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CROATIA – GENERAL INFORMATION

   
                      Fig.1 – Croatia Flag

GEOGRAPHY

Flanked by the crystal-clear Adriatic Sea to the west, Croatia is also bordered by Slovenia, Hungary, and Bosnia. The lively capital of Zagreb inland dwarfs the rest of Croatia’s cities, such as Split, Dubrovnik, Pula and Rijekamost, most of which are on the coast. The Dinaric Alps form the country’s backbone, splitting coastal Croatia from the cooler interior. Seven National Parks, each of a completely different make-up, contain everything from beech forests to mountainous landscapes and pine-covered islands. The National Parks also contain some of Europe’s most elusive fauna including lynx, bears, wolves and vultures. The geographical highlight of this sunny slice of Europe is its magnificent coastline, which supports a rich variety of typically Mediterranean flora. If you take into account the 1,000 plus islands dotted along its length the coastline stretches for over 3,107 miles from the Istrian

Peninsula to the historic port of Dubrovnik. Many of the islands are completely uninhabited and make a fascinating day trip. Both Croatia’s mainland and island coastlines tower upward in height as you move away from the sea. This gives many of the coastal towns superb microclimates as the clouds are held up in the hills backing on to the sea, while the coast itself remains bathed in sunshine. Average sea temperatures remain above 68ºF until early November. The lack of heavy industry or significant river outlets along the Croatian coast gives the water a visibility unrivalled in the Mediterranean.

Credit: Central Intelligence Agency

HISTORY
Before 5,000 BC the people of what is now Croatia learned to farm although they only had stone tools. Later they learned to use bronze then iron. After 390 BC Greeks settled in colonies along the coast. Then after 229 BC the Romans gradually took control of Croatia. By 12 AD the Romans were in complete control. The Romans divided up the area into provinces. The coast was made the province of Dalmatia. Part of Croatia became the province of Noricum (which included part of Austria). The rest of Croatia became the province of Pannonia (which included part of Hungary). In time the Croatians became Romanised. The Romans founded new towns and they built roads. However Roman control of Croatia collapsed in the 5th century.

Early in the 7th century a Slavic people called the Croats migrated to the area. At first, they settled in Dalmatia. However, in the 8th century they expanded northwards and inland. Two separate Croatian states emerged, one by the coast, the other inland. In the 9th century the inland Croatians became subject to the Franks, a powerful people who ruled most of Europe.

Meanwhile in the 9th century Croatia was converted to Christianity. However, the Croats became part of the western Catholic Church based in Rome rather than the Eastern Orthodox Church based in Constantinople. Meanwhile in the 8th and early 9th centuries trade and commerce grew in Croatia. Roman towns were revived and new towns were created.

Then in the 11th century King Petar Kresimir (1058-1074) managed to unite the two Croatian states. However, in 1102 the Hungarian king Koloman conquered Croatia and the two states were united under one crown. During the Middle Ages trade and town life flourished in Croatia and many towns grew large and important. However, Venice coveted parts of Croatia. In 1202 Crusaders agreed to take the town of Zadar to repay a debt they owed to the Venetians. They captured it in 1204. In 1205 the Venetians captured Dubrovnik and Istria. In 1358 the Hungarian-Croatian king defeated the Venetians and took back Croatian territory in Dalmatia. However, in 1382 Dubrovnik bought its independence. It remained an independent republic until 1808.

Meanwhile the Venetians still had designs on the Croatian coast. In 1409 after a war the king of Hungary-Croatia sold Dalmatia (except Dubrovnik) to Venice. So, the Venetians were left in control of Istria and most of Dalmatia. In 1493 the Ottomans defeated the Croatians at the battle of Krovsko Poje. In 1526 the Hungarians were crushed by the Turks at the battle of Mohacs.

The king of Hungary-Croatia was killed and his kingdom passed to an Austrian, Archduke Ferdinand of Habsburg. However the Turks continued to advance and by the late 16th century they controlled most of Croatia. Yet in the late 17th century the Turks were pushed back. They were driven back from Vienna in 1683 and in 1716 they were defeated at the battle of Petervaradino, which led to the liberation of Croatia. The 18th century was a relatively peaceful one for Croatia. However Croatian society changed little.

THE PEOPLE

Population 4.2 million: Croat 68%, Serb 17%, Italians 4.4%, Germans 3.7%, Hungarian 3.2%, Slovenian 0.9%, others 2.8%.

SOCIAL CONVENTIONS

People normally shake hands upon meeting and leaving. Smoking is generally acceptable but there are restrictions in public buildings and on public transport.

