Croatia travel stands out with its diverse mainland, extensive archipelago, and crystal clear, blue seas. Croatia extends from the furthest eastern edges of the Alps in the northwest to the Pannonian lowlands and the banks of the Danube in the east; its central region is covered by the Dinara mountain range, and its southern parts extend to the coast of the Adriatic Sea. The country resembles a crescent of horseshoe shape and borders Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Italy is found just across the Adriatic Sea.
The terrain of Croatia is varied with plains, lakes and rolling hills in the continental areas; densely wooded mountains in Lika and Gorski Kotar, which are part of the Dinaric Alps; and in the Adriatic region there is a narrow coastal belt with rocky coastlines. The Croatian Adriatic coast is one of the most indented in the world, with over 1200 islands and islets. A Croatia cruise allows a chance to discover the country’s famous national parks. The celebrated eight parks include Kornati, Mljet, Plitvicka Jezera, Risnjak, Krka, Brijuni, Paklenica, and Velebit. Statistics show that more endangered species (on a European level) breed in Croatia than any other small or medium-sized European country.
The culture of Croatia is unique and has developed to be so because of the many different ethnicities that have encompassed the area as well as the assimilations that have taken place among various cultures. Croatia is mainly made up of Croats, with national minorities that include Serbs, Slovenes, Hungarians, Bosnians, Italians and Czechs.
Croatia’s Climate: Find the Best Travel Season
Before you begin your Croatia travel, learn a little more about the local climate and the best seasons to visit. There are two main climate zones in Croatia – a temperate continental climate (or a mountainous climate) prevails in the interior and an enjoyable Mediterranean climate exists along the coast. In the interior temperatures tend to range from being 0 to 2°C in January to 19 to 23°C in August. As for the coastal areas, temperatures range from being 6 to 11°C in January to 21 to 27 °C in August, where temperatures for the winter season average to be 12°C and in the summer season, 25°C. Along the coast, there are an overwhelming number of sunny days, dry and hot summers, and mild and humid winters.
Croatia Cuisine: The Cuisine of Regions
Croatian cuisine is known as "the cuisine of regions.” Forms of cooking are most notable between those on the mainland and those in coastal regions. Mainland cuisine resembles Hungarian, Viennese and Turkish - while the coastal region bears the influences of the Greek, Roman and Illyrian, as well as Italian and French.
In the region of Slavonia, a spicy cuisine is prevalent with many Hungarian influences and multiple meat and game dishes. In Hrvatsko Zagorje and Međimurje they make famous sweets as well as dumplings. In Middle Croatia or Croatian heartland, homemade cheeses, heavy roast dishes, and food with Osman influences are popular. In Istria, there tends to be lighter foods with many herbs, truffle dishes and cuisine with Italian influences. Dalmatia has more of a Mediterranean cuisine with many Italian influences. It is a great place for fish lovers to tour and sample the local delicacies.
As for beverages, Croatia is a country of coffee drinkers. During a Croatia cruise you will find traditional coffee houses similar to those in Vienna everywhere in Croatia. There is a great abundance of imported international beers like Heineken, Tuborg, Gösser, and Stella Artois in the country as well as some tasty home-brewed beers. Croatia is also famous for its excellent wines, which are a result of long held winery traditions in the region. The most famous white wines are Malvazija’ Pinot, Pošip, Kujundžuša, and Muskat. Famous red wines include Merlot, Cabernet, Zinfandel, Teran, Opolo, Plavac, Dingač, and Postup – all of which typically come from the coastal regions. In mainland Croatia, Grauer Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Burgundy are most noted.
Croatia’s Cultures and Customs
Travelers will enjoy the unique Croatia culture. The culture has developed from many different ethnicities that have encompassed the area as well as the assimilations that have taken place among various cultures. Croatia is mainly made up of Croats, with national minorities that include Serbs, Slovenes, Hungarians, Bosnians, Italians and Czechs.
Croatian culture is based on a long history, dating nearly thirteen centuries back. The country has many monuments and cities, brilliant individuals, as well as six World Heritage sites. Most Croats are Roman Catholic – the majority of Serbs belong to the Serbian branch of the Eastern Orthodox Church. There are also small Muslim and other religious minorities.
The country has a long artistic, literary and musical tradition. On a Croatia cruise, enjoy the celebrated local music. The music of Croatia has three main influences – Mediterranean (predominate in coastal areas), the Balkans (popular in the continental and mountainous regions) and central Europe (most excepted in the central and northern parts of the country). Folk and pop are well-liked music genres, but a combination of both tend to be the most excepted in the country.
Wildlife and Environment of Croatia
Croatia stands out with its diverse mainland, extensive archipelago, and crystal clear, blue seas. Visitors on a Croatia tour will enjoy the country’s eight famous national parks, Kornati, Mljet, Plitvicka Jezera, Risnjak, Krka, Brijuni, Paklenica, and Velebit.
