Republic of Croatia
Area: 56,542 sq. km. land area (slightly smaller
than West Virginia), 31,067 sq. km. coastal sea
Major cities (2002 est.): Capital--Zagreb
(779,145). Others--Split (188,694),
Rijeka (144,043), Osijek (114,616).
Terrain: Croatia is situated between central and
eastern Europe. Its terrain is diverse,
containing rocky coastlines, densely wooded
mountains, plains, lakes, and rolling hills.
Climate: Croatia has a mixture of climates. In
the north it is continental, Mediterranean along
the coast, and a semi-highland and highland
climate in the central region.
Population (July 2005 est.) 4,495,904.
Growth rate (2005 est.): -0.02%.
Ethnic groups: Croat 89.6%, Serb 4.5%, other
5.9% (including Bosniak, Hungarian, Slovene,
Czech, and Roma) (2001 census).
Religions: Catholic 87.8%, Orthodox 4.4%, Slavic
Muslim 1.28%, others 6.52%.
Language: Croatian (South Slavic language, using
the Roman script).
Health (2005 est.): Life expectancy--male
70.79 years; female 78.31 years. Infant
mortality rate--6.84 deaths/1,000 live
Type: Parliamentary democracy.
Constitution: Adopted December 22, 1990.
Independence (from Yugoslavia): June 25, 1991.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of
state), prime minister (head of government),
Council of Ministers (cabinet). Legislative--unicameral
Parliament or Sabor. Judicial--three-tiered
Suffrage: Universal at 18, or 16 years if
Political parties: Social Democratic Party of
Croatia (SDP); Croatian Peasant Party (HSS);
Liberal Party (LS); Croatian People's Party (HNS);
Libra Party; Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ);
Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS); Croatian
Block (HB); Croatian Christian Democratic Union
(HKDU); Istrian Democratic Assembly (IDS);
Croatian Independent Democrats (HND); Action of
Social Democrats of Croatia (ASH);
Slavonija-Baranja Croatia's Party (SBHS);
Democratic Centre (DC); Croatian Party of Rights
(HSP); True Croatian Revival Party (HIP);
Primorje Goransko Union (PGS); Serb People’s
Party (SNS); Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS).
Real GDP growth (2005 est.): 3.2%.
Inflation rate (2005 est.): 3.2%.
Unemployment rate (2004): 13.8%.
Natural resources: Oil, bauxite, low-grade iron
ore, calcium, natural asphalt, mica, clays,
salt, and hydropower.
Croatia serves as a gateway to eastern Europe.
It lies along the east coast of the Adriatic Sea
and shares a border with Serbia and Montenegro,
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, and Slovenia.
The republic swings around like a boomerang from
the Pannonian Plains of Slavonia between the
Sava, Drava, and Danube Rivers, across hilly,
central Croatia to the Istrian Peninsula, then
south through Dalmatia along the rugged Adriatic
coast. Croatia is made up of 20 counties plus
the city of Zagreb and controls 1,185 islands in
the Adriatic Sea, 67 of which are inhabited.
PEOPLE AND HISTORY
The Croats are believed to be a purely Slavic
people who migrated from Ukraine and settled in
present-day Croatia during the 6th century.
After a period of self-rule, Croatians agreed to
the Pacta Conventa in 1091, submitting
themselves to Hungarian authority. By the
mid-1400s, concerns over Ottoman expansion led
the Croatian Assembly to invite the Habsburgs,
under Archduke Ferdinand, to assume control over
Croatia. Habsburg rule proved successful in
thwarting the Ottomans, and by the 18th century,
much of Croatia was free of Turkish control.
In 1868, Croatia gained domestic autonomy
while remaining under Hungarian authority.
Following World War I and the demise of the
Austro-Hungarian Empire, Croatia joined the
Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (the
Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes became
Yugoslavia in 1929). Yugoslavia changed its name
once again after World War II. The new state
became the Federal Socialist Republic of
Yugoslavia and united Croatia and several other
states together under the communistic leadership
of Marshall Tito (born Josip Broz).
After the death of Tito and with the fall of
communism throughout eastern Europe, the
Yugoslav federation began to crumple. Croatia
held its first multi-party elections since World
War II in 1990. Long-time Croatian nationalist
Franjo Tudjman was elected President, and one
year later, Croatians declared independence from
Yugoslavia. Conflict between Serbs and Croats in
Croatia escalated, and one month after Croatia
declared independence, civil war erupted.
