Croatia -- Geography --
Official Name: Republic of Croatia
Capital City: Zagreb
Religions: Catholic, Orthodox, others
Croatia is inhabited mostly by Croats (89.6%). Minority groups include Serbs (4.5%), Bosniaks (0.5%), Hungarians (0.4%) and others. Predominate religion is Catholicism (90%), with some Orthodox (4.4%) and Sunni Muslim (1.3%) minorities.
The official and common language, Croatian, is a South Slavic language, using the Latin alphabet. Other languages are spoken by less than 5% of the population.
The population of Croatia has been stagnating over the last decade. The 1991-1995 war in Croatia had previously displaced large parts of the population and increased emigration.
Land Area: 56,538 sq km
Landforms: Flat plain area in the north along the Slovenia and Hungarian borders. Lower mountains (Dinaric Alps) and rolling hills along the Dalmatian coastline,
and central, up to its eastern border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Major
rivers include the Sava, Drava and Danube.
Land Divisions: 20 counties and 1 city*, including: Bjelovarsko-Bilogorska Zupanija, Brodsko-Posavska Zupanija, Dubrovacko-Neretvanska Zupanija, Istarska Zupanija, Karlovacka Zupanija, Koprivnicko-Krizevacka Zupanija, Krapinsko-Zagorska Zupanija, Licko-Senjska Zupanija, Medimurska Zupanija, Osjecko-Baranjska Zupanija, Pozesko-Slavonska Zupanija, Primorsko-Goranska Zupanija, Sibensko-Kninska Zupanija, Sisacko-Moslavacka Zupanija, Splitsko-Dalmatinska Zupanija, Varazdinska Zupanija, Viroviticko-Podravska Zupanija, Vukovarsko-Srijemska Zupanija, Zadarska Zupanija, Zagreb* and Zagrebacka Zupanija
Croatia -- History --
In antiquity, the territory of today’s Croatia was settled with Illyrians, in VI – VII century – with Slavonic tribes Croats and Serbians. It is part of Frank state since the end of VIII century. At the beginning X century is formed Kingdom Croatia. It is in union with Hungary since 1102, and after its defeat by the Turks (1526) is under the authority of Austria. During the formation of Austria-Hungary (1867), Croatia becomes a part of Hungary. At the beginning XIX century, the struggle for liberation from Austria-Hungary’s authority is strengthened – in 1918 are formed national councils in Zagreb and other cities; it bursts major rebellion of the seamen and workers in Kataro. After the dissolution of Austria-Hungary (1918), Croatia become a part of the Kingdom of Serbians, Croats and Slovenians (since 1929 – Yugoslavia), since 1939 it is autonomous. In April 1941, a big part of Croatia is occupied by the Germans, Italy and Hungary; with the rest of the territory is formed “independent” state Croatia with a puppet pro-fascist government. Croatia is national republic in NFRY since November 1945, and socialist republic in SFRY since 1963. The first multiparty elections after World War II are organized in Croatia in 1990; the Croatian Assembly elects Dr. Franjo Tudjman as the first president. In 1991, Croatia proclaims independence; the Serbian rebellion starts, supported by the Yugoslav National Army from Belgrade and results in the occupation of one third of Croatian territory. In 1992, The Republic of Croatia becomes a member of the United Nations. The last occupied part of Croatia, in the east, including Vukovar, is integrated into the country in 1998. On the general elections, late president's ruling party (HDZ) lost the election in 2000. The coalition of 6 parties is now in power. On the general elections in December 2003, Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) has won the election. Together with other 3 parties and national minority Members of Parliament forms the Government.
Croatia -- Economy --
Croatia has an economy based mostly on various services and some, mostly light industry. Tourism is a notable source of income.
The Croatian economy is post-communist. In the late 1980s, at the beginning of the process of economic transition, its position was favorable, but it was gravely impacted by de-industrialization and war damages. Rapid industrialization and diversification occurred after World War II. Decentralization came in 1965, allowing growth of certain sectors, like the tourist industry. Profits from Croatian industry were used to develop poorer regions in the former Yugoslavia. This, coupled with austerity programs and hyperinflation in the 1980s, led to discontent in both Croatia and Slovenia that fueled the independence movement.
Before the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the Republic of Croatia, after Slovenia, was the most prosperous and industrialized area, with a per capita output perhaps one-third above the Yugoslav average. Privatization under the new Croatian Government had barely begun when war broke out. As a result of the Croatian war of independence, the economic infrastructure sustained massive damage in the period 1991-92.
