An introduction guide to the country of Croatia. Learn more about its history, politics, and geography. Find more specific guides below.
Croatia is a country in the Balkans that attracts tourists with its beautiful beaches, national parks, and Mediterranean climate. Neighboring countries include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia.
The main language is Croatian, which is similar to other languages in the region but with distinctions. It is predominantly Christian. The country experiences good weather year round, but its busiest travel season is June to September.
Politics and Economy
Croatia, also called Hrvatska, is a parliamentary republic with similar rankings as the United States in terms of freedom, political rights, and civil liberties. The current Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković, has been the leader since 2016 and represents the center-right Croatia Democratic Union party. With the exception of Slovenia, Croatia has performed better than its fellow former Yugoslavia neighbors in terms of democratic protections.
Following the collapse of the planned economy in Yugoslavia and the War of Independence in 1991, the Croatian economy emerged as a capitalist market system. Considering independence and war were just a bit more than 25 years ago, it’s incredible to think about the country’s transformation (look at these photos of the war).
Today the country has a diversified economy, but tourism still accounts for a large share of annual GDP. Notably, Croatia experienced decreasing economic inequality during the 2010s.
Croatia is part of the Balkan Peninsula. Home to the Dalmatian Coast, it has over 1,000 miles of coastline and more than 1,200 islands and islets. For comparison, that’s roughly the same amount of coastline as California.
The famous city of Dubrovnik is actually situated on a piece of land that is separate from the main body of Croatia, allowing neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina a narrow corridor to access the Adriatic Sea.
While its coastal cities attract most tourism, there are several notable national parks located just a bit further inland: Plitvice Lakes and Krka. Croatia has historically had tense relations with Slovenia and Serbia regarding disagreement over territorial borders.
European Union Status
In 2013, Croatia became the newest member of the EU. For ten years, the country worked to meet the accession requirements established by the EU. This included improving judicial independence and protections for minorities.
While Croatia is a member of the EU, it has not joined the Schengen Area, meaning traveling into Croatia will require extra time at border check points. The country has expressed interest in joining the group, but has not yet met the requirements. Likewise, Croatia continues to use the Kuna as its currency, not the Euro.
Croatia is a good example of a country that demonstrates the patchwork of the euro-community. You can learn more about these groups and how they can impact your travel here.