The United Nations mediated a cease-fire in
January 1992, but hostilities resumed the next
year when Croatia fought to regain one-third of
the territory lost the previous year. A second
cease-fire was enacted in May 1993, followed by
a joint declaration the next January between
Croatia and Yugoslavia. However, in September
1993, the Croatian Army led an offensive against
the Serb-held Republic of Krajina. A third
cease-fire was called in March 1994, but it,
too, was broken in May and August 1995 after
Croatian forces regained large portions of
Krajina, prompting an exodus of Serbs from this
area. In November 1995, Croatia agreed to
peacefully reintegrate Eastern Slavonia, Baranja,
and Western Dirmium under terms of the Erdut
Agreement. In December 1995, Croatia signed the
Dayton peace agreement, committing itself to a
permanent cease-fire and the return of all
The death of President Tudjman in December
1999, followed by the election of a coalition
government and President in early 2000, brought
significant changes to Croatia. The government,
under the leadership of then-Prime Minister
Racan, progressed in implementation of the
Dayton Peace Accords, regional cooperation,
refugee returns, national reconciliation, and
On November 23, 2003, national elections were
held for Parliament. The current government,
headed by Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, took
office in December 2003. The Sanader government
has made membership for Croatia in the European
Union and in NATO its top priorities. Elections
for Parliament are not expected again until
November 2007. Presidential elections were held
in January 2005. President Mesic was re-elected
to a second term in office, defeating Croatian
Democratic Union (HDZ) candidate Jadranka Kosor
in two rounds of balloting. President Mesic was
inaugurated for a second term on February 18,
2005. Presidential elections will next be held
in January 2010.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
The Croatian Parliament, also known as the Sabor,
became a unicameral body after its upper house
(Chamber of Counties) was eliminated by
constitutional amendment in March 2001. The
remaining body, the Chamber of Representatives,
consists of 151 members who serve 4-year terms
elected by direct vote. The Sabor meets twice a
year--from January 15 to July 15 and from
September 15 to December 15.
The powers of the legislature include
enactment and amendment of the constitution,
passage of laws, adoption of the state budget,
declarations of war and peace, alteration of the
boundaries of the republic, and carrying out
elections and appointments to office. During the
parliamentary elections of January 2000, six
parties united to form a coalition
government--Social Democratic Party of Croatia (SDP),
Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS), Croatian
Peasant Party (HSS), Istrian Democratic Assembly
(IDS), Liberal Party (LS), and Croatian People's
Party (HNS). The IDS left the coalition in June
2001. In July 2002, the HSLS left the coalition,
after which it split into two parties, Libra and
the HSLS. Libra remained in the coalition. As a
result of the parliamentary elections in
November 2003, the HDZ formed a government in
coalition with the Pensioners Party (HSU) and
all ethnic minority representatives in the Sabor.
After the resignation of Miomir Zuzul,
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic became Foreign Minister
on February 17, 2005. The Ministries of Foreign
Affairs and European Integration were merged
under her leadership. In addition, Damir
Polancec was named Deputy Prime Minister for
Economic Affairs, and Neven Ljubicic replaced
Andrija Hebrang as Minister of Health. In
February 2006, Ana Lovrin was named Minister of
The president is the head of state and is
elected by direct popular vote for a term of 5
years. The president is limited to serving no
more than two terms. In addition to being the
commander in chief, the president appoints the
prime minister and cabinet members with the
consent of Parliament. Following the death of
President Tudjman, the powers of the presidency
were curtailed and greater responsibility was
vested in Parliament.
The prime minister, who is nominated by the
president, assumes office following a
parliamentary vote of confidence in the new
government. The prime minister and government
are responsible for proposing legislation and a
budget, executing the laws, and guiding the
foreign and internal policies of the republic.
Croatia has a three-tiered judicial system,
consisting of the Supreme Court, county courts,
and municipal courts. Croatia's Supreme Court is
the highest court in the republic. The Supreme
Court assures the uniform application of laws.
Members of the high court are appointed by the
National Judicial Council, a body of 11 members,
and justices on the Supreme Court are appointed
for life. The court's hearings are generally
open to the public.
The Constitutional Court is a body of 13
judges appointed by Parliament for an 8-year
term. The Constitutional Court works to assure
the conformity of all laws to the constitution.
Principal Government Officials
Prime Minister--Ivo Sanader
Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs--Damir
Deputy Prime Minister/Minister of the Family,
Veterans' Affairs and Intergenerational
Minister of Health and Social Welfare--Neven
Minister of Foreign Affairs and European
Minister of Defense--Berislav Roncevic
Croatia maintains an
in the United States at 2343 Massachusetts
Avenue NW, Washington DC, 20008-2853, tel. (202)
588-5899, fax: (202) 588-8936. Consulates
General of the Republic of Croatia are located
in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
Honorary consulates are located in St. Paul, New
Orleans, Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Kansas City.
Following World War II, rapid industrialization
and diversification occurred within Croatia.
Decentralization came in 1965, allowing growth
of certain sectors, like the tourist industry.
Profits from Croatian industry were used to
develop poorer regions in the former Yugoslavia.
This, coupled with austerity programs and
hyperinflation in the 1980s, contributed to
discontent in Croatia.
