Geography of Croatia

A Geographical Overview of Croatia

Croatia Flag
The Croatia flag has three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and blue superimposed by the Croatian coat of arms (red and white checkered). Source: CIA World Factbook, 2007

Capital: Zagreb
Population: 4,483,804 (July 2011 estimate)
Area: 21,851 square miles (56,594 sq km)
Coastline: 3,625 miles (5,835 km)
Border Countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro and Slovenia
Highest Point: Dinara at 6,007 feet (1,831 m)

Croatia, officially called the Republic of Croatia, is a country that is located in Europe along the Adriatic Sea and between the countries of Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (map).

The capital and largest city in the country is Zagreb, but other large cities include Split, Rijeka and Osijek. Croatia has a population density of around 205 people per square mile (79 people per sq km) and the majority of these people are Croat in their ethnic make-up. Croatia has recently been in the news because Croatians voted to join the European Union on January 22, 2012.

History of Croatia

The first people to inhabit Croatia were believed to have migrated from the Ukraine in the 6th century. Shortly thereafter Croatians established an independent kingdom but in 1091 the Pacta Conventa brought the kingdom under Hungarian rule. In the 1400s the Habsburgs took control of Croatia in an effort to stop Ottoman expansion into the area.

By the mid-1800s, Croatia achieved domestic autonomy under Hungarian authority (U.S. Department of State). This lasted until the end of World War I, at which time Croatia joined the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes which became Yugoslavia in 1929.

During World War II, Germany established a Fascist regime in Yugoslavia that controlled a northern Croatian state. This state was later defeated in a civil war against the Axis-controlled occupiers. At that time, Yugoslavia became the Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia and this united Croatia with several other European republics under the communist leader Marshal Tito.

During this time however, Croatian nationalism was growing.

In 1980 Yugoslavia's leader, Marshal Tito, died and Croatians further began to push for independence. The Yugoslavian federation then began to fall apart with the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. In 1990 Croatia held elections and Franjo Tudjman became president. In 1991 Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia. Shortly thereafter tensions between Croats and Serbs in the country grew and a war began.

In 1992 the United Nations called a cease-fire but war began again in 1993 and although several other cease-fires were called hostilities in Croatia continued throughout the early 1990s. In December 1995 Croatia signed the Dayton peace agreement which established a permanent cease-fire. President Tudjman later died in 1999 and a new election in 2000 significantly changed the country. In 2012 Croatia voted to join the European Union.

Government of Croatia

Today Croatia's government is considered a presidential parliamentary democracy. Its executive branch of government consists of a chief of state (the president) and a head of government (the prime minister). Croatia's legislative branch is made up of a unicameral Assembly or Sabor while its judicial branch is made up of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court. Croatia is divided into 20 different counties for local administration.

Economics and Land Use in Croatia

Croatia's economy was severely damaged during the country's instability in the 1990s and it only began to improve between 2000 and 2007. Today Croatia's main industries are chemicals and plastics manufacturing, machine tools, fabricated metal, electronics, pig iron and rolled steel products, aluminum, paper, wood products, construction materials, textiles, shipbuilding, petroleum and petroleum refining and food and beverages. Tourism is also a major part of Croatia's economy. In addition to these industries agriculture represents a small part of the country's economy and the main products of that industry are wheat, corn, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, barley, alfalfa, clover, olives, citrus, grapes, soybeans, potatoes, livestock and dairy products (CIA World Factbook).

Geography and Climate of Croatia

Croatia is located in southeastern Europe along the Adriatic Sea. It borders the countries of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro and Slovenia and has an area of 21,851 square miles (56,594 sq km). Croatia has a varied topography with flat plains along its border with Hungary and low mountains near its coastline. Croatia's area includes its mainland as well as over nine thousand small islands in the Adriatic Sea. The highest point in the country is Dinara at 6,007 feet (1,831 m).

The climate of Croatia is both Mediterranean and continental depending on location. The continental areas of the country have hot summers and cold winters, while the Mediterranean areas have mild, wet winters and dry summers. The latter regions are along Croatia's coast. Croatia's capital city Zagreb is located away from the coast and has an average July high temperature of 80ºF (26.7ºC) and an average January low temperature of 25ºF (-4ºC).

To learn more about Croatia, visit the Geography and Maps of Croatia section on this website.