Croatia
General Information

Croatia History  |  Main page 

Background: The lands that today comprise Croatia were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the close 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 a federal independent Communist state under the strong hand of Marshal Tito.  Although Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, it took four years of sporadic, but often bitter, fighting before occupying Serb armies were mostly cleared from Croatian lands.  Under UN supervision, the last Serb-held enclave in eastern Slovenia was returned to Croatia in 1998.
Geography: Area:      total: 56,542 sq km        land: 56,414 sq km           water: 128 sq km
(Slightly smaller than West Virginia)
Land boundaries: Total: 2,197 km
Border countries:  Bosnia and Herzegovina 932 km
Hungary 329 km, Serbia and Montenegro (north) 241 km
Serbia and Montenegro (south) 25 km
Slovenia 670 km
Coastline: 5,835 km  (mainland 1,777 km, islands 4,058 km)
Natural Resources: Oil, some coal, bauxite, low-grade iron ore, calcium, gypsum, natural asphalt, silica, mica, clays, salt, hydropower
Land Use: Arable land: 26.09%;   permanent crops: 2.27%;   other: 71.65%   (2001)
Natural Hazards: Destructive earthquakes
Environment - current issues: Air pollution (from metallurgical plants) and resulting acid rain is damaging the forests; coastal pollution from industrial and domestic waste; landmine removal and reconstruction of infrastructure consequent to 1992-95 civil strife
Geography note: Controls most land routes from Western Europe to Aegean Sea and Turkish Straits
Population: 4,496,869   (July 2004 est.) - estimated 80 million Croatians live overseas
Age Structure: 0-14 years: 16.6%   (male 383,729;  female 364,287)
15-64 years: 67%    (male 1,497,525;  female 1,515,956)
65 years and over: 16.4%    (male 277,616;  female 457,756)    (2004 est.)
Population Growth Rate: Minus 0.02%   (2004 est.)
Ethnic Groups: Croat 89.6%, Serb 4.5%, Bosniak 0.5%, Hungarian 0.4%, Slovene 0.3%, Czech 0.2%, Roma 0.2%, Albanian 0.1%, Montenegrin 0.1%, others 4.1%   (2001)
Religions: Roman Catholic 87.8%, Orthodox 4.4%, Muslim 1.3%, Protestant 0.3%, others and unknown 6.2%   (2001)
Languages: Croatian 96%, other 4% (including Italian, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak, and German)
Literacy: Definition:  age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 98.5%      male: 99.4%      female: 97.8%     (2003 est.)     

Government

Country name: Conventional long form:  Republic of Croatia
Conventional short form:  Croatia
Local long form:  Republika Hrvatska
Local short form:  Hrvatska
Former name:  People's Republic of Croatia, Socialist Republic of Croatia
Government type: Presidential/parliamentary democracy

Independence:

25 June 1991 (from Yugoslavia)
Constitution: Adopted on 22 December 1990; revised 2000, 2001
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal (16 years of age, if employed)
Chief of State: President Stjepan (Stipe) MESIC (since 18 February 2000)
Flag description: Red, white, and blue horizontal bands with Croatian coat of arms (red and white checkered)    Flag   

Economy

Overview: Before the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the Republic of Croatia, after Slovenia, was the most prosperous and industrialized area, with a per capita output perhaps one-third above the Yugoslav average. The economy emerged from its mild recession in 2000 with tourism the main factor, but massive structural unemployment remains a key negative element. The government's failure to press the economic reforms needed to spur growth is largely the result of coalition politics and public resistance, particularly from the trade unions. Opponents fear reforms would cut jobs, wages, and social benefits. The government has a heavy back log of civil cases, many involving tenure land. The country is likely to experience only moderate growth without disciplined fiscal and structural reform.
GDP: Purchasing power parity - $47.05 billion (2004 est.)
Labor Force: Agriculture 13.2%,  industry 25.4%,  services 46.4% (2002)    1.69 million employed
Unemployment rate: 19.5% (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products: Wheat, corn, sugar beets, sunflower seed, barley, alfalfa, clover, olives, citrus, grapes, soybeans, potatoes; livestock, dairy products
Industries: Chemicals and plastics, machine tools, fabricated metal, electronics, pig iron and rolled steel products, aluminum, paper, wood products, construction materials, textiles, shipbuilding, petroleum and petroleum refining, food and beverages; tourism
Disputes - international: Discussions continue with Bosnia and Herzegovina over disputed territory around Kostajnica on the Una River and villages at the base of Mount Pljesevica; the Croatia-Slovenia land and maritime boundary agreement, which would have ceded most of Pirin Bay and maritime access to Slovenia and several villages to Croatia, remains controversial, has not been ratified, and has been complicated by Croatia's declaration of an ecological-fisheries zone in the Adriatic Sea
Refugees & internally displaced persons:  12,600 (Croats and Serbs displaced in 1992-1995 war)  

Home page                                           Source:  CIA The World Factbook (Nov 2004) 
Information provided by our guide:
Education starts at age 6 years.  In grades 1-5 a 2nd language is taught.  In 5th grade math and history are emphasized.  In 7th grade chemistry and biology are taught.  High school if split with professional (nurses, technical) and "serious" students who are prepped for college.  The serious students learn language, science, math and art.  The university was free under Communist rule. Now good grades will get free education, others must pay.  Currently it's about 50% in each area (free and pay).

Men retire at age 65 and women at age 60.  Croatia is a candidate for European Union admission in 2007-2009.  There is national health insurance for all workers.  There is paid maternity leave for 1 year.