Istria range from private rooms for as little as $30/night to hotels that can cost up to $150/ night. Prices vary according to the time of year (May-September is high season). Most of the nearly 100 campgrounds along the Croatian coast operate from mid-May to September only.

Dalmatia is Croatia's most famous vacation area. Historical relics abound in towns like Zadar, Trogir, Split, Hvar, Korcula, and Dubrovnik. These towns are framed by a striking natural beauty of barren slopes, green valleys, and clear water. A warm current flowing north up the coast keeps the climate mild. You can swim in the sea right up until the end of September. Unfortunately, Dalmatia was not spared the damages of the former Yugoslavia's civil war, and many historic sights suffered shelling. Although most damages have been repaired, many hotels and restaurants are still closed because of fewer tourists. On the bright side, Dalmatia is not as crowded or expensive as it was before the war. The drive from Zagreb to Dubrovnik takes longer than 9 hours and the winding, two-lane coastal highway is scenic, but slow going, especially if you're behind trucks and buses. Daily flights from Zagreb to Dubrovnik cost about $100 one way but prices vary according to the time of year. There are ferries from Rijeka and Split to Dubrovnik as well.

Croatia's oldest tour company is the Atlas Travel Agency. Its "adventure" tours feature bird watching, canoeing, caving, cycling, diving, fishing, hiking, riding, sailing, sea kayaking, and white-water rafting in both Croatia and Slovenia.

Zagreb is accessible to Italy, Slovenia, Austria, and Germany. Ljubljana (a 2-hour drive from Zagreb) is near the mountain and lake resort district. Lake Bled is a resort area, which features an excellent golf course as well as the full range of winter sports. Trieste, Italy, and Graze, Austria, are favorite shopping towns-both about 2-3 hours' drive from Zagreb. Budapest and Vienna are about 5-6 hours' drive away. Venice is 4 hours' drive away. From Zagreb it is easy to explore and enjoy other European cities.


Zagreb's cultural life is rich: operas, concerts, chamber music, ballet, and theater are presented regularly. A monthly guide to events and performances in Zagreb is published by the Tourist Association, and copies can be obtained from the Tourist Information Center on the main square Trg Ban Jelacica. The guide is packed with useful information on museums, galleries, sports and recreational activities, restaurants, entertainment, etc.

Opera season runs from September to April and offers a wide variety of German, Italian, and Croatian operas, usually sung in their original languages.

Numerous concerts by orchestras and chamber music groups are presented throughout the year. Stage plays are performed in many theaters, but most theater is presented in Croatian.

The Zagreb Puppet Theater for children (of all ages) presents shows in Croatian, but for English speakers the stories are often familiar, such as "The Three Little Pigs," or "Hansel & Gretel."

Movie theaters (kinos) are popular around Zagreb and show feature films from all over the world-many of them recent U.S. films. Admission fees are low. Most cinemas show films in the original language with Croatian subtitles.

Zagreb has discos, casinos, and nightclubs as well. The B.P. Club is the best known jazz club in town. It is run by Bosko Petrovic, one of Croatia's best known jazz artists. Dance clubs such as Saloon and Kulusic are popular among the younger set.

In Croatia there are different types of restaurants: Restaurants, which offer international cuisine; Gostionica, which serves regional Croatian cuisine, i.e., dalmatinska; Bistro, which serves sandwiches, pizza, and snacks; Cafe Bar, which serves drinks and coffee only; and Slaticarna, which serves cakes, pastries, and baked goods.

Dining in the local restaurants is a popular pastime. Zagreb is full of small cafes where you can order drinks, pizza, or ice cream. In summer and fall, tables are set up out-doors, providing some relief from the ever-present haze of cigarette smoke indoors. McDonald's opened its first restaurant in Zagreb last year, and the chain is spreading around town, including a drive-in at one. Ethnic restaurants are becoming more popular. There are newly opened Chinese, Turkish, Indian, Mexican, and Italian restaurants in town. Many Zagreb restaurants offer similar menus, with roasted and grilled pork and lamb, also some veal and beef as the mainstay specialties. Prices at several good restaurants range in price from $20-$40 per person. Eating out in Zagreb at a nice restaurant is not a child-friendly experience. Home delivery of fast food is not available, but a few pizza and Chinese places offer takeout.

Social Activities

The American community in Zagreb is small. In addition to U.S. employees and their families at the Embassy, you can meet other U.S. citizens who work for humanitarian relief organizations, the American School, the UN, as missionaries, American citizens married to Croatians, and journalists.

A friendly and active international community exists in Zagreb. Frequent social events revolve around the various embassies represented here, but no one has special facilities. The American School of Zagreb has annual picnics and holiday parties for families as well as spring and Christmas programs which the children present for parents.

The International Women's Club (IWC) is open to wives of business and diplomatic personnel, as well as Croatians. The IWC sponsors tennis, yoga classes, nights at the opera, a mother and toddler group, and language groups. The IWC also supports many charities. Their major fund raising event is the annual Christmas bazaar. Monthly meetings are held to exchange news and views over coffee.

The active chapter of the "Hash House Harriers" gathers for a run and barbecue every month or so. The Harriers, founded originally by British diplomats in Kuala Lumpur, are popular all over the world.


DUBROVNIK , established by the Greeks in the seventh century and virtually independent through its long history, is a lovely seaport on the Adriatic, and a major Croatian resort. Arts and literature flourished in Dubrovnik during medieval times. Traces of its early architecture remainparts of the original city walls; a historic palace; the customs house and the mint; and several monasteries, one of which housed an ancient apothecary. Dubrovnik's independence ended when Napoleon took the city in 1808 and made it part of the Illyrian provinces. It was assigned to Austria from 1815 until 1918, the year it was claimed by Yugoslavia. Today, Dubrovnik's residents annually play host to thousands of European tourists who come to enjoy the climate and beauty of the Dalmatian coast. Swimming is excellent from April to October. At an annual festival, held in mid-summer, operas, ballets, and plays are presented in the city's palaces, squares, and fortifications. An excellent view of the city is found at the summit of Mount Srdj, which is reached by cable car. During Croatia's 1991 civil war, Dubrovnik was shelled by Yugoslav Federal Army tanks, artillery battalions, and gunboats. Many ancient buildings, monuments, and hotels were heavily damaged or destroyed.

The city of KARLOVAC , located 33 miles (53 kilometers) southwest of Zagreb, is situated at the confluence of the Korana and Kopa Rivers. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the city was unsuccessfully attacked several times by the Turks. A fortress, built in the 16th century, still stands today as a reminder of Karlovac's past. Karlovac is one of Croatia's important industrial centers. Industries in the city produce chemicals, footwear, and wool. The city is linked by rail with Zagreb and serves as a transit point for wine, grain, and timber. Karlovac is also the home of Croatia's oldest public library.

The industrial city of OSIJEK lies along the banks of the Drava River in eastern Croatia. A fortress dominates the upper, or old, town, while the lower is the city's commercial and industrial heart. Textiles, tanneries, and manufacturing provide employment for Osijek's residents. The nearby town of Borovo has a large footwear factory, as well as a rubber-producing plant. Osijek received heavy damage during the Croatian civil war after Serbian forces shelled and besieged the city.

Considerable Roman remains can be found in the Croatian port city of PULA , which is situated on the Istrian peninsula in northwestern Croatia. Located about 50 miles south of Trieste, Italy, Pula is a naval base and shipbuilding center. Historically, the city was established in 178 B.C. as a Roman military and naval base. It has been destroyed and rebuilt many times and has seen the passing armies of the Byzantines, Franks, and Venetians. Pula became part of Austria via the 1797 Peace of Campoformio, part of Italy via the Treaty of St. Germain in 1919, and was assigned to Yugoslavia in 1947. Roman remains include the Temple of Diana; a triumphal arch; and a three-tiered amphitheater with 72 arches that seats 23,000 people. Roman and Byzantine mosaics may be found in Pula's archeological museum. Pula is also the site of many medieval churches and old palaces. Several beautiful, sandy beaches also attract tourists. The city is an important economic and industrial center. Industries in Pula produce textiles, glass, cement, and machinery.

RIJEKA , a seaport in northwestern Croatia, was known to the Italians as Fiume during the years of domination by that country after World War I. Early in its history, the city was part of the Byzantine Empire, later came under the domination of Croatian dukes and, in succeeding years, passed to Austria, France, and Hungary. Italy, which had occupied the city in 1918, left the Paris Peace Conference the next year in a dispute over the area. Rijeka became a free city-state in 1920 in the Treaty of Rapallo, but fascist troops overthrew its government, and the city was dividedRijeka (or Fiume) went to Italy, and the Suo Barros, to Yugoslavia. It was not until 1947 that the two parts were reunited in a formal transfer to the latter country. The old section of Rijeka has buildings dating from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Numerous museums, art galleries, theaters, and a library are located in the city. Rijeka is an important port and a departure point for cruises along Croatia's Adriatic coast. Several major industries are located in Rijeka, among them are oil refining and shipbuilding.

SPLIT is an important Croatian commercial center on the Adriatic. Its superb location on the Dalmatian coast has made it one of Croatia's leading resorts, with modern beaches and good hotels. Split's history began in the seventh century, when residents of the nearby colony of Salona fled from Avar invaders and took refuge at the palace of Diocletian, a Roman emperor of earlier centuries. A new settlement, Spalatum (now Split) grew within the palace walls. For hundreds of years, the town existed under a succession of rulersByzantine, Venetian, and Austrianuntil it was claimed in 1918 by Yugoslavia. During World War II, the city was occupied by German troops. Some ruins of the destroyed colony of Salona are still found close by. Split itself has numerous monuments and a cathedral of note, once the mausoleum of Diocletian. Split is a major cultural center, with a number of museums and art galleries. One gallery honors Jan Mestrovic, one of Croatia's greatest sculptors. There are frequent presentations of opera, concerts, and ballet. Five miles northeast of Split are the ruins of Salona, a major Roman port.

The city of ZADAR is situated on Croatia's Adriatic coast. Zadar was founded in the ninth century and today is an important cultural and economic center. Cultural activities in the city are centered around museums, theater, and art galleries. Zadar has many historical buildings and monuments that are of interest to visitors. The historic sites include the remains of a Roman forum, an Arch of Triumph built in honor of the Roman emperor Trajan, a ninth-century church (St. Donat), a thirteenth-century cathedral (St. Anastasia), a Franciscan church and monastery, and many medieval churches. During the summer, St. Donat's hold classical music concerts. Zadar is the home of several industries and is noted for the production of Maraska cherry liqueur. Other industries in Zadar manufacture rope, cotton and synthetic textiles, leather, processed fish, cigarettes, and plastics.


Geography and Climate

Croatia is situated at the intersection between central Europe and the Balkans. Croatia covers 56,500 square kilometers (21,829 square miles) of mainland and somewhat less than 32,000 square kilometers (12,316 square miles) of sea. The Adriatic coastline, which includes 1,185 islands, islets, and reefs, is 5,740 kilometers (3,566 miles) long and famed for its clear waters. The republic swings around like a boomerang from the Pannonian Plains of Slavonia between the Sava, Drava, and Danube Rivers, across hilly central Croatia to the Istrian Peninsula, then south through Dalmatia along the rugged Adriatic coast. Croatia is about the size of West Virginia. It is bordered by Slovenia to the north, Hungary to the northeast, Serbia to the east, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the south, and Montenegro to the southeast. Croatia's geography is diverse with its rocky coastline, densely wooded mountains, plains, lakes, and rolling hills. In an effort to preserve its environment, Croatia maintains seven national parks.

Zagreb's climate is predominately continental, with hot and dry summers and cold winters. Rainy weather, with accompanying fog and smog, is common in the fall from October through December. In winter, from December to March, snowfalls can be frequent, occasionally heavy, and temperatures sometimes fall below zero. The sun may not appear for weeks on end. Mean minimum and maximum temperatures are 20 °F-38 °F in January; 60 °F-81 °F in July. On the coast, the climate is typically Mediterranean with long, hot summers and moderate winters.


According to the State Statistics Bureau 1995 estimate, Croatia's population is 4.78 million. The population of Zagreb is 930,550. There has been no census since 1991 because of the war in the former Yugoslavia. However the last census split the population as follows: 3.7 million Croatians, 580,000 Serbs, 43,500 Moslems, and 113,000 others (Slovenes, Italians, Czechs, Albanians, Montenegrins, Gypsies, and Macedonians). Some 2.3 million ethnic Croats live abroad, including almost 1.5 million in the U.S. Pittsburgh and Buenos Aires have the largest Croatian communities outside Europe.

Roman Catholics account for 77% of the population. The Serbian-Orthodox represent 11%, Moslem 1.1%, and 633 Jews (0.01%). The remainder includes Greek Catholics, Protestants, and others. Croatian is a South-Slavic language. Before 1991, both Croatian and Serbian were considered dialects of Serbo-Croatian. However, since the war this term is no longer used. Croatian uses Roman script and spelling is phonetic. Because

Croatia was historically part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, German is the most commonly spoken second language in Croatia. Many people in Istria understand Italian, and English is widely spoken among the youth in Zagreb.

Public Institutions

Croatia first emerged as a nation-state in 925 A.D. and later became a semi autonomous province of Hungary, a status that lasted until the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire following World War I. In the intervening years, Croatia faced wave after wave of would-be conquerors, principally from the Venetian and Ottoman Empires.

With the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian empire in WW I, Croatia became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (called Yugoslavia after 1929) with a centralized government in the Serbian capital Belgrade. In 1939, an administrative reorganization granted Croatia some regional autonomy.

After the German invasion of Yugoslavia in March 1941, a puppet government dominated by the fascist Ustasa movement was set up in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina under the leadership of Ante Pavelic. Pavelic proclaimed the Independent State of Croatia (NDH). The Ustasa launched an extermination campaign that surpassed even that of the Nazis in scale, murdering perhaps as many as 350,000 ethnic Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies and Croats who disagreed with the regime.

At the end of WWII, Croatia became one of six federal republics of the new socialist Yugoslavia, under the control of the Communist and former partisan leader Josip Broz-Tito. Tito's ruthlessness and political skill built a union which, despite unresolved underlying ethnic conflicts, lasted until well after his death.

In 1989, with political changes sweeping Eastern Europe, many Croats felt the time had come to end more than four decades of Communist rule and attain complete autonomy. In the April 1990 free elections, Franjo Tudjman's Croatian Democratic Union (Hrvatska Demokratska Zajednica) easily defeated the old Communist Party. On May 30, the new Croatian Parliament was formally established, and on December 22, 1990, a new Croatian Constitution was promulgated.

On June 25, 1991, Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia. The Serb minority opposed its secession and started a rebellion, backed by the Serbian-led Yugoslav army. During 6 months of fighting in Croatia, 10,000 people died, hundreds of thousands fled, and tens of thousands of homes were destroyed. By January 1992, when a U.N. cease-fire was agreed to, one-third of Croatia was under the control of the Serbs, who proclaimed their own republic of Krajina comprising three enclaves.

Croatia was formally recognized by the European Community (now European Union) on January 15, 1992. The U.S. recognized the new nation on April 7, 1992. Croatia became a U.N. member in May 1992. In August 1992, Tudjman was elected President and his HDZ party won an absolute majority in the Lower House of Parliament.

In two blitz offensives in May and August 1995, the Croatian army reconquered the largest chunks of the Krajina, prompting an exodus of Serbs. In November 1995, Zagreb agreed to peacefully reintegrate the last Serb enclave of Eastern Slavonia (located along the Danube River border with Serbia). According to the Erdut Agreement, reintegration was projected in 1998. Until that time, a transitional U.N. administration is present. In December 1995, Croatia signed the Dayton Peace Agreement, committing itself to a permanent cease-fire and the return of all refugees.

The Government in Croatia is divided among three branches: executive (President and Cabinet), legislative (Parliament), and judicial. The supreme executive power in Croatia is the President. The current President was reelected in June 1997 for a second 5-year term. The President appoints the Prime Minister and other members of the government. All executive appointments require confirmation by the Chamber of Representatives. The ruling HDZ party continued to dominate by winning the October 1995 elections for Parliament's lower house and the April 1997 vote for the upper house of Parliament and local administrative bodies.

The Parliament, the highest legislative body, consists of two Chambers: The Chamber of Representatives and the Chamber of Provinces. Legislation mandates that national minorities be represented in Parliament.

The following political parties in Croatia are represented in Parliament: Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS) Croatian People's Party (FINS)

Croatian Peasant's Party (HSS)

Social Democratic Party of Croatia (SDP) Croatian Party of Right (HSP)

Istrian Democratic Parliament (IDS) Serbian National Party (SNS)

Croatian Independent Democrats (FIND) Croatian Christian Democratic Union (HKDU)

Croatian Independent Democratic (FIND) Action of Social Democrats (ASH) Independent Serb Democratic Party (SDSS)

Slavonia-Baranja Party (SBHS)

The Chamber of Representatives nominates and confirms the 15 members of the Supreme Court, Croatia's highest judicial body.

Arts, Science, and Education

Croatia has 219 museums, galleries, and museum collections, as well as 60 ecclesiastical and numerous private collections. There are 659 specialists, curators, restorers and researchers who oversee about five million objects in 1,100 various collections, a treasury of the cultural and natural heritage of Croatia.

The Mimara, one of Zagreb's most prominent museums, contains the works of Rafael, Rubens, Velazquez, Goya, Rembrandt, Hals, Degas, and Pissaro. The Mimara has 42 exhibition halls and a multimedia center. The diverse collection also contains large sections of glassware, sculpture, and oriental art. The Stross-mayer Gallery houses many of the Old Master works such as Botticelli, Bellini, Tintoretto, Veronese, and El Greco. The Archeological Museum contains one of Europe's richest numismatic collections including some 260,000 samples of old coins, medals, medallions, and decorations. There are also Roman stone monuments dating back to the period from the first to the fourth centuries B.C. The Ethnographic Museum has collections of Croatian folk costumes, delicate pieces of lace from the Island of Pag, gold embroidered scarves from Slavonia, and the jewelry of Konavle. Also popular in Zagreb are the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Croatian Museum of Naive Art.

The works of Croatia's most famous sculptors, Antun Augustincic and Ivan Mestrovic, are renowned beyond Croatia's borders. Mestrovic's works can be seen all around Croatia. His sculpture and architecture display a powerful classical style he learned from Rodin. His Zagreb studio and his retirement home in Split have been turned into galleries displaying his work. Croatian naive art has also gained an international reputation. The most celebrated painters in the naive style are Ivan and Josip Generalic, Ivan Vecenaj, Mijo Kovacic, and Ivan Rabuzin. The newly opened "Cudo Hrvatske Naive" exhibits and sells naive art. It also organizes exhibitions of Croatian naive artists abroad.

Zagreb has 20 theaters, the oldest of which is the Croatian National Theater, founded more than a century ago and built in the neo-Baroque style. Culture was heavily subsidized by the Communists, and admission to operas, ballets, and concerts is still reasonable. Season opera tickets in Zagreb (October-May) can be purchased for $15-$60. Operas are presented in their original languages, though the quality of performances is hit and miss. Visiting opera companies from the region perform as well. Zagreb has a popular children's puppet theater. Most theater is performed in Croatian. The Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall is the favorite place to hear the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra and various holiday musical concerts. Among those who started their artistic careers in Zagreb and went on to achieve international fame are pianist No Pogorelic, opera diva Ruza Pospis-Baldani, and conductor Vjekoslav Sutej.

Croatian folk music has had many influences. The kolo, a lovely Slavic round dance in which men and women alternate in the circle, is accompanied by Gypsy style violinists or players of the tambura, a three-or five-string mandolin popular throughout Croatia. The measured guitar playing or rhythmic accordions of Dalmatia have a gentle Italian air. The Croatian folkloric ensemble "Lado" perform lively Mediterranean dance rhythms and sing folk songs with haunting voices.

Zagreb hosts many international cultural events such as the International Folklore Festival, International Competition of Young Conductors, International Jazz Fair, Musical Biennial Zagreb, International Festival of Avant-garde Theaters, International Festival of Puppet Theaters, and the International Garden Exhibition. During summer many coastal cities stage international festivals such as the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, the Split Summer Festival, and Zadar Music Evenings.

Zagreb is a university center-home to some 40 graduate and undergraduate schools and over 80,000 students. Its first secular school was founded in the mid-14th century. The first secondary school was established at the beginning of the 16th century, and the university opened its doors in the second half of the same century. Zagreb University is one of the oldest universities in Europe. The roots of higher education began with the establishment of the Jesuit Gymnasium in 1632 to teach moral theology. Thirty years later, in 1662, the Academy for Philosophy was introduced. In 1669, Emperor Leopold granted the school the right to award doctorates. The cities of Split, Zadar, Osijek, and Rijeka also have universities.

Croatia has about 2,000 libraries: 160 rank as scientific libraries, 4 of which are university libraries. The University of Zagreb Library is also considered the National Library. There are 91 faculty libraries, 60 libraries attached to research institutes, and 1 central library (attached to the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences).

The Academy of Arts and Sciences was founded in 1860. Zagreb has the following cultural institutes:

The French Institute has a library and reading room. CD's and videos can be borrowed. Cultural activities include theater, films, dance, lectures, and concerts.

The American Embassy's Peace Memorial Library, open to everyone, has more than 6,000 books by American authors and 200 magazines and journals in its stacks. A reference librarian is on staff. The Austrian Cultural Institute sponsors such activities as concerts, exhibitions, seminars, lectures, and courses for preschoolers in German. The British Council has a large selection of books, periodicals, reviews, and videos. The Council promotes cultural, educational, and technical cooperation between Britain and other countries.

The Italian Cultural Institute in Zagreb has various cultural activities including films, concerts, shows, literary meetings, scholarships, and research assistance for students.

The Goethe Institute has a large public library with books, magazines, newspapers, CD's, and videos.

Commerce and Industry

The former Communist government of Yugoslavia emphasized heavy industry, especially in aluminum, chemicals, petroleum and shipbuilding. Today, Croatia is the world's third-largest shipbuilder, with most of the output from the shipyards of Pula, Rijeka, and Split intended for export. The following industries are centered in Zagreb and surrounding areas: chemical, machine tool manufacture, electrical engineering, and textiles. About 80% of Croatia's petroleum comes from local oil wells. Most of the wells in the former Yugoslavia were in Croatia, north and east of Zagreb. In the past, one-third of Croatia's national income has come from tourism, but in 1991 and 1992 Croatia received few visitors on account of the war. By 1993 Germans, Austrians, and some Italians had returned to Istria, but Dalmatia has had a slower recovery.

The collectivization of agriculture just after WW II failed and private farmers with small plots continue to work most of the land. The interior plains produce fruit, vegetables, and grains (especially corn and wheat), while olives and grapes are cultivated along the coast.

Croatia is negotiating admission to the World Trade Organization and the Central European Free Trade Organization (CEFTA) with member countries. It is also one of several post-Communist countries seeking to become part of the European Union. Three international rating agencies gave Croatia investment grade ratings of BBB-and-equivalent in January 1997. Standard and Poor's placed it just behind Poland and ahead of Slovakia and Greece.

Since independence, Croatia has had to completely reorient its trade after the loss of markets in the southern regions of former Yugoslavia. In 1992 Italy, Germany, and Slovenia together accounted for well over 50% of Croatia's imports and exports. The average wage decreased during the war to US$125 a month. Most Croats only manage to make ends meet because they still receive subsidized housing, health care, education, etc., and many hold down two or three jobs. Relatives abroad send money home and much of the rural population grows its own food. Others have savings from the good years before 1991.

An austerity program introduced in 1993 curbed inflation, which was running at 3 8% a month. In 1996 it was 3.5%. Although the inflation rate has stabilized, prices are noticeably increasing and are comparable with costs in large, urban U.S. areas. The IMF estimates GDP rose by 5% in 1996. In 1995 industry accounted for 20% of GDP, public sector services 24%, agriculture 11%, trade 9%, and tourism 4%-5%. Unemployment in 1997 was high at 16.6%.

Croatia is in the intermediate phase of the implementation of a complete economic reform program under agreement with the IMF. This 3-year program, to last until the end of 1999, worked to achieve an economic growth level with low inflation (3%-4% annually), maintain a stable exchange rate and low budget deficit, implement basic and structural reforms, and ensure an adequate social security network. There are detailed studies about the development of payment transactions and the introduction of high-liability systems to increase surveillance over bank bonds. Croatia decided it would not take up the second and third branches of this $486 million 3-year loan agreed by the IMF earlier this year.

