A land of dramatic mountain landscapes and dreamy deep-blue sea, Croatia is now easier to visit than ever before. The first thing you’re struck by is the remarkable clarity of the water. When set against a dazzling white pebbly beach, the water shines with a jewel-like intensity in the shades of emerald and sapphire Situated between the Balkans and Central Europe, the land of Croatia has been crossed for millennia between competing kingdoms, empires, and republics. The upside to this is the rich cultural heritage that each has left behind.
Croatia hosts excellent museums display treasures that cover the range of European history, from prehistoric to post-Communist, telling a story that is equally fascinating and horrifying. There are water-based sports sure to tempt you away from your sun lounger –, swimming, kayaking, windsurfing, and sailing, just for example.
Croatia occupies an area of 56,594 km2, larger than the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, or significantly less than the U.S. state of West Virginia. Five countries that border Croatia are Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia and a maritime border with Italy. The country provides a long coastline with over a thousand islands along its coastline on the Adriatic Sea (Mediterranean Sea), several historic towns and villages, and a pleasant Mediterranean climate, making it a popular holiday destination in Europe. Croatia boasts nearly 2,000 km of rugged coastline and more than 1,000 islands, all of which are shrouded in dense vegetation. Off-the-beaten-track beaches, remote caves, and stone-built fishing villages make you feel like you’re exploring an untouched world.
When in Croatia and you’ll find that the country still has a chic and futuristic glow – demonstrated by its art ventures and galleries, its diverse hotels and cocktail bars, and its dazzling yacht-filled harbours. The nation also has a growing reputation for niche festivals – not only weekend parties held on the beaches and in the ancient forts, but also the mushrooming number of art festivals.
If you’re lucky enough to get an invite and be welcomed to a nearby house, you’ll soon get to know the saying ‘Jedi! Ha, Jedi! Ha, Jedi! ‘(Eat! Eat! Eat!).’ The sharing of food and drink is a large part of the community here, which speaks both to the essence of Croatian hospitality and to the quality of local produce. Fast, home-style cooking is a staple of family-run taverns, but gradually a new wave of chefs brings a more experimental approach to the table. In the meantime, Croatian wines and olive oils are making their mark on the world stage, winning top prizes.
The family is everything in Croatia. The importance of family ties is extremely high and can also serve as the social center of life in the region. It is common for children to stay with their parents until they are married, something that many western travelers may find a little surprising. It’s not as much for being a ‘mummy’s son’ or ‘daddy’s daughter’ as you would imagine at first – it’s just how things have always been here. Blood is undoubtedly richer than water in Croatia, whether you find it odd or not.
The Croats are very aware of their appearance. Call it the influence of neighbouring Italy, or maybe perhaps another part of a long-standing ambition to be part of the European elite. Still, Croatia’s streets are full of surprises, with people looking their best and being well aware of that. If there is one aspect that is synonymous with Croatia, it is a distinct red and white checkerboard pattern that is prevalent here. Whether it’s the national sports teams’ uniforms or everyday attire, there is nothing more Croatian than what the local people call the šahovnica (chessboard). The šahovnica has been an emblem of Croatia since the 10th century, but it was used by the nationalist Ustaše movement during the Second World War.
Many people were shocked by the Croatian National Team’s run to the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but not the Croats. The beautiful game is King in Croatia and has long been a source of inspiration for Osijek’s common citizens to Dubrovnik. The team is always backed by Support and zeal of common citizens and Croats as vociferously fans, raising their voices against the governing body and the injustice that is dragging down this now overachieving squad.
Standard Croatian is the official language of the Republic of Croatia. 4.8 million people in Croatia speak in all fields of public and private life. It is also used in Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia, Australia, the United States, and Canada. Researchers reports that about 4 million people worldwide speak Croatian, and 5.5 million worldwide speak Croatian.
English is spoken relatively commonly in Croatia, with more than half of the population having any sort of understanding of English. Accurate, up-to-date figures on English fluency are hard to find, but you should have no problems using English with someone under the age of 50 in the major tourist regions, especially along the coastline. The Eurobarometer study put the number of English speakers in Croatia at about 49% of the population. However, this study dates back to 2006 and is now well out of date, and the figure may have now grown to well over 50% as newer generations who have been taught English in schools have come along.