Croatian National Tourist Board
Ilica 1a, 10000 Zagreb - Croatia
Tel: (01) 4556-455. Fax: (01) 428-674


Physical geography

Croatia is an Adriatic and a Central European country. It stretches, in the shape of an arc, from the Danube in the north-east to Istria in the west and Boka Kotorska in the south-east. Its area is 56,538 sq. km. Croatia is situated close to densely populated and industrially developed European countries. It shares borders with Slovenia, Hungary, Italy, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.

Many important international transport routes cross Croatia. The importance of the geographical position of the Republic of Croatia is further enhanced by the Adriatic Sea, the northernmost gulf of the Mediterranean which is the closest to the central part of the European continent. The most important transport routes are centred along the Sava River, the Adriatic and the Drava River; there are also several important transversal routes from the Austrian and Hungarian borders to the Adriatic coast (to Rijeka and Split). The territory of Croatia can be divided into three major natural and geographic areas:

  • the Pannonian and Peri-Pannonian area;
  • the hilly and mountainous area;
  • the Adriatic area.


Inland Croatia is temperate continental, while a semi-mountain and mountain climate prevails in the mountainous parts. There is a Mediterranean climate (with dry and warm summers and wet and mild winters) along the coast; and a sub-Mediterranean climate (with somewhat cooler summers and warmer winters) in the coastal hinterland.

With an average of 2,600 hours of sunshine a year, the Adriatic coast is one of the sunniest in the Mediterranean, and the summer temperature of the sea is 25° to 27°C. The prevailing winds at the seaside are the cold bora, the humid jugo and the refreshing maestrale.

Economic geography

The principal economic activities in the Republic of Croatia include agriculture, foodstuffs, textiles, wood and timber, metalworking, chemical and petroleum industries, the electrical manufacturing industry, shipbuilding, the shipping industry and tourism. The most favourable geographical position must be the very fertile though under-exploited land in Pannonian Croatia. We also have considerable petroleum resources which can meet a substantial share of national requirements, and the tourist trade, as well as speedy and large-scale privatisation and integration into West European economic trends, providing the groundwork for the reconstruction and economic redevelopment of a country destroyed and impoverished by war.

GDP = US$14,615 billion (1993). GDP per capita: US$ 3,058 (1993).


According to the 1991 census, total population of the Republic of Croatia is 4,784.265. Population of the major cities is as follows: Zagreb: 930,500; Split: 189,388; Rijeka: 167,964; Osijek: 104,761; Pula: 62,378; Karlovac: 59,999.

National composition (according to 1991 census): 78.10 per cent Croats.

A brief history

Croatia is a young European state, whose struggle for democracy was crowned in 1992 with its recognition as an independent and sovereign state: the Republic of Croatia. With this act a new chapter in Croatian history has begun. But Croatia is still a 1,000-year-old state in which the boisterousness of the Mediterranean mixes with the steadiness of Central Europe. This is a country with an unusual shape, created through centuries of turbulent history.

The early Croatian state emerged after the disintegration of the Roman Empire. Croatian tribes settled in this area during the great migration which occurred throughout Europe after the fall of Rome. Creating principalities during the seventh century, founding an independent state in the ninth century, establishing the Kingdom of the Croats in the tenth century, and crowning their own popular rulers, the Croats took hold of this land for good.

With their conversion to Christianity completed in the ninth century, the Croats joined the circle of west Christendom and Western European societies.

Croatia, as an heir to Roman heritage and as a bearer of Slavic culture, has been shaped through several centuries by two dominant cultural influences: Central European - created through Habsburg centralisation - and Mediterranean, brought by the Venetian authorities.

Today's modern Croatia is the proud owner of the Roman Colosseum in Pula, Diocletian's Palace in Split, the Adriatic city-museums such as Zadar, Trogir and Dubrovnik within whose walls abound examples of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance architecture, the Baroque palaces of Zagreb and the mighty castles and fortresses found in its surroundings. Still, history has shown that the different cultural circles to which Croatia belonged have not diminished the Croats' awareness of their own identity. Throughout the centuries Croatia has carefully followed and responded to European trends. Here, as elsewhere in Europe, the mid-19th century brought a movement of national rebirth, awakening not only the civilian political consciousness, but also playing a significant role in the final determination of the Croatian nation. The idea of Slavic unity led to Croatia's joining the Kingdom of the Slovenes, Croats and Serbs after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in 1918. This state, which in 1929 changed its name to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, was created as a centralist kingdom led by a Serbian dynasty. However, it disappeared in the whirlwind of the Second World War in its current shape with constitutionally guaranteed borders devised from decisions made during the war. After almost 50 years of communist rule, confident that communism was not the answer for their future, the citizens of Croatia removed the totalitarian system by predominantly voting for a democratic state in the first democratic elections in Croatia, in 1990. Today it is a parliamentary democratic, multi-party republic. The present President is Dr Franjo Tudjman.