By the end of the 1990s, Croatia faced considerable economic problems stemming from: the legacy of longtime communist mismanagement of the economy; damage during the internecine fighting to bridges, factories, power lines, buildings, and houses; the large refugee and displaced population, both Croatian and Bosnian the disruption ofeconomic ties; and mishandled privatization
Inflation and unemployment rose and the kuna fell, prompting the national bank to tighten fiscal policy. A new banking law passed in December 1998 gave the central bank more control over Croatia's 53 remaining commercial banks. Croatia is dependent on international debt to finance the deficit. A recently issued Euro-denominated bond was well received, selling $300 million, which helped offset economic losses from the Kosovo crisis.
Despite the successful value-added tax program, planned privatization of state controlled businesses, and a revised budget with a 7% across that board cut in spending, the government still projected a $200 million deficit for 1999.
Western aid and investment, especially in the tourist and oil industries, is helping restore the economy. The government has been successful in some reform efforts — partially macroeconomic stabilization policies — and it has normalized relations with its creditors.
The recession that began at the end of 1998 continued through most of 1999, and GDP in 1999 was flat. Inflation remained in check and the kuna was stable. However, consumer demand was weak and industrial production decreased. Structural reform lagged and problems of payment arrears and a lack of banking supervision continued.
Due to the upcoming elections, the HDZ government promised two salary increases to public-sector employees before the end of the year which increased the fiscal deficit.
The death of President Tudman in December 1999, and the defeat of his ruling Coatian Democratic Union or HDZ party in parliamentary and presidential elections in January 2000 ushered in a new government committed to economic reform and halting the economic decline.
The Racan government carried out a large number of structural reforms and with tourism as the main factor, the country emerged from recession in 2000. Due to overall increase in stability, the economic rating of the country improved and interest rates dropped. As a result of coalition politics and resistance from the unions and the public, many reforms are still overdue, esp. in the legal system.
Unemployment reached a peak of circa 22% in late 2002 due to many overdue bankruptcies. It has since been steadily decreasing, powered by growing industrial production and rising GDP rather than only seasonal changes (tourism). The GDP rose to the level it had in 1990 only 2003.
Most economic indicators remained positive in this period, except for the external debt. The Croatian National Bank had to take steps to curb further growth of indebtedness of local banks with foreign banks (commonly the same foreign banks that own the local ones). The dollar debt figure is quite adversely affected by the EUR/USD ratio — over a third of the increase in debt since 2002 is due to currency value changes.
Any negative trends in the large EU economies such as Germany or Italy also have a negative impact on Croatia as they are its biggest trade partners.
By early 2005, the foreign debt of the Government declined in growth, and was surpassed in size by the foreign debt of the banking sector, prompting further interventions by the national bank.
Main problems include massive structural unemployment (for 2004 14.4%) followed by an insufficient amount of economic reforms. Of particular concern is the gravely backlogged judiciary system combined with inefficient public administration, especially involving land ownership.
The country has since experienced faster economic growth and has been preparing for membership in the European Union, its most important trading partner.
In February 2005, Croatia implemented the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU and is advancing further towards full EU membership. The country expects some major economic impulses and high growth rates in the following next years (currently Croatia suffers most from its high export deficit and considerable debt). Some big trading companies have already taken advantage of the liberalization of the Croatian market. Croatia is expecting a boom in investments, especially Greenfield investments.
General Information: Before the disintegration of Yugoslavia in 1991, Croatia was the federation’s second most prosperous and industrialized republic after Slovenia, with a per capita output approximately one-third above the Yugoslav average. Although Croatia was part of a communist, one-party system from the mid-1940s until 1990, Yugoslav socialism was decentralized. Enterprises, although under state ownership and control and subject to occasional political interference, were generally free to make their own pricing and investment decisions and allowed to compete with one another.
Before the war in 1991 nearly two-thirds of Croatia’s land was under cultivation. Sugar beets, wheat, oats, rye, barley, and corn were the principal agricultural products. Mining, notably of bauxite and brown coal, played some role in Croatia’s socialist economy. Other industries included food processing, petroleum refining, iron and steel production, shipbuilding, and the manufacture of chemicals, machinery, cement and concrete, metals, and textiles. Croatia also enjoyed a thriving tourist industry along the Dalmatian coast.
