Europe

Croatia country profile

  • 1 July 2016
  • From the section Europe
Map of Croatia

Croatia's declaration of independence in 1991 was followed by four years of war and the best part of a decade of authoritarian nationalism under President Franjo Tudjman.

By early 2003 it had made enough progress in shaking off the legacy of those years to apply for EU membership, becoming the second former Yugoslav republic after Slovenia to do so.

Following protracted accession talks, Croatia took its place as the 28th member state of the EU on 1 July 2013.

A country of striking natural beauty with a stunning Adriatic coastline, Croatia is again very popular as a tourist destination.

FACTS

Republic of Croatia

Capital: Zagreb

  • Population 4.4 million

  • Area 56,594 sq km (21,851 sq miles)

  • Major language Croatian

  • Major religion Christianity

  • Life expectancy 73 years (men), 80 years (women)

  • Currency kuna

Getty Images

LEADERS

President: Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic takes the oath of office

Moderate conservative Kolinda Grabar-Kiratovic was elected Croatia's first female president in January 2015, narrowly beating Social Democrat incumbent Ivo Josipovic in a run-off vote.

She pledged to kick-start the country's ailing economy.

She had previously served as foreign minister, ambassador to the United States and NATO assistant secretary-general.

The role of president is largely ceremonial. The president proposes the prime minister but it is for parliament to approve the nomination.

Prime Minister: Tihomir Oreskovic

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images

Tihomir Oreskovic was approved by parliament as prime minister in January 2016, more than two months after a general election that failed to produce an outright winner.

However, after only five months in power, his government was toppled in June following a quarrel between the main coalition partners. Snap elections are likely to be held.

He was nominated for the post by the main conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and the small pro-reformist party Most ("Bridge"), who formed a coalition after weeks of post-election talks.

Mr Oreskovic is former chief executive officer of Croatia's largest pharmaceutical company PLIVA, which became a unit of global generics giant Teva Group.

He was chosen to lead the government as a non-partisan technocrat, whose primary tasks include curbing high public debt and introducing fiscal reforms as the country emerges from six years of recession.

MEDIA

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images

Croatia's media enjoy a high degree of independence. Croatian Radio-TV, HRT, is the state-owned public broadcaster and is financed by advertising and a licence fee.

Public TV is still the main source of news and information, but HRT is losing audience share and privately-owned Nova TV is now the top station.

National commercial networks and dozens of private local TV stations compete for viewers. The cable and satellite market is well developed.

There are three national public radio networks, four national commercial channels, regional public radios and more than 130 local and regional radios.

In the newspaper sector, there are six national and four regional dailies. Austrian and German concerns have large stakes in the print media.

TIMELINE

Some key dates in Croatia's history:

1918 - Croatian national assembly votes to join the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes on the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

1929 - The Kingdom is renamed Yugoslavia, and the system of government is further centralised under a royal dictatorship.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption The Adriatic city of Dubrovnik is a big draw for tourists

1939 - The Croatian Peasant Party negotiates a partial restoration of Croatian autonomy.

1941 - Nazi Germany invades. A "Greater Croatia" is formed, also comprising most of Bosnia and western Serbia. A fascist puppet government is installed under Ante Pavelic.

1945 - After a bitter resistance campaign by Communist partisans under Josep Broz Tito, Croatia becomes one of the six constituent republics of the Yugoslav socialist federation headed by Tito as prime minister.

Image copyright Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Image caption President Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia (right) shaking hands with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, 1953

1980 - Tito dies. The slow disintegration of Yugoslavia begins as individual republics assert their desire for independence.

1990 - First free elections in Croatia for more than 50 years. The communists lose to the conservative, nationalist HDZ led by Franjo Tudjman.

1991 - Croatia declares its independence. Croatian Serbs in the east of the country expel Croats with the aid of the Yugoslav army. Nearly one-third of Croatian territory comes under Serb control.

1992 - The UN sets up 4 protected areas in Croatia, with 14,000 UN troops keeping Croats and Serbs apart. Croatia also becomes involved in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina (1992-5), supporting the Bosnian Croats against the Bosnian Serbs, then against the Bosniaks (Muslims). Franjo Tudjman is elected president of Croatia.

1995 - Croat forces retake three of the four areas created by the UN. Croatian Serbs flee to Bosnia and Serbia. President Tudjman is one of the signatories of the Dayton peace accords ending the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

1996 - Croatia restores diplomatic relations with Yugoslavia. Croatia joins Council of Europe.

2001 - The Hague tribunal indicts former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the war in Croatia in the early 1990s.

2004 - Wartime Croatian Serb leader Milan Babic jailed for by Hague tribunal for his part in war crimes against non-Serbs in self-proclaimed Krajina Serb republic where he was leader in the early 1990s.

2009 - Croatia officially joins NATO.

2010 - Visit of President Josipovic to Belgrade signals thawing of relations with Serbia.

2013 - Croatia takes its place as the 28th member of the EU.

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