Croatia

Croatia is an Eastern European country with long coastlines on the Adriatic Sea, encompassing more than a thousand islands, crossed by the Dinaric Alps and dotted with castles. Its inland capital, Zagreb, is distinguished by its medieval Gornji Grad (Upper Town) and diverse museums. The major coastal city Dubrovnik has massive 16th-century walls encircling an Old Town with Gothic and Renaissance buildings.

Capital: Zagreb
Population: 4.3 million
Total Area: 56,594 square kilometers
Official Language: Croatian.
Religions: Roman Catholics 86%, 4,5% Orthodox 9,5% others
Borders with: Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Hungary and Slovenia

Brief history
The Croats arrived in the area of present-day Croatia during the early part of the 7th century AD. They organized the state into two duchies by the 9th century. Tomislav became the first king by 925, elevating Croatia to the status of a kingdom. The Kingdom of Croatia retained its sovereignty for nearly two centuries, reaching its peak during the rule of Kings Peter Krešimir IV and DImitar Zvonimir. Croatia entered a personal union with Hungary in 1102. In 1527, faced with Ottoman conquest, the Croatian Parliament elected Ferdinand I of the House of Habsburg to the Croatian throne. In 1918, after World War I, Croatia was included in the unrecognized State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs which seceded from Austria-Hungary and merged into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. A fascist Croatian puppet state existed during World War II. After the war, Croatia became a founding member and a federal constituent of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a constitutionally socialist state. In June 1991, Croatia declared independence, which came into effect on 8 October of the same year. The Croatian War of Independence was fought successfully during the four years following the declaration.

Geography and weather
Croatia is located in Central and Southeast Europe, bordering Hungary to the northeast, Serbia to the east, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the southeast, Montenegro to the southeast, the Adriatic Sea to the southwest and Slovenia to the northwest. The territory covers 56,594 square kilometers (21,851 square miles), consisting of 56,414 square kilometers (21,782 square miles) of land and 128 square kilometers (49 square miles) of water. It is the 127th largest country in the world .

Visas
Croatia is member of EU and visas are not required if you are a citizen of an EU country or Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland or the USA.

Local currency
The monetary unit in Croatia is the Kuna (HRK). For up to date exchange rates with your own currency visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com.

Changing money, credit cards & ATMs

All major currencies can be exchanged at banks and bureaux de change. Currency markets operate on the street in front of the main post office or bank in most towns, a perfectly legal way to exchange your money and avoid bank commission.
The most widely accepted credit cards are VISA, Mastercard, and Diner’s Club. Most banks will give cash advances on credit cards with a passport. There are ATMs in most towns which you can use to withdraw cash from most international Visa and Mastercard credit or debit cards. Traveller’s cheques can be changed in banks in most larger towns.

Security
Generally people find Eastern Europe to be safe and feel confident wandering alone during the day. However if you are unfamiliar with an area it is recommended that you exercise more caution at night and taxi taxis rather than walk, especially if you are a lone female traveler. In some cities bag snatching can occur so always keep a firm hand/eye on your personal items.

Tourism
Tourism is a major industry in Croatia. In 2012, Croatia had 11.8 million tourist visitors and in 2013 over 14 million tourists and 73.25 million nights, a record number of visitors. Croatia aims to double these numbers by 2020 with national strategy to bring in 17.5 million foreign tourist and revenue from tourism exceeding $17 billion.

Eight areas in the country have been designated national parks, and the landscape in these areas is afforded extra protection from development. Several companies run flotillas of yachts along different stretches of the coastline, which is also popular with divers.

Lonely Planet named Croatia as the top pick destination for 2005, while National Geographic Adventure Magazine named Croatia as Destination of the Year in 2006.