[Croatia became the 28th EU member country on 1 July 2013]

FACT FILE — CROATIA:

Croatia is a Central European and Mediterranean country, bordering Slovenia in the west, Hungary in the north, Serbia in the east and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the south. Croatia also has a long maritime border with Italy in the Adriatic Sea. These borders total 2,028 km altogether.

The country is an interesting shape that is similar to a croissant. The shape of the country comes about as a result of five centuries of expansion by the Ottoman (Turkish) empire towards Central Europe (although Croatia was never conquered by the Turks).

Size Main Cities & Language:Croatia covers a land area of 56,691 square kilometres and has a population of about 4.4 million people (2001 census). Over 90% of the population is Croat (the majority of whom are Roman Catholics), but there are also Serbian, Bosnian, Hungarian and Italian minorities. The main population centres are Zagreb, the capital (with a population of just under 800,000), Osijek in the northwest, and the ports of Rijeka, and Split in the south. The official language is Croatian, which is written in the Latin script.

Croatia has 5,835km of coastline, 4,057km of which belongs to islands, cliffs and reefs. There are 1,185 islands in the Adriatic, but only about 50 are populated. The largest island is Krk (near Rijeka) which has a land area of 462 square km.

Climate:The climate is Mediterranean along the Adriatic coast, that means there are warm dry summers and mild winters, with 2,600 hours of sunlight on average yearly — it is one of the sunniest coastlines in Europe! In the interior of the country, the climate is continental with hot summers and cold, snowy winters.

History:Slavic Croatian tribes settled in the area in the early 7th century (arriving from present day Poland), accepting Christianity in around 800 A.D., and soon establishing their own state ruled by princes or dukes. In 925, Croatia became a kingdom under the rule of King Tomislav. In 1102 the country formed a union with Hungary which lasted until 1918. After the end of the First World War, Croatia joined Serbia, and Yugoslavia (the land of South Slavs) was formed, until its demise in 1991. The first Yugoslavia (1918-1941) was ruled by the Serbian royal family, Karadjordjevic, which naturally favoured the Serbs and caused enormous resentment in Croatia.

The country was invaded by Nazi Germany in April 1941, which gave Croatia independence under the fascist dictator Ante Pavelic. This regime was known for its harsh rule and for committing numerous atrocities, and therefore many Croats (over 200,000) actively joined the resistance movement under Tito which liberated the country in May 1945. (Winston Churchill was so impressed with the Croatian resistance that in 1944 he sent his son Randolph and the writer Evelyn Waugh to Croatia as his personal emissaries.) Croatia became one of the Yugoslav republics ruled by the communist government until 1991 when Croatia declared its independence, prompting Serbian invasion. Almost all Croats rose to defend their country under the leadership of its first president, the late Franjo Tudjman (who died in December 1999), and after five years the country was liberated. The country is now a democratic parliamentary country.

How to enter Croatia: Most of the visitors are usually from the neighbouring countries of Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Germany and so on, so they usually travel by car. From northern Europe, the easiest way to get to Croatia would be to drive to Munich and then enter Austria, down to Graz, cross into Slovenia, and then head for Croatia which is signposted as soon as you leave Maribor. For those travelling by air, the main airports are Zagreb, Pula, Split, Dubrovnik and Rijeka Airport(which is on the nearby island of Krk

Entry Requirements: Foreign visitors do not normally require visas to enter the country. If you need to check if you require a visa, contact the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Croatian Embassy in your country.

Currency — Money: The Croatian currency is the Kuna, which is divided into 100 lipas. The word "Kuna" means marten, a weasel-like animal, whose fur Croats used for payment many centuries ago. The lipa is a lime tree. ATMs are readily available in all resorts, towns and cities in Croatia, in banks, supermarkets, airports and elsewhere.

Health & Insurance: The health service is of a good standard. You have to pay for seeing a doctor or being treated in a hospital. Certain countries, such as Britain, have reciprocal medical arrangements whereby, in principal, you should not have to pay for any emergency treatment. It is advisable to take out a personal medical insurance and travel insurance If you are looking for a policy visit our Insurance section.

Food & Drink: You will get the standard fare as in many other central European or Mediterranean countries (pizza, pasta, meat dishes, fish). All food is safe to eat as restaurants are regularly inspected, and there is no problem with drinking water. Unsurprisingly seafood is a speciality along the Croatian coastline. Croatian beers are of a high quality like Zagreb's Ozujsko pivo or Karlovacko pivo or Tuborg, brewed under license in Croatia. In Dalmatia, some red wines such as Faros or Dingac are exquisite. You should also try Croatia's favourite brandy sljivovica, made from plums, or travarica, a herbal brandy.

Other information: Electricity is 220V, 50Hz. Croatia uses the standard European 2 point plugs. Speed & Measurement: The system is metric. Telephone:The Country telephone code for Croatia is 385.

Emergency Telephone number: pan-EU Emergency 112 Can be used in all EU Countries and it can be dialled from a locked mobile or a mobile with no sim card.

Vehicles drive on the RIGHT See also Driving in Croatia at insurance4carrental.com

Enjoy your visit to Croatia

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