Croatia, formally the Republic of Croatia, is a sovereign state located between Central and Southeast Europe, as well as the Mediterranean. Its capital city, Zagreb, is one of the country’s main subdivisions, along with the country’s twenty counties. Croatia has a land area of 56,594 square kilometers (21,851 square miles) with a variety of climates, mainly continental and Mediterranean. The Adriatic Seacoast of Croatia is home to over a thousand islands. The country has a population of 4.28 million people, the majority of whom are Croats, with Roman Catholicism being the most prevalent religious affiliation.
Croats first came in the region that is now Croatia in the early 7th century AD. By the ninth century, they had divided the realm into two duchies. By 925, Tomislav had become the first monarch, raising Croatia to the status of a kingdom. Croatian sovereignty was maintained for almost two centuries, peaking during the reigns of Kings Petar Kreimir IV and Dmitar Zvonimir. Croatia and Hungary formed a personal union in 1102. Facing Ottoman invasion, the Croatian Parliament elected Ferdinand I of the House of Habsburg to the Croatian throne in 1527. Croatia was included in the unrecognized State of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs that seceded from Austria-Hungary and united into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1918, after World War I. During World War II, a fascist Croatian puppet state supported by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany existed. Croatia became a founding member and federal component of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a constitutionally socialist state, after the war. Croatia proclaimed independence on June 25, 1991, which became fully effective on October 8, 1991. During the four years after the proclamation, the Croatian War of Independence was waged effectively.
Croatia, a unitary state, is a republic ruled by a parliamentary system. Croatia is categorized as an emerging and developing economy by the International Monetary Fund, and as a high-income country by the World Bank. Croatia is a founder member of the Union for the Mediterranean, the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN), the Council of Europe, NATO, and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Croatia, as an active member of the UN peacekeeping forces, deployed soldiers to the NATO-led operation in Afghanistan and had a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2008–2009 term.
Croatia’s economy is dominated by the service sector, which is followed by the industrial sector and agriculture. During the summer, tourism is a major source of income, with Croatia ranking as the world’s 18th most popular tourist destination. With significant government spending, the state controls a portion of the economy. Croatia’s most significant trade partner is the European Union. Since 2000, the Croatian government has been investing heavily in infrastructure, particularly transportation routes and amenities along Pan-European corridors. In Croatia, internal sources generate a major part of the energy; the remainder is imported. Croatia has a universal health care system and free basic and secondary education, as well as many governmental institutions and corporate investments in media and publishing that promote culture.
Tourism in Croatia
Tourism dominates the Croatian service sector and contributes up to 20% to Croatia’s GDP. The annual income of the tourism industry was estimated at 7.4 billion euros in 2014. Its positive impact is felt throughout the Croatian economy, as evidenced by increased business volumes in the retail sector, orders in the manufacturing industry, and seasonal employment in the summer. In the period since the end of the Croatian War, the travel industry experienced significant and rapid growth, with tourist numbers increasing 4 times, reaching more than 11 million tourists per year. The largest number of tourists comes from Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Italy and the Czech Republic, and from Croatia itself. The average length of a tourist’s stay in Croatia is 4.9 days.
Most of the tourist industry is concentrated along the Adriatic coast. Opatija was the first resort since the middle of the 19th century. At the end of the 19th century it became one of the most important European health resorts. Later, a number of resorts developed along the coast and on the islands, ranging from mass tourism to gastronomy and various niche markets. The most important is nautical tourism, as there are numerous marinas with more than 16 thousand berths, and cultural tourism, based on the attraction of the medieval coastal towns and the numerous cultural events that take place during the summer. In the interior there are mountain resorts, agrotourism and health resorts. Zagreb is also a major tourist destination competing with major coastal cities and spas.
Croatia is blessed with unpolluted seaside areas, which are reflected with numerous nature reserves and incredible 116 Blue Flag beaches. Croatia has been ranked as 18th most popular tourist destination of the world. About 15% of these visitors (over one million per year) engage in naturism, an industry for which Croatia is world famous. The country has also become first European country to have developed commercially nudist resorts.
Geography of Croatia
Located in Central and Southeastern Europe, Croatia is bordered by Hungary to the northeast, in the east with Serbia, in the southeast with Bosnia and Herzegovina, to the southeast with Montenegro, in the southwest by the Adriatic Sea and in the northwest with Slovenia. It lies mainly between latitudes 42° and 47° N and longitudes 13° and 20° E. Part of the territory at the far south around Dubrovnik is a practical exclave linked to the rest of the mainland by territorial waters, although separated on land by a short coastal strip belonging to Bosnia and Herzegovina around Neum.
It covers an area of 56,594 km2 and is made up of 56,414 km2 of land and 128 km2 of water. The country is the 127th in size. Altitude ranges from the mountains of the Dinaric Alps with the highest point of Dinara Peak at 1,831 meters (6,007 feet) near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina in the south to the Adriatic Sea which forms its entire southwestern border. Insular Croatia is made up by more than a thousand islands and islets of different sizes, of which 48 are permanently inhabited. The biggest islands are Cres and Krk, each of them having an area of about 405 km2.
