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More about Croatia

Croatia is a Central European and Mediterranean country, bordering Slovenia in the west, Hungary in the north, Serbia in the east and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the south. Croatia also has a long maritime border with Italy in the Adriatic Sea.

These borders total 2,028 km altogether. Croatia has a strange shape (similar to a croissant) - similar to no other country in the world - which comes as a result of five centuries of expansion by the Ottoman (Turkish) empire towards Central Europe (although Croatia was never conquered by the Turks).

Croatia covers a land area of 56,691 square kilometers and has a population of about 4.4 million people (2001 census). Over 90% of the population is Croat (the majority of whom are Roman Catholics), but there are also Serbian, Bosnian, Hungarian and Italian minorities. The main population centers are Zagreb, the capital (with a population of just under 800,000), Osijek in the northwest, and the ports of Rijeka, and Split in the south. The official language is Croatian, which is written in the Latin script.

Croatia has an amazing 5,835km of coastline, 4,057km of which belongs to islands, cliffs and reefs. There are 1,185 islands in the Adriatic, but only about 50 are populated. The largest island is Krk (near Rijeka) which has a land area of 462 square km.

The climate is Mediterranean along the Adriatic coast, meaning warm dry summers and mild winters, with 2,600 hours of sunlight on average yearly - it is one of the sunniest coastlines in Europe! In the interior of the country, the climate is continental with hot summers and cold, snowy winters.

More facts and figures on the country can be found at the CIA World Factbook on Croatia.

 

History

Slavic Croatian tribes settled in the area in the early 7th century (arriving from present day Poland), accepting Christianity in around 800 A.D., and soon establishing their own state ruled by princes or dukes. In 925, Croatia became a kingdom under the rule of King Tomislav. In 1102 the country formed a union with Hungary which lasted until 1918. After the end of the First World War, Croatia joined Serbia, and Yugoslavia (the land of South Slavs) was formed, until its demise in 1991. The first Yugoslavia (1918-1941) was ruled by the Serbian royal family, Karadjordjevic, which naturally favored the Serbs and caused enormous resentment in Croatia. The country was invaded by Nazi Germany in April 1941, which gave Croatia independence under the fascist dictator Ante Pavelic. This regime was known for its harsh rule and for committing numerous atrocities, and therefore many Croats (over 200,000) actively joined the resistance movement under Tito which liberated the country in May 1945. (Winston Churchill was so impressed with the Croatian resistance that in 1944 he sent his son Randolph and the writer Evelyn Waugh to Croatia as his personal emissaries.) Croatia became one of the Yugoslav republics ruled by the communist government until 1991 when Croatia declared its independence, prompting Serbian invasion. Almost all Croats rose to defend their country under the leadership of its first president, the late Franjo Tudjman (who died in December 1999), and after five years the country was liberated.

 

Croatia Today

The country is a parliamentary democracy. The last general elections were held at the end of 2007, in which no single party won a majority. After negotiations, the HDZ (the Croatian Democratic Union) leader and incumbent Prime Minister, Ivo Sanader, convinced other MPs that he should get the mandate to form the new government. His coalition partners are the HSS (Croatian Peasant Party), the Croatian-Serb Party and representatives of some minority groups in the country.

Presidential elections were last held in January 2005 when President Stipe Mesic was re-elected to another five year term. Presidential powers in Croatia are limited, but he is still influential in making domestic and foreign policy issues.

It is expected that Croatia will receive an invitation to join NATO in April 2008.

EU membership negotiations are proceeding slowly. In the opinion of many experts, Croatia has no chance of joining before 2010.

 

Entering Croatia

Most visitors to Croatia are usually from the neighboring countries of Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Germany and so on, so they usually travel by car. From northern Europe, the easiest way to get to Croatia would be to drive to Munich and then enter Austria, down to Graz, cross into Slovenia, and then head for Croatia which is signposted as soon as you leave Maribor.

For those coming by plane, the main airports are Zagreb, Pula, Split, Dubrovnik and Rijeka Airport (which is in fact on the nearby island of Krk). See our Getting There section for more information on getting to the country. Foreign visitors do not normally require visas to enter Croatia - to check if you require a visa, visit the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs' website. If you do need one, please contact the Croatian Embassy in your country for more information on how to obtain a visa.

 

Money

The Croatian currency is the Kuna, which is divided into 100 lipas. (The word "Kuna" means marten, a weasel-like animal, whose fur Croats used for payment many centuries ago.

The lipa is a lime tree, but we don't know the connection here!) The Kuna is overvalued but is nevertheless a stable currency.