War and Economic Decline: With the outbreak of war in 1991, Croatia’s economy went into steep decline. The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) began a downward spiral, falling from $12.4 billion in 1991 to $9.9 billion in 1992. Inflation levels soared, rising from around 120 percent in 1991 to nearly 1,500 percent in 1993. Unemployment continued to climb throughout the war, reaching about 17 percent in 1993. A shortage of jobs, especially for young people, continues to be a critical economic problem. Much of Croatia’s infrastructure, including roads and tourism facilities, were badly damaged during the war, and rebuilding that infrastructure has taken on special economic importance.
Steps to Recovery: In 1993 Croatia began a slow economic recovery. That year the country joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank). A stabilization plan introduced by the government in late 1993 brought inflation under control, and in 1994 Croatia introduced a new national currency, the kuna. The IMF and other international lenders rewarded Croatia with reconstruction loans that spurred an economic recovery. By 1995 inflation had declined to less than 4 percent. Croatia’s economy expanded through the late 1990s and, following a brief economic slump in 1999, has continued to experience positive economic growth. In late 2000 Croatia was admitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
By the end of 1993 the government had transferred a substantial proportion of state-owned companies to private hands. In subsequent years the progress of privatization was fitful, slowing markedly in 2002 due to political infighting and lack of clarity over property rights. However, capital investment in infrastructure, especially the building of new roads, and industrial production, grew rapidly. Today, privatization continues to move forward in several key sectors, including the important energy sector. In 2003 Croatia’s total GDP measured $28.8 billion. Croatia’s labor force numbered 2.1 million in 2003, with some 54 percent of the working population employed in services, 30 percent in industry, and 16 percent in agriculture. In 2003, 30 percent of the GDP was generated by industry and 8 percent by agriculture.
The country’s principal industrial products include chemicals, processed metals, wood products, building materials, textiles, ships, and food products. The revival of the tourism trade and the shipbuilding industry helped drive Croatia’s economic recovery. However, agricultural revival has proceeded slowly, as large sections of the country’s arable farmland were damaged during the war.
Energy and Transportation: While Croatia has some oil and gas deposits, the country remains heavily dependent on imported fuels for energy. Electricity production is currently growing more slowly than the GDP, reflecting increases in energy efficiency.
Croatia has 23,634 km (14,686 mi) of hard-surfaced public roads and 2,726 km (1,694 mi) of railroad track. An ambitious program of highway construction is under way, including rebuilding roads damaged during the war. The government is working to improve the railroad system with the help of the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
Foreign Trade, Currency and Banking: Croatia’s major trading partners include Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Russia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Exports include foodstuffs, chemicals, and complex machinery such as ships. Machinery, consumer goods, equipment, fuel, and food dominate imports.
The Croatian currency is the kuna. Since its introduction in 1994, the kuna has remained relatively stable against the United States dollar. Croatia’s central bank and the bank of issue is the National Bank of Croatia, which has pursued a policy of tightening supervision over commercial banks.
In 2003 Croatia joined the Central European Free Trade Association (CEFTA) and applied for membership in the European Union (EU). Croatia became an official EU candidate country in 2004, and it hopes to be formally admitted into the organization in 2007.
Croatia -- Culture --
Croatian culture is based on a thirteen century long history during which the country has attained many monuments and cities, which gave birth to a good number of brilliant individuals. The country includes six World Heritage sites and eight national parks. Three Nobel Prize winners came from Croatia, as did numerous important inventors and other notable people — notably; some of the first fountain pens came from Croatia. Nikola Tesla was born in Croatia.
Interestingly enough, Croatia also has a place in the history of neckwear as the origin of the necktie (cravat). The country has a long artistic, literary and musical tradition.
Croatia (Croatian Hrvatska) is a country in southeastern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Formerly one of the six republics of Yugoslavia, Croatia declared its independence in 1991.
The regions that make up Croatia were not unified historically, so the country’s arts show a mix of influences. The Dalmatian coast was long connected with Italy, and architectural marvels from Roman times can still be found in Dalmatia. Split, for example, contains the remains of the Roman emperor Diocletian's palace, while the ruins of a Roman amphitheater lie in Pula. Medieval walls and fortifications distinguish the southern city of Dubrovnik, which was an independent city-state until the early 19th century. Continental Croatia, as part of Austria-Hungary, had its own regional identity but much of its art and literature followed the empire’s styles. Croatian folk music remained linked to its locale, with styles differing greatly between Dalmatia and other regions.
