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

These borders are 2,028 km long altogether. Croatia has a strange shape (similar to a croissant), like 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 kilometres with a population of about 4.8 million people. 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 centres are Zagreb, the capital (with a population of just over one million), Osijek in the northwest, and the ports of Rijeka, and Split in the south.

The official language is Croatian, 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 70 are populated. The largest island is Krk (near Rijeka) at 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.

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 favoured 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.

The country is now a parliamentary democracy. In January 2000, the centre-right party which had governed Croatia since its independence, the HDZ (the Croatian Democratic Union), lost the election. The centre-left coalition between the socialist SPD and the liberal HSLS governed the country, with the leader of the SPD, Ivica Racan, as Prime Minister. Due to squabbling between the coalition parties, mainly the SPD and the HSLS, Prime Minister Racan resigned in July 2002. However, the President, Stipe Mesic, will ask him to form a new government again.