Croatia is a Central European and Mediterranean country and has a very strange shape like no other country in the world - similar to a croissant.
Its shape 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 has an amazing 5,835km of coastline, with its 1185 islands, islets and reefs is considered to be one of the most impressive coast in Europe. 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. Croatia covers a land area of 56,691 square kilometres and has a population of about 4.5 million people, over 90% of the population is Croat and majority are Roman Catholics.
Croatian capital Zagreb is a typical central European metropolis, combining elegant nineteenth-century architecture with plenty of cultural diversions and a vibrant café scene. At the northern end of the Adriatic coast, the peninsula of Istria contains many of the country's most developed resorts, with old Venetian towns like Rovinj rubbing shoulders with the raffish port of Pula. Further south lies Dalmatia, a dramatic, mountain-fringed stretch of coastline studded with islands. Dalmatia's main towns are Zadar, an Italianate peninsula town, and Split, an ancient Roman settlement and modern port which provides a jumping-off point to a series of enchanting islands. It's on Brac, Hvar, Vis and Korcula that you'll find the best of the beaches, as well as some lively fishing villages. South of Split lies the medieval walled city of Dubrovnik, site of an important festival in the summer and a magical place to be, whatever the season. Finding a satisfactory way to explore this ravishing two thousand kilometers coastline in one holiday is impossible! Croatia is blessed with truly most glorious coastline which has miraculously escaped the over-development of some other Mediterranean holiday destinations.
If you think life has become too hectic and commercialized regain your tranquility in Croatia. Relax in superb unspoiled scenery, bathe inunpolluted waters and enjoy the healthy range of locally sourced and naturally produced food.
Croatian is not an easy language to learn, but the people like when foreign travelers use it for basic things such as greeting and thanking. Many Croatians speak English as their second language, but German and Italian are very popular too. People in the tourist industry most often speak English quite well, as do the younger generation, especially in the tourist areas of Istria, along the coast down to Dubrovnik, and in the capital, Zagreb. Elder people will rarely speak English, but you shouldn't have any problems if you switch to German or Italian. If you know Polish or Czech, you can try it as well, as Polish, Czech and Croatian are partially mutually intelligible and in many places, Croatian people are used to large number of Polish and Czech tourists.
The Croats settled in the region in the early 7th century and formed two principalities: Croatia and Pannonia. The establishment of the TrpimiroviÄ‡ dynasty ca 850 brought strengthening to the Dalmatian Croat Duchy, which together with the Pannonian principality became a kingdom in 925 under King Tomislav.
In 1102, Croatia entered into a personal union with the Hungarian Kingdom. After the 1526 Battle of Mohács the "reliquiae reliquiarum" (remnants of the remnants) of Croatia became a part of the Habsburg Monarchy in 1527. Croatian lands were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the latter's dissolution at the end of World War I. In 1918, the Croats, Serbs, and Slovenes formed a kingdom known after 1929 as Yugoslavia. Following World War II, Yugoslavia became an independent communist republic under the strong hand of Marshal Tito.
Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Four years of bloody war against Serbian army and president Milosevic, a Croatian offensive in 1995 ended the Serb administration of the larger section whilst through UN supervision, the last Serb-held enclave in eastern Slavonia was returned to Croatia in 1998. The operations resulted in a mass return of Croatian refugees to their homes. Visitors now to Croatia's more popular towns would see little physical evidence of this violence and relations between Croats and Serbs are gradually improving. Croatia's coastal areas are especially stunning, and have the hybrid charm of Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean.
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