Influenced by the Italian Renaissance, Croatian literature blossomed in Dubrovnik in the 16th and 17th centuries, with poems by Ivan Gundulic and Marko Marulic, and plays by Marin Drzic. By the 19th century Croatian literature, like that of most other central European peoples, was dominated by themes of national liberation. Some of these took the form of promoting the Yugoslav idea of a common state for the South Slavic peoples, originally a Croatian idea. Other writers stressed the need for a sovereign, independent Croatian state. The tension between these two nationalist ideas continued from the second half of the 19th century until 1991, when the Yugoslav idea was completely lost with the establishment of independent Croatia.
Prior to 1991 Miroslav Krleza was generally regarded as the greatest Croatian writer of the 20th century. However, Krleza was closely associated with Yugoslavism, and after Yugoslavia broke apart his works lost popularity in Croatia. Since 1991, Dubravka Ugresic and Slavenka Drakulic have established themselves as major writers, but they have been criticized for being antinationalist and spent most of the war years outside of Croatia.
The sculptor Ivan Mestrovic developed a worldwide reputation, and in the early 1900s promoted the establishment of a Yugoslav state. He emigrated from Croatia to the United States after World War II. Museums dedicated to his work are located in Split and Zagreb. Josip Generalic and other Croatian painters have also developed an international reputation with their naive style (simple, straightforward technique).
While the population is increasingly homogenous ethnically, regional identities remain important, especially in the coastal Dalmatian region. Croatian folk songs display regional variations. Along the Dalmatian coast, for example, folk songs closely resemble their Italian counterparts. Elsewhere, indigenous Slavic or Hungarian influences predominate. The traditional dances of Croatia include the fast-paced kolo (circle) dance. Many in Croatia enjoy jazz festivals and classical music, while Croatian popular music groups are also renowned in Croatia and surrounding regions. Croatian soccer and basketball teams rank highly internationally; the Croatian men’s basketball team won a silver medal at the 1992 Olympics.
Croatian cuisine reflects Austrian and Hungarian influences, but has its own character. Local specialties include fried cheese, chicken a la Backa (prepared with tomatoes, paprika, and onions), Zagreb veal cutlet, and gibanica, a layered cheese pastry. The Dalmatian coast produces excellent seafood and wines. The origin of the famous zinfandel grape of California has been traced to Dalmatia, and the post-communist Croatian wine industry is rapidly improving its standards for quality and marketing.
Croatia -- Life style --
The thirteen century long history and the strategic geographic position of Croatia are main preconditions for the formation of the population, which is consisted of many ethnic groups. The lifestyle in Croatia is typical for the Balkan Peninsula, because the Balkan countries have very similar history.
Of particular interest is also the diverse cuisine.
1 January New Year,
6 January St. Three Kings,
day after Easter- Holly Monday- changing date,
1 May Labor day,
60 days after Easter - Holly Body - changing date,
22 June The day of anti-fascist fight,
25 June The day of state,
5 August The day of victory and gratitude to fatherland,
15 August The Assu,
8 October Independents day,
1 November All saints,
25 December Christmas,
26 December St Stephen's day.
Croatia -- Political system, law and government --
Since the adoption of the 1990 Constitution, Croatia has been a parliamentary democracy.
The President of the Republic is head of state and elected for a five-year term. In addition to being the commander in chief of the armed forces, the president has the procedural duty of appointing the Prime minister with the consent of the Parliament, and has some influence on foreign policy.
The Croatian Parliament (Sabor) is a unicameral legislative body of up to 160 representatives, all elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms. The plenary sessions of the Sabor take place from January 15 to July 15 and from September 15 to December 15.
The Croatian Government (Vlada) is headed by the Prime minister who has 2 deputy prime ministers and 14 ministers in charge of particular sectors of activity. The executive branch is responsible for proposing legislation and a budget, executing the laws, and guiding the foreign and internal policies of the republic.
Croatia has a three-tiered judicial system, consisting of the Supreme Court, county courts, and municipal courts. The Constitutional Court rules on matters regarding the Constitution.