U.S. policy supports strengthening bilateral economic ties particularly business relations. Croatia is included in the Generalized System of Preferences. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation covers political and war risk for U.S. firms investing in Croatia. Croatia is a member of the International Monetary Fund, IBRD, and EBRD and is seeking to be a party to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The U.S. Business Council for Southeastern Europe (formerly the U.S.-Yugoslav Economic Council) and its Croatian counterpart, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, work to stimulate economic cooperation and to develop further business opportunities. Croatia signed an agreement for a $5 million PL-480 Title I loan for the purchase of U.S. sunflower seed oil in 1997. Bilateral agreements on investment and double taxation were also concluded in 1997. Throughout the war, U.S. trade and investment in Croatia was minimal, although it is increasing.

In May 1994, Croatia replaced its currency, the dinar, with the kuna, which takes its name from the marten, an animal whose pelt served as a means of exchange in the Middle Ages.



The large car rental chains represented in Croatia are Avis, Budget, Euro car, and Hertz. Independent local companies are often less expensive than the international chains. At all agencies, the cheapest car is the Renault 4 and prices begin around US$125 a day plus US$0.20 per km (100 km minimum), or US$300 to US$350 a week with unlimited km. Full collision insurance is US$8 a day extra and theft insurance is another US$8 a day. Add 20% tax to all charges.


Public transportation is cheap and reliable with trams and buses leaving every 30 minutes from stops all around the city and surrounding hills. Taxis are available at taxi stands throughout the city, or may be ordered by phone. Taxis are safe, but quite expensive with meters that begin at

US$1.25 and ring up US$0.65 a kilometer. Rates are higher after 10 pin and on Sunday. For convenience, bring your own transportation. Although local transportation is readily available, it is usually very crowded, especially during rush hour.

Roads throughout Croatia are narrow-certainly not as wide as by Western standards-and parking is often tight in Zagreb, so consider a mid-to compact sized vehicle. Roads are in fair shape and are maintained and cleaned regularly. Of course, there are still numerous potholes to be avoided. Main roads are plowed in winter, but secondary and side roads are not always cleared. The hills and twisting roads outside the center of Zagreb are often treacherous in bad weather. Bring snow tires for your car. Croatians drive more recklessly than the average American, so defensive driving is a must. Motorists must also pay special attention to the trams (streetcars).

Since independence, Croatia has seen increasing numbers of cars. Now, roads toward the coast on weekends and in major cities experience heavy congestion on weekends and during rush hour. Primary roads are generally adequate, but most have only one lane in each direction, including roads to and from the coast. If you travel through former conflict areas, stay on paved roads to reduce the risk of encountering leftover mines. Emergency road help and information may be reached by dialing 987. For additional road condition and safety information, contact the Croatian Automobile Association (HAK) at telephone (385) (1) 455-4433.


From the main railway station there are daily international lines for Munich, Vienna, Venice, Budapest, Paris, Geneva, Graz, and Moscow. There are daily international bus lines to: Graz, Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Dortmund, Cologne, Zurich, and Barcs. Twice weekly buses leave for Berlin and Istanbul.

Zagreb Airport is located in the village Pleso, 17 kilometers from the center of the city, about a 25-minute drive. Airlines servicing Zagreb include Croatia Airlines, KLM, Lufthansa, Pan Avia, Swissair, Aeroflot, Air France, Austrian Airlines, Air Canada, and British Airways. Croatia Airlines has flights from Zagreb to Amsterdam (1 hour and 45 minutes), Berlin (2 hours and 15 minutes), Brussels (2 hours and 30 minutes), Budapest, Copenhagen (1 hour and 40 minutes), Dusseldorf, Frankfurt (1 hour and 30 minutes), Hamburg, London (2 hours and 10 minutes), Madrid, Manchester, Moscow (3 hours and 15 minutes), Munich, Paris (1 hour and 50 minutes), Prague, Rome (2 hours and 30 minutes), Skopje, Stuttgart, Tirana, Vienna (1 hour), and Zurich (1 hour and 15 minutes).


Telephone and Telegraph

Telephone service in Zagreb is good and reliable. Personal e-mail and Internet accounts can be established with America On-line or the Croatian telephone company. Expect to pay higher user rates than you would in the U.S. Long-distance calls to the U.S. are expensive (two to three times higher than calls placed from the U.S.) but relatively inexpensive to continental Europe. International operators can be accessed directly for AT&T, MCI, and SPRINT. The Croatian Post Office's telegram service is inexpensive and reliable.

Radio and TV

Broadcasting in Croatia is dominated by Croatian Radio and Television (HRT). Croatia passed legislation on private TV and radio stations in July 1994 and has begun granting licenses and frequencies for local and regional radio and television. Several small local radio stations emerged after independence. State-controlled HRT broadcasts daily on three television channels and three radio channels. HRT radio programs reach more than 96% of the population. TV programs reach 93% of the population. The prominent, semi-independent station, OTV Youth Television, reaches only the greater Zagreb area.

Croatian radio broadcasts are similar in format to Western European stations lectures and talk shows-and the music is largely Western. The stations are diverse, playing classical, pop (Top 40), and jazz music. European "club techno" music is popular with Croatia's youth. Croatian radio broadcasts the news in English every day at 8 am, 10 am, 2 pm, and 11 pm. Various radio stations are accessible on the Astra Satellite (19.2 degrees E), such as Virgin (UK), SKY (Holland), BBC 1-5, Radio France International, and America One (NPR).

American TV (NTSC) is incompatible with the local Croatian transmission system (PAL). A PAL TV or a multisystem TV with PAL capacity is necessary if you want to view Croatian/European TV Three Croatian channels show a lot of American movies and sitcoms with subtitles. Most employees purchase a satellite dish. A 1½-2-meter dish will bring most anything you would desire to view such as: NBC Super Channel, CNN, SKY, TNT, MTV, etc.

It is a good idea to have a multisystem VCR, as many new video stores opening in Zagreb have a decent selection of movies.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

Foreign newspapers and magazines can be found at newspaper kiosks all around the center of Zagreb. The International Herald Tribune, international editions of American and European news periodicals such as Time, Newsweek, or Paris Match, are available. Daily newspapers and some reviews can be read in the reading rooms of the various cultural centers and libraries in town. Permanent foreign media bureaus in Zagreb include the New York Times, Associated Press, AFP and Reuters. There are also stringers and visiting correspondents for various bureaus.

There are three national and three regional dailies in Croatia: Vjesnik (Zagreb), government; Vecernji list (Zagreb), government; Novi list (Rijeka), private; Slobodna Dalmaciia (Split), private; Glas Slavoniie (Osijek), private; and La Voce Del Popolo (Rijeka), private; with a combined circulation of 375,000. The print media is under severe scrutiny by the government, which owns the majority shares of two of the three largest national news dailies. The Croatian news agency HINA serves all dailies. Popular weeklies include the tabloids Globus and Feral Tribune. Several weeklies and monthlies contain serious coverage of political, financial, and cultural events.

A new English-language bookstore in the center of Zagreb sells paperbacks, technical and educational materials, children's books, and computer software, all at considerably higher prices than in the U.S. Recent books in English on the war in Croatia and maps are widely available. Magazine subscriptions from the U.S. by mail are more economical, and the selection of books is much greater through a book-buying service on the internet or a book club/catalog.

Health and Medicine

Community Health

The public water supply is considered safe in all major cities in Croatia. Naturally carbonated mineral water ("mineralna voda") is customarily sold in restaurants and stores. Sterilized long-life milk is available and has a shelf-life of 6 months. Fresh milk spoils quickly. Raw fruits and vegetables are of good quality, plentiful in season, and safe to eat using washing precautions normally followed in the U.S. Fish, meats, and poultry should be cooked well. Sewage and garbage disposal is adequate.

Preventive Measures

Travelers should have their shot records up to date and be immunized against tick-borne encephalitis. A flu shot is also recommended before winter. Sinus and respiratory ailments are aggravated by wintertime smog, and springtime provokes allergy problems.


Passage, Customs & Duties

A passport is required for travel to Croatia. A visa is not required for U.S. passport holders for tourist or business trips of less than 90 days. Visas are required for all other types of stays and must be obtained prior to arrival in the country. Unless the traveler is staying at a hotel, all foreign citizens must register with the local police within 48 hours of arrival. Failure to register is a misdemeanor offense: some Americans have been fined and/or expelled as a result of their failure to register. Additional information on entry requirements may be obtained from the Embassy of Croatia at 2343 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 588-5899 or from the Croatian consulates in New York City, Cleveland, Chicago or Los Angeles. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Croatian embassy or consulate. The Internet home page of the Croatian Embassy in Washington is

U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy and obtain updated information on travel and security within Croatia. The U.S. Embassy in Zagreb is located at Andrije Hebranga 2, tel. (385)(1) 455-5500, Internet home page: On weekends, holidays, and after hours, an Embassy duty officer can be reached at tel. (385)(1) 455-5281 or (385)(91)455-2384.

Special Information

Relatively speaking, Croatia has a low crime rate, and violent crime is rare. Many people can be seen walking on the streets and riding public transportation after dark. Foreigners do not appear to be singled out; however, as in many cities, displays of wealth increase chances of becoming the victim of a pickpocket or mugger. Such crimes are more likely to occur in bus or railroad stations. There have been several incidents of petty crime in residences, and car theft is on the rise (Note: Most of the cars which have been stolen are 4 x 4 utility-type vehicles). Restrictions on movements exist within Croatia and precautions must be taken in areas of instability.

In 1995, Croatian Government forces recaptured territory formerly controlled by rebel Serb forces. This area includes Western Slavonia and the Krajina Region. Although you can travel there, considerable risk of bodily harm caused by mines and unexploded ordnance continues to exist. The Dayton and Erdut Peace Accords ended fighting and reduced regional tensions. The remaining formerly Serb-held area of Eastern Slavonia is currently under UN administration. The region will be reintegrated into Croatia gradually. There continues to be isolated incidents of civil unrest, and you cannot enter the UN-administered part of Eastern Slavonia without prior UN authorization.


Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Jan. 6 Epiphany


Mar/Apr.Easter Monday*

May 1 Labor Day

May 30 Croatian State Day

June 22Croatian Uprising Day

Aug. 5Homeland Thanksgiving Day

Aug. 15Assumption Day

Nov. 1 All Saints' Day

Dec. 25 Christmas Day

Dec. 26 St. Stephen's Day



The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Dedijer, Vladimir. The Yugoslav Auschwitz & the Vatican: The Croation Massacre of the Serbs During WWII. Translated by Harvey Kendall. Buffallo, NY: Prometheus Books, 10992.

Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, 1992. London: Europa Publications, Ltd., 1992.

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Republic of Croatia

Republika Hrvatska



The Republic of Croatia is located in southeastern Europe, with a long coastline on the Adriatic Sea to the south, and borders with Slovenia and Hungary to the north, and Yugoslavia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the east. It has an area of 56,538 square kilometers (21,829 square miles), approximately the size of West Virginia. The country's coastline stretches for 5,790 kilometers (3,598 miles), and consists of 1,778 kilometers (1,104 miles) of mainland coastline and 4,012 kilometers (2,493 miles) of island coastline. The capital, Zagreb, is located in the northwestern corner of the country. Other major cities include Osijek, Pula, Rijeka, Zadar, Split, and Dubrovnik.


Croatia's population has been gradually decreasing since its 1990 figure of 4,508,347 and, according to CIA World Factbook statistics, in July 2000 the figure stood at 4,282,216. However, the year 2000 saw a slight increase, with the birth rate, at 12.82 per 1,000, higher than the death rate (11.51 per 1,000). If this trend continues, a projected population growth rate of only 0.93 percent will not dramatically change the size of Croatia's population in the foreseeable future. By the year 2010 it is estimated to reach 4,697,548.

With 76.5 percent of its inhabitants Roman Catholics, Croatia is predominantly a Roman Catholic country. Although the majority of the population is Croatian, other ethnic groups include Serbs, Bosnian Muslims, Hungarians, Slovenians, and Czechs. Approximately 18 percent of the population is under 15, about 67 percent is aged between 15 and 64, and the remaining 18 percent is over the age of 65. According to 1997 figures, the majority of people (56.5 percent) reside in urban areas, showing a significant increase from the 1975 figure of 45.1 percent. By the year 2015, urban dwellers are expected to number 64.4 percent of the population. Although population density is only 83.5 people per square kilometer (216 per square mile), the population is not evenly dispersed. Almost a quarter of Croatians reside in the capital city of Zagreb and its suburbs, while many of the country's islands and rural areas are very sparsely populated by mostly elderly inhabitants.

Like several other European countries, Croatia is experiencing the problem of very slow population growth. The government recognizes the problem but has done very little to address it.


Prior to World War II, peasants comprised more than half of Croatia's population and the country's economy was based largely on agriculture and livestock. Croatia's northern region is rich in agricultural soil and has been exploited for those purposes since ancient times. The coastal regions are not as lush but have a perfect combination of climate and soil for growing grapes, olives, and citrus fruit. Industrialization took place after World War II when Croatia became a part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. During this time, the economy diversified, industry and trade grew rapidly, and tourism developed swiftly. Since Croatia and Slovenia were the most developed of the Yugoslavian republics, profits from their industries were used to develop poorer regions of the federation. This factor, together with hyper- inflation in the 1980s and austerity programs imposed by the federal government, led to both Croatia and Slovenia opting for independence from the Yugoslav federation at the beginning of the 1990s. Croatia's bid for independence was met with military force by the Yugoslavian government, unleashing a war that lasted from 1991 to 1995.

Prior to 1991, Croatia was part of a socialist -dominated country. Since then, it has been going through a transition from state-controlled economy to free-market system , but the conflict with Yugoslavia had a devastating effect on its economic infrastructure . During the war, parts of the country were destroyed or damaged. Many people became refugees, forced to rely on assistance from the state, while a large portion of the state budget was used for defense. The cost of material damage caused by the war was estimated at US$27 billion, more than the country's 2000 gross domestic product (GDP) of US$24.9 billion. The war also brought a substantial reduction in trade between Croatia and the former Yugoslav republics, and caused difficulties in competing in European markets. Croatian tourism, a very important contributor to the country's GDP, suffered disastrously, as did trade and industry.

At the end of the war, Croatia began a slow process of economic rehabilitation. The structure of the Croatian economy is currently similar to that of a developed western economy, with services accounting for 71 percent of the GDP, industry for approximately 19 percent, and agriculture for 10 percent.

The country's major economic sectors are tourism and trade. Croatia has a beautiful coastline and many national parks, which attracted hundreds of thousands of annual visitors before the war. After the war ended in 1995, tourism revenues steadily increased, approaching the pre-war levels. In terms of trade, Croatia's major export industries include chemical products, textiles, shipbuilding, food processing, and pharmaceuticals. Agricultural production does not satisfy domestic needs, and food products comprise a significant part of the country's imports. Other imports include machinery and transport equipment, chemical products, and fuel.

The total foreign debt of Croatia stood at US$8.3 billion in 1998. Although the debt has been growing since 1991, the rate of increase has been much slower than the increase in government revenues. In 1991 the debt accounted for 12.3 percent of the government revenue, but by 1996 this figure had fallen to 8.4 percent. More than half the debt was to private creditors such as large banks and businesses, while the balance was in outstanding loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

European Union countries have contributed nearly US$1 billion to reconstruction efforts in Croatia since 1991. Some of the aid went to assist over 600,000 displaced people and 250,000 Bosnian refugees. The country received co-finance for most major projects from 3 sources: the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and Hermes Kreditversicherungs, known as Hermes. Hermes is a consortium of a private insurance company and a quasi-public company which provides credit insurance on behalf of the German government. Projects financed by these sources have included post-war reconstruction of infrastructure, support for the health sector, and improvements in the financial, enterprise, and agricultural sectors.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) has played a significant role in Croatia's banking sector and its pharmaceutical industry. According to CEEBICnet Market Research, current FDI in Croatia exceeds US$3.6 billion, most of it invested in mixed ownership enterprises, those owned jointly by foreign and local entities. Major investors have come from Germany, Austria, Italy, the United States, and the Netherlands.

Although the private sector has grown since Croatian independence, the country still has a fairly undeveloped enterprise sector consisting of small and mediumsize operations. Between 1996 and 1999 employment in these businesses remained static due to a poor business environment, high taxation, and difficulties in obtaining appropriate financing for expansion.


Croatia is a parliamentary democracy consisting of executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The executive branch consists of the president and the Council of Ministers. The president, who is the head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, is elected by popular vote to a 5-year term of office and may serve a maximum of 2 terms. The president appoints the prime minister and the cabinet, as well as the Council of Ministers, whose members are proposed by the prime minister. The Croatian legislature is the parliament (Sabor), which consists of a Chamber of Deputies and a Chamber of Counties (Zupanije), all of whose members are elected to a 4-year terms. The first chamber has between 100 and 160 deputies and the second 68 members.

The judicial branch of the government consists of the Constitutional and Supreme courts. The Constitutional Court makes decisions on the constitutionality of laws and has the power to repeal a law and to impeach the president. It consists of 11 judges elected for 8-year terms by the Chamber of Deputies at the proposal of the Chamber of Counties. The Supreme Court holds open hearings and makes its judgements publicly. Its judges are appointed for life.

During its first 8 years of independence Croatia was ruled by the Croatian Democratic Party (HDZ) and its president, Dr. Franjo Tudjman, who remained head of state until his death in 1999. During this time the government was preoccupied with the war and was slow to privatize state-owned enterprises and attract foreign investment. The ruling HDZ party has occasionally, for political purposes, supported trade legislation that has benefited certain industries and economic sectors. After the elections in 2000, a coalition of 2 parties, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS), came to power. The new government led by President Stjepan Mesic and Prime Minister Ivica Racanis dedicated to economic and social reform but, by the end of 2001, had not been in power long enough to show significant results.

As a former socialist country, Croatia is battling against the legacy of strong state control over the economy. This control had some positive results, such as a significant post-war reconstruction effort launched by the government which, due to the lack of domestic capital, relied mainly on foreign borrowing. On the down side, however, it was very difficult for the private sector to expand or compete in a state-dominated economy; the government frequently exploited important positions in industry for political gain, which prohibited the private sector from entering the field.

Croatia generates government revenue through a wide range of taxation measures and is one of the most highly taxed countries in Central Europe. Heavy taxation has slowed the growth of the private sector and contributed to the rise of an informal economy whose interactions are not subject to taxation. Personal income tax paid on individual earnings ranges from 20 to 35 percent and value-added tax (VAT), paid on domestic sales and on most imports, is fixed at 22 percent. An import duty , levied on goods and services, is paid by the importer, while there are further taxes payable on property transactions, inheritance and gifts, tobacco and alcohol, and motor vehicles.

In 1993 the government launched a relatively successful economic program to stabilize prices and the exchange rate , which slowed inflation to approximately 3 percent by 1995. Since then, inflation has increased slowly by approximately 0.5 percent to 1 percent per year. At the same time, the government's continuing high rate of taxes and military expenditure to finance the war hindered the recovery process. During the first few years of the economic stabilization program, the currency remained stable, partly due to improvement in the economic climate, but largely because the central bank artificially maintained this stability.

The government established a Privatization Fund (CPF) to oversee transfer of state-owned enterprises to private hands. The privatization process used several methods, including the sale of company shares to employees at a discount, a system whereby vouchers are distributed for use in place of cash to bid for shares in companies undergoing privatization and to award compensation for property that had been taken away by the communist regime. These measures, however, were not very successful. They proved easy to abuse and led to many cases of corruption. Privatization of utilities and the country's main oil producer has been slow, as these are considered strategically valuable enterprises by many in the ruling party.

Croatia's ratio of pensioners (retired workers collecting government benefits) to workers is very high and puts a heavy burden on the economy. To ease this burden, the government, with help from the World Bank, introduced pension reforms. A 3-band pension system was approved but, by 2001, had not yet been implemented. This system will keep part of the monthly retirement contribution in government funds, while a portion will go into a privately managed fund.

The new government elected in 2000 managed to make a significant impact on speeding up privatization of the banking and telecommunications sectors, and in late November 2000, Croatia became the 139th member of the World Trade Organization.


Judged by Eastern European standards Croatia has a comparatively developed infrastructure. In 1998, the country had 23,497 kilometers (14,601 miles) of paved highways, but only 330 kilometers (205 miles) of these were 4-lane expressways. Since the country suffered significant war damage between 1991 and 1995, it received loans from the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to improve roads, railroads, the electricity and water supply network, and air-traffic control. The government is strongly committed to these efforts, and many of these projects, including the building of 1,600 kilometers (994 miles) of 4-lane highway, are under way.

There are 8 main airports in Croatia (Zagreb, Split, Zadar, Dubrovnik, Osijek, Pula, Rijeka, and Brac) serviced

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Croatia 115 336 272 N/A 41 11.2 111.6 25.94 200
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Yugoslavia 107 297 259 N/A 23 1.9 18.8 7.65 80
Slovenia 199 406 356 150.5 84 9.8 250.9 99.34 250
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

by major airline companies. Croatian seaports include Rijeka, Pula, Sibenik, Split, Ploce, and Dubrovnik, all of which are located on the Adriatic Sea. Transportation between these seaports and many islands is currently provided by only one company, Jadrolinija. The railway network extends for 2,699 kilometers (1,677 miles) but does not meet the country's needs. Plans to improve the railway system do exist, but carrying them out is not considered a priority.

Tourism is one of Croatia's main sources of revenue. Transportation facilities for tourists (a developed network of roads, railroads, and airports) plays an important role in making the tourist industry efficient. Since the majority of tourists arrive in Croatia by road, construction of highways has the highest priority. In addition, the country's odd "boomerang" shape requires excellent roads in order to link its northern, central and southern areas. If all these requirements are to be met, the country must provide a more modern and extensive highway and railroad system.

Croatia's demand for electricity is mostly satisfied by domestic production, while 10 to 20 percent is covered by imports. The country produces most of its electricity from fossil fuel and hydroelectric plants. A small portion comes from the nuclear plant Krsko, which Croatia shares with neighboring Slovenia.

Telecommunications services in Croatia are modern, although they lag behind those of Western Europe and the United States. Telephone service is provided by Croatian Telecom (HT), which has invested heavily in improving telecommunications. According to the CIA World Factbook there were 1.488 million telephone lines in use in 1997 and, although some domestic lines are still analog, they are being replaced by digital technology with a capacity of 2,200,000 telephone lines. The international telephone service is completely digital, and its main switch is located in Zagreb. A project is under way to install fiber-optic cables throughout the country and connect them with Slovenia. Currently there are 220,000 kilometers of fiber-optic cables connecting 4 main Croatian cities and 35 countries.

There are approximately 200,000 Internet users in the country, and, according to CEEBInet Market Research, Croatia had 5 Internet service providers in 2000. The 2000 World Development Indicators state that, in 1995, there were 272 television sets per 1000 people and 36 television broadcast stations.


Being a small country, Croatia contributes relatively little to worldwide production in each of its 3 sectors. The country's economy is based on services, dominated by tourism and manufacturing, with international trade also an important contributor to the economy. The 5 years of war were mostly responsible for the country's poor economic performance, and post-war recovery has proceeded slowly. Other factors that limit economic growth are an inadequate legal structure and bureaucratic red tape, both of which restrict business activity; a slow privatization process; a poorly developed banking sector; and insufficient highway infrastructure. Some of these problems, such as privatization and highway construction, are being addressed, but it will take time for projects to be completed and for their effects to be felt.

Prior to the 1990s Croatia, and especially its beautiful Dalmatian coast, was a popular vacation spot for many Europeans, but with the eruption of war in 1991, tourism was decimated. Since the end of the conflict in 1995 the sector has seen a slow but steady recovery. Tourism was an important element in the services sector and contributed 71 percent to the GDP in 1999.

Agricultural production has been in decline since 1992, averaging about 60 percent of pre-war levels. Again, the war contributed heavily to the disruption of agriculture, but 1998 brought severe heat and drought, which caused disease and further hindered crop growth. By 1999 agriculture contributed just 10 percent to the GDP.

Industrial production declined sharply during the war years. Some of the worst fighting and destruction took place in areas where industry was located. During the war, this sector produced only a half of what it had in peacetime. Since 1996, industrial production has been experiencing growth, but certain industries tend to do better than others. The most successful are those, such as the food and beverage industry and manufacturing of chemicals and chemical products, that underwent restructuring as a result of privatization. One of the most important companies headquartered in Croatia is the Croatian pharmaceutical giant, Pliva, whose shares are traded on the Zagreb and London stock exchanges. Major foreign companies who have a significant presence in the country are Swedish Ericsson (telecommunications), Austrian Hofmann & Pankl Bet (mineral processing), Swiss Soc. Suisse de Cim. Port. (cement production), Dutch Grassette Nederland (maritime services), Austrian Messer Griesheim (industrial gasses) and the U.S. Coca-Cola Export Corp. (beverages). All told, industry contributed 19 percent of the GDP in 1999.