Privatization and the drive toward a market
economy had barely begun under the new Croatian
Government when war broke out in 1991. As a
result of the war, the economic infrastructure
sustained massive damage, particularly the
revenue-rich tourism industry. From 1989 to
1993, GDP fell 40.5%. Following the close of the
war in 1995, tourism rebounded, and the economy
The solid growth that began in the mid-1990s
halted in 1999. A recession, caused primarily by
weak consumer demand and decrease in industrial
production, led to a 0.9% contraction of GDP
that year. Furthermore, inflation and
unemployment rose, and Croatia's currency--the
kuna--fell, inciting fears of devaluation.
Fueled in great part by increases in tourism,
the Croatian economy began to turn around in
2000, growing 2.9%. This was followed by a 3.8%
increase in 2001. The trend continued in 2002,
when the economy expanded by 5.2%, stimulated by
a credit boom led by newly privatized and
foreign-capitalized banks, some capital
investment (most importantly road construction),
increases in tourism, and gains by small and
medium-sized private enterprises. The increase
of unemployment has halted and is slowly
reversing, although state-financed enterprises,
particularly in agriculture and shipbuilding,
continue to rely on subsidies and rack up
arrears. Weak investor interest due to the poor
financial condition of many firms, unresolved
property right issues, unrealistic Croatian
expectations of market value, and political
infighting led to a slowdown of privatization in
2002. However, this trend reversed slightly in
2004 when 14 majority government-owned small and
medium sized firms were privatized. The process
of privatization has once again stalled, with
the privatizations of several steel companies
and shipyards, among other industries, left
Croatia is in the midst of pursuing a policy
of greater Euro-Atlantic integration. In October
2001, Croatia and the European Union (EU) signed
a Stabilization and Association Agreement. In
February 2003 Croatia formally presented its EU
membership application, and in April 2004 the
European Commission agreed to open EU accession
negotiations with Croatia. The opening of talks
was delayed in March 2005 when the EU decided
that Croatia was not fully cooperating with the
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia (ICTY), but talks finally got
underway in October 2005, after the ICTY’s Chief
Prosecutor, Carla del Ponte confirmed that
Croatia was fully cooperating.
In December 2005 General Ante Gotovina,
indicted by the ICTY for war crimes and a
fugitive since 2002, was arrested by Spanish
authorities in the Canary Islands, partially as
a result of intelligence information provided by
the Croatian Government. Since the arrest and
transfer of Gotovina to The Hague in late 2005,
Croatia continues to cooperate fully with the
Croatia was admitted on May 25, 2000 into the
Partnership for Peace program--which was
designed by North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO) member states in 1994 to strengthen
Euro-Atlantic security--and, in May 2002, was
welcomed into NATO’s Membership Action Program,
a key step toward NATO membership. On May 2,
2003, the United States joined Croatia, Albania,
and Macedonia to sign the
Adriatic Charter, in which the three NATO
aspirants pledged their commitment to NATO
values and their cooperative efforts to further
their collective NATO aspirations. The United
States continues to work with the aspirants,
collectively as well as bilaterally, as they
continue with their necessary reforms for
eventual consideration for NATO membership.
Croatia has been a member of the United
Nations since 1992, and contributes troops to 10
UN operations including those in Haitii, Cyprus,
Georgia, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and Eritrea, and
Kashmir. Since 2003, Croatia has sent a military
police unit to support the International
Stabilization Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
Croatia is a member of the World Trade
Organization and the Central European Free Trade
While Croatia has made progress on dealing
with a number of post-conflict issues, the
status of refugees displaced during the 1991-95
war and resolution of border disputes with
Slovenia remain key issues influencing Croatia's
relations with its neighbors and the
U.S. engagement in Croatia is aimed at fostering
a democratic, secure, and market-oriented
society that will be a strong partner in
Euro-Atlantic institutions. The United States
opened its Embassy in Zagreb in 1992, and has
continued to work with Croatia to overcome the
legacies of communism, war, ethnic division, and
In an effort to promote regional stability
through refugee returns, the United States has
given more than $13.4 million since 1998 in
humanitarian demining assistance. Croatia hopes
to remove an estimated one million remaining
mines by 2010. The United States also has
provided additional financial assistance to
Croatia through the Southeastern European
Economic Development Program (SEED) to
facilitate democratization and restructuring of
Croatia's financial sector. Croatia is scheduled
to graduate from the SEED program in 2008.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Deputy Chief of Mission--Gregory Delawie
Consular Officer--Carolyn Gorman
Public Affairs Officer-- Conrad Turner
Commercial Officer--Thomas Kelsey
Agency for International Development--Bill
Management Officer--Matthew Weiller
U.S. Embassy in Croatia is located in Zagreb
at Ul. Thomasa Jeffersona 2, 10010 Zagreb;
telephone:  (1) 661-2200.