Roman Catholic (76.5 per cent), Orthodox, Islamic, Jewish, Protestant, etc.

Languages spoken by nationals

Croatian is the official language, spoken throughout Croatia. There are some local dialects (spoken in Istria, Dalmatia, Hrvatsko Zagorje, etc). The alphabet is Latin.


Central European Time (GMT + 1). Daylight saving time in 1994: 27 March - September 25 (GMT + 2).


The Croatian monetary unit is 'kuna'. One kuna has 100 'lipas'. Notes of one, tow, five, ten, 20 and 50 lipas and one, two and five kunas as well as banknotes of five, ten, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 kunas are in circulation.

Official holidays

January 1, May 1, May 30, June 22, August 15, December 25 & 26. There are some more non-working days: January 6 & 7, Easter Monday, Ramadan-Bayram and 1 November.

What one should not fail to see

The beautiful coastline of the Croatian Adriatic (1,777,7km long), 1,185 islands and islets, seven national parks, 40 marinas... This is just some of the rich and immense beauty and natural wealth of Croatia.

Don't miss Istria, the biggest peninsula, which abounds in natural beauty and sights as well as numerous well-known tourist resorts (Umag, Porec, Vrsar, Rovinj, Pula, Rabac, Lim Bay and Brijuni archipelago, one of the Croatian national parks).

There is also Kvarner with its islands (Krk, Cres, Losinj, Rab and Pag) and its tourist resorts (Opatija, Lovran, Moscenicka Draga, Crikvenica, Novi Vinodolski, Senj) and the biggest Croatian port: Rijeka.

Also world famous is Dalmatia with its pearl-towns such as Zadar, Sibenik, Trogir, Split and Dubrovnik, and beautiful islands such as Brac, Hvar, Korcula, Vis and Mljet. A genuine natural pearl is the Kornatiarchipelago, with l40 islands, islets, cliffs and rocks in an area of 63

Continental Croatia abounds in beautiful landscapes, mountains, lakes and rivers, gentle hills and valleys, grain-growing plains. The exceptional 'beauty' - the Plitvice Lakes National Park - is one of the most valuable natural reserves in the world (at present Plitvice Lakes are still under Serbian occupation). Croatian towns are also worth seeing: Zagreb, the capital; Varazdin, Osijek, Dakovo, Vukovar, although some of them have suffered heavily during this war.

Most favourable seasons for sojourns and touring

All the year round. For summer holidays at the seaside: May to October (June, July, August and September are best); for winter holidays at the seaside: February and March recommended.

How to dress

In summer, light clothing (sweater or jacket for chilly evenings). Rainwear advisable in spring, autumn and winter. Warm clothing and footwear advisable for winter (esp. inland).

Main holiday resorts

There are numerous holiday resorts on the Croatian coast, on islands and inland. Almost every location on the coast is a tourist resort.

Main holiday sports

All aquatic sports including waterskiing, yachting and canoeing, underwater fishing, diving and scuba-diving, sailing and rowing as well as hunting, fishing, and tennis, to mention just a few.