Agriculture, fishing, and forestry accounted for about 10 percent of the total GDP of Croatia in 1999, but they are nevertheless important to the overall economy. According to the Croatian Bureau of Statistics, these sectors combined to employ over 33,000 people and produce earnings of approximately US$1.4 billion per year. Croatia is fortunate not to have experienced the environmental damage from mass industrial development that characterizes its Eastern European counterparts. Environmental concerns do exist, but they do not have a heavy impact on agriculture, forestry, and fishing.

Croatia's geographical diversity led to different patterns of livelihood and culture. As a result, agriculture varies throughout the country's regions, influenced by regional climate. Agriculturally rich lowlands located in Croatia's northern part are dominated by the cultivation of wheat, corn and sunflower crops, while viti-culture (the cultivation of grapes), fruit-growing, and olive-farming are popular in the coastal region, with pasture land common in the mountainous areas. Most agricultural land is privately owned, and the large cooperatives created during the communist era are being privatized and restructured. Croatian agricultural production is dominated by small farms. The EIU Country Profile for 2000 states that in 1991 almost 70 percent of farms were 3 hectares or less, with only 5.6 percent larger than 8 hectares.

The war had a devastating effect on Croatian agriculture, changing the country from an exporter of agricultural products to a net importer. After the war, government efforts to boost agricultural production created positive results, increasing production of wheat, improving agricultural machinery, and increasing the number of cattle. In 1999, combined earnings from agriculture, hunting, and forestry equaled US$1.39 billion. Aside from wheat, fruits, olives, and grapes, the agricultural sector also produces corn, sugar beets, seed, alfalfa, clover, livestock. and dairy products.


The exploitation and management of forests in Croatia is carried out by a public company. Since one-third of the country is covered by forests, this industry is very important for the economy. In 1996 Croatia received a loan from the World Bank for replanting and protecting forests along the coast in order to stimulate tourism.


Both war and over-fishing of the waters has had a negative impact on fishing, which is a traditional Croatian industry. The catch decreased from 40,000 metric tons in 1989 to just over 15,000 metric tons in 1995, and the sector's earnings decreased from US$32 million in 1996 to US$22 million in 1999. Current employment in the fishing industry stands at only 1,100.



In the early 1990s total industrial output declined, partly due to the war but also because of the collapse in trade among Eastern European countries. During this time, Croatia lost a large share of its Yugoslav markets when the Yugoslav federation fell apart. After the war, industrial output began to recover, but major restructuring of industry and more investment is still necessary in order to increase efficiency. Due to a high unemployment rate of over 20 percent, the government is reluctant to worsen the situation by laying off industry workers.

Key industries in Croatia include textiles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and petrochemicals. The textile industry is especially well-developed and includes over 400 enterprises, the majority of which are engaged in cooperative activities with foreign manufacturers. In 1998, all of the key industries combined employed over 400,000 people and earned more than US$3 billion from exports. In the same year, the total export revenue across all sectors was approximately US$4.5 billion.

Two important heavy industries are ship building and metal products. Both were subsidized by the government during the war because of their strategic importance, but it remains unclear as to whether this subsidy continues. Growth of the construction sector has seen substantial expansion with the need for mass building and reconstruction caused by the war, and the government has been leading the building program and looking for international aid. The value of construction projects rose from almost US$1 billion in 1995 to over US$1.4 billion in 1997. During the same period, the number of employees in the sector rose from 23,600 to 29,500. This sector has drawn interest from international investors, such as the United Kingdom's RMC International Cement, which bought a majority stake in Croatia's largest cement producer, Dalmacijacement.


Production in this sector has been increasing but is not able to keep up with the country's increasing demand. Currently, between 10 and 20 percent of the demand is satisfied by imports, but plans by the Croatian Electricity Board (HEP) are under way to build additional plants and renovate existing ones. The electricity sector, together with oil, gas, and water supply, employs almost 26,000 people, accounting for 2 percent of the total workforce .


This sector has experienced substantial difficulties, both because of the war and the slowness in privatizing Croatia's only energy company, INA. By 1995 the production of oil and natural gas fell to 73 percent of pre-war levels. In 1999, Croatia extracted over 1.2 million metric tons of oil and over 1.5 million cubic meters of natural gas, representing a decrease in production over previous years. The country's oil and gas reserves are located southeast of Zagreb, along the border with Hungary and along the Adriatic coast. As of December 1998, Croatia's oil and natural gas reserves were estimated at 15 million metric tons and 35 million cubic meters respectively. The country's demand for extra gas supply is satisfied by imports from Russia, but projects have begun with foreign investors to develop new gas fields. These are expected to produce enough to export gas to other countries in Eastern Europe.



Tourism is of major importance in a services sector that accounts for over 70 percent of the GDP. Croatia is not only rich in natural beauty and history but enjoys a very low crime rate and a reputation as a safe destination. These factors have made it a favorite vacation spot for many Europeans and Americans, but tourism was heavily affected by the war, and the revenue it currently generates has not yet regained pre-war levels. A year after the war started, this sector earned only half a billion U.S. dollars. As the stability returned to the region, earnings from tourism gradually increased, reaching US$3.5 billion in 2000. During the 1990s, the country not only suffered from war devastation, but little was done to develop and restructure the tourism sector. This work started in 2000 when privatization of hotels and businesses was speeded up and tourism expenditure increased.

The improvement in political stability towards the end of the 1990s brought an increase in the number of tourists visiting the country. In 1998, the Croatian Bureau of Statistics recorded over 31 million overnight stays, which was 3 times as much as the 1992 figure. This number, however, still does not compare to the pre-war years, such as 1989 when more than 61 million overnight stays were registered.

Currently, Croatia has a total capacity of 725,000 beds, almost 95 percent of which are located in the coastal region. It also has 43 marinas, 17 of which are open year-round, but many of these are in dire need of reconstruction and better management.


Croatia is situated along major routes linking South Central Europe with the world, and its transport services are of major importance to the country's well-being. During the war, one-third of the country was occupied by enemy forces, causing disruption to main traffic links between different areas and a substantial increase in transportation costs. Since the war, greater regional stability has improved the situation, and the construction of a highway that will connect the country's southern region with its northern areas and the rest of Europe will greatly contribute to expansion and further improvement of service. According to the Croatian Bureau of Statistics, transport, storage, and communication employed over 83,000 people in 1999 and earned more than US$1.6 billion in the same year.


International trade is a significant part of the country's economy, accounting for between 6 percent and 8 percent of the GDP in the last decade. In 1999, imports totaled US$7.8 billion, against exports of US$4.3 billion. The country experienced a sharp fall in trade during the war when commerce with the country's main trading partners, namely the republics of former Yugoslavia, substantially decreased. Since then, the country reoriented the trade sector towards Western and East Central Europe. As a result, in 1999 only a quarter of Croatia's exports went to the former Yugoslav republics and only 10 percent of imports came from these countries. Due to this new trend and extensive subcontracting in the textile and leather industries, Croatia's main trading partners currently are Germany, Italy, and Slovenia. Other trading partners include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria, France, and Russia. Even though trade has experienced growth, revenues from Croatian exports account for less than 2 percent of total European exports and import revenues for less than 3 percent of Europe's total. At the end of the war, the trade imbalance increased as the country's

Trade (expressed in millions of US$): Croatia
exports Imports
1994 4260 5229
1995 4632 7509
1996 4511 7787
1997 4170 9104
1998 4541 8383
1999 4279 7777
SOURCE: United Nations. Monthly Bulletin of Statistics (September 2000).

imports substantially outstripped its exports. High labor and production costs, as well as high taxes, which make Croatian products more expensive than imports, have contributed to this trend.

The largest percentage of Croatia's exports went to the following countries in 1999: Italy (18 percent), Germany (15.7), Bosnia and Herzegovina (12.8 percent), Slovenia (10.6 percent), and Austria (6.2 percent). Some of these countries are also major sources of Croatia's imports, with Germany accounting for 18.5 percent, Italy 15.9 percent, Russia 8.6 percent, Slovenia 7.9 percent, and Austria 7.1 percent. Croatia's exports include chemical products, clothing, footwear, raw materials (wood, textiles, fertilizers), fuels (petroleum and gas), food products, beverages, and tobacco. Imports include machinery, transport, and electrical equipment, chemicals, fuels and lubricants, food products, clothing, and footwear.


The Croatian currency, established in 1991, has experienced a slight depreciation (decline in value) since it was launched. The National Bank of Croatia uses the euro as a reference currency; therefore, the recent depreciation of the euro against the U.S. dollar had the same effect on the exchange rate between the kuna and the U.S. dollar. In 1995, US$1 equaled 5.230 kuna, while at the end of 2000, the exchange rate jumped to 8.320 kuna to US$1. According to the Quarterly Economic Report of Germany's Commerzbank, this situation is likely to change by 2002 when US$1 will equal 7.88 kuna.

There are many reasons for the depreciation of the kuna, among them deficits in the pension system, the slow rate of privatization, and compensations paid to depositors of bankrupted banks. The ratio of pensioners to the employed increased from 0.65 in 1998 to 0.95 in 2000. This statistic means that for almost every retired person there is only 1 person employed in Croatia. One external factor that influenced a drop in the kuna exchange rate was the recent increase in energy prices.

Exchange rates: Croatia
Croatian kuna per US$1
Jan 2001 8.089
2000 8.277
1999 7.112
1998 6.362
1997 6.101
1996 5.434
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

Croatian monetary policy and supervision of the commercial banking sector is managed by the National Bank of Croatia (the central bank). Although there are over 50 banks operating in Croatia, more than 70 percent of the overall assets of the banking system belong to the 6 largest. Most of these, and some of the medium-sized banking institutions, are indirectly owned by the government, which holds large proportions of shares in these operations through government-controlled companies. There are several representative offices of foreign banks operating in Croatia.

A large portion (approximately 75 percent) of the total assets of the Croatian banking system are immobilized, which is to say they are not generating returns. Such assets consist of state bonds, public debt, ownership in companies that yield no dividends, and investments that are unlikely to produce returns. This is the main reason for high real interest rates for long term loans, which are 25 to 30 percent per year. The government is committed to restructuring the most problematic banks and has received a pledge of US$100 million from the World Bank to assist in solving this problem.

The Zagreb Stock Exchange is the only stock exchange operating in Croatia. It originated in 1918 but was abolished by the communist regime in 1945. Almost half a century later, after Croatia became independent in 1991, the stock exchange was revived by 25 banks and insurance companies as a non-governmental, non-profit-making institution. The ZST is fairly small, and there are only a few privatized firms that trade on it.


Until 1991 Croatia was part of a socialist-governed country whose system and ideology did not allow great disparity between rich and poor. Those who benefited most from the system and were better off than the majority, were the senior functionaries of the ruling Communist Party. They lived in pleasant, state-owned apartments, drove good cars, and earned relatively high salaries. The poor generally lived in underdeveloped rural areas of the country, were badly educated, and were not politically active.

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Croatia N/A N/A N/A 5,432 4,846
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Romania 1,201 1,643 1,872 1,576 1,310
Slovenia N/A N/A N/A 9,659 10,637
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.
Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Croatia
Lowest 10% 4.0
Lowest 20% 9.3
Second 20% 13.8
Third 20% 17.8
Fourth 20% 22.9
Highest 20% 36.2
Highest 10% 21.6
Survey year: 1998
Note: This information refers to expenditure shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita expenditure.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

Since Croatian independence in 1991 and a move to the free-market system, social conditions have changed, to the benefit of some and the disadvantage of others. Inadequate progress towards privatization and the appointment of political favorites to influential positions brought corresponding wealth to the few, although the free-market system has also rewarded a number of skilled or enterprising Croatians. Those groups dependent on the government for their survival suffered as a result of the changing economic system and suffered further from the social and economic impact of the war. These disadvantaged groups include pensioners and the privileged prewar middle class who later found themselves impoverished by changes in the country.

The poor of Croatia tend to be concentrated among the uneducated and the elderly. The United Nations Development Program 's 1999 Human Development Report states that in 1997 the average pension was less than half of the average salary. Pension payments are often months late, and the elderly have to rely on other means for survival, such as help from relatives. Retired people represent one-fifth of the total population, and as the ratio of pensioners to workers increases, the pension system is becoming overburdened.

The Croatian education system is almost entirely state-run and is very good. Close to 100 percent of children are enrolled in primary schools, and almost 70 percent attend secondary school. As a result, literacy rates are high (99 percent for men and 96 percent for women) and similar to those of other Eastern European countries and the industrial countries. The children of both the poor and the rich attend the same elementary schools, but although the vast majority of the poor are literate as a result of primary school education, they tend to drop out of the education system early. If they do pursue secondary education, they usually attend vocational high schools and few go to college. University education is not very expensive, but the number of scholarships and stipends that would help the poor are limited, and their numbers lag behind those of other East Central European countries. Insufficient education prevents the poor from competing for jobs that would earn them a better living, thus locking them into poverty.

The state maintains the country's health care system, although a small private sector does exist. A shortage of resources for the health sector has caused problems in recent years (only 6.7 percent of GDP goes towards health expenses), including a failure in targeting the needs of the poor, but most of the population does have basic health coverage. Since the price of food and clothes is high relative to average salaries, poor people spend most or all of their income on basic necessities. They tend to have weak and monotonous diets and although the majority have housing, they often find it difficult to pay for utilities or maintenance of their homes. Those households whose monetary income falls below 350 kunas per month (approximately US$55) qualify for the social assistance program. This monetary allowance equals 15 percent of average salary and, at this level, covers only a quarter of the expenses of poor households.

Even though Croatia has experienced significant social changes in recent years, differences between the rich and poor are not as vast as in Western economies. They are, however, greater than in other Eastern European countries.

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All Food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Croatia 24 4 18 4 3 6 41
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Serbia N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Slovenia 27 8 14 4 16 11 20
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
aExcludes energy used for transport.
bIncludes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.


Croatia's transition to the free-market economy began significantly to change the structure and level of employment in the country. During the socialist era, over three-quarters of the labor force of more than 2 million was employed in the public sector and by large, state-run enterprises. Unemployment was kept artificially low (approximately 9 percent in 1990) by over-employment and the creation of unnecessary jobs. During this period emigration was encouraged, and many people left the country to work abroad, contributing to low unemployment. A small private sector did exist under socialism, employing only 13 percent of the labor force in 1990.

With the arrival of the privatization process, new businesses opened and private sector employment increased to 45 percent. At the same time, employment in state-owned firms and the public sector fell to 36 percent of the labor force. Unemployment ceased to be regulated, and privatization and competition from more efficient businesses resulted in massive layoffs and early retirements. By 1998, 17 percent of 1.6 million people in the Croatian labor force were out of work. In order to ease the effects of high unemployment, the government pursued a policy of early retirement which, in turn, strained the pension system since there were far fewer people contributing to the fund than those seeking its benefits. Many pensioners received smaller pensions than they should have and were pushed into poverty.

The country's labor laws set regulations for a 42-hour work week, a 30-minute daily break, and a minimum 24-hour rest period during the week. Eighteen days of vacation are standard and time-and-a half is required to be paid for overtime. Most unions were able to negotiate a 40-hour workweek. The average salary after deductions such as taxes and contributions in 1998 was 3039 kuna, then equivalent to US$425. Over a half of gross salary (salary before deductions) goes to the government and various funds such as health care and pensions. The highest salaries are paid by the financial sector, which employs the smallest number of people. Those working in wholesale and retail trade, fishing, and mining average the lowest salaries. The average net salary is not enough to provide a decent standard of living for an average family. For this reason, most people supplement their income with self-employed activities, work in the informal sectors, or earn income from property such as rents and leases, in-kind income, or help from relatives living abroad. There is also a barter system for the exchange of goods and services, and those who can grow fruit and vegetables on small plots or in their gardens for personal consumption. In March 1999 the government signed an agreement which established a minimum wage of 1500 kuna (approximately US$211). Unemployment benefits also exist and currently assist almost 17 percent of the unemployed.

Croatia has a much higher level of job protection than other European countries. These regulations protect workers' job stability, but are costly to employers. For example, the law on termination of employment requires an advance notice of up to 6 months and, in certain instances, the approval of the workers' council. This makes labor costs much more expensive than in other countries whose economies are in transition and prevents the creation of new jobs. The regulations slow down the process of hiring new employees and make it difficult to offer part-time work. The government also regulates health and safety standards, which are implemented by the Ministry of Health.

Child labor has not been a problem in Croatia, while discrimination against women in the labor force is common if not prevalent. On average, women still earn less than men and share a higher percentage of unemployment than men (57.3 percent of women were unemployed in 1997 compared to 43.1 percent of men). Over half of the female workforce is employed in the service sector.

A large portion of Croatia's labor force is skilled and/or highly educated. In 1999, for example, out of 320,000 (33.7 percent) unemployed, over 30 percent consisted of skilled and highly skilled workers and about 7 percent were people with college or university degrees. Unemployment is highest among the young and is rising, and poor job prospects have driven many to seek work in other countries. Since 1990, the number of unemployed people under 30 years of age increased by 25,000. Since young people are generally most mobile, they tend to be the first to emigrate. Because of demand in other countries for a high profile labor force, many skilled and educated unemployed Croatians have been filling those positions. As a result, Croatia has been experiencing a serious brain drain since the 1990s.


600. Croatians begin settling in the area of present-day Croatia.

679. The first international treaty is signed between Croatian Duke Borko and Pope Agathur.

810-23. Duke Ljudevit Posavski establishes a powerful state in what is present-day northern Croatia.

925. Tomislav, the unifier of the territories of Pannonia, Croatia, Dalmatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, is crowned the first Croatian king.

1102. After the death of Petar Svacic, the last Croatian king, Croatia enters into a union with Hungary.

1527. By the decision of the Croatian Assembly, Ferdinand of the Hapsburg dynasty is elected to the Croatian throne; massive migrations of Croatians (especially to Burhenland, Austria, and Molise, Italy) begin.

1815. After a short period under the rule of the French emperor Napoleon, almost the entire territory of present-day Croatia becomes a part of the Austrian Hapsburg monarchy.

1847. Parliament adopts Croatian as the country's official language, replacing Latin.

1848. Ban (Viceroy) Josip Jelacic defends Croatia against Hungarian attempts to occupy the country and unites all the Croatian provinces. Serfdom is abolished.

1903. Anti-Hungarian and anti-Austrian riots erupt, causing some 50,000 Croatians to leave for the United States.

1918. After the downfall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, Croatia becomes part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, later proclaimed Yugoslavia.

1941. German and Italian forces occupy Yugoslavia during World War II and dismantle the country; a pro-Nazi government is installed in Croatia. The country becomes a German puppet state resisted by Croatian anti-fascists led by Josip Broz Tito.

1945. After World War II, the Federated Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia is proclaimed, consisting of 6 republics, including Croatia. Marshal Tito is made president and holds office until his death in 1980. Yugoslavia is aligned with the Soviet Union until 1990.

1990. The first multi-party elections since World War II take place in Croatia and are won by the CroatianDemocratic Union. The Croatian Assembly elects Dr. Franjo Tudjman as the first president.

1991. Croatia proclaims independence from Yugoslavia. A Serbian rebellion starts in Krajina, supported by the Yugoslav National Army from Belgrade and resulting in the occupation of one-third of Croatian territory.

1992. Croatian independence is recognized by the world and the Republic of Croatia becomes a member of the United Nations.

1995. Croatia recaptures Krajina from the Serbs, and the war in Croatia officially ends.

1998. The last Serb-occupied region of Croatia, located in its eastern part which includes the city of Vukovar, is peacefully integrated into the country.

2000. Croatia becomes a member of the World Trade Organization.


For Croatia the 1990s were difficult and traumatic. The country experienced war devastation, population displacement, and turbulent political change, all of which contributed to its ruined economy. As the 21st century gets under way, Croatia faces serious and urgent challenges in improving its economic situation. The country needs to make major policy reforms. Improved administration of business activityincluding cutting red tape, offering tax incentives to stimulate business growth, and completing the privatization processmust be implemented. Reform is also necessary to increase the effectiveness of the health and pension systems. Improvement of the banking sector is another key factor in easing the path of such reforms. A firm commitment to these reforms would send a positive signal to foreign investors and act as an encouragement to international aid in financing reform. If these challenges are met and international investment acquired, Croatia could implement programs for sustained economic growth, thus achieving a higher standard of living for its people and full integration into the rest of Europe.

Successful restructuring is possible and realistic since the country possesses the necessary infrastructure and expertise. Its location and its promising economic opportunities are attractive to investors. What is desperately needed is decisive action by the government, which needs to grasp the necessity for economic reforms and to begin their implementation without delay; delay would serve only to burden the economy with more costly adjustments in the future. Without reform, growth will not be possible, unemployment will remain high, the banking system weak, and the economy will not recover.


Croatia has no territories or colonies.


Bencic, Damjan. "Services Market Opportunities in Croatia." CEEBICnet Market Research. <>. Accessed January 2001.

Commerzbank. Emerging Europe Economic Research: Quarterly Economic Report, 4Q00. Frankfurt, Germany: Commerzbank, 2000.

Croatian Bureau of Statistics. <>. Accessed September 2001.

Croatian Bureau of Statistics. Statisticki ljetopis 2000: Statistical Yearbook. Zagreb, Croatia: Croatian Bureau of Statistics, 2000.

EBRD Transition Report 1999. European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 1999.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Croatia. London: Economist Intelligence Unit Ltd, 2001.

International Monetary Fund. "Republic of Croatia and the IMF." International Monetary Fund. <>. Accessed September 2001.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2001. <>. Accessed September 2001.

U.S. State Department, Bureau of European Affairs. Background Notes: Croatia. <>. Accessed September 2001.

World Bank Group. "Croatia." The World Bank Group. <>. Accessed January 2001.

The Zagreb Stock Exchange. <>. AccessedSeptember 2001.

Katarina Deletis




Croatian Kuna (HrK). One kuna equals 100 lipas. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 lipas and 1, 2 and 5 kuna. There are notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, and 2000 kunas.


Textiles, chemicals, foodstuffs, fuels.


Machinery, transport and electrical equipment, chemicals, fuels and lubricants, foodstuffs.


US$24.9 billion (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).


Exports: US$4.3 billion (f.o.b., 1999). Imports: US$7.8 billion (c.i.f., 1999).

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Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of Croatia
Region: Europe
Population: 4,282,216
Language(s): Croatian, Italian, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak, German
Literacy Rate: 97%
Academic Year: October-September
Number of Primary Schools: 1,094
Compulsory Schooling: 8 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 5.3%
Foreign Students in National Universities: 725
Libraries: 232
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 203,933
  Secondary: 416,829
  Higher: 85,752
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 87%
  Secondary: 82%
  Higher: 28%
Teachers: Primary: 10,762
  Secondary: 31,070
  Higher: 6,038
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 19:1
  Secondary: 14:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 87%
  Secondary: 83%
  Higher: 29%

History & Background

The Republic of Croatia (in Croatian, Republika Hrvatska or Hrvatska for short) is a constitutional parliamentary democracy in the Balkan region of southeastern Europe. Bordered by the Adriatic Sea to the west, Slovenia and Hungary to the north, and Serbia to the east, Croatia forms the northern and western borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina. At its extreme southern-most tip, Croatia is contiguous with Montenegro for 25 kilometers. Croatia measures 56,538 square kilometers and is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of West Virginia. The country has a diverse terrain, with flat plains along its northern border with Hungary and low mountains and highlands forming its western coastline and islands in the Adriatic. Croatia also has a varied climate, ranging from continental, with hot summers and dry winters in the inland portions of the country, to Mediterranean, with mild winters and dry summers along the coast.

Croatia had a population of about 4.3 million people in July 2000. Croatia's ethnic composition was 78.1 percent Croat, 12.2 percent Serb, 0.9 percent Muslim, 0.5 percent Hungarian, and 0.5 percent Slovene, and less than half a percent Czech, Albanian, Montenegrin, and Roma each in 1991 (the last year estimates were taken before the war that enveloped Croatia from 1991 until 1995). About 6.6 percent of the population in 1991 belonged to other ethnic groups, considered themselves "Yugoslavs," or were of unidentified ethnicity. Croatia's population was 76.5 percent Roman Catholic, 11.1 percent Orthodox, 1.2 percent Muslim, and 0.4 percent Protestant. The religious affiliation of 10.8 percent of the population was other, none, or unidentified.

