|Road network length||28,344 km|
|Length of highway network||1,302 km|
|License plate code||HR|
Croatia (Hrvatska), in full the Republic of Croatia (Croatian: Republika Hrvatska), is a small country in southeastern Europe. The country is located on the Adriatic Sea and has almost 3.9 million inhabitants, on an area of 56,594 km², about half the size of the Netherlands. The capital is the city of Zagreb with approximately 770,000 inhabitants.
According to ABBREVIATIONFINDER, the Most Pelješac that connects southern Croatia with the rest of the country without having to drive through Bosnia.
Croatia is located in the Western Balkans, with a long coastline on the Adriatic Sea. The land has a striking shape, which consists more or less of a horseshoe. The country measures a maximum of 450 kilometers from west to east and 350 kilometers from north to south. Croatia borders Slovenia and Hungary to the north, Serbia to the east and Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro to the south. The long coastline is interrupted at Neum by a part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which therefore has access to the sea. There are numerous islands and peninsulas off the Croatian coast. The most famous peninsula is Istra (Istria), other well-known islands are Krk, Cres and Pag.
Croatia has a varied landscape. To the north lies the Pannonian Plain between the borders with Bosnia and Hungary. This is part of the Slavonia region, which also includes hills and low mountains. The 954 meter high Papuk is the highest point. Near Zagreb is the 1,035 meter high Medvednica. The greatest elevation changes, however, are found on the Adriatic coast, where mountain ranges rise steeply from the sea, particularly in the Makarska region, where the 1,762-meter-high Biokovo is a short distance from the shoreline, with elevation changes reminiscent of Norway, only then in a Mediterranean setting. The 1,831 meter high Dinara on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina is the highest point in Croatia.
Due to the varied landscape, Croatia has different climates. Much of Croatia has a humid continental climate, with cold winters and hot summers. The capital Zagreb is located in this climatic zone and has maximum temperatures ranging from 4°C in January to 27°C in July. However, peaks to -25°C and +40°C occur in winter and summer. The coastal region has a Mediterranean climate with hot, fairly dry summers and mild winters. The average maximum temperature in Dubrovnik ranges from 12°C in January to 29°C in August. In this region, the winters in particular are less cold than in the interior. Due to these climate differences, precipitation varies from 600 to more than 3,000 mm. As a result, Croatia is not a really dry country. In autumn and winter, the coastal region is notorious for strong winds due to the temperature differences between the inland and the coastal region. The wind is known as the Bura and can reach hurricane strength.
Croatia grew from 3.1 million inhabitants in 1900 to a peak of 4.8 million inhabitants in 1990. Due to the war and economic contraction afterwards, many Croats migrated abroad, the population has not reached the peak of 1990 since then, but the contraction had weakened after 2000, but accelerated again after 2010. See Croatia population density. The birth rate in Croatia is one of the lowest in the world. On January 14, 2022, it was announced that only 3.9 million inhabitants were counted in the 2021 census.
The country has one big city, the capital Zagreb, which has almost 770,000 inhabitants. The other cities are smaller, only Split and Rijeka have more than 100,000 inhabitants. There are only 7 cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants. The largest cities are well spread out across the country, with Zagreb on the north, Split on the central coast, Rijeka on the west and Osijek on the east. Croatia also has no major urban agglomerations.
Croatia consists of 90% Croats, making it the most ethnically homogeneous country of the former Yugoslavia. Minority groups are Italians, Bosniaks, Hungarians and Slovenians. Croatian is spoken by almost the entire population and is a variant of Serbo-Croatian. Between 1961 and 1991 the language was officially referred to as Serbo-Croatian.
Croatia has a developed economy and is the most prosperous part of the former Yugoslavia after Slovenia. The GDP per inhabitant was $26,000 in 2018. Croatia belongs to the European Union but not to the Eurozone or the Schengen area. The country pays with the Kuna (HRK), but the euro will be introduced from January 1, 2023. In 2022, the average gross income was HRK 7,690 (€ 1,025) per month. In Croatia there is some industry, especially shipbuilding and manufacturing. Tourism plays an important role in the country and accounts for 20% of the Croatian economy. However, tourism is seasonal so unemployment fluctuates. Tourism is mainly concentrated on the coast, especially Istria, but also further south. Dubrovnik is an important cultural destination, Zagreb is much less visited by tourists. Today Croatia is one of the most important tourist destinations in the world.
Croatia emerged as a kingdom in the Middle Ages. In the late Middle Ages, however, it was threatened by the Ottomans from the south and east and the Venetians, who took possession of the coastal strip, except for Dubrovnik, which was an independent city-state. After the Great Turkish War of 1683-1700, the Ottoman Empire lost territory in the western Balkans, which included the region of Slavonia, but not western Bosnia. The Sava River became the border between the two areas and still is today. Around 1800, Napoleon took possession of the Adriatic coast, ending Venetian rule in the region. In 1815 Dalmatia and the Croatian coastal region came under the Croatian crown again. In the first half of the 19th century, Croatia was engaged in a power struggle with Hungary. From 1867, however, Croatia came almost entirely under the administration of Austria-Hungary as the Kingdom of Croatia and Slavonia. This remained so until the First World War. It is during this period that the first long-distance roads were built to promote trade, mail, especially by connecting the coast with the hinterland. The roads were allowed to have a maximum gradient of 7%. The roads that were built at that time are:
- Terezijana, from Karlobag east across the Velebit Mountains, constructed between 1774 and 1776.
- Lujzijana, connected Rijeka via Delnice with Karlovac, constructed between 1803 and 1089.
- Jozefina, connected Senj via Duga Resa to Karlovac over the Velebit Mountains, constructed between 1775 and 1779.
- Karolina, connected Bakar with Karlovac, built between 1730 and 1735.
- Majstorska, connected Sveti Rok with Obrovac, built between 1827 and 1832.
- Rudolfina, connected Novi Vinodolski with Ogulin, built in 1874.
- Rodićeva, connected Makarska with Vrgorac, built between 1876 and 1878.
Parts of these roads can still be found, walked or driven. Some D-roads are on parts of old routes.
At the end of World War I in 1918, Croatia declared its independence and entered into a union with the Slovenes and Serbs, a country briefly known as the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. This country became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia later that year. In 1921 a unitary state was chosen and Croatia’s autonomy was ended. In 1941 it was occupied by Nazi Germany. The Yugoslav partisans emerged from Croatia to oppose the Germans and with the help of the Soviets regained control of the region between 1944 and 1945. After World War II, Croatia belonged to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. From then on it was a socialist republic within Yugoslavia.
After Tito’s death in 1980, nationalist sentiment increased in Yugoslavia. In 1990 Franjo Tuđman was elected president of Croatia. The Serbs in the east then seceded and formed the Republic of Serbian Krajina, which was divided into two parts and was not internationally recognized. Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia on June 25, 1991, after which the war of independence broke out. The war eventually lasted 4 years and was seen in the context of the various Balkan conflicts of the time, including in neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina. Croatia decided to go to war in 1995 with Operation Storm, the largest military operation in Europe since World War II. After the war, Croatia had to recover. This was fastest in the west, where war damage was minor. The east had longer to deal with reconstruction. The Croatian economy started to grow strongly from 2000 and the country managed to attract the many tourists again as before 1990. Croatia became a member of NATO in 2009 and part of the European Union in 2013.