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 General information about Croatia


Official name Republic of Croatia
Capital city Zagreb
Surface area land 56,594 km², coastal waters (inland and territorial waters) 31,067 km²
Neighbouring countries and length of borders Slovenia 668 km
Hungary 355 km
Serbia 318 km
Bosnia and Herzegovina 1,011 km
Montenegro 23 km
Length of coastline mainland 1,777 km, islands 4,058 km
Highest peak Dinara 1,831 m
Language Croatian
Population (2011 census) 4,284,889
Largest cities (2011 census) Zagreb 688,163
Split 167,121
Rijeka 128,384
Osijek 84,104
Zadar 71,471
Pula 57,460
Slavonski Brod 53,531
Karlovac 46,833
Varaždin 38,839
Šibenik 34,302
Sisak 33,322
Vinkovci 32,029
Velika Gorica 31,553
Dubrovnik 28,434
Political system unitary democratic parliamentary republic
Head of state President of the Republic
Membership of international organisations United Nations from 1992
NATO from 2009
European Union from 2013
Gross National Product (2012) HRK 334 billion (EUR 45 billion)
Gross National Product per capita EUR 10,205
Exports EUR 9.6 billion
Imports EUR 16.2 billion
Currency kuna (HRK)
Statehood Day June 25
International country code HR
Telephone prefix 385
Internet domain .hr
Time zone UTC+1


Croatia has been present on the contemporary international political stage since its independence from the Yugoslav Federation, i.e. for a little over two decades,   but in terms of history and culture, it is one of the oldest European countries. The present-day territory of Croatia and its borders were formed over a long period of history, during which the Croatian nation, whether independent or incorporated within other states, constantly displayed its own subjectivity in national and political terms.


The geopolitical situation of Croatia is determined, therefore, by the convergence and influence of different ethnic, religious, economic and political factors. With respect to the complex position of the country, Croatian authors usually define it as Central European and Mediterranean.


According to the predominant historical orientation of most of the present-day territory, which gravitated towards Vienna and Budapest, and according to the geographical characteristics of its continental interior, Croatia is a Central European country. On the other hand, its exceptionally long sea front which, with the immediate inland region, fell under the historical influence of the powers of Venice, make it a Mediterranean country. In the hinterland of the Adriatic coast, in a triangle formed by the towns of Nin, Knin and Šibenik, the seeds of the first medieval Croatian state were sown. The general shift of economic centres of gravity to the north in Europe, and Croatia’s entry into a state connection with Hungary, moved the centre of gravity of the Croatian state towards Zagreb.


In the wider context of the Croatian region, several powerful political, economic and civilisational centres developed through the ages (the Ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Franks, the Hungarians, the Ottomans, and the Venetians). Their influences permeated the region of Croatia, and were often in conflict with each other. In the division caused by the schism in Christianity, Croatia leaned to the Western faction, at the same time forming the far eastern border of Western Christianity. Long periods of conflict between mighty powers, punctuated by occasional times of peace, meant that the survival of Croatia was constantly jeopardised and national development hindered. Several times, foreign powers organised their military defence systems on Croatian land (e.g. the Frankish Eastern Line and the Austrian Military Border). Croatia was also on the route of the deepest incursions made by the Ottoman Empire into Central Europe, which led to the contraction of the Croatian state and the shrinking of the Croatian ethnic area to the west. The final consequence of this situation meant that Croatia was shaped along the unusual contours of its modern state territory, arching widely around neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina. The location of the country has brought it into contact with different cultures, traces of which can be found in various kinds of tangible and spiritual heritage, which today, alongside the original Croatian tradition, have been incorporated into the national identity and recognised in the European community of nations.


The direct consequence of belonging to different political centres throughout history was the long and drawn-out period during which the Croatian lands, today’s historical regions, were not united. Under these circumstances, the political genesis of Croatia was slow and protracted. After several centuries of political links with the Central European countries of Austria and Hungary, in 1918 Croatia became part of the Yugoslav state, whose centre of gravity was further east, so that through most of the 20th century, Croatian interests were subordinated to Yugoslav ones. Nonetheless, within the framework of Yugoslavia, Croatia continued to develop its own potential and, occasionally, to express its own political goals. In this situation of limited independence, Croatia succeeded after the Second World War in integrating most of its ethnic regions, then, during the disintegration of Yugoslavia, to mount a military defence and, after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, to win the fight for international recognition. Croatia’s sovereignty and western orientation have been affirmed by entry into the European Union, and, once again, the country is in the position of being a border, which places it in a unique position to participate in the process of extending the European Union to non-member countries, by showing its special interest in them, and also its understanding of them.



Croatia is shaped like a horseshoe, stretching from Vukovar in the northeast, past Zagreb in the west, and to Dubrovnik in the far south. It gained most of its present-day contours at the end of the 17th century. With a surface area of 56,594 km², it is 19th among the European Union countries according to size, falling between Latvia and Slovakia. In terms of relief and climate, it is extremely diverse. The territory includes extensive plains in the continental region between the River Drava and River Sava (Slavonia), mountainous areas in the centre (Lika and Gorski Kotar), and in the west and south, a long, indented, sunny coastline with over a thousand islands (Istria and Dalmatia). Croatia belongs to the Danube Basin and the Adriatic Sea and forms the Mediterranean front of Central Europe, positioned favourably in terms of geography and communications at the meeting point of important European corridors, while its harbours are used as sea exits by the neighbouring countries to the north. Croatia is the third richest country in Europe in terms of natural water resources, and boasts a particularly well-preserved ecological environment, with hundreds of endemic plant and animal species. Almost 10% of the country is protected within 11 nature parks, 8 national parks and two strict nature reserves.



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