The terrain of Croatia is varied with plains, lakes and rolling hills in the continental areas of Pannonian and Peri-Pannonian. These regions comprise the lowland and hilly parts of eastern and northwestern Croatia. Here mountains higher than 500 meters are rare, and much of the land permits for farming and livestock breading establishments.
There are densely wooded mountains in Lika and Gorski Kotar, which are part of the Dinaric Alps. These areas are hilly and mountainous, less developed and serve as a divider between Pannonian Croatia and the coast. In these continental regions, the dominant forests are hornbeam, beech, English oak, and fir.
In the Adriatic region there is a narrow coastal belt that is separated from the rest of the country by high mountains. Karst features distinguish this area, there are few streams, and summers tend to be quite dry. Rocky coastlines stand out along the Adriatic seaside especially in the areas of Istria, Northern Seacoast and Dalmatia. The Croatian Adriatic coast is one of the most indented in the world, with over 1200 islands and islets to explore during travel to this region. The coastal belt and islands are characterized by downy oak, alpine pine, white and dark hornbeam and dense evergreen underbrush.
Wildlife in Croatia includes hare, fox, lynx, weasel, otter, bear, deer, marten, boar, wildcat, wolf, and mouflon (wild sheep). As for birds, Croatia’s favorable location is unique in many ways. The great diversity of bird life and habitats – the remote, high and sometimes very rough mountain ridges, the immense forests, and jagged seacoast, make it one of the best birding destinations in the continent. Both the novice and experienced birder will enjoy the birding opportunities available on a Croatia tour. Statistics show that more endangered species (on a European level) breed in Croatia than any other small or medium-sized European country.
The Crescent Country: Croatia’s Geography
Croatia extends from the furthest eastern edges of the Alps in the northwest to the Pannonian lowlands and the banks of the Danube in the east; its central region is covered by the Dinara mountain range, and its southern parts extend to the coast of the Adriatic Sea. The country resembles a crescent of horseshoe shape and borders Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Italy lies just across the Adriatic Sea. Visitors on a Croatia tour have over 56,542 square kilometers of mainland to explore. Croatia has 5,835 km coastline, where the country’s islands encompass 4,058 km. There are over 1,000 islands, solitary rocks and reefs within the country, of which 50 are inhibited. The largest of the islands are Kek and Cres. The highest point in the country stands 1,831 meters above sea level.
Discover Croatia History
Croatia is a cradle for ancient civilizations. The lands that today comprise Croatia were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the close of World War I. In the 7th Century, the Croats came to the Roman provinces of Dalmatia and Pannonia. Various Croatian rulers controlled the lands with occasional takeovers by the Eastern Roman Empire and the Franks. By 925, Croatia became an independent kingdom and by 1102, after the many hardships that occurred in the country, Croatia entered into dynastic union with Hungary.
In the mid-1400s, the Hungarian kingdom was hurt by the Ottoman expansion and much of the land was lost to the Turks. Then, in 1526, The Battle of Mohács was fought and led the country to elect the Habsburgs to the throne, which eventually upset the Ottomans and the liberated many original Croatian territories.
In 1918, following World War I, the Croats, Serbs, and Slovenes formed a kingdom that later became known as Yugoslavia. During World War II, Yugoslavia was invaded and Croatia became the Independent State of Croatia. Yet following World War II, when powers were defeated, Yugoslavia became a federal socialist state.
The modern period in Croatian history begins in 1990 when the country changed political and economic systems. A year later, independence from Yugoslavia was gained, but it took four years of sporadic harsh fighting before most occupying Serb armies left Croatian lands.
Visitors enjoying Croatia travel may be interested to know that the country became a member of the Council of Europe on November 6, 1996. 1996 and 1997 were a period of post-war recovery and improving economic conditions. Under UN supervision the last Serb-held enclave in eastern Slavonia was returned to Croatia in 1998.
The country was given European Union applicant status in June 2004 and a negotiations framework was set up in March 2005. The Croatian government and the European Union expect Croatia to become a member of the EU by 2009.
Introduction to Croatia’s Politics
Croatia, or more formally known as the Republic of Croatia, respects the will of Croatian citizens. Croatians hold free elections, and equal rights, national and gender equality, social justice, and much more that is granted in the country’s constitution, which has been appended four times since the constitution was adopted on December 22, 1990.
The Republic of Croatia is a parliamentary democracy with an elected president. As for separation of powers, the government is organized into three separate powers – legislative, executive and judicial. Laws must abide to the Constitution, and other rules and policies must obey the rules set fourth in Constitution and law.
If you plan you Croatia travel today, the current President is Stjepan Mesic and the Prime Minister is Ivo Sanader. The last presidential election was held in 2005 and the last parliament election took place in 2003.