Croatia in brief
|Official name:||Republic of Croatia (Republika Hrvatska)|
|Surface area:||land 56,594 km², coastal waters (inland and territorial waters) 31,067 km²|
|Neighbouring countries and length of borders:||Slovenia||668 km|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||1,011 km|
|Length of coastline:||mainland 1,777 km, islands 4,058 km|
|Population (2011 census):||4,284,889|
|Largest cities (2011 census):||Zagreb||688,163|
|Political system:||unitary democratic parliamentary republic|
|Head of state:||President of the Republic|
|Membership of international organisations:||United Nations||since 1992|
|European Union||since 2013|
|Gross Domestic Product (2017):||HRK 365 billion (EUR 49.2 billion)|
|Gross Domestic Product per capita:||EUR 11,880|
|Export (2018):||EUR 14.5 billion|
|Import (2018):||EUR 23.6 billion|
|Statehood Day||June 25|
|International country code||HR|
Croatia has been present on the contemporary international political stage since its independence from the Yugoslav Federation, i.e. for a little less than three decades, but is one of the oldest European countries in terms of history and culture. The present-day territory of Croatia and its borders were formed through a long period of history, during which the Croatian nation, whether independent or incorporated in various state communities, constantly displayed national and political subjectivity.
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 Venice, make it a Mediterranean country. In the Adriatic hinterland, 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 union 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 towards the Western faction, at the same time forming the far eastern border of Western Christianity. Long periods of conflict between great 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 towards the west. The final consequence of this situation was 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 struggle 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.
Our Beautiful Homeland
Our beautiful homeland,
O so fearless and gracious.
Our fathers' ancient glory,
May you be blessed forever.
Dear, you are our only glory,
Dear, you are our only one,
Dear, we love your plains,
Dear, we love your mountains.
Sava, Drava, keep on flowing,
Danube, do not lose your vigour,
Deep blue sea, tell the world,
That a Croat loves his homeland.
Whilst his fields are kissed by sunshine,
Whilst his oaks are whipped by wild winds,
Whilst his dear ones go to heaven,
Whilst his live heart beats.
Anthem. The national anthem is Lijepa naša domovino (Our Beautiful Homeland). It first appeared during the period of national revival in the early 19th century. The words were written by the poet Antun Mihanović and set to music by Josip Runjanin. From 1891 onwards, it was the unofficial national anthem, and a monument to it was erected by the River Sutla in Hrvatsko Zagorje in 1935. It was declared the official anthem of the Socialist Republic of Croatia in 1972, and confirmed by the Constitution in 1990.
Flag. The official Croatian flag has three colours, red, white and blue, with the state coat of arms in the centre, and has been in use since 1990. The tricolour dates back to 1848, under the influence of the French Revolution, and was adopted as a means of linking the traditional heraldic colours of the historical Croatian lands. The Croato-Hungarian Settlement of 1868 prescribed the use of the tricolour, and it continued to be prominent in the 20th century, right up to the declaration of state independence.
Coat of arms. The coat of arms has also been in use since 1990. It is a historical Croatian coat of arms in the shape of an escutcheon divided into 25 red and white (silver) fields. Five smaller escutcheons in the crown above have historical roots and are (from the left) the oldest known Croatian coat of arms, then the coats of arms of the Dubrovnik Republic, Dalmatia, Istria and Slavonia.
The historical Croatian coat of arms has appeared on different occasions from the 15th century on. An example of it with 8 rows of 8 fields is found in the 1527 document which ratified the election by the Croatian Sabor (Diet) of Ferdinand I of the Habsburgs as King of Croatia. It later formed the basis for later Croatian coats of arms within the Habsburg Monarchy. It was a component of the official coat of arms of the Socialist Republic of Croatia up to 1990.
National holidays.Statehood Day is celebrated on 30 May, the date on which the first democratically elected Croatian Parliament (Sabor) was established in 1990. Other official national holidays are New Year’s Day (1 January), Epiphany (6 January), Easter Day and Easter Monday (variable date), International Workers’ Day (1 May), Corpus Christi (variable date), Anti-Fascist Struggle Day (22 June), Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and Day of Homeland Defenders (5 August), the Assumption (15 August), All Saints’ Day (1 November), Victims of the Homeland War Remembrance Day and Victims of Vukovar and Škabrnja Remembrance Day (18 November), Christmas Day (25 December) and St. Stephen’s Day (Boxing Day). Christmas Day according to the Julian Calendar is a non-working day for those of the Orthodox faith, Ramadan Bayram and Kurban Bayram for those of the Moslem faith, and Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur for those of the Jewish faith.