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Croatia Culture, Geography and History
Culture and Customs of Croatia
Generally, Croatians are very proud of their country and cultural heritage. While this may not be obvious in everyday life, the Slavic heritage of Croatian people becomes more evident during festivals and national holidays, where cities and villages come to life with traditional costume, folk music and feasts. While most of Croatia's population are Roman Catholic, there are also groups of people who identify as Serbian Orthodox, Muslim, Protestant and Jewish. Having endured war, hardship and frequent earthquakes, the people of Croatia have a great amount of national pride and connection to their country and family. It's quite common for extended families to live together and children to remain close to their parents well into adulthood. Time with family is viewed as a necessity of life, so work and business affairs rarely encroach on family time, meaning most people spend weekends and holidays with family and friends.
The Dalmatian dog breed is named after the Adriatic coastal region of Dalmatia
Geography and Environment of Croatia
Sharing borders with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia benefits from more than 5,000 km of coastline that spans along the Adriatic Sea. In addition to the mainland, Croatia also has many islands, some inhabited, some not. Croatia's terrain is very diverse and varies from flat plains to low mountains and highlands, limestone karst cliffs, wetlands, lakes and forests of cypress. Nature reserves and wetland areas are home to large populations of migratory birds, deer, bats and bears. Visitors will also see much of the land is used for agriculture with vineyards, lavender fields, olive groves and orchards being prevalent in rural areas. Croatia's cities, while developed, have managed to maintain a high level of charm with cobblestone streets, ancient housing, historic squares and heritage buildings being preserved and still used by the current population.
History and Government of Croatia
Archaeological evidence suggests that the land now known as Croatia has been occupied by humans since the Stone Age. Croatia's geographical position in Europe allowed a great amount of influence from neighbouring regions, with tribes and people from different cultures and groups making their mark. Over the centuries, Greeks, Romans, Celts, Huns and Goths have all occupied the territory, with Croats arriving by the 7th century. The first Kingdom of Croatia was formed in 925 but by the 12th century Croatia had formed a union with Hungary, with a Hungarian King instated as leader of both territories. During the 15th century, Croatia lost territory to the Ottoman Empire and, in later centuries, once again came under Hungarian rule. Evidence of these many cultural influences can be seen in the architecture, cuisine and archaeological ruins of contemporary Croatia.
Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia formed a union in 1918 to create the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, but the occupation of Axis forces during World War II lead to the creation of the Independent State of Croatia, which only lasted a couple of years during the war. By the end of the war in 1945, Croatia had become a Socialist Republic (within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, together with Bosnia, Serbia, Slovenia, Macedonia and Montenegro), with the constitution of 1963 attempting to alleviate tensions surrounding the balance of power between Serbians and Croats. By 1980, after the death of President Tito (founder of modern Yugoslavia), economic and political difficulties (in addition to regional tensions in other parts of Yugoslavia) resulted in a near collapse of government. What followed was years of conflict, polarity and political turmoil. The referendum of 1991 resulted in an overwhelming vote for independence, with Croatia and Slovenia declaring independence from Yugoslavia in June of the same year. Much armed conflict followed and lasted until 1995, leading to great loss of civilian life and displacement, creating large populations of refugees. The last two decades have been a time of peace and reconciliation for the people of Croatia. Tourism has opened up and the government has focused on ensuring further economic growth for the country. Currently, Croatia is poised to join the European Union by 2013.
Croatia at a glance
- Zagreb (population 930,000)
- 4.4 million
- (GMT+01:00) Sarajevo, Skopje, Warsaw, Zagreb
- Type C (European 2-pin), Type F (German 2-pin, side clip earth)
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