LANGUAGE

The most widely-spoken language is Serbo-Croatian – a Slavic language that arrived in the Balkans region with the migration of the Slavs in the 6th or 7th century. The language eventually evolved into two branches: East South Slavic and West South Slavic. Bulgarian and Macedonian derive from the East South Slavic group and Slovene, Serbian and Croatian are derived from the West South Slavic group. Later in Croatia’s eventful history a series of occupying powers – Ottoman, Venetian, Hapsburg, Italian – enriched the language with new German, Turkish and Italian words. Nearly all Croatians speak at least one other language. In the north, the second language is likely to be German while along the coast, it is likely to be Italian. Tri-lingual Croatians are not rare. English is widely although not universally spoken. Anyone working in the tourist business in any way will have mastered some English and for young people English is now the second language of choice.

Below are some common Croatian phrases. Give them a try – mastering at least a few words of Croatian is sure to enhance your trip! The pronunciation is fairly straightforward at least – every letter is pronounced, and the accent usually falls on the first letter of every word.

 

ENGLISHCROATIANPRONOUNCED AS
HelloZdravoZdravo
Good morningDobro Jutro Dobro yootro
Good afternoonDobar DanDobar dan
Good eveningDobra Vecer Dobra vecher
GoodbyeDovidenjaDovijenya
My name is…Ja se zovem…Ya se zovem
Thank youHvalaHvaala
PleaseMolimMolim
Excuse meOprostiteOprostiteh
How much?Koliko ovo kosta?Koliko ovo koshta
Where is…?Gdje je…? Gdyeh-yeh
TicketKartaKarta
BillRacunRatchoon
I would like…Zelio bih (for man) /Zeljela bih… (for woman) Zhelyo bih / zhelyeh-la bih
Where should I get off for..?Gdje trebam sici za…?Gdyeh trebam seechee za
Is this bus for…?Da li ovaj autobus ide za,,,?Da lee ov-eye owtoboos eeday zha
Where are the toilets?Gdje je toalet?Gdyeh yeh toalet
I’m looking for…Trazim…Trazhim
YesDa Da
NoNeNe

 

GOVERNMENT
Croatia’s government is a multi-party parliamentary republic. Respecting the will of the Croatian nation and all its citizens, resolutely expressed in free elections, the

Republic of Croatia is formed and is developing as a sovereign and democratic state in which the equality, freedoms and rights of man and citizen are guaranteed and

ensured, and their economic and cultural progress, and social welfare promoted. Freedom, equal rights, national and gender equality, love of peace, social justice, respect of human rights, inviolability of ownership, conservation of nature and the human environment, the rule of law and a democratic multiparty system are the highest values of the constitutional order of the Republic of Croatia and form the basis for interpreting the Constitution.

The Republic of Croatia is a unitary, indivisible, democratic and social state. Power in the Republic of Croatia derives from the people and belongs to the people as a community of free and equal citizens.

TIME ZONE

GMT + 1 (GMT + 2 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).

ELECTRICITY

The electricity supply is 220V AC, 50Hz, and power outlets in Croatia are the Continental two-pin type.

CLIMATE

Croatia is a year-round destination, although through the year the tourists focus shifts from coast to inland and back again. This is explained by the two disparate climates that affect the country. While the Adriatic coast has a Mediterranean climate, the northern interior’s weather is dictated by a continental weather pattern. The high season for tourism occurs between May and September, when hordes of people descend on the coast to enjoy the sultry sun, pristine beaches and clear water. July and August herald the genuine peak when beaches become crowded and temperatures reach their annual high. Perhaps because of this the discerning tourist will leave a visit to a bit later in the year. Although taking a slightly higher risk of inclement weather September is normally extremely pleasant, with warm temperatures and a less frenetic atmosphere around the beach resorts.

Through spring and autumn, the tourists move to the cities as the weather cools. In between, from the New Year until the end of February the skiers descend (literally) on the slopes of the highland pistes. Although Croatia boasts only a few locations above 6,500 ft in height, skiing has long been popular, and you’ll find resorts all over the country, including some surprisingly close to the coast.

Clothes to Wear:

Lightweights and beachwear (including sun protection) for summer. Mediumweights for winter with heavier clothing for inland areas. It is a good idea to pack waterproofs at any time of year.

LOGISTICAL

Entry & Exit Requirements:

You do not need a visa if you hold a valid US passport and are traveling to Croatia for tourism or business for less than 90 days within a 180-day period.

For further information on entry requirements for Croatia, travelers may also contact the Embassy of Croatia at 2343 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, Tel: (202) 588-5899. begin_of_the_skype_highlightingend_of_the_skype_highlighting http://us.mvep.hr/en/ There are Croatian Consulates in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Croatia are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate at the Department of State’s travel registration page in order to obtain updated information on local travel and security.  U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  Registration is important; it allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency.