The hilly northern parts of Hrvatsko Zagorje and the flat plains of Slavonia in the east (part of the Pannonian Basin) are crossed by large rivers such as the Sava, Drava, Kupa and Danube. The Danube, the second longest river in Europe, crosses the town of Vukovar in the far east and is part of the border with Serbia. The central and southern regions close to the coast and islands of the Adriatic consist of low mountains and wooded highlands. Among the natural resources found in the country in sufficient quantities for production are oil, coal, bauxite, low-grade iron ore, calcium, gypsum, natural asphalt, silica, mica, clays, salt and hydropower.
The karst topography represents about half of Croatia and is particularly important in the Dinaric Alps. There are a number of deep caves in Croatia, of which there are 49 with a deepness of more than 250 m, 14 with a deepness of more than 500 m and three with a deepness of more than 1,000 m. The best known lakes in Croatia are the Plitvice Lakes, a system of 16 lakes with waterfalls connecting them by cascades of dolomite and limestone. The lakes are famous for their special colors, which range from turquoise to mint green, gray or blue.
Demographics of Croatia
With an estimated population of 4.20 million by 2015, Croatia ranks 125th in the world. The population density is 75.9 inhabitants per square kilometre. Total life expectancy at birth in Croatia was 78 years in 2012. The overall fertility rate of 1.5 children per mother is among the lowest in the world. Since 1991, the mortality rate in Croatia has been consistently higher than the birth rate. According to the 2013 United Nations report, 17.6% of the Croatian population was made up of immigrant immigrants.
The population decrease was also a consequence of the Croatian War of Independence. The war displaced a significant proportion of the population and led to an increase in emigration. In 1991, more than 400 000 Croats and other non-Serbs in predominantly Serb areas were removed from their homes or fled the violence by Croatian Serb forces. During the last days of the war in 1995, more than 120 000 Serbs, and perhaps as many as 200 000, fled the country before the Croatian forces arrived during Operation Storm. Within ten years of the end of the war, only 117 000 Serbian refugees returned from the 300 000 displaced throughout the war. Most of the remaining Serbs in Croatia have never lived in areas occupied during the Croatian War of Independence. The Serbs have only partially resettled in the areas they previously inhabited, while some of the settlements previously inhabited by Serbs were established by Croat refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina, mostly from Republika Srpska.
Croatia is predominantly inhabited by Croats (90.4%) and is, ethnically speaking, the most homogeneous among the 6 countries of the former Yugoslavia.
Religion in Croatia
Croatia has no official religion. Freedom of religion is a right enshrined in the constitution, which also defines all religious communities as equal before the law and separated from the state.
The 2011 census showed that 91.36% of Croatians identify as Christians. Islam takes second place (1.47%). 4.57% of the population describes themselves as non-religious. The majority of Croats consider religion important in their daily lives.
Economy of Croatia
Croatia has a high-income economy. According to data from the International Monetary Fund, Croatia’s nominal GDP is USD 52 billion, or USD 12 405 per capita for the year 2017, while the purchasing power parity GDP is USD 97 billion, or USD 23 171 per capita. According to Eurostat data, Croatia’s GDP in PPS per capita was 61% of the EU average in 2012.
Real GDP growth in 2007 was 6.0%. In February 2016, Croatian workers’ average net salary was 5,652 HRK per month and average gross salary was 7,735 HRK per month. In March 2016 the registered unemployment rate in Croatia was 17.2 percent.
Economic output in 2010 has been dominated by the service sector, which represented 66% of GDP, while industry accounted with 27.2% and agriculture with 6.8% of GDP. The employment rate in agriculture was 2.7% of the labour force, 32.8% in industry and 64.5% in services, based on 2004 data. The industrial sector is dominated by shipbuilding, food industry, pharmaceuticals, information technology, biochemistry and the wood industry. In 2010, Croatian exports amounted to 64.9 billion Kuna (€8.65 billion) and imports to 110.3 billion Kuna (€14.7 billion). More than half of Croatia’s trade is with other Member States of the European Union.
Privatisation and the pursuit of a market economy had only just begun under the new Croatian Government when war broke out in 1991. As a result of the war, the economic infrastructure has suffered enormous damage, particularly the tourist industry, which is rich in income. The Croatian state still controls a significant part of the economy, with public expenditure amounting to up to 40% of GDP. An overdue judicial system, combined with inefficient public administration, especially in the areas of land ownership and corruption, is a particular cause for concern. In 2011, the country ranked 66th in Transparency International, with a corruption index of 4.0. Corruption is one of the main causes of this backlog. In June 2013, public debt stood at 59.5% of the country’s GDP.