Approximately 57 percent of Croats lived in urban areas in 1999. The rural population density was 132.9 persons per square kilometer in 1998. In 1999, approximately 99 percent of adult men 15 years of age or older and approximately 97 percent of adult women were literate (i.e., able to read and write). The population of Croatia was growing at a rate of only 0.93 percent in the year 2000. The total fertility rate was 1.94 in 2000, with approximately 18 percent of Croatia's population was 14 years old or younger, two-thirds of the population was between 15 and 64 years of age, and about 15 percent was 65 or older. In 2000 Croatia had an infant-mortality rate of 7.35 per 1000 live births, significantly lower than the rate for the European/Central Asian region as a whole; the under five years child mortality rate was 9 per 1000. The life expectancy at birth for Croatians in 2000 was 73.67 years (70.04 years for men and 77.51 years for womena considerable gender disparity in favor of women).

Croatia's GDP was US$20.4 million in 1999 with a real growth rate of zero percent. For the first half of 2000, the economic growth rate was more promising, with the rate of growth estimated as 2.5 percent of the GDP. Croatia's annual per capita income that year was about US$4,490, which was more than twice the per-capita income for the European/Central Asian region and just a few hundred dollars lower than the upper middle income average. However, unemployment in Croatia was measured at 22.4 percent at the end of 2000.

Croatia required an infusion of US$87 million in international development disbursements from the World Bank in 1999 to help the country recover from four years of war (1991-1995) and to assist in transforming Croatia's state-controlled, centralized economy of preindependence days to a liberal market-based economy. In the 1990s the World Bank committed US$762 million to Croatia for at least 15 development and reconstruction projects. During the 1990s Croatia received US$99 million from the United States through SEED Act funding, not including significant amounts of humanitarian assistance provided through other programs and nearly US$1,566 million from the European Union. The economic situation of the late 1990s stood in stark contrast to Croatia's previous economic prosperity before the Balkans wars of the 1990s.

Just before its independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on June 25, 1991, Croatia was the second richest country in the former Yugoslavia. It was second only to Slovenia, which declared independence from Yugoslavia at the same time. One of the six republics that together constituted Yugoslavia for most of the twentieth century, Croatia held a referendum in May 1991 during which 94 percent of the voters opted for independence. The official separation from Yugoslavia on 25 June 1991 was quickly followed by Serb aggression to attempt to bring the country back under Serbian control. This resulted in four years of brutal war from 1991 until 1995, during which ethnic Serbs, and to a lesser extent Croats and Bosnian Muslims (Bosniacs), waged genocidal war on each other. Early into the war Croatia formed a pact with Bosnia-Herzegovina to try to halt the crushing blows of the Serb army as Serbia, the most-powerful state in the former Yugoslavia, attempted to subdue Croatia and in the process wiped out thousands of ethnic Croats and created enormous refugee flows. With the Dayton Accords of 1995 and the end of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia was able to slowly rebuild its economic and social structures. Its political system dramatically transformed. By the mid-1990s Croatia had become a fledgling democracy, joining the ranks of Eastern and Central Europe's "transitional countries."

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

The Republic of Croatia is a parliamentary democracy with a strong presidency. The Croatian government's basic purposes and structures were established by the Constitution of December 22, 1990. The Croatian legal system is a civil law system. All Croatians, women and men alike, are eligible to vote at age 18; 16- and 17-year-olds are also eligible to vote if they are employed. Croatia's democratically elected chief executive and head of state, the president, is elected to a five year term of office. The executive branch of the Croatian government also includes the prime minister, who is appointed by the president and must be confirmed by the House of Representatives. The prime minister also recommends other ministers to the president for appointment to the executive branch. Early in the year 2000, Ivica Racan was chosen as Prime Minister. Since February 2000 the President of the Republic of Croatia has been Stjepan Mesic, a member of the Croatian People's party (HNS).

At the national level the Croatian legislative branch consists of a bicameral Assembly, or Sabor, composed of the House of Counties (Zupanijski Dom ) with 68 members (63 elected by popular vote and 5 appointed by the president) who serve 4 year terms and the House of Representatives (Zastupnicki Dom ) with 151 members also elected to 4 year terms. The third branch of Croatia's national government is the judicial branch, consisting of the Supreme Court whose judges are appointed to eight year terms by the Judicial Council of the Republic and the Constitutional Court with eight judges similarly appointed. The Judicial Council of the Republic is elected by Croatia's House of Representatives. Croatian regional affairs are administered through a system involving 20 counties (Zupanijski ), though the national government continued to operate in a fairly centralized fashion and to exert significant control over administrative affairs throughout the country in the year 2000.

International human rights organizations and agencies such as Human Rights Watch and the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the U.S. Department of State praised many of the steps Croatia took in 2000 to promote human rights and further democratize the country. For example, in February 2000 at the start of the new national administration under President Mesic and Prime Minister Racan, the government announced its intentions to make US$55 million available to assist in the resettlement and reintegration of 16,500 Croatian Serb refugees who had fled their homes in 1995 when Croatian government troops attacked rebel Serbsan operation later subjected to consideration by the International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague. Croatia also announced its support of the ICTY in 2000 and made significant legislative reforms to strengthen the country's protection of minorities and the privacy and free expression of its citizens. A new government body was appointed in 2000 to oversee the return of refugees, replacing the previous problematic Commission on Return, to enable the more effective return of Croatian Serbs who had taken refuge in Republika Srpska.

However, continuing problems in Croatia during the year 2000 of discrimination against ethnic Serbs, particularly regarding property rights, had not yet been effectively addressed by the end of the year; crimes of ethnic violence against Serbs also occurred in 2000. Croatia's Roma population of 30,000 to 40,000 people also faced continuing problems with the general population and Croatian authorities. Many Roma lacked access to education and employment opportunities, unfairly prevented from receiving state assistance and housing, met obstacles as they sought Croatian citizenship, and found themselves the targets of racist abuse with inadequate government protection. Discrimination and violence against women continued to be prevalent in Croatia in 2000.

Concerning its participation in regional and international organizations and conferences, Croatia has a better record. Croatia became a member of the World Bank and the International Development Association in 1993 but received no loans until 1995 when the security situation in the country had improved. Croatia is well linked to many international bodies and activities such as those associated with the United Nations, the European Union, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Council of Europe, and NATO's Partnershipfor-Peace program and has received development aid and post-war recovery assistance from numerous nongovernmental, international organizations. Croatia's chief trading partners are Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Austria.

The legal basis for Croatia's education system rests in the Constitution of 1990 and various laws and measures passed since the country declared independence in 1991. Higher education is organized according to the principles laid out in the Higher Education Act of 1996 and through the recommendations of the Council of Europe's Legislative Reform Program. The transformation of the general education system in Croatia has been slower in coming. Although several attempts were made in the 1990s by government commissions and public actors to assess and reform the overly rigid, bureaucratic, authoritarian education system left over from when Croatia was part of Yugoslavia, by the end of the decade none of the proposals discussed had crystallized into an approved action plan. By June 2000 the Education Council of the Croatian government's Ministry of Education and Sports had drawn upon some of the proposed reforms made since 1985 and prepared a comprehensive set of recommendations for the country's entire education system at all levels and was inviting the public to formally review and comment on their proposal. The anticipated timetable for reviewing the proposal, making further recommendations to the Ministry and to the government as a whole, and advancing the proposal to the national Assembly went as follows: 1) Between mid-June and mid-September 2000 the proposal was to be reviewed by a full range of civil-society actorsschools, teachers' associations, professional nongovernmental organizations, employers' associations, business organizations, political parties, religious communities, and individualswho would be invited to develop their own proposals and comments in writing for submission to the Council for consideration; 2) From mid-September until the end of October a working group appointed by the Education Council was to gather and review the above submissions and pass them along with their own comments to the Council as a whole, which by October 30, 2000, was to have completed discussions on what it had received; and 3) After the Education Council had adopted and passed along its recommendations on proposed education reforms to the government of the Republic of Croatia, the government was to decide whether to forward the material to the National Assembly for debate. Along the way, various government commissions would be engaged to review and prepare documentation and plans related to the proposed reforms.

The reform efforts begun in the year 2000 to accomplish the above evaluation of the entire school system and to propose a new, comprehensive package of recommendations in line with European standards was both nationally essential and strategically wise from an international perspective. Croatia was well aware that reforming its education system would bring better economic, political, and social relations with other European states and simultaneously facilitate transfers of students, professors, researchers, and funds between Croatia and the wealthier countries of Europe. European educational standards have become ever more important to the transitional countries in Eastern and Central Europe as they sought to improve their antiquated, often overly bureaucratic systems inherited from political predecessors of the socialist era. Not only would reforms in Croatia bring the education system up to the par with the European countries with which Croatia was doing business, but the reforms would also improve the likelihood that Croatia one day could be integrated into the European Union or at least made a more-valuable trading partner whose educated citizens would be welcomed as qualified employees for European jobs.

The essence of Croatia's official stance toward education is captured in a simple statement included in the government's program for 2000-2004 and cited by Minister of Education and Sports Vladimir Strugar in his presentation to the public of a Ministry proposal to fully transform the country's educational system: "Upbringing and education are development priorities of strategic importance for the overall development of Croatian society. . . ." Croatia's underlying philosophy of education is reflected in a speech presented by Bozidan Pugelnik, Minister of Education and Sports in 1998, at a UN-sponsored conference for government ministers in charge of youth-related issues held in August 1998. As Pugelnik remarked:

We believe that for the development of policy for young people, the active participation of young people is a condition sine qua non, based upon the following:

  • Strengthening democratic societies,
  • Peaceful resolution of problems within each individual country and among the nations of the world,
  • Strengthening democratic societies,
  • Peaceful resolution of problems within each individual country and among the nations of the world,
  • Strengthening awareness of the equality among nations, sexes, races, religions, i.e., the strengthening of multiculturalism,
  • Strengthening awareness of environmental protection,
  • Facilitating access to education, health care, employment and a general improvement of living conditions for young people, especially for the neglected groups,

in order to begin the attempt to provide young people with an opportunity for a better future.

Educational SystemOverview

The educational experience of most students in Croatia was severely disrupted by war in the early 1990s. As of 2001, thousands of refugees who had left Croatia during the warfare of the 1990s had yet to be resettled, and those who had returned often were housed in temporary quarters away from their original home communities. Regular school attendance was thus especially hard for some children and youth even where schools had been rebuilt and classes restarted shortly after the Dayton Accords were signed in 1995. Consequently, some measures of educational enrollments, attainment levels, literacy rates, and other school-related statistics for the 1990s are fairly imprecise or nonexistent. Certain knowledge gaps exist regarding the status of education in Croatia in the 1990s, making a full evaluation of the country's educational situation at the start of the new millennium somewhat difficult to achieve.

Nonetheless, in June 2000 a number of solid recommendations were being advanced to reform the education system in Croatia. However, they had not yet been acted upon, due to the need for public debate in the policy-formulation process. In the proposal drafted by the Government Ministry's Council of Education, the Council had identified several major flaws in the education system, the remedy of which could vastly improve the country's schools. The partial catalogue of deficiencies included the following: 1) a lack of democratic relations and procedures in the schools; 2) an atmosphere predominantly authoritarian and conservative; 3) overly rigid scheduling of the school day; 4) inflexible rules for placing and promoting students; 5) dualistic secondary education uncharacteristic of European systems; 6) denying opportunities to higher education to about half the secondary-school population; 7) an inconsistent and formalistic grading system; 8) over-centralization in educational administration; 9) lack of recognition of parents' rights and obligations; 10) poor-quality and inadequate physical facilities and equipment; 11) few private schooling alternatives; 12) little entrepreneurial activity supporting education; 13) fragmentation among the parts of the education system; 14) arts schools poorly coordinated with other schools; 15) formalistic and unmotivating methods of evaluating teachers; 16) a lack of professional teaching publications and pedagogical literature understandable by or useful to most teachers; 17) and poor management of the education system, schools, and classes. Interestingly, the evaluation contained in the June 2000 proposal underscored that the above problems had little to do with the fault of the teachers in the system. The Education Council carefully noted that teachers in Croatia "for some incomprehensible reason, have been systematically belittled, financially discriminated against and professionally thwarted and restricted, while the entire education system was run in a manner totally out of synch with European tradition and experience" (Council 7). The rampant problems in Croatia's education system were especially surprising considering that Croatian schools and culture are centuries old, including at the university level. The first university in the country was established by Dominican priests in Zadar in 1396 as the Universitas Jadertina, the General University. According to the Ministry of Science and Technology, the government arm formally in charge of higher education in Croatia in 2001, Universitas Jadertina had conferred the "degrees of Master of Science and Doctor of Science and was thus equal in status to the other eminent European universities of the time."

In 1991, approximately 29 percent of Croatia's population was of school age or between the ages of 3 and 24. The gross enrollment rate for basic education, the first 8 years of free, compulsory schooling for students generally between the ages of 6 and 14, was 89 percent in 1996. Twelve years of public schooling was the expected norm in Croatia in 1995, although attendance was compulsory for only eight years. Croat was the first language of instruction used in Croatian public schools in the year 2000.

In June 2000 the Education Council of the Ministry of Education and Sports made several recommendations to bring the country's education system into better alignment with European and UNESCO-approved international standards. The Council suggested adding a year of compulsory preschool education for all children between the ages of five and six beginning in 2010. Additionally, the Council recommended making nine years of basic education compulsory and divided into three phases: a Junior phase where students would be taught in forms (classes); an Intermediary phase where students would be taught in a combination of forms and subjects; and a Senior phase where students would be taught subjects by specialized teachers. Two, three, four, or five years of secondary schooling, depending on the course of study chosen by the student, would follow this nine-year pattern of elementary schooling. The overall goal of the reforms recommended by the Council was to make schools in Croatia capable of delivering education that would fulfill one basic requirement: making high-quality education available to all. As the Council noted, "A fundamental human right and a democratic prerequisite for equality among the young generation is the same educational (pedagogic) standard and quality of upbringing as the most important condition for social promotion and professional success" (Council 40).

The need to develop new textbooks, teaching approaches, educational programs, and course curricula sensitive to the needs of all of Croatia's people, including ethnic minorities, was highlighted in the Education Council's proposal for school reforms in June 2000. Similarly, providing students with the means to develop knowledge and skills in information and communications technology (ICT) has been a goal of education reformers in recent years. With the strengthening of the economy in the first few years of the 2000 decade and the improvement of education likely to come about through reforms initiated by the Croatian government in the year 2000, new programs in ICT were likely to be added to schools to qualify students for high-technology employment. In 1999 the number of personal computers in Croatia was 67 per 10,000 persons. This was more than triple the number of computers just two years earlier (22 per 10,000 in 1997). The new reforms for Croatia's schools in the 2000 decade surely would upgrade student knowledge and functionality in educational technology. This was evidenced by the Education Council's recommendation of a compulsory "national curriculum" that would develop in each student 18 areas of literacy, with "information technology" the third literacy area in the Council's proposed list, just after "alphabetical" literacy and literacy identified as "mathematical, suited to the use of technical aids."

Croatia's government clearly recognizes the important role education plays in the country's socioeconomic and political development. In the June 2000 education reforms proposal, the Education Council pointed out, "Any country in today's day and age desirous of achieving high economic growth must ensure that a high percentage of its population acquires secondary education." Two key international donors collaborating with the Croatian government and Croatian educators from the mid-1990s on were the European Training Foundation of the European Union, which supported vocational education and training, including staff development, organizational strengthening, and curricular reform, and the Soros funded Open Society Institute, which implemented the Network Step by Step Program to encourage more child-centered teaching in preprimary and primary schools, ensure greater cooperation among parents, teachers, and educational faculty, and promote the equitable integration of Roma children and children with disabilities in the schools.

Preprimary & Primary Education

Although kindergarten in Croatia was still optional at the turn of the millennium, approximately 31 percent of children of preschool age in Croatia were enrolled in preschool education programs in 1996. In the year 2000 primary school gross enrollment rates were 94 percent for boys and 97 percent for girls; the corresponding net enrollment rates were 93 percent for boys and 96 percent for girls. Girls had represented 49 percent of total enrollments in primary education in 1995. That same year, only 1 percent of primary students were enrolled in private education programs. In the mid-1990s about 98 percent of primary students (measured as percent of cohort) reached grade 5.

Secondary Education

In 1995, approximately 51 percent of students enrolled at the secondary level were girls. The student to teacher ratio was 15:1 for secondary level education in 1995. Only 1 percent of secondary enrollments that year were in private schools. In 1996 only 18.7 percent of Croatia's 15- to 18-year-olds were enrolled in general upper secondary education; 57.1 percent of that age group was enrolled in vocational and technical upper secondary education. Consequently, the overall upper secondary enrollment rate in 1996 was 75.8 percent. Thus, three-fourths of all upper secondary students were taking vocational and technical courses of study while one-fourth were enrolled in general education programming. Gross enrollment ratios at the secondary level were 81 percent for boys and 83 percent for girls at the end of the millennium.

Higher Education

In 2001 Croatia had four universitiesthe Universities of Zagreb, Rijeka, Split, and Osijekwhich together encompassed 55 faculties, four arts academies, three university departments, and one additional universityoperated course of study. Professional education was provided through seven polytechnics, six independent schools of professional higher education, one teachers' academy, and eight teachers' schools of professional higher education. Higher education institutions in the 2000-2001 academic year employed 1,133 full professors and 801 associate professors.

The Zagreb area had the highest number of students in tertiary education in 2001: 33,889 students in university programs and 14,640 students in professional studies, which was 58 percent of all tertiary students in Croatia. In the mid-1990s about 28 percent of the age-relevant population in Croatia was enrolled in higher education. Just 8 percent of Croatia's population over age 25 held a higher education diploma in 1995, but by 1996 approximately 17 percent of 18- to 22-year-olds were enrolled in tertiary studies.

Of the 84,088 students enrolled in higher education institutions in the country in the 2000-2001 academic year, 59,230 were following university courses of study at least 4 years in length that led to a Bachelor's degree while 24,858 students were enrolled in professional studies programs of at least 2 years that led to an Associate's degree. Of the students enrolled in Croatian universities in 1997, approximately 25 percent concentrated in the humanities, approximately 42 percent in the social and behavioral sciences, a little more than 2 percent in the natural sciences, about 9 percent in medicine, approximately 47 percent in engineering, and more than 10 percent in other fields. The Ministry of Science and Technology, whose responsibilities have included administrative oversight of the universities and professional training in Croatia, anticipated implementing the European credit transfer system early in the 2000 decade to facilitate transfers of Croatian students and other European students between each other's higher education programs.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

As already noted, the Ministry of Education and Sports has had primary responsibility for making and implementing educational policy in Croatia's preschools, primary, and secondary schools, with the Ministry of Science and Technology administering Croatia's higher education system. Attached to these ministries are a number of councils and commissions charged with specific tasks in administrative oversight, policy direction, or program implementation and management. For example, the National Council for Higher Education is an independent body of 18 members nominated by the Rectors' Conference and higher education institutions and appointed by the national parliament to carry out quality assessments and evaluations of the higher education system. The National Scientific Research Council also is an independent body whose tasks include preparing the National Scientific Research Program for Croatia. The country's educational system was still highly centralized in the year 2000, though proposals were under discussion to bring administrative authority closer to the local level. In 1997 Croatia's total public expenditures on education amounted to about 3 percent of the GDP.

Besides the government ministries and other formal bodies charged with planning, implementing, and evaluating educational policy in Croatia, nongovernmental associations, community organizations, and private individuals became increasingly involved in the development of educational policy and the provision of learning opportunities to students in the years after the Balkans wars. The National Federation of the Young People in Croatia, for example, was an umbrella organization of 20 associations in 1998 and had observer status in the European Youth Forum. Teachers' associations also provided their input. Likewise, local community organizations and more informal groupings of parents and community members became more involved in developing and implementing school programs in Croatia from the mid-1990s on. For example, the Step by Step Program, begun by the international nongovernmental Open Society Institute in 1994 with funding from the Soros Foundation, has encouraged individuals and groups in local communities to come together to plan programs fostering the development of children's problem-solving skills, more democratic decision-making in schools, and greater respect for ethnic minorities. As Croatians continue to decentralize their government and participate more in public decisionmaking, additional opportunities undoubtedly will emerge where students and their parents, along with educators and other interested members of local communities, will work more closely together to develop the education programs that suit them best.

Nonformal Education

A well-developed system of adult education appeared to be lacking in Croatia in the year 2000. At the same time, recommendations were being considered to tie professional training, including training at the secondary level, more closely to the labor market. Reforming secondary schools so that a full range of education and training programs, including continuing education, could be provided for students was one practical solution suggested by the Council on Education. The possibility of using distance education as a means of teaching more of Croatia's young learners, university students, and adults also was indicated in the Council's June 2000 proposal, which included the suggestion that "correspondence courses through the Internet" could be a viable option for training skilled professionals. Croatia had 4 Internet service providers in 1999 and approximately 26 Internet hosts for every 10,000 people. In 1997 there were 1.2 million televisions and 1.5 million radios, all of which also could be used for educational purposes.


The people of the Republic of Croatia have faced many challenges in the years since the Dayton Accords of 1995 brought the war involving Croatia to a halt. Significant progress had been made by the year 2000 in planning for the thorough transformation of an educational system long outdated and ripe for improvement. With an upturn in the national economy by early 2000 and the political shift that occurred in February 2000, Croatia seemed ready to begin the formidable task of restructuring its education system and improving its methods of training not only students but also teachers, administrators, and other adults. Most government officials closely involved with the plans for education reform realized the magnitude of the work that lay before them, but Croatia's Minister of Education and Sports in June 2000 may have best summed up the broad significance and basic requirements of the changes to be made. In his foreword to the proposal of education reforms prepared by the Ministry's Council of Education for public discussion and official debate, Minister Vladimir Strugar astutely observed:

The building of a multi-party, pluralistic and democratic society, a return to re-embracement of authentic moral and cultural values, values of work and entrepreneurship, respect for private property, respect of laws and recognition of personal differences, as well as a whole range of other characteristics within the contemporary European schoolwhile at the same time retaining all those elements specific to Croatiais an ambitious task which can be realized only through good organization and with well motivated teachers.


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Barbara Lakeberg Dridi

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Basic Data

Official Country Name: Republic of Croatia
Region (Map name): Europe
Population: 4,334,142
Language(s): Croatian, other (including Italian, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak and German)
Literacy rate: 97.0%
Area: 56,542 sq km
GDP: 19,031 (US$ millions)
Number of Daily Newspapers: 12
Total Circulation: 595,000
Circulation per 1,000: 154
Number of Nondaily
Newspapers: 245
Total Circulation: 653,000
Circulation per 1,000: 169
As % of All Ad Expenditures: 14.00

Number of Television Stations: 36

Number of Television Sets: 1,220,000

Television Sets per 1,000: 281.5

Number of Cable Subscribers: 167,200

Cable Subscribers per 1,000: 38.0

Number of Radio Stations: 119

Number of Radio Receivers: 1,510,000

Radio Receivers per 1,000: 348.4

Number of Individuals with Computers: 361,000

Computers per 1,000: 83.3

Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 250,000

Internet Access per 1,000: 57.7

Background & GENERAL


At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the state and future of the Croatia's media can be viewed in the context of two defining events. The first was the end, in the early 1990s, of the socialist period of government that lasted 45 years following the end of World War II. The second event was the effect of the ethnic conflict in the Balkans from 1992 to 1996, followed by the peacetime influence of the government of President Franjo Trudjman from 1996 to 1999, which ended with his death on December 10, 1999. Consequently, Croatia's media have been moving out from under the heavy control and influence of the government toward independence and autonomy. It is this movement that characterizes Croatian media today and guides its evolution in the twenty-first century.

The media in Croatia are delivering news and commentary to a highly educated, literate population that values news and debate in the early 2000s. Notwithstanding a population that has a low per capita income by European standards of US$4,000 per annum in 2001, there are numerous media and a wide range of political positions among them. A distinct concentration of media is in the capital, Zagreb, in large part due to the concentration of population in the city and in the surrounding region. According to the 2001 census, the population of the city of Zagreb was 770,058; however, coupled with a population of 304,186 in the surrounding county, the Zagreb metropolitan area contains 1,174,244 persons, which is over 25 percent of the nation's population of over 4.3 million. Moreover, the country is not geographically large, so print media and national electronic media have little difficulty in providing national coverage. Within that national coverage, the presence of significant minorities particularly Slovenes and Italians in the northwest, Hungarians in the Northeast, Serbs in the East, and Bosnians in the Southeast and Southwesthave spawned opportunities for the creation of some publications in these regions in languages other than Croatian.