Embassy Locations:

U.S. Embassy in Croatia

2 Thomas Jefferson Street, 10010 Zagreb
Tel: +385 (1) 661-2200

Emer. A/Hours Tel:

+385 (1) 661-2400
Fax: +385 (1) 665-8933
https://hr.usembassy.gov/

Embassy of Canada to Croatia

Prilaz Gjure Dezelica 4, 10000 Zagreb

Tel: (385) 1 488 1200
Fax: (385) 1 488 1230

http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/croatia-croatie/contact-contactez.aspx?lang=eng

 Health:

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) or via the CDC website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/topics/infectious_ diseases/en/. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

Banks & Currency:

Kuna (HRK; symbol Kn) = 100 Lipa. Notes are in denominations of Kn1,000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of Kn25, 5, 2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 lipa.

Foreign currency can be exchanged in banks, by authorized dealers and post offices.

American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted. ATM’s are widespread. Travelers checks are less accepted and at an unfavorable rate.

The import and export of local currency is limited to Kn15,000. The import and export of foreign currency is unlimited, but it is compulsory to declare upon arrival the amounts that exceed the equivalent of €10,000.

Banking Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-7pm, Sat 7am-1pm.

Communication:

Country code: 385. Telephone booths are operated by phonecards available at post offices, news stands and in some tourist shops.

Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies. Coverage is good.

Internet cafes can be found in Zagreb and other main towns.

Stamps are available in post offices and from news stands. Post offices hours: Mon-Fri 7am-7pm and Sat 7am-1pm. Some may be open until 10pm in larger cities.

Cell Phone Usage:

Please contact your cell phone provider to determine whether your contract includes coverage in the country you are visiting. Depending on your contract you may have to add international services and/or country specific services.

ENTERTAINMENT

Food & Drink:

Hungarian, Italian and Austrian influences can be found in Croatian food, with hearty meat stews and goulashes dominating the menu in the hinterland. The Adriatic coast is renowned for its variety of seafood dishes.

National specialities:

  • Pršut i paški sir (air-dried ham similar to Italian prosciutto and sheep’s cheese from the island of Pag) platters are served as an appetiser
  • Salata od hobotnice (octopus salad) is made from octopus, potato, onion, chopped parsely, olive oil and lemon juice
  • Crni rižot (black risotto) is made from cuttlefish black ink
  • Gulaš (goulash) is similar to the Hungarian version from where it originated
  • Janjetina (roast lamb) is popular in inland regions, where its not unusual to see whole lamb roasting on a spit at roadside eateries.

National drinks:

  • Vino (wine) as a rule of thumb, the best red wines come from the south, and the best whites from the north
  • Rakija (spirit) a potent firewater drunk as a toast at celebrations and as an aperitif before eating. Types of rakija include travarica (made from distilled grapes and flavored with herbs) and šlivovica (made from distilled plums)
  • Pivo (beer) is popular throughout the country – lager predominates
  • Kava (coffee) is generally drunk as Italian-style espresso or as bijela kava (coffee with milk)
  • Čaj (tea) normally implies herbal teas such as šipak (rosehip) which are served with sugar and lemon. If you want English-style black tea ask for Indijski čaj sa mljekom (Indian tea with milk).

Shopping:
Handicrafts are popular buys among visitors to Croatia, especially items such as ceramic bowls, painted tiles and picture frames. More popular still are paintings of Croatian scenes by local artists, which are sold alongside handicrafts in the country’s tourist spots. Lavender based gifts such as lavender oil are popular on the islands. You don’t need to look far to find a wealth of lace goods, which make excellent, and light, presents to take home. Food and drink make great gifts. Cheeses and wines are the most easily transported goods and each region has its own specialty. Croatian brandies, especially plum and cherry, are internationally renowned and are readily available from supermarkets and Croatia’s main airports.

BAGGAGE

Baggage rules for international and domestic air travel have changed much in recent years, differ from carrier to carrier and these days even may cover your on-board bags. Checking luggage may cost a separate fee or may be free depending on your personal status with the carrier. We therefore encourage you to read your ticket’s small print and/or contact your carrier for exact rules.

TIPPING

A service charge of approximately 10% is usually added to restaurant bills but an additional tip is often appreciated. You should give all tips directly to your server; it isn’t common practice to leave it on the table. 10% normally suffices for restaurant service and taxis. Hotel porters do not expect a tip but a small amount of HRK1-2 is appropriate if you feel you want to tip.

LAUNDRY

Most hotels will arrange affordable laundry services for guests.

PHOTOS & VIDEOS

In some countries you must refrain from photographing sites such as Military bases and industrial installations. Also, be aware of cultural sensitivities when taking pictures of or near churches and other religious sites. It is always courteous to ask for permission before taking photographs of people.

USE OF DRONES 
The use of drones is being legislated by many countries. In some cases drones are already forbidden, and their unauthorized use may carry severe penalties. If you plan to travel with a drone, please contact the embassy or consulate of the country you wish to visit.

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