Croatia is divided into 20 counties:
Zagreb county (Zagreb),
Zagorje county (Krapina),
Moslavina county (Sisak),
Karlovac county (Karlovac),
Varazdin county (Varazdin),
Krizevci county (Koprivnica),
Bilogora county (Bjelovar),
Gorski Kotar county (Primorje),
Senj county (Lika),
Podravina county (Virovitica),
Slavonia county (Pozega),
Posavina county (Brod),
Zadar county (Zadar),
Baranja county (Osijek),
Knin county (Sibenik),
Srijem county (Vukovar),
Dalmatia county (Split),
Istria county (Pazin),
Neretva county (Dubrovnik),
Medimurje county (Chakovec),
Croatia is a member of United Nations, Council of Europe, OSCE, Partnership for Peace and Other organizations
Croatia applied for European Union membership in 2003 and the EU leaders accepted it as an official candidate country in late 2004. The actual accession negotiations started in late 2005.
With regard to economy, Croatia has similar or better standing than other candidate countries and some of the newer EU member states. However, Croatian accession faces various political obstacles - mostly remnants of the recent war, particularly the cooperation with the ICTY.
President: Stipe Mesic (2000)
Prime Minister: Ivo Sanader (2003)
Croatia’s first noncommunist constitution was proclaimed in December 1990 when the republic was still part of the former Yugoslavia. The constitution, amended in 1997 and again in 2001, declares that Croatia is a democracy with a legislature and president elected by universal suffrage.
Croatia’s voting age is 16 for those who are employed; otherwise it is 18. Croatian law permits ethnic Croats who live outside of Croatia to vote in Croatian elections, even if they have never lived in Croatia and are citizens of other countries.
A) Executive body
The president of the republic is the head of state (executive body). After the death of Franjo Tudjman in December 1999, the substantial executive powers of the president—modeled after the system used in France—were greatly reduced. The president’s most important role is as commander in chief of the armed forces. The president also has the power to dissolve parliament and to call elections. The president is elected by direct popular vote for a five-year term, and no person may serve more than two terms as president. The president nominates the prime minister, but the nomination must be approved by the legislature. The prime minister and his government are responsible for proposing legislation, passing a budget, conducting domestic policies and most foreign policies, and executing the nation’s laws.
The Croatian State Assembly, or Sabor, is a unicameral legislature consisting of the Chamber of Representatives. A second body, the Chamber of Counties, was abolished by constitutional amendment in 2001.
The Sabor is composed of about 150 members directly elected to four-year terms, with provisions for adding additional members if minority communities are not adequately represented. However, the Sabor may be dissolved at any time with a majority vote of its members. The Sabor meets twice a year, from January 15 to July 15 and from September 15 to December 15.
Croatia has a system of trial and appeals courts, headed by the Supreme Court of Croatia. Judges are appointed by a High Judiciary Council elected by the Chamber of Representatives. Once appointed, a judge serves for life unless he or she resigns or is removed from office by the High Judiciary Council. Constitutional issues are decided by a separate Constitutional Court, composed of 11 judges elected for eight-year terms by the Chamber of Representatives.
Local governmental functions are exercised at the levels of counties, towns, municipalities, and districts. There are elected legislative and executive bodies at each of these levels.
The Croatian Democratic Union (CDU), a nationalist party, dominated Croatian politics for a decade after the first free elections in 1990. During the 1990s most of the other political parties were small and unable to unite in opposition to the CDU. By the early 2000s, however, opposition parties had eroded the CDU’s hold on power, taking control of the Chamber of Representatives for several years. In addition to the CDU, there are centrist and leftist parties such as the Liberal Party, the Peasants’ Party, the People’s Party, and the Social Democratic Party; right-wing groups such as the Party of Rights; and regional parties, including the Istrian Democratic Assembly. Serbs in Croatia have several political parties of their own.
Public health and medical services are subsidized by the government and are of high quality. Excellent private medical services are also available. Croatia also has a state-operated pension system. In 2001, 16 percent of total government expenditures were dedicated to health programs.
In 2003 the Croatian armed forces numbered 20,800 on active duty, including 14,050 in the army, 2,500 in the navy, and 2,300 in the air force. There are also reserve forces and armed military police. A ten-month period of military service is compulsory for men who have reached the age of 19 in Croatia.
Croatia was admitted to the United Nations (UN) and to the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 1992. In 1996 Croatia became a member of the Council of Europe. The country is pursuing membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU). Croatia’s formal admission to the EU, expected to occur in 2007, remains contingent on the nation’s full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ITCY), which was set up to prosecute war crimes resulting from the wars of Yugoslav succession (1991-1995).