What to eat and drink

You can eat in Croatia as you would anywhere else in Europe. There are, of course, some regional specialities, well-known all over the world. The food is tasty and healthy, offered in a wide range of restaurants and styles (international, national, small, big, taverns, cellars, pizzerias, fast food). The main meal usually starts with cold hors-d'oeuvre (ham or 'prsut' - smoked ham, sea-fruit salad, etc), followed by soup, followed by the main dish (meat or fish) and finally dessert. Croatian wines are very good; there are some world-famous kinds, like heavy Dalmatian wines or Istrian red wines, etc). Every region is known for at least some specialities: in Istria one can eat smoked ham, sea-food salad, 'fuzi' (a pastry speciality), as well as truffle mushrooms and venison dishes. Dalmatia is famous for its boiled vegetables 'leso', boiled fish or meat, as well as grilled fish of all sorts. Crabs and mussels are also eaten (not only m seaside areas, but inland, too). Inland in Hrvatsko Zagorje and Zagreb, famous dishes are all sorts of roasted and grilled meat dishes, as well as some boiled meat dishes and specialities such as roasted turkey with 'mlinci' and 'strukle' (boiled and overdone cheese strudel). Other inland regions, Medimurje for example, are famous for dishes such as Medimurska gibanica (cake), sauerkraut with meat and sausages, and steaks with mushroom sauce. Slavonija, rich and wealthy, is famous for its meat or fish stews (Cobanac, riblji paprikas, etc). There is also a great variety of sweets: all sorts of cakes are available, as well as pancakes, strudels and some typical regional specialities ('fritule' and 'rozata' in Dalmatia, 'bazlamaca' in Zagorje, etc). Wines in Croatia are of different tastes and textures, depending on the region. Local wines should be tried. In Istria: Malvazija, Merlot, Borgonja, Teran; in Dalmatia: Dingac, Postup, Grk; inland: Riesling, Pinot, Grasevina).

What to buy

Leather goods, glass, lace, silver, ceramics, local handicrafts, handmade goods. Shops are well stocked everywhere and the prices are moderate.

Frontier formalities

All travellers entering Croatia need a valid passport; citizens of most countries may also present another personal identification document and will be issued a three-month pass. Visas, if required, can be obtained at the border crossings. Documents required for vehicles include the car licence, the green insurance card, and the power-of-attorney of the owner if the car is driven by another person.

Health regulations

None, except if required by dangerous epidemics abroad. Cats and dogs have to be provided with a valid vaccination certificate against rabies.


Travellers may bring in their personal luggage without any limitations. Technical equipment, cameras, camping equipment, vessels, radio equipment or weapons should be declared on entry. The following articles are not dutiable up to the mentioned quantities: 200 cigarettes (50 cigars, 0.25kg of tobacco), one litre of spirits, 0.05 litres of perfume, etc.

Currency regulations

No limit on the amount of foreign currency for foreigners coming to Croatia. They can bring into Croatia a maximum of 2,000 kunas in notes of up to 500 kunas. Croatian kuna can be retransferred only in banks upon the presentation of receipts issued by official exchange offices. Money can be exchanged at the official exchange offices (banks, post offices, hotels, travel agencies) at the current rate of exchange.

Main travel routes

By air: from most European capitals to Zagreb. From Zagreb to local airports (Split, Rijeka, Pula, Dubrovnik, Zadar). Season airports at the islands of Losinj and Brac.

By road: travellers coming to Croatia from Austria and Italy pass Slovenia and enter Croatia in Istria or near the towns of Zagreb and Varazdin. Those coming from Hungary enter Croatia near Cakovec and Koprivnica. There is a modern road along the Adriatic coast (Jadranska magistrala), from Rijeka to Dubrovnik.

By ship: from Rijeka to Dubrovnik (via Rab, Zadar, Sibenik, Split, Brac, Hvar, Korcula). All the islands are well connected with the mainland by ferries.

By train: there are modern trains to Austria/Germany, Italy, Hungary, as well as to Osijek and to Pula and Rijeka. There is still no train connection with Split.


There are a lot of cultural events going on in Croatia all year round. Summer festivals are especially popular in Dubrovnik, Split, Zagreb, Zadar, Korcula, Rovinj, Opatija, etc. Special cultural performances held in some towns are world famous. Sport events (ie, tennis, sailing, car racing) are organised mostly in summer.

Useful addresses

UHPA, Association of Croatian Travel Agents, Kaptol 5, 41000 Zagreb. Tel./ Fax: +385 1/426-070.

Croatian Association of Hoteliers, Hotel 'Kvarner', Park 1. svibnja, 51410 Opatija. Tel.: +385 51/213-820. Fax: +385 51/211-312.

Croatian Camping Union, Petra Kandlera 9. 51440 Porec. Tel.: +385 52/451.292. Fax: +385 52/451.279

Union of Croatian Marinas, c/o Regionalna komora Rijeka, Trpimirova 2,51000 Rijeka. Tel.:+38551/337-333. Fax:+38551/212-273.

We have been able to publish the present tourist information on Croatia thanks to the co-operation and the participation of the Croatian National Tourist Board, in Zagreb.