The current exchange rate between the kuna and various world currencies can be found at the Croatian National Bank. We receive numerous queries with regards to the best foreign currency to take to Croatia. Our first piece of advice would be to take a bank card/cash card instead - this avoids the need to travel with large-ish amounts of cash, and ATMs are readily available in all resorts, towns and cities in Croatia, in banks, supermarkets, airports and elsewhere.

As a foreign card is inserted into the machine, you will most likely be presented you with a choice of languages - no need to navigate through Croatian-language menus! The exchange rate you'll receive is good, and there may only be a small service charge (which depends on your bank back home).

Otherwise, taking whatever currency is most suitable/easy for you is fine - i.e. if you're arriving from the U.S., just bring along your US Dollars! Likewise, take your UK Pounds if coming from the UK - no need to change your Pounds into US Dollars (or vice versa) to change into Kunas when in Croatia. UK Pounds, US Dollars and Euros are easily changeable in Croatia, although other currencies can be changed too.

Hotel exchange rates are usually quite poor, so you'll probably be better off changing your money in a bank or in one of numerous Bureaux de Change dotted around towns.

 

Communications

Television

There are four main television channels in Croatia - HRT 1 & 2 (state-owned), Nova and RTL Televizija.

You will find a wealth of American and British programming on these, which are normally shown with Croatian subtitles rather than dubbing - so you still might be able to catch your favorite show from back home!

Unfortunately, reality TV has also hit the country in recent years - don't be surprised to find Croatian versions of Big Brother or Pop Idol when tuning in. A number of local television stations also operate throughout the country.

If staying in a hotel, you will find that most provide at least basic satellite channels - CNN, BBC World and similar.

 

Internet

Internet access is fairly commonplace in Croatia; broadband services less so, although coverage is increasing all the time. Something that passes for an Internet cafe can be found pretty much anywhere - even if this consists of a PC in the corner of a bar.

 

Post

Hrvatska Posta runs the postal service.

Post offices can be found in almost all villages, towns and cities. The post service in Croatia isn't actually too bad! Ask for marke (stamps).

Telephone Payphones appear pretty much everywhere. Buy a telephone card from a newspaper kiosk for easy use - these come in various denominations. There are two mobile phone networks in Croatia: T-Mobile and VIP. If bringing your handset from home, you will find it link to either one of these.

 

Health

The health service is of a good standard. You have to pay for seeing a doctor or being treated in a hospital. Certain countries, such as Britain, have reciprocal medical arrangements whereby, in principal, you should not have to pay for any emergency treatment. It is therefore useful to wave your passport first and mention this!

 

Safety

It is quite safe to travel all over Croatia and mugging and thefts are not a problem. You can safely walk in any town at night, but use your common sense, as always. In some coastal resorts, as is common all over the Mediterranean, single women may be approached or wolf-whistled at. Say no firmly and you will not be bothered.

In case of any problems, approach a policeman or even a soldier, who will assist you. Both the Croatian police and the army are well disciplined. If you have a language problem, approach a younger person (teenagers/students) as they all speak some English and will be eager to help. Accommodation

The high season, July and August, is more expensive. In April, May, September and October, prices are reduced by up to 50%. There are almost 150 camping grounds along the Croatian coast - see the Croatian Camping Union for a listing.

For the best value accommodation, stay in private rooms, which are very popular in Croatia. Every single town has a tourist office (Turisticki Ured) which will arrange accommodation.

Hotels are of good value, but top class accommodation is expensive.

 

Food & Drink

You get the standard fare as in many other central European or Mediterranean countries (pizza, pasta, meat dishes, fish).

All food is safe to eat as restaurants are regularly inspected, and there is no problem with drinking water. Seafood is a specialty along the Croatian coastline, unsurprisingly!

Croatian beers are of a high quality. Try Zagreb's Ozujsko pivo or Karlovacko pivo or Tuborg, brewed under license in Croatia.

In Dalmatia, some red wines such as Faros or Dingac are exquisite. You should also try Croatia's favorite brandy sljivovica, made from plums, or travarica, a herbal brandy.

If you are back home and fancy cooking a Croatian meal of your own, why not take a look at our Croatian Cuisine section?

 

Other information

Electricity is 220V, 50Hz.

Croatia uses the standard European 2 point plugs.

The weights and measures system is metric.

The telephone code for Croatia is 385.

Croatia is 1 hour ahead of GMT, the same time zone as the majority of Western Europe.

 

Source:http://www.visit-croatia.co.uk/info/



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