The quality of journalism would generally be scored a 7 out of 10. Much of the poor journalism can be attributed to journalists who historically worked under the former socialist system and who are often not trained as journalists and have acquired and maintained their positions through political patronage and their willingness to deliver a loyal party line. Many of these journalists have shown an inability to adapt to a more critical, wide-ranging, issue-oriented role after the end of the socialist government, and as such, the quality of journalism suffers. In contrast, journalists who were not trained under the socialist system and were at the forefront of the criticism of the government during the Balkan conflict have created a class of critical writers and observers that provide perceptive commentary on the situation in the region. With the increasingly open media, this type of journalist is in the ascendancy.

Most newspapers are in a tabloid format with over 50, and sometimes up to 70, pages in length. The exception is the newspaper Vjesnik, which is regular size. National, regional, and international news dominate the first one third of the newspapers, features and television programming the middle third, with the final third devoted to weather, sports and cultural topics. Newspapers retailed for less than US$1 in 2002. Sunday newspapers have significantly more content, but not to the extent of newspapers in other European cities or the United States. Weekly magazines fulfill a major role in the Croatian media, for they represent the most vociferous and sensational outlets for news and commentary on social, political, and economic issues. During the Trudjman regime these weekly periodicals were the major organs for dissent and the major outlets for investigative journalism, a role they continue to play today. There is no dedicated Croatian English-language magazine or newspaper, but same-day international editions of English-language newspapers and magazines are readily available, and hence the need or market is not apparent. Minority media in Croatia include newspapers dedicated to religion, particularly the Catholic Church (Glas Koncila ), and other ethnic language newspapers such as Serbian language newspapers. These weekly newspapers have fewer pages (usually 32) and, in the case of the Catholic newspaper, are devoted to more ecclesiastical matters than the political and cultural focus of mainstream newspapers.

Other cities in Croatia do not have significant competing newspapers; rather, national papers tend to have regional specialization. For example, the national newspaper Slobodna Dalmacija exhibits a regional coverage bias in favor of the Dalmatian coastal region containing the second-and third-largest cites of Split (population 300,000) and Rijeka (population 225,000). Official circulation figures of newspapers are unobtainable and vary widely depending on the source, but it is believed that the most important newspapers by unofficial circulation figures are: Vecernji List (120,000), Jutarnji List (90,000),Slobodna Dalmacija (30,000), Novi List (15,000-20,000), and Glas Slavonije (a regional Slovenian newspaper; 10,000) and Vjesnik (8,000).

Although Vecernji List and Jutarnji List are the highest circulation news-related publications, numerous popular publications also exist, including Gloria, a weekly magazine specializing in fashion, yellow journalism, and personalities, with a circulation of 90,000; Globus, a weekly similar to Gloria with a circulation of 70,000; andTeen and OK, teenager magazines with 55,000 and 50,000 readers, respectively. Additionally, the fashion weekly Mila, the political weeklies National and Arena, and the fashion monthly Cosmo also outsell one of the largest newspapers, Slobodna Dalmacija. Three other publications are noteworthy: Autoklub, a monthly motoring magazine, has 30,000 readers; Playboy magazine, with 22,000 subscribers, outsells the fourth and fifth bestselling newspapers; and the weekly Feral Tribune, with 20,000 copies in circulation, is noteworthy as it was the most vocal critic of the Trudjman regime in the 1990s. Although the Feral Tribune fell on hard times in large part as a result of ongoing legal judgments passed down on the basis of lawsuits filed during the Trudjman era, it remains one of the most outspoken publications in Croatia.

Economic Framework

The economic climate of Croatia is a direct result of the repercussions of the Balkan war and the rule of President Franjo Trudjman, which lasted until 1999. The ravages of war have meant that recovery has been slow, a pace that many independent media have blamed on continuing government corruption and mismanagement. A change of government following the death of Trudjman has resulted in little improvement. In contrast, the neighboring country of Slovenia, although less affected by the Balkan war, has made significant economic progress. Progress in Slovenia is such that it has become a viable candidate for European Union membership, a status many in Croatia would like to achieve. The result of this economic climate has been a more vigilant press, intent on exposing corruption and mismanagement and generally critical of the nation's economic progress. This role has been confined to the printed media because the national television and radio networks are still government controlled and hence muted in their criticism. Much internal and external media criticism has been directed at government control of the television network, which serves as the primary source of information for an estimated 70 to 90 percent of Croatians; over 50 percent obtain their news from television's early evening news program.

In contrast to the television network, all newspapers are owned either by individuals or large corporate bodies. Indeed, the acquisition of most Croatian newspapers by two corporate giants, Europa Press Holdings, a German conglomerate, and Styria, an Austrian based media conglomerate, has lead to fears that Croatian media has gone from being de facto government controlled to corporate controlled. The Croatian government is expected to address such potential monopolistic issues in the future. The newspapers that exist can be characterized as a mixture of popular and yellow journalism. This reflects not only the need to impart the news but also to build circulation, which provides the justification for inclusion of yellow journalism. The only exception to this group is Vjenik, which is much more elitist. As the former organ of the ruling party, it has fallen to fifth in popularity but its articles are longer and more in depth, and it is generally agreed that the quality of the journalism and its increasing distance from one-party affiliation will make it increasingly more popular and accepted, leading to a rise in circulation.

A major issue in Croatia is the print media's near monopolistic distribution network, owned by the Tisar company, which controls distribution, including most of the kiosks where print media are sold. Tisar's uncertain financial situation was of major concern beginning in 2000. In the early 2000s the company was acquired by Europa Holdings, resulting in renewed concern over too much vertical integration within the media.

Unlike many other countries, newsprint is readily available to all who wish to publish, and there are a large number of private printing houses with modern offset printing presses. Hence, control of print production is not an issue. Moreover, there have been no strikes or work stoppages in either the journalistic community or the printing community that have affected media production. Wages in the media are on a par with the national average; however, a difference does exist between employees of the state-controlled television network and the print media. Notwithstanding a large bureaucracy and a situation of over-staffing, television network salaries are always forthcoming and relatively inflation proof. In contrast, in the print media circulation wars are ongoing and staffing is a critical cost area; thus, journalists are often paid only a small retainer and receive a bonus or commission based on the story they obtain or, more problematic, on the degree of sensational impact the story has on the publication's audience or overall circulation. Sales and circulation as a source of revenue is particularly important because advertising in Croatian national newspapers is very limited (usually less than 20 percent of the newspaper and often less than 10 percent), and most advertising dollars are generated by multi-national companies or commercial endeavors placing classified ads. This lack of local advertising revenue can be attributed almost solely to the lack of marketing funds for most Croatian companies. Journalists in Croatia belong to a union but as yet have neither a collective bargaining system nor a contract. Each journalist negotiates his or her own contract.

Press Laws

The constitution of the Croatian Republic guarantees freedom of the press and freedom of speech. Specific laws governing the press uphold these rights but identify such subjects as pornography, official state secrets, and obscenity as areas where censorship is imposed. However, as subsequently noted, the constitutional right and ostensibly liberal publishing laws has not stopped extensive litigation, particularly slander suits, by politicians. For example, a cartoon depicting a person urinating was the basis for a lawsuit citing the cartoon as pornographic material. The existence of more restrictive press laws and their use to restrain journalists was certainly more prevalent under the reign of President Trudjman. For example, a law under the Trudjman regime made it a penal offense to criticize the president and five other members of the executive branch of government. This law has now been repealed, but the sentiment that it expressed is still prevalent under the existing government. As much of the judiciary is appointed by the government, it is generally agreed that the courts are more sympathetic to the plaintiff (in cases of newspapers being sued for libel). In general, the Croatian courts are more likely to consider libelous reporting as serious offenses, suits that in the European and American press would probably be considered trivial or without foundation and thrown out of court. In two of the decisions handed down in 2002, the daughter of a prominent politician was awarded 100,000 kunas (US$12,000.00) for suffering "mental anguish" after a journalist negatively criticized her sculpture, and the Feral Tribune was fined 50,000 deutschmarks for causing "moral pain" to a plaintiff in a 1994-1995 lawsuit. As a counter balance to the press laws, the Croatian Association of Journalists maintains a 10-member council that monitors journalists and may pass nonbonding judgments on their ethical behavior and their newspapers.


There is no official government body that monitors the press and no official censorship. However, considering that there were some 10,000 cases pending against journalists before the courts in 2002, the court system serves as the major source for policing the media. If a journalist loses a case, imposed fines can be high (and journalists' private bank accounts have been raided to pay these fines). Because of their meager salaries, journalists have a large incentive to avoid the courts and thus self-censor. In addition, the fact that many official agencies are still government-owned and yet to be privatized has meant that journalists guard their official sources closely. The prevailing policy might be described as "not biting the hand that feeds you."

There are, nonetheless, a significant number of examples, both during the Trudjman era and after, in which the power of the press to influence public opinion and indeed to cause general outcry against perceived wrongs has been such that dramatic change has occurred. For example, the resignation of the former mayor of Zagreb was a direct result of the media's exposure of the fact that he left the scene of a car accident while intoxicated.

State-Press Relations

The most significant feature of state and press relations is the paradigm change from pre-1990 when, under the socialist regime, the media was purely a tool to disseminate state and party information, to the post-2000 era when journalists are free to write what they wish. For the political elite this change is difficult to accept. As a result it is generally the political elite that become offended when even mildly criticized by European standards, and it is primarily they who have launched the large number of lawsuits alleging slander, defamation of character, and the like before courts in the early 2000s. The effect has been that the newspapers have been forced into lengthy, time-consuming and costly court battles to defend freedom of the press whereas the government has seen this as an effective way to stymie the press. Given the precarious financial state of some publications, it may ultimately have the effect of removing some small independent media voices. Acting as a counterforce to this government legal pressure are organizations such as the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and International Research and Educational Exchange (IREX), whose responsibilities include the monitoring of government interference in the media and recommending legislative change to create greater freedom in the media.

Attitude toward Foreign Media

The Croatian government is generally tolerant of foreign media. There are no special requirements for foreign journalists in Croatia, and certainly there have been no restrictions placed on journalists or foreign correspondents. This was not entirely true under Trudjman, who often railed against the foreign press, but since his death this kind of diatribe has ceased. It must be noted that the ever-widening connection to cable systems and satellite transmissions has made foreign reporting even more available, and CNN is now considered the de facto voice of the U.S. government voice in Croatia. Under the IREX program of USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development), widespread dissemination of cable systems has been provided, and the office closely monitors the various government policy and legislative measures that affect the provision and functioning of an independent media. It may serve as a measure of the dramatic change that has occurred in the media since the death of Trudjman to observe that U.S. assistance in the provision of an independent media has changed in the new millennium from a focus on training journalists in investigative reporting, media law, and avoidance of libel to one of business practices and financial management. In addition to the United States, the European Union's Council of Europe has sent a number of delegations to Zagreb to recommend changes to laws governing the media and in particular those laws that relate to changing the state-owned television and radio network into an independent public broadcasting system.

News Agencies

There is one domestic news agency, the Croatian News Agency (HINA), that acts as the official government voice. It is generally considered reliable and all print and electronic media and correspondents both in Croatia and overseas use its releases. The usual companies represent foreign news agencies: Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse. APAD, the Russian news agency, like a number of other agencies, covers Croatia from Belgrade. The government does not receive foreign news agency wires and hence news outside Croatia usually emanates from International News services.

Broadcast Media

As was previously noted, the state controls national television and radio. Three channels are broadcasted: one devoted to sports, the second to entertainment, and the third to news. An independent board supposedly guides the national network, but in fact programming directors and producers have significant autonomy and produce programming that is very pro-government in orientation. However, some liberalization has occurred during the early 2000s. For example, those critical of the government and who would not appear on television may now be seen and heard.

Electronic News Media

Like in many other nations, the Internet is only now becoming widely accessible owing to the falling cost and availability of computers and the ability of the telecommunications network to handle Internet traffic. Anecdotal reports suggest that approximately 10 percent of the population have personal computers, but there are 290,000 Internet users, mostly available at Croatians' employment sites; thus, there is increasing access to online news flow. During the Trudjman era, the Internet was a major medium for dissent and protest over curbs on the media, but the gradual liberalization of the media since 1999 has meant that the Internet is no longer primarily a protest vehicle.

Education and Training

The only school of journalism in the country is at the University of Zagreb. The school graduates approximately 100 journalists each year, and there appears to be a strong market for graduates as most find employment in the numerous newspapers, magazines and electronic media. More prevalent is the situation where university graduates seeking employment are hired by someone they know in the media. The Croatian Association of Journalists upholds the status and stature of journalism in Croatia. It acts as an oversight body, a refuge against threats from outside, and as a representative body for journalists. The association has a yearly awards program that recognizes and promotes excellence in journalism.

In recognition of the difficulties Croatian print media had establishing independence during the Trudjman era, The Feral Tribune received a number of international awards from international press institutes for their pursuit of press freedom.


In the last 10 years of the twentieth century the media in Croatia was placed in an invidious position. From 1992 to 1996 a "homeland defense war" was conducted against its neighbors Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The media was, of necessity, required to state its allegiances, and these positions were essentially set for the decade. It created a situation where growth of the fourth estate was stunted by the necessity to remain nationalistic and in some cases jingoistic in order to retain an audience and appease the government. Today there are still remnants of this overt nationalism. According to a survey by the Zagreb Civic Human Rights Commission, in 10 issues of Slobodna Dalmacija in 2001, hate speech appeared 75 times, was judged to incite violence, attacked individuals and institutions it judged enemies of the state, and was overly nationalistic and extreme in its orientation. Presenting a voice of opposition is still clearly difficult and fraught with danger. However, the opposition media did discover a role as unofficial opposition during the Balkan crisis, and upon the death of Trudjman the emergence of an independent free press was much easier to attain. In the early 2000s, that process is in place.

The prognosis for the development of an independent, vibrant media in Croatia appears promising. Like many European countries outside the European Union, the prospects for Croatia obtaining membership in the Union is highly dependent on the state of the govern-ment's relations with the media. In this regard, the pressure being exerted on the government by the European Union, and the positive reaction by the present government, in contrast to the Trudjman era, would appear to bode well for the media. The presence of the large number of outstanding litigation cases before the courts is not only a serious constraint to the development of the present media but also to the development of an independent media in the future, not only because of the legal issues involved but also because the motivation for such lawsuits is based on a fear or distrust of the media by the political elite. The value of and need for an independent media has yet to be realized by the powerful elite in Croatia. Journalists perceive that after the problems of the Trudjman era things are getting better, although many believe not enough has changed. They point out that economic independence is not the same as journalistic independence nor does economic openness guarantee press freedom. In essence they believe that they "won the war but are still fighting the battles." The future will thus come down to whether the media recognize the role they have to play in public opinion formation, whether the government can learn to live with an independent media, realizing that the media will not go away, and whether the media can settle into a role of comment, reaction, and rethink instead of adversary, opposition, and foe.

Significant Dates

  • 1992-1996: Balkan Conflict. President Trudjman attempts to control the media in efforts to bring about strong nationalism. Independent News media strongly criticizes the conduct of the war.
  • 1999: President Franjo Trudjman dies.


Croatia 2001 World Press Freedom Review. Available from

"The Media in the Republic of Croatia: Facts and Information." Zagreb: State Publishing House, 1998.

"Report on Public Affairs and Media." Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe. Available from

"Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2001." U.S Department of State. Available from

Richard W. Benfield

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ETHNONYMS: Croatians, Hrvati


Identification. Croatians are a Slavic people. They began to form as a distinct group in the seventh century as part of a process completed during the modern national integration in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. At various times, the Croatian name has been used not only for the contemporary Croats but also for two other Slavic tribes (in the vicinity of Krakow, Poland, and in northeast Bohemia). It was used for the first time as a personal name (Horóathos, Horúathos) in the second to third centuries in Tanais on the river Don and on some historic monuments (Trpimir, dux Chroatorum; Branimir, dux Cruatorum) from the ninth century. Science has not yet solved the question of the origin and meaning of the name "Croat(ian)."

Location. Croatia encompasses 56,538 square kilometers and is located between 42° 23 and 46° 32 N and 13° 30 and 19° 26 E. The north plainthe biggest, most populated, and economically most active part of the countryis separated from the coastal part in the south (east coast of the Adriatic Sea) by the central mountainous region. Considering its location, Croatia is a Pannonian and Adriatic region, at the juncture of the central Danubian Plain and the Mediterranean. The climate in the north is continental, in the central region mountainous, and in the south Mediterranean.

Demography. The majority of Croats (3.5 million) lives in Croatia itself; an additional million live in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Slovenia. It is estimated that Croatian emigrants in western Europe, the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand number more than 3 million. Although the number of live births exceeded by 3 percent the number of deceased persons between the censuses of 1971 and 1981, there were 100,000 fewer Croatians because they identified themselves as Yugoslavs.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Croatian language is a South Slavic language and encompasses three major dialects (Štokavian, Čakavian, and Kajkavian). Literary Croatian, developed since the twelfth century on a South Štokavian base (with some influence of other dialects) was accepted in the first half of the nineteenth century as the national language. Since then it has been standardized and has become the uniform means of communication in professional, scientific, and artistic expression. The alphabet is Latin (twenty-five consonants and five vowels). In the past, Slavic alphabets were employed, including glagoljica, which was used in some areas around the Adriatic until the nineteenth century.


The percentage of rural population by residence has always been very high, with significant differences between geographic regions, ranging in the 1980s from a high of about 70 percent in the central region to a low of 40 percent in Southern Croatia. Traditionally, there were wide differences among different settlements in the house style and interior design. Today, however, there is a tendency toward uniformity. Settlements are either clustered (mainly in the north and south) or dispersed (mainly in the hinterland of the south and Central regions). Clustered settlements are either compact and centered on a square or stripped into perpendicular streets. In the south, houses are made of stone, with roofs of reed (the oldest tradition), stone slabs, or convex tiles (the newest tradition). They are usually two-story buildings along the coast and one-story buildings in the coastal hinterland. Elsewhere, the material is wood (oak logs or trimmed wooden planks), clay mixed with chaff, or more recently brick (at first adobe) and concrete. The roofs are covered either with shingles, thatch, or flat tiles (the most recent tradition). Houses were one-story buildings.

History and Cultural Relations

After settling into today's homeland in the seventh century, Croatians organized a state. From the beginning of the twelfth century, after the demise of the national royal dynasty, the Croatian state unified with Hungary (linked by the same ruler); after 1527, the Austrian royal family of Habsburg ruled Croatia. With the consolidation of the Republic of Venice on a large section of Croatian coast (only the Republic of Dubrovnik kept its independence) and with the Turkish conquests since the fifteenth century, Croatian lands were Divided and to a certain extent the ethnic structure was changed (emigration of Croatians and immigration of Balkan and central European peoples). Subsequently, Croatian History has been marked by a struggle for national and cultural survival, for maintenance of state independence, and for territorial integrity. Following the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in World War I the Croatians removed themselves from it, proclaimed independence, and joined the new South Slav state (the Kingdom of Serbs, Croatians, and Slovenes, renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929). After the liberation struggle in World War II and socialist Revolution, Croatia became a federal state (Socialist Republic of Croatia) in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In 1991, following the fall of Communist rule and a bloody civil war, Croatia became an independent state, the Republic of Croatia.

In the course of developments since the mid-nineteenth century, Croatia has lived through political, social, and Economic change. Since the time of Christianization in the early centuries after settling the region, Croatians have belonged to the Western-European cultural milieu. The organizational foundation of the contemporary scientific and artistic life is a branchlike system consisting of institutions of higher education (e.g., University of Zagreb since 1669; universities in Split, Osijek, and Rijeka); scientific institutions (e.g., the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts since 1867, renamed the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in 1991; the Archive of Croatia and the National University Library in Zagreb); museums, galleries, and theaters (e.g., the central Croatian National Theater in Zagreb) ; and academies of arts. The cultural life is expressed also in literary and fine arts, films, and radio and television programs.


Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Somewhat less than half of the population of Croatia is economically active (working outside the home). About 45 percent of the active population is employed in the service sector, 35 percent in industry and 20 percent in agriculture. Eighty-five percent of the agricultural activity is on small peasant farms and 15 percent on state farms. Until 1990, peasant farms were limited by law to 15 hectares (of cultivable surface) and therefore, although it is widely mechanized, agricultural production is not very profitable. The predominant agricultural products are maize, wheat, milk, and meat. The production of wine and fruits is also important, while production of industrial plants (flax, hemp, sunflowers, etc.) is less significant. Almost all agricultural products are used by the domestic population; only a small part of the produce (meat, maize, tobacco, and wine) is exported.

Industrial Arts. The dominant industries are shipbuilding, textiles, and food processing. Less important are the chemical and timber industries. The industrial sector of the Croatian economy creates 50 percent of the gross national product (GNP) while employing one-third of the working population. In the 1960s and 1970s big industrial enterprises were developed in Croatia, while in the 1980s smaller ones, especially in electronics, metalworking, and plastics, also emerged there. The problems faced by industry are insufficient energy (most oil is imported), and the need to import chemical products, raw materials, and industrial machinery.

Trade. About 10 percent of the Croatian working population employed in trade creates about 17 percent of the Croatian GNP. Large state enterprises (stores, supermarkets, specialized shops) dominate this sector. Recently, small specialized private shops (fruit and vegetable stores, stores for other food products and textiles) have been emerging.

Division of Labor. Traditionally, women were assigned domestic tasks (cleaning, cooking, tending babies, etc.) but also shared some agricultural tasks, which otherwise were dominated by men. Today, women are still occupied by household and family work, but women also comprise one-third of the work force. They are most frequently employed in education and medicine, where they outnumber men, and also in tourism and trade.

Kinship, Marriage, and Family

Kinship. Descent is traced patrilineally and the social emphasis on father's lineage is reflected in more elaborated terminology for father's relatives. Kin groups were based traditionally on patrilocal residence and patrimony, which was jointly owned and managed by a father and his married sons (zadruga ). Matrilineal kin was less important in social practice and lived at a distance. Further patrilineal kin often inhabited the same hamlet or nearby villages. The zadruga system disappeared by the early twentieth century, and Because of migrations and intensive urbanization, patrilineal kin groups are presently more dispersed, with their interaction mostly limited to yearly or life-cycle rituals, while in everyday practice one's mother's and father's relatives have equally important roles. Post-World War II family law gave a married woman the opportunity to keep her maiden name or hyphenate it with her husband's surname. This practice indicates a shift toward bilaterality. Children, however, rarely receive other than their father's surname. Inheritance of parental property also has become largely bilateral.

Marriage. Marriages are monogamous. In the past, they were arranged by corporate kin groups and parents. Marriage partners were sought from neighboring hamlets and villages (regional endogamy). Residence was traditionally patrilocal. As a consequence of rural-urban migrations as well as education and employment of women, ambilocal residence has become predominant, while neolocality is the ideal for young couples. The divorce rate is constantly rising (177 per 1,000 marriages in 1988), peaking in the city of Zagreb, where every third marriage ends in divorce. Divorces are "no-fault," by agreement, with laws mainly oriented toward the protection of the rights of children.

Domestic Unit. The domestic unit is that group of people who sleep and eat "under one roof" and who jointly manage family (obitelj ) resources. The structure of this group has changed from the zadruga type to three-generational stem family (parents with children and one or two grandparents), nuclear family (parents with children), and even smaller "fragmented" types of domestic unit. While the three-generational family is still common in rural areas, the average number of persons in domestic units in Croatia is hardly above three. Less than half of the domestic units have a Nuclear family structure, whereas others include single persons (16 percent), childless couples (24.6 percent), mothers with children (8.4 percent) and fathers with children (1.5 percent). The reasons of such fragmentation, besides divorce, are labor migration, a drop in the fertility rate, and a decrease in contracted marriages.

Inheritance. Traditionally, sons inherited equal shares of patrimony, while daughters married out with dowries in land, cattle, or money. Presently property is divided equally among all children, often allotted to them gradually during the Parents' life, in order to help the children establish their own households. Remaining property is divided equally upon the parents' death. However, cases of daughters who fight for their share in court against their brothers are not infrequent.

Socialization. Children are raised by parents or grandparents. Great emphasis is placed on achievement through education as it is the main means of climbing the social ladder. For this reason children are often excused from assuming early responsibilities in domestic and productive spheres. Socioeconomic opportunities are limited, and parents sacrifice their labor and money to support their children for a long time, frequently into adulthood.

Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Since the socialist revolution of 1945, no social classes have been officially recognized, but there are distinguishable social strata. The class of large landowners and industrialists was discredited after World War II, making wealth only a minor marker of social class. Instead, occupations associated with education and with access to power (as in the case of the bureaucratic elite) have become a major basis of social stratification. Differences in the Standard of living and in subjective evaluations of status exist Between the agricultural and industrial population, that is, between the rural and urban populations. Since the 1970s the difference has been diminishing because of secondary urbanization of rural settlements, on the one hand, and deteriorating quality of life in the cities, on the other. A trend toward stratification on the basis of wealth has developed, since the sector of private artisans, entrepreneurs, merchants, services, and professions is gaining strength again. Considerable social mobility is secured through the educational system, which is open to everyone. Yet, many social routes are also open through informal personal networks and loyalties, such as those based on familism and localism.

Political Organization. From 1945 to 1991, Croatia was one of six federal republics that made up the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. After the death of Marshall Tito in 1980, it elected a delegate to the board of the "Presidency"the collective head of the Yugoslavian stateand a number of delegates to the Federal Assembly, the supreme body of government. As a federal state within Yugoslavia, Croatia had its own government, of which the parliament (Sabor) and the president of its executive council were the supreme bodies. A multiparty political system was reestablished in 1990. The nationalist Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) won the parliamentary elections that year, taking the majority of seats in the Sabor and having its leader indirectly elected president of Croatia. The new government declared the independence of Croatia in October 1991, amid civil war and aggression from Serbia. Regional and political reform is pending. Croatia is still divided into 115 communes (opčina), each comprising a number of villages and hamlets. Their population varies in size and density. Communes are clustered into 10 municipalities, each with a major urban center. The division reflects historical, cultural, economic, and administrative divisions so that regional identity and loyalty remains strong. A significant portion of rural-urban migration takes place within municipalities, oriented toward Regional urban centers. Each opčina has an assembly and its executive council and president. There are also boards which take care of schools, health services, public roads, and the local economy; offices for tax collection, vital statistics, and urban planning; and courts and police. An opčina center also has secondary schools and religious establishments.

Social Control. Under the former system, a strong mechanism of social control, both institutionalized and ideological, was the League of Communists, which, although formally separate from the state, exerted influence at all levels of social organization. Preceding the elections of 1990, there was a proliferation of alternative movements (ecological movements, initiatives for democratic reform, new women's movements, agitation for human rights, etc.), creating considerable social impact and causing a concomitant weakening of the ideological grip of the league. In 1990, the league was renamed the Socialist party and became oppositional after the elections. A number of other movements were transformed into political parties at the same time. Informally, gossip and personal alliances on the basis of kinship and common local origin remain strong means of social control.

Conflict. Dominant values regarding conflict and warfare are ambivalent, because of the complex history of Croatia: historical border areas (the mountainous zone) emphasize fighting for freedom and undefeatable frontierspeople, while areas of historical feudal states with a tightly controlled Population place more value on passive resistance, mediation, clever avoidance of imposed duties, and outwitting opponents in inconspicuous ways. Under the Yugoslav system, courts were formally independent from the legislative and executive branches of government, but politics had influenced them greatly nevertheless. Courts were organized on five levels: communal, regional, state, federal, and supreme courts. In addition to regular courts, there were mediating agencies of different kinds, for business conflicts (e.g., "Social Defense of Self-Management") or for private matters (e.g., obligatory counseling with a social worker before divorce). Reform of the judicial system is pending.

Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs and Practices. Croatians are mainly Roman Catholic, with small percentages of Uniates (Eastern Orthodox Christians, recognizing the pope), Protestants, and Muslims. Some pre-Christian elements have been integrated into Christian beliefs and practices. Other influences on Croatian religious beliefs and practices have come from European and Near Eastern cultures, from rural and urban traditions alike, resulting in an amalgam of different heritages. Sacred and religious aspects of traditional culture were neglected during the Socialist period because religion was relegated solely to the private sphere of life. The first post-Communist government is reintroducing the Catholic church into public life in many conspicuous ways.

In traditional culture, there had been many beliefs connected with the dead, as well as many beliefs in fairies, vampires (who disturb their relatives by sucking their blood), witches (demonic women), mythic female beings who determine the fate of children, or others who choke people during sleep. There is still a widespread belief in the evil eye, in the power of casting spells over people or over their property, and in various protective magical acts. Traditionally, people paid special respect to animals to which they attributed supernatural properties (e.g., snake as a house protector). Such beliefs have disappeared or are slowly fading away, but they have been transmitted through and persist in myths, legends, tales, and poems.

Ceremonies. Ceremonies and rituals can be divided into several typesannual celebrations associated with church holy days, life-cycle events, and work rituals (the last group is connected with harvest, building of a house, etc.). The most prominent among calendrical rituals are those of Christmas Evebadnjak, the burning of the yule log, an older tradition; the decoration of a Christmas tree, a newer tradition; and all sorts of practices linked to the cult of the deceasedand koleda, men's processions during the period between Christmas and New Year's. Mardi Gras carnival celebrations featuring processions and burning of a straw effigy have been revived recently thanks to the mass media and tourist agencies. In spring, in addition to Easter celebrations (including coloring of eggs), there used to be various village processions (on St. George's Day, First of May, Ascension Day, Whitsuntide, etc.) and bonfires (especially on St. John's Day in June). Those processions and bonfires were apotropaic rituals meant for the protection of people, fields, and cattle and for promoting fertility. There were also new rituals created in the Socialist period, such as celebrations of Workers' Day on 1 May and of International Women's Day on 8 March. Both were canceled in 1991. Among life-cycle rituals, most important are those centering on birth, marriage, and death. Today some new ones have emerged (e.g., the day of graduation, especially in cities), while the old ones have an impoverished repertoire. A wedding traditionally has been the most important family and community event. It once consisted of a complex of ritual events such as solemn carrying over of the bride's trousseau, humorous negotiations over false brides when the wedding party arrived at the bride's house, and symbolic acts by the bride upon arrival at bridegroom's home (holding a male child in her lap, sweeping the floor, starting the fire on the hearth, etc). Death gave rise to numerous beliefs, most important being the belief in life after death, marked by feasting ceremonies and loud laments for the deceased (naricanje ).

Arts. A wide variety of folk music is found among Croatians. Specific features are exhibited in tonal relationships of tunes and instrumental melodies. The musical styles range from a rather old, narrow-intervals style (in which the intervals in the tonal ranges are sometimes narrower than the intervals between the twelve equal semitones in an octave), in central and south Croatia, to a widespread contemporary style called "in bass" singing, in eastern Croatia. Folk music is interwoven with all kinds of everyday and festive activities (especially working songs, weddings, and spring processions). Today, its main function is entertainment. The main instruments used to accompany the singing are cordophones and aerophones. Dances differ as much as do tunes and instruments. Today they are almost restored to their pre-World War II forms, thanks to their revival on stage; forms include the couple dance, a closed circle dance (drmeš ), and circles and lines. Artistic expression can be found on decorative clothes, wood carving, pottery, pictures painted on glass, metalwork, and even egg painting. Oral literature is dominated by epic poetry. Among lyric poetry, the Dalmatian ballads are noteworthy (Adriatic coast). The earliest records of oral literature are from the sixteenth century and point to a wide variety of genres. Croatian art also includes church architecture, frescoes, reliefs, and decorated facades and balconies.

In the twentieth century, painting, sculpture, and music have exploded in various styles. Architecture suffered under the planned socialist economy.

Medicine. Folk medicine was imbued with magic, but it was also rational, especially in the identification, preparation, and use of medicinal herbs. The pharmaceutical industry has incorporated some of this folk knowledge in the production of herbal drugs.

See also Dalmatians


Erlich, Vera Stein (1966). Family in Transition. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Gavazzi, Milovan (1939). Godina dana hrvatskih narodnih običaja (Yearly cycle of Croatian folk customs). Zagreb: Matica Hrvatska.

Historical Maps of Croatia from the Penguin Atlas of World History (1992). Zagreb: Croatian Information Centre.

"Hrvati" (Croats) (1988). In Enciklopedija Jugoslavije, edited by Jakov Sirotković. Vol. 5, 1-151. Zagreb: Jugoslavenski Leksikografski Zavod.

Grupković, D., ed. (1989). Statistički kalendar Jugoslavije (The statistical calendar of Yugoslavia). Vol. 35. Belgrade: Savezni Zavod za Statistiku.

Grupković, D., ed. (1990). Statistički godišnjak Jugoslavije (The statistical yearbook of Yugoslavia). Vol. 37. Belgrade: Savezni Zavod za Statistiku.

Šeparović, Zvonimir (1992). Documenta Croatica. Zagreb: Croatian Society of Victimology.


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POPULATION: 4.8 million

LANGUAGE: Croatian

RELIGION: Roman Catholicism (majority); Greek Catholicism; Eastern Orthodox; Protestantism; Judaism; Islam


The Croats are a people with a long and rich history. They live in their own independent, democratic countryCroatia. Croatia is actually located in Central Europe, but it has bridged the Eastern and Western worlds throughout its history.

Croats began to settle in the region in the seventh century ad. In the centuries following ad 1000, the Croats came under the domination of the Hungarians, the Turks, and the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg dynasty (rulers of Austria and Hungary). Dissatisfaction with Hapsburg rule increased steadily in the three decades before 1914. More and more Croats embraced the idea of unity with the South Slavs, or "Yugoslavism."

At the end of World War I in 1918, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy finally collapsed. The Croatian provinces proclaimed unity and independence. Along with Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Vojvodina, they joined the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. In 1929 the name of the young nation was changed to Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia was a monarchy from 1918 to 1944 and a communist country from 1945 to 1991. The Serbs had most of the political power, leaving the Croats and other groups dissatisfied. When a referendum on independence was held in 1991, the vast majority of Croats (97 percent) voted for independence from Yugoslavia. Croatia's independence was recognized by the world beginning in January 1992.

In 199091, the Serb minority in certain parts of Croatia launched a rebellion against the democratically elected government of Croatia. Fighting continued off and on until August 1995.


Shaped like a boomerang, Croatia is located in southeastern Europe, across the Adriatic Sea from Italy. It has an area of 21,829 square miles (56,538 square kilometers), which is about the size of West Virginia. The capital is Zagreb, which has a population of over 1 million people.

Croatia's natural landscape varies widely. It includes rolling hills, fertile plains, and rugged mountains.

In the past, the homeland of the Croats included areas of today's Bosnia and Herzegovina, which were part of Croatia at several points in history.


The Croats speak Croatian, a South Slavic language of the Indo-European family. Croatian is written in the Latin alphabet. It has thirty letters, each of which is pronounced and has a distinct sound. The Croatian language has German (šarafenziger ), Hungarian (čizme ), Italian (pršut, lancun ) and Turkish (šečer, jastuk ) words.

Common Croatian terms include dobar dan (good day), kako ste? (how are you?), dobro (well), and hvala (thank you).


The cultures that influenced Croatian folk culture through the centuries are Hungarian, Austrian, Venetian, Balkan, ancient Croatian, ancient Mediterranean, and Turkish.

Traditional Croatian folk culture is manifested in dances, songs, holiday traditions, folktales, and other forms.


The dominant religious tradition of the Croats is Roman Catholicism. For thirteen centuries, they have steadfastly maintained their religion. Catholic tradition and values remain among the most important aspects of Croatian national and cultural identity.

Religious expression was discouraged in Croatia during the communist period (194591). Religious freedom is now guaranteed under the Croatian constitution.


Croatia today has a number of official national holidays. Many of these are associated with Catholic holy days and traditions. These include Easter Monday (late March or early April), the Feast of the Assumption of Mary (August 15), All Saints' Day (November 1), Christmas Day (December 25), December 26, and Epiphany (January 6).

Other nonworking holidays are New Year's Day (January 1), International Labor Day (May 1), Statehood Day (May 30), Anti-Fascist Struggle Day (June 22), and Patriotic Gratitude Day (August 5).

Most of the notable holiday customs are associated with the church holidays. The day before the start of Lent (known as "fat Tuesday" to American Catholics) is celebrated by dressing in costumes and making special doughnuts. Easter is celebrated by coloring and sharing eggs, preparing and blessing food baskets, and attending church services. On All Saints' Day, people visit cemeteries, light candles, and place chrysanthemums on the graves in remembrance of their deceased loved ones. On the eve of St. Nicholas Day, December 6, children leave their shoes out for St. Nicholas to leave them gifts. The family gets together on Christmas Eve to decorate the Christmas tree and attend midnight Mass. Christmas day is celebrated with family by exchanging presents and holiday greetings.


Traditional rites of passage have declined in modern times and are not common in Croatian society today. Three main rites of passage still observed are baptism, marriage, and death.

The birth of a child is observed, among Christians, through the rite of baptism. The child is welcomed into the church through the pouring of water on its head and symbolic acceptance of the faith through the godparents. Newborns generally receive gifts of gold jewelry on this occasion.

Marriage is conducted in the city hall and/or in church, usually followed by a reception. Weddings in small towns and rural areas can be large affairs with the whole village attending. Urban weddings, by contrast, tend to be smaller. A wedding is often an all-day family affair. Wedding guests ride through the streets in a procession of decorated cars, honking horns and waving.

Like birth, death is usually marked with Roman Catholic rituals. These include a funeral Mass, graveside service, the laying of flowers, and the marking of grave sites with headstones. The wake takes place just hours before the burial in a building on the cemetery grounds. Then the mourners walk in procession behind the casket to the grave. After the funeral, family and friends attend a lunch called a karmin.


The Croats are traditionally a warm, friendly, sociable people. They greet one another openly and, often, affectionately. Common greetings include saying good day, shaking hands, hugging, and kissing each other once on each cheek. Displays of affection such as holding hands and modest kissing are very acceptable in public.

Croats pride themselves on their hospitality. Food and drink are immediately offered when one enters a Croatian home, and it is considered impolite to refuse.

An important aspect of interpersonal relations is the use of formal and informal forms of address. The word for "you" can be either the formal vi or the familiar ti. Elders, professionals, and professors are examples of groups one would address using the formal terms. Friends, colleagues, and family are usually addressed informally.

Dating in Croatia today is similar to dating in the United States, usually beginning in high school. Young men and women choose whom to date and whom to marry.


Croats live in single-family homes, multi-family homes, and apartments. The average Croatian home includes a kitchen (usually with eating area), a bathroom, a living room, and bedrooms. Most Croatian homes have conveniences such as television sets, refrigerators, stoves, telephones, washing machines, stereo systems, and VCRs. Many homes have personal computers, satellite dishes, and video game systems.


The basic Croatian family unit is the nuclear family of parents and children living in one home. But it is not uncommon for extended families of parents, children, and grandparents to share a dwelling.

Weekends are considered family time. Families have a special lunch together, take strolls in town, go for coffee, and visit friends and family.

Croatian families usually have one or two children. Families with three or more children are considered large today.

The man is considered head of the household, although the woman tends to have more responsibility for the running of the household.


Croats today wear the same types of clothing found everywhere in the developed world. The styles, especially for young people, are very contemporary and influenced by Croatia's neighbor, Italy. U.S. urban styles are also popular, especially Levi's jeans and Nike tennis shoes.

The traditional folk dress of Croatia's recent past is rarely seen today. Among the older population, one may see women wearing a headscarf or traditional hairstyle.


Croatian food and cooking vary by region. Some traditional Croatian dishes are sarma (stuffed cabbage), bakalar (cod), purica i mlinci (turkey and special pasta), pasticada (a marinated beef dish), and zagrebacki odrezak (stuffed veal schnitzel). Soup is very common. It is eaten with almost every main meal and throughout the year. Special traditional breads are made for celebrations such as Easter. Fancy, rich pastries and cakes are also very popular. A recipe for Croatian Pancakes accompanies this entry.

Croats eat three to four meals a day. Breakfast is very important and may include bread, spreads, and yogurt. It is also common to eat marenda, a light snack at mid-morning, commonly fruit or baked goods. Lunch, usually between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm, is the main meal of the day and can include soup, salad, and a main dish. Dinner is eaten in the late evening and is small and light.


Croatian Pancakes


For pancakes
For filling
  • 12 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ cup sugar
  • Peel of one lemon, grated
  • 3 eggs, separated


Make filling:
  1. Separate eggs, pouring the yolks and whites into two different bowls.
  2. Beat egg yolks and sugar together until thick.
  3. Add grated peel from a lemon.
  4. Beat in softened cream cheese.
  5. Beat egg whites until they hold stiff peaks.
  6. Carefully fold (mix using a gentle stirring motion) egg whites into cheese mixture.
Make pancakes:
  1. Beat eggs with a pinch of salt.
  2. Gradually add flour, milk, and mineral water until the mixture forms a thin batter.
  3. Heat a small amount of oil in a small frying pan. Pour about ¼ cup of batter into the pan and cook the pancake until small holes appear in the surface.
  4. Loosen the edges of the pancake and flip it over carefully. Cook on the other side about 30 seconds.
Assemble pancakes and filling:
  1. Spread about 2 tablespoons of filling near one side of the pancake. Roll the pancake up to enclose the filling. Place the filled pancakes, side by side, in a buttered baking dish or casserole. Keep warm in a 250°f oven until ready to serve.
  2. Serve warm. May be topped with jam (a Croatian favorite is plum jam), powdered sugar, or sour cream.

Adapted from Croatia Tourist Association, Welcome to Croatia, Zagreb, Croatia, n.d.

Sunday lunch is the most important meal of the week. It is usually earlier, between noon and 1:00 pm, and more elaborate than weekday lunches. It is the big family meal, and guests are often invited.


Croatia has an excellent educational system. The curriculum and courses are demanding and students must study hard to pass. Subjects studied in secondary school include chemistry, history, math, physics, a foreign language, and Croatian language and literature. Croatian students must choose their general career path by eighth grade, when they choose a high school. The high school system is organized into two categories: trade schools and college preparatory (gimnazija). Trade schools prepare students for careers ranging from nursing to construction. The college preparatory program readies students for university study.

By law, Croatian children must complete only elementary school, but most Croats today finish secondary school as well.


The Croats have a deep and rich cultural heritage that reflects Croatia's Western and Central European traditions. The Croatian cultural heritage is revealed in art, music, theater, architecture, and literature. Dubrovnik served as the intellectual and cultural center for the Croats for centuries. The city hosts the Dubrovnik Summer Festival featuring musical and theatrical performances by artists from around the world.


It is common for both men and women in Croatia to work and contribute to the support of their families. In 1997, the average monthly take-home salary in Croatia was about $400. in U.S. dollars. The kuna is the Croatian currency (approximately five kuna per one U.S. dollar).

Croatian workers receive at least four weeks of vacation per year, in addition to national holidays. Employee benefits include health insurance; sick leave; pensions; and maternity, paternity, and family leaves.

Typical jobs for young people are waiting tables in cafes or working in tourism during the summer. The types of jobs traditionally held by young people in America, such as retail, restaurant, and clerical work, are usually held by people who have families to support.


Sports are extremely popular in Croatia. Team sports like soccer, basketball, volleyball, handball, and water polo are very popular, as are tennis, swimming, hiking, running, and aerobics. The hands-down winner for most popular sport is soccer, called nogomet.

Soccer is also the most popular spectator sport in Croatia, with professional and amateur teams throughout the country. The sport has a long tradition that has resulted in the formation of intense team loyalties and the construction of numerous stadiums. Basketball is continually gaining popularity as well.

In proportion to its population, Croatia has produced an unusual number of world-class athletes across a wide range of sports. In the 1990s, such famous Croatian sports stars as Toni Kukoc (1968), Dino Rada (1968), and Drazen Petrovic (196493) played in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Croatia also distinguished itself in the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympic Games. In 1992, the Croatian basketball team won a silver medal, second only to the professional "Dream Team" sponsored by the United States.


Most Croats, especially young people, like to relax and socialize in their nation's many cafes. Cafes line the main streets of large cities and small towns alike. In the summer, outdoor tables are filled, and the streets are crowded with people and activity.

Croats also like to go to the movies, especially Hollywood films from the United States. Also popular are theater, classical music concerts, ballets, and modern dance performances.

Every Croatian household, from the largest urban center to the most remote village, has a television. Croatian television offers programming for the whole family, such as children's educational shows, comedy series, documentaries, and specialty shows. But Croatian television also regularly broadcasts programs and movies from the United States and other foreign countries.

Croatian popular culture resembles American pop culture, with a bit of a European twist. Fashions include retro, 1990s hippie, vogue, American urban, and a cosmopolitan mix. Techno, rap, and international and domestic pop music are popular. Young Croats spend much of their free time going out. The streets are very safe, even after dark. The most popular hangouts are cafes, but discos (nightclubs) are also very popular and often stay open all night on the weekends.

Croatia has a strong popular music tradition of its own and has dozens of music festivals in all the larger cities.


Traditional Croatian crafts include folk dress and footwear, woven household textiles, musical instruments, lace, jewelry, and other ornaments. There is also a strong tradition of Croatian folk song and dance.


The most significant social problems in Croatia today are related to the 1991 warfare between the Croats and the Serbs. The nation must provide care and services to all the war victims and their families, as well as return displaced Croats to their homes.

Croatia has a relatively high unemployment rate, which ranges from 10 percent to 17 percent. The country is currently experiencing increased drug use and abuse among its young people.


Croatia Tourist Association. Welcome to Croatia. Zagreb, Croatia, n.d.

Glenny, Michael. The Fall of Yugoslavia: The Third Balkan War. New York: Penguin, 1992.

Stellaerts, Robert, and Jeannine Laurens. Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Croatia. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1997.

Tanner, Marcus. Croatia: A Nation Forged War. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1997.


Embassy of Croatia, Washington, D.C. Croatia. [Online] Available, 1998.

European Travel Commission. Croatia. [Online] Available, 1998.

World Travel Guide, Croatia. [Online] Available, 1998.

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Croatia (krōā´shə), Croatian Hrvatska, officially Republic of Croatia, republic (2011 pop. 4,284,889), 21,824 sq mi (56,524 sq km), in the northwest corner of the Balkan Peninsula. Roughly crescent-shaped, Croatia is bounded by Slovenia in the northwest, by Hungary in the northeast, by Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (enwrapped in the north and south arms of Croatia, giving it its distintive shape), and Montenegro in the east, and by the Adriatic Sea in the west. Zagreb is the capital. There are important seaports at Rijeka, Split, Pula, Zadar, Šibenik, and Dubrovnik.

Land and People

The republic includes Croatia proper, Slavonia, Dalmatia, and most of Istria. Western Croatia lies in the Dinaric Alps; the eastern part, drained by the Sava and Drava rivers, is mostly low lying and agricultural. The Pannonian plain is the chief farming region.

The Croats, who make up about 90% of the population, are mainly Roman Catholic. The Serbs, who belong largely to the Orthodox Church, are the largest minority, but evictions and evacuations during the early to mid-1990s reduced their numbers. Both Croats and Serbs speak dialects of Serbo-Croatian that are mutually intelligible but also recognizably Croatian and Serbian.


Wheat and other grains, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, alfalfa, clover, olives, citrus, grapes, and soybeans are grown; dairying, beekeeping, and fishing are also important. More than one third of the country is forested, and lumber is a major export. Croatia is, excepting Slovenia, the most industrialized and prosperous of the former republics of Yugoslavia. There are oil fields and deposits of bauxite, iron ore, and other minerals. Shipbuilding, petroleum refining, and food processing are important; chief manufacturers include chemicals, plastics, machine tools, fabricated metal, electronics, iron and steel, aluminum, paper, wood products, and textiles. Tourism, especially along the Adriatic coast, is also important to the economy. Severely curtailed during the warfare of the early 1990s, the tourist trade had largely recovered by 2000. Transportation equipment, textiles, chemicals, foodstuffs, and fuels are exported, while machinery, electrical equipment, chemicals, and fuels are imported. The main trading partners are Italy, Germany, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Croatia is governed under the constitution of 1990 as amended. The president, who is the head of state, is popularly elected for a five-year term. The government is headed by the prime minister, who is appointed by the president and approved by the legislature. Members of the unicameral Assembly (Sabor), are elected from party lists by popular vote to serve four-year terms. Administratively, Croatia is divided into 20 counties and the capital city.


History through the Nineteenth Century

A part of the Roman province of Pannonia, Croatia was settled in the 7th cent. by Croats, who accepted Christianity in the 9th cent. A kingdom from the 10th cent., Croatia conquered surrounding districts, including Dalmatia, which was chronically contested with Venice. Croatia's power reached its peak in the 11th cent., but internecine strife facilitated its conquest in 1091 by King Ladislaus I of Hungary.

