Croatia; Travel Information and Pictures

Croatia (Hrvatska, HR) is set in the heart of Europe, on the beautiful Adriatic coast. It has over 1,185 islands, islets and reefs, the majority of which are uninhabited and under preservation orders. About 50 are inhabited, the largest being Krk and Cres. Croatia covers an area of over 56,500 km2 and is bordered by Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia & Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina. The total population is over 4.5 million, with almost 800,000 living in the capital Zagreb. Croatia’s coastline measures over 5,800 km but this includes even the tiniest islet. The climate in the interior is temperate continental with a mountain climate in some places. The Adriatic coast enjoys a pleasant Mediterranean climate with countless sunny days providing dry, hot summers. Winters tend to be mild and humid.

History of Croatia
Croatia’s history is a complicated tale of power struggles, land appropriation, and shifting of ethnic identity. The Kingdom of Croatia emerged in 925 AD with King Tomislav, who turned the areas of Dalmatia and Pannonia into one of the most powerful regions in the Balkans. In the 11th century, Croatia and Hungary merged. In the 1400s, Croatia resisted takeover by the Ottoman Empire, to eventually become part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The Kingdom of Yugoslavia that arose after the First World War – an alliance of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes – quickly disintegrated into civil war. One group, led by Josip Broz (or ‘Tito’) gained power after the Second World War and Tito took control of Yugoslavia.

Tito oversaw the transformation of Yugoslavia (which included Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Macedonia and Montenegro) from a farming region to an industrialized one – by means of communist principles. Following his death, there was unrest and desire to divide the ethnicities again, led by Slobodan Milosevic. When in 1991 Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia, Serbs living in Croatia declared independence from Croatia, civil war was again ignited.

In 1992, Franjo Tudjman was elected as Croatia’s president. Then, from 1992 to 1995, some of the bloodiest war crimes were committed in recent history in the name of ‘ethnic cleansing’. NATO intervened in 1995 to end the war, but not before more than 100,000 lives were lost. Although Tudjman signed the peace treaty, and was re-elected in 1997, the EU did not at this time invite Croatia to begin accession talks, citing Tudjman’s policies as too authoritarian.
Today, there is peace in Croatia, and the strength of the economy and the stability of the government, led by President Ivo Josipovic since 2010 and Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic since 2011, has enabled it to accede to the EU following the second formal application in 2003.

The currency used in Croatia is still the Croatian Kuna, although the country’s membership with the EU – Croatia joined in 2013 – obliges it to eventually join the monetary eurozone as well, and adopt the Euro. Whatever your budget, you’ll find something to do that will make your stay in Croatia a memorable one. Whether it’s culture, beaches or architecture, there’s something for everyone in this wonderful country.

Award-Winning Beauty
In 1999 Croatia was a three-times winner of international awards for the cleanest waters in the Mediterranean and many major cruise lines include Croatia on their itineraries. The Dalmatian coastline boasts some of the world’s best-known resorts including Dubrovnik, Split, Poreč and Trogir, all of which are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites, as is the Plitvice Lakes National Park. Croatia is not only a country of outstanding natural beauty, but also a centre of culture dating back thousands of years. Zagreb is a focal point for art and culture with museums and galleries hosting internationally renowned exhibitions. The city also offers excellent conference and convention venues, enhanced by accommodation in first-class hotels.

Some of the best beaches in the region are found along Croatia’s Adriatic coastline. Zlatni Rat at Bol extends out into the blue water and is composed of tiny, smooth, white pebbles. Baĉvice is Split’s most popular beach among the younger crowds, boasting great watersports activities. At Lopar, on one of Croatia’s many islands, you’ll find shallow beaches perfect for young children.

Heritage and Modern Culture
Once you’re done relaxing, you’ll want to venture out and about and explore what else Croatia has to offer. Visit the Trakošćan Castle, 80km northwest of Zagreb, for an extremely attractive building over 800 years old whose origins are unknown. Or take a trip to the region known as Istria (or Istra) – the ‘new Tuscany’. Close to the Italian border, the rolling hills are certainly reminiscent of Tuscany, and with the fresh fish and pasta dishes, you might be mistaken for thinking you’ve wandered into Italy. Rovinj, a chic yet sleepy village in Istria, will charm your heart and you may never want to leave.

Romantics shouldn’t miss an evening trip to Zadar. Apart from its ancient history, cool vibe and fun art projects – such as the steps at the water’s edge which are actually the keys of a giant organ – Zadar is proud to be host to ‘the world’s most beautiful’ sunset (Alfred Hitchcock). If you’re after a bit of peace and quiet, hire a boat and explore the Elaphite Islands. They’re largely car-free and offer great beaches and hiking possibilities.

Out and About
But if you are seeking a little more excitement from your visit, try Hvar Town in the evening – where visitors dress smartly and party all night. You can choose between tiny eateries without menus or waterfront cocktail bars with a view of the yachts. There is also a music festival held here every year, with world-famous bands appearing during the four-day event. Throughout the rest of Croatia, the scene is also booming – just choose your genre or budget, and you’ll find the music festival for you.

How to Get There
Fly to Croatia with Croatia Airlines, which operates from most other European destinations. Travel to Split, Zagreb or Dubrovnik, and continue on from there. You can even fly to Zadar, Pula and Osijek. Croatia airlines formed in 1989 and began its development proper in 1991. It is proud to connect Croatia with the rest of the world and endeavours to become a symbol of quality and reliability for the country.

Accommodation, Touring and Activities
Croatia is clearly the ideal destination for those seeking sun, sea and lots of space. Accommodation ranges from quaint but comfortable bed & breakfast places to chic new boutique hotels and traditional five-star establishments. Attractions for vacation visitors include guided tours, religious pilgrimages, city and hotel trips, special-interest tours and a variety of sport such as canoeing, ballooning, biking, hiking, fishing and of course swimming. A convenient ferry system travels from the mainland to the Adriatic islands as well as to Italy.

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