Article

CROATIA

The former Yugoslavian republic of Croatia has a history that goes back to the days when portions of that country were made part of the Roman Empire as the province of Illyricum (c 32 BC).  After that Empire’s fall, the country eventually became the Kingdom of Croatia (925-1102 AD) – the origin of its current coat of arms and flag.  Given growing competition for control of various Adriatic and Mediterranean coastal areas during the medieval periods between the Ottoman Turks and the Venetians, the latter (as the Republic of Venice) would gain control of Croatia’s shores by 1420 (lasting until 1797).  During the same period, the Ottomans would take portions of Croatia’s inland territories (those near what is now Bosnia – another Ottoman possession), as well as Austria.  When the Venetian Republic fell in 1797, Austria ended up possessing the rest of Croatia (that is, its coastal areas).  Throughout much of the 19th century, Croatia would be part of both the Austrian Empire, and the subsequent dual monarchy of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire (1867-1918).

After World War I (which saw the collapse of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire), Croatia went through more political change, as it became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (as part of a merger of the former Kingdoms of Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia and Croatia).  This lasted until 1941, when World War II tore apart much of the European continent.  During that conflict, Croatia became a Nazi satellite state.  When the war ended in 1945, Yugoslavia’s monarchy was abolished, becoming the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia under Marshall Tito (composing not only of Croatia, but Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia).

With the fall of the Soviet Union by the early 1990s and the changes that it triggered throughout Eastern Europe, Croatia became formally independent in 1991 (establishing a democratic government).  By that time, however, portions of its territory were caught up in civil conflict perpetrated by nearby Serbia (with its easternmost city, Vukovar, destroyed by forces from that country, along with a massacre occurring there as well).  With fighting raging in nearby Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia became the recipient of waves of Bosnian refugees in 1992 – 1993.  In August 1995, Croatian forces, in fierce land battles with the Serbs, regained control of the nearly 20% of its territory that was lost to that neighbor.  Conflict in these former Yugoslav republics ended that year, with Croatia going through on and off waves of economic recovery since then.  Part of that process was Croatia joining the European Union (EU) in 2013.

Tourism has grown in importance in Croatia, with nearly 9.9 million foreign tourists visiting that country in 2011.  That year, Croatia was the 6th most popular Mediterranean tourist destination — after France, Spain, Italy, Turkey and Greece.  This is also shown by some trends that have occurred over the past decade, such as: the “discovery” of Croatia by a growing number of international media outlets praising its natural and cultural attractions; the obvious rise in the number of tourist arrivals from other EU countries; the significant share of tourism in the total GDP of Croatia (14%); the rise in the number of objects of protected tangible and non-tangible cultural heritage; the increase in investment in tourism and auxiliary infrastructure; the increasing variety of what is on offer for tourists, etc.