In 1102 a pact between his successor and the Croatian tribal chiefs established a personal union of Croatia and Hungary under the Hungarian monarch. Although Croatia remained linked with Hungary for eight centuries, the Croats were sometimes able to choose their rulers independently of Budapest. In personal union with Hungary, Croatia retained its own diet and was governed by a ban, or viceroy. After the battle of Mohács in 1526 most of Croatia came under Turkish rule. In 1527 the Croatian feudal lords agreed to accept the Hapsburgs as their kings in return for common defense and retention of their privileges. During the following century Croatia served as a Hapsburg outpost in the defense of central Europe from a Turkish onslaught.

The centralizing and Germanizing tendencies of the Hapsburgs, however, severely weakened the power of the Croatian nobility and awakened a national consciousness. During the 19th cent. Hungary imposed Magyarization on Croatia and promulgated (1848) laws that seriously jeopardized Croatian autonomy within the Hapsburg empire. Joseph Jellachich, ban of Croatia, had the diet pass its own revolutionary laws, including the abolition of serfdom. Jellachich's forces also marched against the Hungarian revolutionaries in the 1848–49 uprisings in the Hapsburg empire. When the dual Austro-Hungarian monarchy was established in 1867, Croatia proper and Slavonia were included in the kingdom of Hungary, and Dalmatia and Istria in the Austrian empire. The following year Croatia, united with Slavonia, became an autonomous Hungarian crownland governed by a ban responsible to the Croatian diet.

Croatia in Yugoslavia

Despite the achievement of autonomy in local affairs, Croatia remained restless because of continuing Magyarization. Cultural and political Croat and South Slav organizations arose, notably the Croatian Peasant party, founded in the early 20th cent. With the collapse of Austria-Hungary (1918), the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later renamed Yugoslavia) was formed. Serbs dominated the new state, however, and promoted centralization, ignoring Croat desires for a federal structure.

Agitation resulted in the assassination (1928) of Stepjan Radić, head of the Croatian Peasant party. After Radič's successor, Vladimir Maček, connived with fascist Italy to form a separate Croatian state, Yugoslavia allowed the formation (1939) of an autonomous banovina comprising Croatia, Dalmatia, and parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Nevertheless, many Croats, especially members of the Ustachi fascist terrorist organization, insisted on complete independence.

When the Germans invaded Yugoslavia in 1941, the Ustachi seized power and declared Croatian independence under Ante Pavelič. Croatia was placed under Italian and later German military control, while the Ustachi dictatorship perpetuated brutal excesses, including the establishment of concentration camps; in the Croat-operated Jasenovac camp alone, it has been estimated that some 200,000 Serbs, Jews, Romani (Gypsies), and Croat opposition figures were killed. A large part of the population joined the anti-Fascist Yugoslav partisan forces under Tito, himself a native of Croatia.

Pavelič fled in the wake of Germany's defeat in 1945, and Croatia became one of the six republics of reconstituted Yugoslavia. Croatian nationalism persisted in Communist Yugoslavia, however, and the Ustachi and other émigré nationalist groups remained active abroad. A major Yugoslavian decentralization reform that took effect in the early 1970s was designed in part to satisfy Croat demands for increased autonomy and dampen secessionist sentiment. The death of Tito in 1980, however, weakened Yugoslavia and increased demands for secession.

An Independent Croatia

In 1990, the Croats elected a non-Communist government and began to demand greater autonomy. On June 25, 1991, Croatia declared its independence, with Franjo Tudjman, a former general, as president. Immediately fighting erupted with federal troops (mostly Serb) and Serbs from the predominantly Serb-populated areas of Croatia. The Serbs carved out the Republic of Serbian Krajina in central and NE Croatia.

In Jan., 1992, after other European Community–brokered cease-fires had failed, a more stable truce was mediated by the United Nations, which in February sent in a peacekeeping force. This force froze the territorial status quo, which left 30% of the land, in Serb hands and also left as refugees many Croatians who had been displaced by "ethnic cleansing" from Serb-held lands. Croatia was recognized as an independent nation by the European Community (now the European Union) in Jan., 1992, and was accepted into the United Nations. In 1993, Croatian forces launched attacks against Serb rebels in various areas. During 1995, Croatian forces recaptured most Serb-held territory (but not E Slavonia, in the northeast), leading approximately 300,000 Serbs to flee into Bosnia and Yugoslavia; in war crime trials in 2010, Croatian forces were accused of deliberately expelling many Serb civilians in the campaign.

Croatia had supported and directed Bosnian Croats when fighting erupted in neighboring Bosnia in 1992, and Croatia played a role in negotiations for a Bosnian peace agreement. The Bosnian peace treaty was signed by Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbia in Dec., 1995. A separate accord called for the return of E Slavonia to Croatian rule; this went into effect in Jan., 1998, following a transition period overseen by UN peacekeeping forces. The international community has expressed concern over Croatia's slow implementation of the Bosnian peace treaty, the delay in the return of Serb refugees, and alleged human-rights abuses, including the muzzling of independent newspapers. Tudjman's autocratic rule and failure to cooperate on Bosnian issues led to Croatia's international isolation in the late 1990s.

In Nov., 1999, Vlatko Pavletic, the speaker of parliament, became acting president as Tudjman lay on his deathbed. Parliamentary elections in Jan., 2000, resulted in a victory for a six-party, center-left opposition coalition, and, after a runoff in February, Stjepan (Stipe) Mesić, an opposition candidate, captured the presidency. Elected on a reform platform, the coalition failed to improve Croatia's stagnant economic situation, and in the Nov., 2003, parliamentary elections the conservative nationalist party founded by Tudjman won a plurality of the seats. The party, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), formed a minority government the following month, with Ivo Sanader as prime minister.

Mesić was reelected in Jan., 2005, after a runoff in which he defeated Deputy Prime Minister Jandraka Kosor. In Oct., 2005, the European Union opened membership talks with Croatia, contingent on Croatian cooperation with the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Croatia's claim to large areas of the Adriatic, effectively blocking Slovenia's maritime access from its coast, and other issues have created tension between the two nations. In Aug., 2007, however, the countries agreed to submit their boundary disputes to the International Court of Justice. The HDZ again won a plurality in the Nov., 2007, parliamentary elections; Sanader remained prime minister, leading a coalition government.

Croatia began excluding EU members from a protected fishing zone off its coast in Jan., 2008, despite a previous agreement with the EU. The act threatened to delay accession talks with the EU, but enforcement of the zone was suspended in March. However, negotiations with the EU were slowed nonetheless, as Slovenia blocked some talks because of its border dispute. In Apr., 2009, Croatia joined NATO; the Slovenian border dispute had threatened to postpone Croatia's accession.

In July, 2009, Sanader announced his resignation as prime minister; Jadranka Kosor succeeded him, becoming Croatia's first woman prime minister. Slovenia ended the freeze on Croatia's accession talks after Croatia agreed in September that none of the documents associated with its EU application would have any legal impact on the resolution of the border dispute. Ivo Josipović, the candidate of the opposition Social Democrats, was elected president in Jan., 2010.

In Dec., 2010, Sanader was arrested on an international warrant in Austria after Croatian prosecutors sought to detain him in connection with a corruption investigation. He was extradited to Croatia in July, 2011, and additional corruption charges were subsequently brought against Sanader (as well as others and the HDZ itself). Sanader was convicted of taking bribes in 2012, and he, others, and the HDZ were convicted of corruption in 2014.

Parliamentary elections in Dec., 2011, resulted in a majority for the center-left Kukuriku coalition led by the Social Democrats and Zoran Milanović, who became prime minister. Later the same month the country signed a treaty with the EU that was intended to lead to its accession as a member in mid-2013; a referendum (Jan., 2012) approved joining the EU, but turnout within Croatia was only 47%. Josipović failed in his reelection bid in Dec., 2015, narrowly losing to Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, a former foreign minister and the HDZ candidate. Grabar-Kitarović became the first woman to serve as president of Croatia.


See S. Gazi, A History of Croatia (1973); H. Lydall, Yugoslavia in Crisis (1989); M. Tanner, Croatia: A Nation Forged in War (1997).

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Official name : Republic of Croatia

Area: 56,542 square kilometers (21,831 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mt. Dinara (1,830 meters/6,004 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern

Time zone: 7 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 499 kilometers (310 miles) from north to south; 463 kilometers (288 miles) from east to west

Land boundaries: 2,028 kilometers (1,260 miles) total boundary length; Bosnia and Herzegovina 932 kilometers (579 miles); Hungary 329 kilometers (204 miles); Slovenia 501 kilometers (311 miles); Yugoslavia 266 kilometers (165 miles)

Coastline: 5,835 kilometers (3,626 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)


Croatia is located in southeastern Europe between Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, bordering the Adriatic Sea. The country also shares boundaries with Hungary and Yugoslavia. With an area of about 56,542 square kilometers (21,831 square miles), the country is slightly smaller than the state of West Virginia. Croatia is divided administratively into twenty counties and one city.


Croatia has no outside territories or dependencies.


The climate in Croatia is predominantly temperate. In Zagreb, the average daily high temperature in July is 27°C (80°F), while in January it falls to 2°C (35°F). The overall average annual temperature in Zagreb is 11.6°C (52.9°F). The Adriatic coast has a more moderate, Mediterranean climate. The average annual temperatures for the cities of Split and Dubrovnik are 16.6°C (61.9°F) and 17.1°C (62.8°F), respectively. The prevailing northeast winds include the maestral (mistral), which mitigates the heat in the summer, and the cold, dry bora.

Zagreb's annual precipitation is 924 centimeters (36 inches). The winter averages 49 days with a snow cover of greater than 1 centimeter (0.4 inch). The narrow Adriatic coastal belt has very dry summers. Neither Split nor Dubrovnik typically experiences snow accumulation in the winter; and each city averages more than one hundred sunny days per year. Split averages 94 centimeters (37 inches) of precipitation annually. Dubrovnik has an annual precipitation of about 102 centimeters (40 inches).


Croatia sprawls along the eastern side of the Adriatic Sea, on the western side of the Balkan Peninsula. Its long coastal region stretches from the Istria Peninsula in the north to the Gulf of Kotor (Boka Kotorska) in the south, becoming increasingly narrow. For a short distance, a branch of neighboring nation Bosnia and Herzegovina interrupts the Croatian coast. In the north, between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia, Croatia extends inland as far as the Danube River.

Croatia has three main geographic types: the Pannonian and Peri-Pannonian Plains of eastern and northwestern Croatia, the hilly and mountainous central area, and the Adriatic coastal area that extends down to Dalmatia in the south.

Tectonic fault lines are widespread in north central Croatia and also run through the Dinaric Alps down to Dalmatia. These structural seams in the earth's crust periodically shift, causing earth tremors and occasional destructive earthquakes.


Seacoast and Undersea Features

Croatia borders the Adriatic Sea, an arm of the Mediterranean Sea located between Italy and the Balkan Peninsula. Off Croatia's coast in the north near Slovenia, the Adriatic Sea is very shallow, only reaching a depth of 23 meters (75 feet) in the Gulf of Venice. The waters off southern Croatia, however, reach to depths of more than 1,200 meters (3,900 feet).

Sea Inlets and Straits

Kvarner Bay is located in the north by the Istria Peninsula. The Gulf of Kotor marks the far southern coast.

Islands and Archipelagos

Croatia has a total of 1,185 islands, only 66 of which are inhabited. Croatia's coastal islands are mountainous, since they are extensions of the Dinaric Alps. The largest islands are Krk (406 square kilometers/157 square miles), Cres (406 square kilometers/157 square miles), Brač (395 square kilometers/153 square miles), Pag (300 square kilometers/ 116 square miles), and Korčula (285 square kilometers/110 square miles).

Coastal Features

Rocks, rather than sandy beaches, cover most of Croatia's coast. The coal mines, on the Istria Peninsula in the north, are one of Croatia's main energy resources. The southern half of Croatia's coastline is called Dalmatia, the ancient Roman name for this region.


Croatia's largest lake is Vrana, near Biograd, which has a surface area of only 30 square kilometers (11.6 square miles). The Plitvička Lakes are a string of sixteen lakes located within the national park of the same name.


In the coastal region, many short rivers and streams run quickly down the steep mountains into the Adriatic Sea. Among the largest of these are the Krka and the Rasa. The Neretva River enters from Bosnia and Herzegovina in south Dalmatia and flows through the country for just a short distance.

In the interior east, rivers are wider and calmer. Blocked from the Adriatic by the Dinaric Alps, they flow east towards the Danube River and, ultimately, into the Black Sea. The largest of these rivers form Croatia's borders in this region. The Drava and Mura Rivers make up almost all of the northwest border with Hungary. The Sava River, after flowing across the country from Slovenia, forms the southern border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Kupa and Una are tributaries of the Sava. The country's longest river is the Danube River in the east, at 2,850 kilometers (1,771 miles) long. The Danube is the second-longest river in Europe and flows between Croatia and Yugoslavia. Both the Sava and the Drava are tributaries of the Danube.

Croatia's most notable waterfall is the series of cascades between the Plitvička Lakes. The tallest has a vertical drop of 72 meters (275 feet). Croatia's interior area also has fourteen thermal springs, including seven mineral springs.


There are no desert regions in Croatia.


Occupying the east and northeast region is the Pannonian Plain, a lowland that is the most fertile farmland in the country. The plain was once occupied by an ancient sea, which was gradually filled by silt until it formed a nutrient-rich basin, marked by low hills and broad flood plains. The plains of Slavonia extend through the eastern arm of Croatia near Yugoslavia.


Much of Croatia lies at an altitude of over 500 meters (1,640 feet). The Dinaric Alps, near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, contain Croatia's highest peak: Mt. Dinara (1,830 meters/6,004 feet). These mountains run across the central region of the country, forming the boundary between the coastal area and the eastern plains and extending southeastward along the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Subsidiary ranges of the Dinaric Alps in Croatia include the Velika Kapela, Plješevica, and Velebit Mountains, with the high peaks of Kame Plješevica (1657 meters/5,437 feet), Velika Kapela (1,533 meters/5,030 feet), and Risnjak (1,528 meters/5,013 feet). In eastern Croatia are the Psunj Mountains, Papuk Mountains, and Zagorje Hills.

The limestone ranges of the Dinaric Alps are frequently referred to as karst or karstland, and are distinctive because water seeping through the soluble limestone has formed underground drainage channels. This leaves the mountains dry and rocky, with their surface pockmarked by depressions and caves.


Archaeologists have unearthed cave bear and Neanderthal fossils from Veternica Cave in northern Croatia. This karst cave has a large chamber about seventy meters from the entrance that is often used as a concert site. Located just north of Zagreb, the cave also is sometimes called the Zagreb Underground.


There are no major plateau regions in Croatia.


There are no major man-made structures affecting the geography of Croatia.


Plitvička Lakes National Park is a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site. The forests of the park serve as home to a number of bears, wolves, and rare species of birds. The park also contains beautiful lakes, waterfalls, and caves, which were formed by water flowing through and around the natural limestone hills.



Carmichael, Cathie. Croatia. Santa Barbara, CA: Clio Press, 1999.

Cooper, Robert. Croatia. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2001.

Foster, Jane. Croatia. London: APA, 2001.

Sabo, Alexander. Croatia, Adriatic Coast. Munich: Nelles, 1999.

Stellaerts, Robert, and Jeannine Laurens. Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Croatia. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1997.

Web Sites

Croatian National Tourist Board. (accessed May 3, 2003).

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Country statistics


56,538sq km (21,824sq mi) 4,535,054

capital (population):

Zagreb (691,724)


Multi-party republic

ethnic groups:

Croat 78%, Serb 12%, Bosnian, Hungarian, Slovene




Roman Catholic 77%, Serbian Orthodox 11%, Muslim 1%


1 Kuna = 100 lipa

Balkan republic in se Europe. Croatia was one of the six republics that made up the former federated state of Yugoslavia (see Serbia and Montenegro). It achieved independence in 1991. The Dalmatia region borders the Adriatic Sea, and is dominated by the limestone mountains of the Dinaric Alps. The major port is Split. Other highlands lie in the ne, but Croatia chiefly consists of the fertile Pannonian plain. The River Drava forms most of its border with Hungary. The capital, Zagreb, lies on the River Sava.


The coastal area has a typical Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, moist winters. Inland, the climate becomes more continental. Winters can be bitterly cold, while summer temperatures often soar to 38°C (100°).


Farmland, including pasture, covers 70% of Croatia, with forest and woodland occupying only 15%. Sparse Mediterranean scrub (maquis) predominates in Dalmatia.

History and Politics

Slav peoples settled in the area c.1400 years ago. In 803 Croatia became part of the Holy Roman Empire. Croatia was an independent kingdom in the 10th and 11th centuries. In 1102, an 800-year union of the Hungarian and Croatian crowns began.

In 1526, part of Croatia fell to the Ottoman Empire, while the remainder came under the Austrian Habsburgs. In 1699, all of Croatia came under Habsburg rule. In 1867, the Habsburg Empire became the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After World War I, Croatia was incorporated in Yugoslavia (1929). In World War II, Yugoslavia was occupied by Germany, and Croatia was proclaimed independent, although in reality it was a pro-Nazi puppet state (Ustashe).

After the war, communists took power, and Josip Broz Tito became the country's leader and held it together until his death (1980). During the 1980s, economic and ethnic problems (including a deterioration in relations between Croatia and Serbia) threatened the country's stability. In 1990 The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), led by Franjo Tudjman, won Croatia's first democratic elections. A 1991 referendum voted overwhelmingly in favour of Croatia becoming an independent republic. The Yugoslav National Army was deployed and Serb-dominated areas took up arms in favour of remaining in the federation. Serbia supplied arms to Croatian Serbs and war broke out between Serbia and Croatia. In 1992, United Nations' peacekeeping troops were deployed to maintain an uneasy cease-fire: Croatia lost more than 30% of its territory. Tudjman was re-elected president. In 1992, war broke out in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Bosnian Croats occupied parts of Croatia. In 1993, Croatian Serbs in e Slavonia voted to establish the separate republic of Krajina. In 1994 the Bosnian, Bosnian Croat, and Croatian governments formed a federation. In 1995, Croatian government forces seized the Krajina and 150,000 Serbs fled. Following the Dayton Peace Treaty (1995), Croatia and the rump Yugoslav state formally established diplomatic relations (August 1996). In 1998, the Croatian government and Croatian Serbs provided for the eventual reintegration of Krajina into Croatia. In January 2000, following Tudjman's death, Stipe Mesic of the centrist coalition was elected president. In 2001, the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague indicted former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević; for crimes during the war with Croatia.


The wars have badly disrupted Croatia's relatively prosperous economy, particularly the tourism trade (2000 GDP per capita, US$5800). Croatia has a wide range of manufacturing industries, such as steel, chemicals, oil refining and wood products. Agriculture remains the principal employer. Crops include maize, soya beans, sugar beet, and wheat.

Political map

Physical map


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Croats are a Slavic people, but theories of their origins are widely disputed. The most widely accepted Slavic theory of the origin of the Croats traces their migration starting in the seventh century from the area north of the Carpathian Mountains into the western Dinaric Alps. Croats are predominantly Roman Catholic. The name Hrvat (Croat) was recorded for the first time on the Adriatic coast in 852.

The earliest Croatian state was the Principality of Dalmatia. In 925 the Croatian duke of Dalmatia, Tomislav of Trpimir, united all Croats. He organized a state by annexing the Principality of Pannonia. Throughout history, Croats were subjected to forced Magyarization as well as Germanization. After World War I, most Croats united within the Kingdom of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs. The state was transformed into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929, and the Croats became part of a new nation called the Yugoslavs or South Slavs. In 1939 the Croats attained a high degree of autonomy when the Banovina of Croatia was created, which united almost all ethnic Croatian territories within the kingdom. During World War II, the Axis created a puppet state the State of Croatia, led by fascists whose goal was an ethnically clean Croatian state. At the same time, many Croats joined the antifascist partisan movement led by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia.

Croats have maintained a strong culture and sense of national identity, and the Roman Catholic Church has contributed to this significantly. The most distinctive features of Croatian folklore include klapas of Dalmatia (klapa, meaning company or ensemble, refers to folksinging groups) and the orchestras of Slavonia. Folk arts are performed at special events and festivals.

In the early twenty-first century, in addition to their homeland, where about 4 million Croats live, 600,000 Croats live in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while 100,000 to 200,000 live in other states of the former Yugoslavia. The largest immigrant groups live in western Europe, primarily Germany, Italy, and Sweden. Outside Europe, Croats live in the United States and Canada as well as in Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Bolivia. The earliest Croatian settlement in America is dated to 1573, when a peasant uprising was crushed in Croatia and many of them left. There are also large Croatian communities in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

The Croatian national identity, which was suppressed in the name of the preservation of an overarching Yugoslav national identity during the cold war, experienced a new resurgence and played a crucial role in Croatias involvement in the Yugoslav war in the 1990s. This resurgence of Croatian nationalism and the desire for the creation of a nation-state caused the rebirth of historical ethnic tensions with the neighboring Serbs. Part of the reemergence of the national identity was the Croat campaign to distinguish Croatian as a language separate from the previously united Serbo-Croatian language.

SEE ALSO Ethnic Conflict; Identity; Nationalism and Nationality; Roman Catholic Church; Serbs


Eterovich, Francis H., and Christopher Spalatin, eds. 1970. Croatia: Land, People, Culture. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Dagmar Radin

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Culture Name



Identification. Historical references to Croats in the Holy Roman Empire date back to the ninth century. Stories connect the name "Croat" (Hrvat ) with a powerful military chieftain in the early Middle Ages and an Alan word for "friend." Regional cultures are considered variations on the larger category of "Croatian," including the cultures of Dalmatia, Istria, Slavonia, and Zagorija. These regions are characterized by differences in geography, traditional economy, food, folkloric tradition, and dialect. Croats share an overall sense of national culture; people often feel strongly about regional identities and local cultural variations, particularly food and language.

A small percentage of non-Croat groups identify with a different culture. Serbs usually identify with Serbian culture. Slovenes, Muslims, Jews, Albanians, and Roma (Gypsies) generally identify with their own national groups and cultures.

In two cases non-Croats constitute a significant minority in a local population and have maintained group identities as non-Croats. In Istria, an Italian minority prefer the Italian language, and identify strongly with Italian culture. In Slavonia, along the Hungarian border, ethnic Hungarians (Magyars) prefer the Hungarian language and identify with Hungarian culture. This is not generally true of non-Croat and non-Slav populations in other regions, such as Italians in Dalmatia and Hungarians in Zagreb.

Before the recent war (19911995), there was a large Serb population in the region known as the Military Frontier (Vojna Krajina ) who did not identify with Croatian culture. As tensions built between Croats and Serbs in the late 1980s, Krajina Serbs began to express animosity toward the Croatian culture and language. In 1991, Croatia lost political control of this region (and 30 percent of its land); in 1995, it regained legal and political control. In 1997, when the region was restored to Croatian administration, most Krajina Serbs left for Serbia, where many now live as refugees.

The Roman Catholics of Herzegovina identify with the Croatian national culture. Herzegovinans generally believe that they should be part of Croatia, not linked to Bosnia. Croats in the diaspora are represented in the national parliament.

Location and Geography. Croatia was one of the six republics of the former Yugoslavia. It shares borders with Italy, Slovenia, and Hungary to the north and with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia) and Bosnia-Herzegovina to the east and south. Croats think of themselves as more closely linked with Austria than with the other territories and cultures of the former Yugoslavia. They do not refer to themselves as a Balkan country but as a European one.

Croatia occupies approximately 21,825 square miles (56,540 square kilometers). The region along the Adriatic coast has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot, dry summers. The inland region has a continental climate with very cold winters, hot, humid summers, and spring and autumn seasons that are often rainy. Seventy percent of the land is farmland. The largest portion of the country consists of the Pannonian plain, a flat, fertile agricultural region that extends into Hungary and Serbia. The Drava and Sava rivers drain into the plain, making it an excellent region for agriculture. Cultural variations, particularly regional cuisine, are related to geographic variations within the country; traditional economies are also linked to geography. The capital, Zagreb, is centrally located but was not chosen for that reason. It is the largest city, and historically the political, commercial, and intellectual center.

