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Encompassing an arc of geographically complex territory between the Balkans, Central Europe, and the Mediterranean Sea, Croatia is a deeply cultural place blessed with a myriad of striking natural settings.
The Dinaric Alps run through its heart, climbing skyward with starkly beautiful karst rock formations, mist-swathed peaks, and an extensive system of gorges, canyons, and underground caves. By contrast, the country’s rambling coastline is home to warm turquoise waters and more than 1000 sun-drenched islands. Almost 50% of the country is covered with forests, but you’ll also find scrub, wetland, grassland and bogs. Croatia boasts are over 400 protected areas – including 8 national parks – affording plenty of opportunity to hike, bike, or commune with nature.
Bordering the nations of Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia represents a cultural and geographic crossroads. Historians trace the region’s tribal beginnings to the Liberunians and Illyrians, who were subjugated by the Romans in 168BC. Croats did not arrive in the region until the 10th century AD, when they established the medieval Kingdom of Croatia. Throughout the middle ages, Croatia maintained a personal union with Hungary, prospering as a centre of trade, culture, Christianity, and learning.Read more
Today, the legacy of Central European contact is particularly marked in Croatia’s central and northern regions, where rambling cobble-stone towns, grand cathedrals, opulent mansions, and commanding hill-top fortresses are a monument to an era filled with imperial elegance and power. Nonetheless, Croatia’s golden age was marked by subjugation – its national consciousness did not begin to awaken until the 19th century, when the Illyrian movement sparked a revival of the Croatian language and bold new developments in art and literature.
The movement, which advocated the unity of all Serbs, was particularly dynamic along the Croatian coast - an area that has historically benefited from prolonged contact with the culturally enlightened state of Venice. The Venetian legacy includes a plethora of well-groomed parks and elegant townhouses, renaissance palaces and bustling civic squares.
In 1918, Croatia joined Slovenia and Serbia to form the short-lived Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, which would later become Yugoslavia. After the Second World War, Yugoslavia was incorporated into the USSR, achieving emancipation only after the fall of communism. In 1991, Croatia made a bid for autonomy, declaring itself independent and sparking a bitter four-year war with neighbouring Serbia. It emerged victorious in 1995.
Today, Croatia is a model post-Soviet state. Scheduled to join Europe’s single currency in 2013, it is one of the freest, most prosperous and democratic nations on the continent – a place celebrated for its theatre, art, music, literature, sports, and cooking.
Places of interest in Croatia
A formidable rival of Venice during the middle ages, Dubrovnik enjoyed special prosperity thanks to vigorous maritime...
Korcula is the second most populous island in Croatia’s central Dalmatian archipelago, a place renowned for its...
Evolving through Greek, Roman, and Venetian phases, the historic port of Trogir boasts more than two millennia of...
Zagreb is the stylish and cosmopolitan capital of Croatia, home to almost a million inhabitants and a quarter of the...
Activities in Croatia
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Canary Islands
- Czech Republic
- North Cyprus
- United Kingdom