|General background: In 1918, the Croats, Serbs,
and Slovenes formed a kingdom known after 1929 as Yugoslavia.
Following World War II, Yugoslavia became an independent
communist state under the strong hand of Marshal TITO.
Although Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia
in 1991, it took four years of sporadic, but often bitter,
fighting before occupying Serb armies were mostly cleared
from Croatian lands. Under UN supervision the last Serb-held
enclave in eastern Slavonia was returned to Croatia
Area comparative: Slightly
smaller than West Virginia
and continental; continental climate predominant with
hot summers and cold winters; mild winters, dry summers
diverse; flat plains along Hungarian border, low mountains
and highlands near Adriatic coastline and islands
Population: 4,390,751 (July 2002 est.)
Ethnic groups: Croat 78.1%, Serb 12.2%, Bosniak
0.9%, Hungarian 0.5%, Slovene 0.5%, Czech 0.4%, Albanian
0.3%, Montenegrin 0.3%, Roma 0.2%, others 6.6% (1991)
Religions: Roman Catholic 76.5%, Orthodox
11.1%, Muslim 1.2%, Protestant 0.4%, others and unknown
Language: Croatian 96%, other 4% (including
Italian, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak, and German)
Government type: Presidential/parliamentary
Legal system: Based on civil law system
Economic overview: Before the dissolution
of Yugoslavia, the Republic of Croatia, after Slovenia,
was the most prosperous and industrialized area, with
a per capita output perhaps one-third above the Yugoslav
average. The economy emerged from its mild recession
in 2000 with tourism the main factor, but massive
structural unemployment remains a key negative element.
The government's failure to press the economic reforms
needed to spur growth is largely the result of coalition
politics and public resistance, particularly from
the trade unions, to measures that would cut jobs,
wages, or social benefits. As a result, the country
is likely to experience only moderate growth without
disciplined fiscal and structural reform.
Communication/Telephone system: Reconstruction
plan calls for replacement of all analog circuits
with digital and enlarging the network; a backup will
be included in the plan for the main trunk.
Places of interest: Croatia has some of Europe's
finest Roman ruins, including the immense palace of
Diocletian in Split.
Travel tips: Some remote areas of Croatia,
even though safe and welcoming, remain uncleared of
landmines. It is unwise to stray into fields or abandoned