Demography. The population was approximately 5 million in 2000. Croats make up 78 percent of the population and are the dominant ethnic group. Serbs account for 12 percent, and the remaining 10 percent includes Bosnians, Hungarians, and Slovenes as well as a very small number of Jews and Kosova Albanians. The religious makeup of the nation reflects this ethnic breakdown. Roman Catholics constitute 77 percent of the population; Serbian Orthodox, 11 percent; and Muslims, 1 percent. The Serb population has decreased since Croatian independence from Yugoslavia and the war that began in 1991. In 1981, Serbs accounted for approximately 17 percent of the population.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Croatian language has three major dialects, identified by three different words for "what"sto, kaj, and ca. From 1945 to 1991, the official language was Serbo-Croatian. Even under socialism, Croats often referred to their language as Croato-Serbian (instead of Serbo-Croatian) or as Croatian. Croatian and Serbian variants of the language were always recognized as different dialects, and had different alphabets. Since independence, Croatian and Serbian have been declared separate languages. The government has been working to establish an official Croatian language, resurrecting vocabulary that fell out of general usage under socialism.

Croatian and related Southern Slav languages are modern versions of the languages of the Slavic peoples who moved into the lands of the former Yugoslavia around 500 c.e. Today, language is an important part of personal and group identity, but historically the Croatian language was not always spoken by a majority of Croats. Under the Hapsburgs, urban Croats spoke German, and Latin was the official language of government. A national reawakening in the nineteenth century focused on the establishment of a national language.

The dialects reflect not only regional variation but contact with and domination by different peoples. Thus, Istrians speak a Croatian influenced by Italian, while the people of Zagreb speak a Croatian strongly influenced by German. Regional dialects, such as Dalmatian, are sometimes regarded as provincial or indicative of less education and exposure to high culture. There is a counter tendency, however, to regard the regional dialects as more authentic forms of Croatian than those spoken by urban, cosmopolitan populations.

Symbolism. The newly independent state has had to recreate a national culture by drawing from history and folk culture. In this sense, Croatia is an imagined community. The modern national identity draws on its medieval roots, association with Viennese "high culture," culturally diverse rural traditions, and Roman Catholicism.

Croats use the metaphor of a single related people with shared blood to describe themselves as a nationality. Religion is probably the most powerful symbol of national identity today. Most Croats consider themselves Roman Catholic whether they practice their religion or not. Language and history are also important symbols of identity. Croat language and its regional dialects are much spoken of by Croats themselves. Feelings about ancient ties to a territory and a direct link to the independent Kingdom of Croatia are part of the modern Croatian national identity.

The most important national symbol is the flag, which has three bands of color: red on top, white in the middle, and blue on the bottom. This flag was first used in 1848 under Austro-Hungarian rule. Under socialism, a red star was added in the center. The present-day flag has a coat of arms in the center that includes a symbol of each of the five parts of the country on top of a red and white chessboard shield. The chessboard dates to the Middle Ages but was also used by Croatian fascists (Ustasha) during World War II. Serbs saw the resurrection of this symbol as provocation.

In the nineteenth century, Croats rediscovered their folk traditions. Folk songs, folk dances, and village customs were taken as symbols of national pride. This interest in village culture went along with a quest for a stronger national identity under Hapsburg rule. Rural people were romanticized and taken to represent the soul of the country and the character of particular regions. The word narod means both "folk" and "nation." The symbols of regional culture are costumes, dances and songs, and village customs. These folk traditions were appropriated and modified by the middle classes in the nineteenth century and celebrated as well under socialism. Folklore performances that drew from regional cultures throughout the former Yugoslavia highlighted Yugoslav "brotherhood and unity."

Important culture heroes are symbols of the long history of Croat people. Two prominent figures are King Tomislav, the first king, and Ban Josip Jelacic, a noble military leader under Austro-Hungarian rule. Foods, both national and regional, and language are important symbols of national and regional identity.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Croats as a people and a country trace their history to the medieval Kingdom of Croats. Through much of their history, Croats were ruled by another political body, but there were movements to establish national recognition or independence.

Slavic peoples migrated into the Balkans and along the Dalmatian coast in the sixth century. They displaced or absorbed the Illyrians, who may be the ancestors of modern Albanians. These Slavs encountered other nomadic peoples, primarily from the Middle East, including the Avars, Alans, and Antes. The mixture of these peoples produced the southern Slavs. The various southern Slavs remained disparate tribal groups with no clear identity as Croats or Serbs until the ninth century.

The Kingdom of Croatia had been established by the tenth century. In 1102, the Croats came under Hungarian rule. Croatia agreed to follow the king of Hungary but retained its own governmental body, the Sabor, and its own governor, or Ban. Through the years of Hungarian rule, the relationship shifted back and forth from more or less equal partners in the administration of Croatia to clear domination by Hungary.

Since the twelfth century, Croatia has been largely under the domination of others. The Ottoman Empire took a portion of the country for approximately 100 years, after the mid-sixteenth century. Croatia then asked the Austrian Hapsburgs for help against the Turks. This may have been the start of a Croatian preference for the Austrians and dislike for the Hungarians. The Hapsburgs established the Military Frontier creating a buffer zone between Croatia and Austria to the north, and the Ottoman empire to the south. It also created a large pocket of non-Croat people within Croat lands. Orthodox Slavs who fled Bosnia were moved into the Military Frontier to serve as resident soldiers and were given free title to land.

Croatia remained under Hapsburg rule until the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when Napoleon conquered Croatia in 1809. The so-called Illyrian Empire lasted until the fall of Napoleon, and Croatia returned to Austro-Hungarian rule. In 1840 a Croatian National Party was formed. Croats began to search for a national identity, including a Croatian language, literature, and history. Rural populations were believed to be the curators of "authentic Croatian culture." Croats also began to look to Serbs and other southern Slavs as people with whom they shared a linguistic and cultural affinity. After World War I, Croatia joined other southern Slavs in the first Yugoslavia. The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) was born out of the Treaty of Versailles. At first, Croats welcomed the union but soon resented the Serbian monarch and the fact that the seat of government was in Belgrade, the Serbian capital. In 1928, the Ustasha Party was formed with the goal of winning independence. Italy and Germany supported this movement and its terrorist activities. In 1941, when the Axis powers occupied Yugoslavia, the Ustasha Party became the ruling faction in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH). It is not clear, however, that a majority of Croats supported or identified with the Ustasha Party. Modern Croats generally disclaim association with the NDH.

Fascist Croatia was responsible for the extermination of Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies. In the recent war (19911995), Serbs used the term "Ustasha" as a very negative term to refer to any Croat. This term, and the Croat term "Chetnik" for Serbs, also harking back to the time of World War II, served to distance the Serbs and Croats from each other, and remind both sides of a time when atrocities were committed.

During World War II, there was also a war in the Yugoslav territories for internal control of the region By then the first Yuboslavia had come apart. Josip Broz (Tito) was the leader of the Partisans; he was born and raised in Croatia. Many Croats joined the Partisans. Eventually Partisans prevailed. Modern Croats claim they were the dominant national group in the Partisan army, though Serbs and Bosnians make the same claim.

Under socialism, a Yugoslav identity was promoted and nationalism was suppressed. Singing Croatian songs said to be nationalistic could lead to a jail term. Maspok, or the "Croatian Spring," the only large-scale nationalist movement under Tito's regime, was put down in 1971. It was led by important Croatian communists and was based on economic disagreement with the Serb elite in Belgrade.

Economic and political problems escalated after Tito died. Some of the socialist leaders recast themselves as nationalist leaders. Croats began to express resentment against the Yugoslav government and the favoritism they believed Serbs received in government jobs. Many believed themselves to be economically superior and able to stand alone. Economically, the entire country was in a crisis, but Slovenia and Croatia had some advantages, including proximity to western Europe and a tourist industry on the Dalmatian coast. The first free elections were held in Slovenia and Croatia in 1990. The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) was formed, and Franjo Tudjman, a former communist and nationalist, rose to power.

In the late 1980s tension began to build between Croats and Serbs in the former Yugoslavia. Violent incidents began to erupt in Croatia in February 1991. Croatia declared independence from socialist Yugoslavia in 1991. War broke out in 1991 with Yugoslav National Army (JNA). At the end of 1991 there was full-scale war in Croatia. The war was between the Serbs, in what had been the Republic of Serbia in the former Yugoslavia, and Croats in the newly independent Croatia. The reasons for the war are very complex. Very simply, while Croatia wanted to separate from Yugoslavia, Serbs were largely unwilling to allow this to happen, probably largely for economic reasons.

The first president of the new democratic Croatia, Franjo Tudjman, died in 1999. The HDZ no longer controls the parliament, and young people feel that the country is becoming a democratic and modern European nation.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Architecture reflects the influence of the bordering nations. Austrian and Hungarian influences are visible in public space and buildings in the north and central regions. Large squares named for culture heroes, well-groomed parks, and pedestrian-only zones, are features of these orderly towns and cities. Above-ground trams provide excellent transportation. Muted colors prevail, especially tones of yellow and gold.

Zagreb, the largest and most important city, includes an upper city (Gornji Grad) and a lower city (Kaptol). The heart of the city is the Square of Ban Jelacic. In 1848, the Austrian government presented Jelacic with a bronze statue of himself that was placed in this central square. Croatian names for streets and squares were often replaced with socialist names after 1945, only to be returned to their original names in 1991.

The University of Zagreb was established in 1669. Its faculties are spread around the central portion of the city. Important public buildings include the Sabor as well as ministries, embassies, and government offices. One of the most important public buildings is the Gothic cathedral of Saint Stefan. Inside the cathedral, there is a carved stone inscription in Glagolithic, the alphabet first used in Croatia. The Dolac is the large central farmer's market. Perhaps the most important public place in daily life is the café, and in Zagreb there are many. People rarely meet in their homes, which are small and crowded. When visitors do enter a private home, they are usually invited only into a parlor or living room area, or the kitchen. Whether in a café or a home, people generally socialize around a table. In public spaces, people maintain privacy by avoiding conversation or using formal terms of address.

In the suburbs beyond the older, central section of Zagreb, there are apartment buildings and a smaller open market. There is almost always a Catholic church. The most remote suburbs of New Zagreb have high-rise Soviet-style apartment blocks.

The rural areas of Zagorija and Slavonia still have some traditional houses that are mostly built of brick or stone. In cities, houses are built right up to the street. An inner courtyard sometimes provides space for a small garden. Modern houses in cities and villages usually have two or three stories with masonry and stucco. Many people build their own houses, beginning with a simple bedroomliving room structure and adding on as time and money allow.

Along the coast, the architecture is Mediterranean. Houses usually are made of stucco and painted white, and have red tile roofs. Cities and towns still have the characteristic open markets, squares, and Catholic churches, but are less likely to be laid out in a neat grid.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. The main meal of the day is a late lunch. In the north and inland, the majority of the foods has an Austrian or Hungarian flavor. A typical lunch includes chicken or beef soup, cooked meat (often pork), potatoes, and bread. Greens with vinegar and oil are served in the spring and summer, and pickled vegetables in the winter. Along the coast, a meal usually includes fish and pasta, risotto, or polenta. Lamb is common in the Dalmatian highland region. Breakfast is simple, usually consisting of strong coffee and bread with jam. The traditional dinner typically consists of leftovers from lunch, cold meats, and cheese with bread. People usually eat in their own homes, although they also eat snacks on the streets. Restaurants are usually very formal and expensive. A variety of fast foods are available, including foods typical of ethnic minorities. While people rarely eat in restaurants, almost everyone has coffee in cafés on a regular basis.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. For holidays or special occasions, there are larger quantities of food, particularly meat. Roast pork with the skin (pecenka ) is popular in Zagreb and Slavonia. Special cakes are also prepared. Fried cheese, octopus salad, spicy grilled meats, and dishes made with phyllo reflect different cultural influences. Large quantities of alcohol are part of any celebration. In Slavonia, this is usually a plum brandy; in Zagreb and on the coast, grape or herb brandies are popular. Whenever people get together, they usually drink together. Strong Turkish-style coffee and espresso are important symbols of hospitality. Men usually are offered an alcoholic drink.

Basic Economy. People no longer produce food primarily for their own consumption; although, during the war from 1991 to 1995 people depended on kitchen gardens and subsistence fishing, particularly on the coast. Agriculture, however, remains an important industry. Steel manufacture, chemical production, and oil refineries are also important, as are textiles, shipbuilding, and food processing. Tourism, which was the major industry on the coast until 1991, is again important. Croatia depends on imported goods and the revenue from exports.

Land Tenure and Property. Since the end of socialism, the country has been in the process of transferring property to private ownership. There have been difficulties in the cases of apartments and houses that were confiscated under socialism, and have been occupied for many years by families other than the original owners. The inhabitants of government-owned apartments have been given opportunities to buy their homes. The transformation of industries from government to private ownership is largely complete.

Division of Labor. Division of labor in the workplace is based largely on skill and educational level. Individuals whose families are professional are likely to enter the professions, while working-class families largely produce working-class children. Under socialism, family connections could help one achieve a position. This was consistent with the national culture and was not necessarily a product of socialism. Communist Party membership increased one's potential for good employment. It is not uncommon for people to retire to help care for a grandchild, while younger men and women continue to work after becoming parents.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. An unofficial class system is based on one's family name and professional status rather than wealth. Communist Party membership challenged this class system, although it was not uncommon for prominent families to join the party. In more recent years, Croats increasingly became discontented with the socialist government, particularly people who were well educated, professional, and from prominent families.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Economic indicators of high social status include style of dress, material wealth such as a house or apartment in a city, an automobile, a vacation house, and international travel. Less obvious indicators are educational level and occupation. Most high-status individuals speak English well and are likely to speak one other European language. Dialect is also an indicator of social status. People from a city have higher status than people from villages, though many urban dwellers have village family connections. High-status individuals are usually Croats. They may be of mixed ethnicity but are members of a predominantly Croatian family. Jewish families are likely to be of relatively high status. Ethnic Albanians are usually at the bottom of the social system, and Gypsies are completely outside it.

Political Life

Government. Croatia is a democratic republic with a parliamentary government based on a constitution established in 1990. The parliament (Sabor) has a House of Representatives and a House of Counties. The latter is advisory only and has equal representation from every region. Seats are set aside in the House of Representatives for ethnic minorities and Croats in the diaspora. Representatives are elected for four-year terms.

Leadership and Political Officials. The president of the republic is elected for a five-year term and may only serve two consecutive terms. There is also a prime minister.

There are thirteen parties with representatives in the government. The dominant party since 1991 has been the HDZ. Some of the smaller parties formed a coalition and won the elections after Tudjman's death.

Social Problems and Control. Since the war of 19911995, there is increased crime, particularly of a petty nature. There are more beggars visible on the streets. Most of the individuals are people who are displaced or refugees, or otherwise left out of the current system as a result of war and political change. Some elderly people, for example, had pensions that were paid in another of the republics of the former Yugoslavia. Others who had money in banks outside Croatia may have lost their savings. For the most part, however, people are coping with the help of family. Croatia and non-governmental organizations provide some safety net for refugees.

Military Activity. In the former Yugoslavia, all men were required to serve one year of military duty, either right after high school, or if they went on to university, during or at the end of their university education. Usually people served their military duty in a republic other than the one in which they were born and lived. Beginning in 1983, women could voluntarily join the military. The new Croatian Army grew out of a para-military established originally as Croatia began to feel threatened and vulnerable before the outbreak of war in 1991. As tensions built in the former Yugoslavia, Croats began to refuse to serve in the Yugoslav Army. During the war, all young men were expected to register for military service. Generally men from the same village or locality served together during the war, even though this meant that a village could lose a number of its young men in one battle. Because the different sides spoke the same language (more or less), and dressed more or less the same, regional dialects, and actually knowing one's comrades in arms became important. In the new state of Croatia, young men are now required once again to register for a year of military duty.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

Social problems since independence, include the needs of refugees and other victims of war. There is a School of Social Welfare in the University of Zagreb. There is a very small social welfare system. In the former Yugoslavia, there was little unemployment or welfare, though a social security system existed. However, if one did not have a job, one depended on his or her family for support. When there were crises, other family members stepped in.

Active programs of change pertain primarily to the shift to democracy and free-market capitalism, including related issues such as intellectual property rights.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

Many nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) came to the country during and just after the Serb-Croat war (19911995). They included international relief organizations such as the International Red Cross, church-based organizations such as Catholic Relief Services and Caritas (Care), and other private voluntary groups, including Doctors without Borders. Some of these groups attempted to address problems in Croatia, while others used Croatia as a base of operations to carry out work in Bosnia. United Nations peacekeeping forces were a visible presence just after the war.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Traditionally, a loose division of labor allocates housework and child care to women and outside work to men. But women have long been part of the labor force. Before socialism, rural women worked alongside men in fields and on the farm. They also prepared meals and processed food for storage, kept the house, did laundry, and minded the children. Under socialism, women were encouraged to join the workforce. Today, most women expect to have a job or career.

When women work for wages, men share some of the duties at home. Grandfathers traditionally spend time with grandchildren, and fathers take a fairly active role in raising children. Men are less likely to clean, do laundry, cook, and to think of domestic work or child care as their responsibility.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Croatia is portrayed as a patriarchal society, but women have fairly equal status with men. Men enjoy more privileges and have a higher status and many families prefer sons to daughters. Women are represented in most professions, politics, and the arts and are not likely to take a secondary role in public life. Women are as likely as men to pursue higher education. Status differences are as marked between older and younger people, and between professional or working-class individuals, as they are between the genders. Gender differences are more pronounced among farmers and the working classes than among professionals.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Couples arrange their own marriages. Young people usually meet in school, through friends, or at work. They often begin to spend time together in the company of a larger group of friends. A young man and woman usually have a serious relationship before they meet each other's families. Individuals theoretically have a great deal of choice about marriage partners, but Croats tend to marry people of the same nationality and religion and with the same educational level and social status. Most men and women marry in their early 20s. Monogamous marriage is the rule. Divorce is increasingly common, although it is still considered undesirable. Pregnancy before marriage is not uncommon, but is not usually the sole reason for getting married.

Domestic Unit. In the past, three-generation households were the norm. A married couple usually lived with the husband's parents. Today young people are ambivalent about living with their parents or grandparents after marriage. There is still a cultural preference for extended families, but young people tend to want privacy.

Young married couples usually live with one set of parents or a grandparent because of a shortage of housing. There is also a preference for keeping small children in the care of resident grandparents and for caring for the elderly at home. Young children are often placed in day care or kindergarten. Increasingly, elderly people spend some time in a nursing home, which usually creates a huge financial burden for their families.

Inheritance. The most important property passed from one generation to another is a house or apartment. Usually one child in a family inherits a residence, which he or she occupies. Family wealth, however, ideally is distributed equally among all the sons and daughters. In the past only sons inherited, and in some regions, only eldest sons. Daughters usually were given a dowry; in rare cases, this might include some land.

Kin Groups. Croats practice bilateral kinship. In principle they favor the father's side of the family. Couples traditionally resided with the husband's parents after marriage, and were expected to have more to do with the husband and father's relatives. Traditional kinship terms reflect this, with different terms for the husband's parents and the wife's parents, and for the two mothers-in-law. In practice, however, many families have resided with or near the wife's parents. Whether a couple live with or are closer to one set of parents or another depends to some extent on personal preference, and also on economic matters (who has room in their house for the couple, who is likely to leave a house or apartment to the couple).


Infant Care. Infants are cared for at home, primarily by the mother. They usually are swaddled tightly in blankets when they are very small. As toddlers, they are dressed in multiple layers of clothing to protect them against the cold. Infants stay close to their caretakers, usually sleeping with their parents or in the same room. They often are breast fed, although bottle feeding is not uncommon. Women do not breast feed in any public settings. Infants and toddlers are supervised very closely and are not encouraged to explore or move about on their own. Mothers or other adult caretakers feed children, dress them, and perform routine physical care well into the young childhood years.

Child Rearing and Education. Family members are the preferred caretakers for children. Young children are placed in day care when they are not taken care of by their parents or grandparents. Kindergartens are provided free by the government and accept children from the ages of one to six years. Children begin their formal public education at age seven. There are now private kindergartens, mostly run by the Catholic Church. Croats do not use nannies or unrelated babysitters. Children are verbally corrected for misbehavior. Spanking is not common now, especially among urban professional people. Good children obey their parents and other adults, show respect for elders and property, play quietly, eat what adults prepare for them, and go to sleep at a regular bedtime. Children are less likely to act out physically than verbally. They do not bring other children home to play because homes are small and for the family and adult guests. Parents take responsibility for the behavior of children. Most adults see the personality or behavioral traits of an older relative in a child.

Higher Education. People value higher education, although families that have been working class through the generations tend to expect their children to stay in that class. The University of Zagreb is the largest of the five universities. There are fifty one schools and colleges (faculties) associated with the universities. Zagreb has a central National and University Library, which all citizens may use. Individuals who do not attend university usually attend a secondary school to prepare for work. Secondary curricula include gymnasium (college preparatory general education), technical education (mechanical training), and specialized education (bookkeeping or office skills).


People stand close to one another and talk loudly. Strangers stare openly at one another. Formality is maintained in language and behavior when people do not know each other well. Strangers nod their heads in passing. In stores, offices, and places of business, people use formal language for greetings and good-byes. Failure to greet someone in a context that requires a greeting and an overly familiar greeting are serious breaches of etiquette. People who are on friendly terms greet each other more informally and usually kiss on both cheeks. Men and women kiss, women and women kiss, and men kiss other men who are family members or very close associates. Young people are expected to offer the first greeting to older people, and women to men. The formal "you" is used unless people are age mates, good friends, or coworkers or have reached a stage where the dominant person invites the person of lesser status to address him or her informally.


Religious Beliefs. For many people, Catholicism is a symbol of nationality even though they may not attend mass or participate in other religious activities or ceremonies. Most young people are baptized, and most marriages are conducted in a church. Other religions include Eastern or Serbian Orthodox, Islam, Judaism, and Protestantism. Since the war, there has been a more visible presence of Protestant missionaries, including members of the Church of the Latter Day Saints and Jehovah's Witness. There is some interest in Eastern religions, such as Buddhism, among young adults.

Religious Practitioners. Catholic priests and nuns are the most visible religious practitioners in Croatia. There are ministers of a few Protestant sects (particularly the Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists), and religious leaders for some of the minority ethnic and religious communities. Likewise, there is evidence of some interest in non-Western religions, particularly in Zagreb. (Zagreb has a restaurant run by Hari Krishnas, for example). Since Croatian independence, however, Catholicism is more visible and more significant in Croatian daily life.

Rituals and Holy Places. Most families now observe Catholic rites of passage, including Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation and Marriage ceremonies in the Church. Funerals complete with a Funeral Mass are also important. Christmas and Easter are once again important national holidays, and are widely celebrated. Churches and cemeteries are important places in most peoples' lives. Many people have made pilgrimages to nearby Medjugorje in Herzegovina. This is a site where five young people claim to have seen repeated apparitions of the Virgin Mary, and where many people claim to have been cured of debilitating illnesses.

Death and the Afterlife. Most Croats hold to a Roman Catholic vision of death and resurrection of the soul. Interestingly, all Saints' Day (Day of the Dead) is the only Catholic holiday that was celebrated by most of the ethnic groups in the former Yugoslavia. It is still a very important observance in Croatia. Families wash and prepare graves, and decorate them with candles, flowers and photographs. People often make several trips to graveyards during the days just before and after All Saints' Day.

Medicine and Health Care

Under socialism, all citizens had access to medical care, and this is still the case. Physicians begin training at the start of their university education. The usual period of training for a physician is six years.

Secular Celebrations

Secular holidays include New Year's Day, International Labor Day (1 May), Croatian Statehood Day (30 May), Antifascist Uprising Day (22 June), and the Day of National Gratitude (5 August). International Women's Day (8 March) is still popularly observed.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. The arts are generally well supported in Croatia, including literature, fine arts, graphic arts and performance arts. Folk art, music and dance are also important, and part of the Croatian national identity. In the former Yugoslavia, all these activities were supported directly by the state. This is no longer entirely true, although the state is still involved in support of the arts, and the general Croat population pays attention to and appreciates many forms of art.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

The Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences oversees all research and activities in science, the humanities, the social sciences and the fine arts. It is considered the successor organization of the Yugoslav Academy of Arts and Sciences. Twenty research institutes are associated with this academy. There is a new National and University Library in Zagreb.


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Mary Katherine Gilliland

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The people of Croatia are called Croats. People from Yugoslavia, Slovenia, Hungary, Italy, and other European countries also live in Croatia. Together, these immigrant groups make up less than 15 percent of the total population.

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CROATIA. SeeYugoslavia, Relations with .

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"Croatia." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Croatia." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . (July 9, 2018).

"Croatia." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.