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Country in a Box:

Republic of Croatia
Republika Hrvatska

The Harbor of the Old City, Dubrovnik, Croatia

A Teachers Guide
Compiled by the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies
Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

Croatia in a Box: Table of Contents

Facts at a Glance


History of Croatia


Timeline of Major Events in Croatian History


Croatian Culture


Croatian Folklore: The Mouse and the Frog


Additional Resources


The Ban Jelacic Square at midday, Zagreb, Croatia

Croatia: Facts at a Glance

Text and map taken directly from Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook: Croatia.
Available at: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/hr.html
Country Name: Croatia
Capital: Zagreb
Background: The lands that today
comprise Croatia were part of the AustroHungarian Empire until the close of
World War I. In 1918, the Croats, Serbs,
and Slovenes formed a kingdom known
after 1929 as Yugoslavia. Following
World War II, Yugoslavia became a
federal independent communist state
under the strong hand of Marshal TITO.
Although Croatia declared its
independence from Yugoslavia in 1991,
it took four years of sporadic, but often
bitter, fighting before occupying Serb
armies were mostly cleared from
Croatian lands, along with a majority of
Croatia's ethnic Serb population. Under
UN supervision, the last Serb-held
enclave in eastern Slavonia was returned
to Croatia in 1998. The country joined NATO in April 2009 and the EU in July 2013.
Location: Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea, between Bosnia and Herzegovina
and Slovenia
Area: Total: 56,594 sq km
Land: 55,974 sq km
Water: 620 sq km
Area - Comparative: Slightly smaller than West Virginia
Terrain: Geographically diverse; flat plains along Hungarian border, low mountains and
highlands near Adriatic coastline and islands
Elevation extremes: Lowest point: Adriatic Sea 0 m
Highest point: Mt. Dinara 1,830 m

Natural Resources: Oil, some coal, bauxite, low-grade iron ore, calcium, gypsum, natural
asphalt, silica, mica, clays, salt, hydropower.
Environment - Current Issues: Air pollution (from metallurgical plants) and resulting acid rain
is damaging the forests; coastal pollution from industrial and domestic waste; landmine removal
and reconstruction of infrastructure consequent to 1992-95 civil strife
Population: 4,470,534 (July 2014 est.)
Urbanization: Urban population: 57.8% of total population (2011)
Life Expectancy at Birth: Total population: 76.41 years
Male: 72.81 years
Female: 80.2 years (2014 est.)
Ethnic Groups: Croat 90.4%, Serb 4.4%, other 4.4% (including Bosniak, Hungarian, Slovene,
Czech, and Roma), unspecified 0.8% (2011 est.)
Religions: Roman Catholic 86.3%, Orthodox 4.4%, Muslim 1.5%, other 1.5%, unspecified
2.5%, not religious or atheist 3.8% (2011 est.)
Education Expenditures: 4.3% of GDP (2010)
Government Type: Presidential/parliamentary democracy
Independence: 25 June 1991 (from
Legal System: Civil law system based on
Yugoslav civil codes

Executive Branch: Chief of state:

President Ivo Josipovic; Head of
government: Prime Minister Zoran
Flag of Croatia: The coat

of arms of the Republic

of Croatia is the historical Croatian coat of
arms, whose base consists of 25 alternating red
and white (argent) fields.
The flag of the Republic of Croatia consists of
three colors: red, white and blue, with the
historical Croatian coat of arms in the center.

Legislative Branch: unicameral

Assembly or Sabor (151 seats; members
elected from party lists by popular vote to
serve four-year terms)

Judicial Branch: Supreme Court;

Constitutional Court; judges for both
courts are appointed for eight-year terms
by the Judicial Council of the Republic, which is elected by the Assembly

National Anthem: Name: "Lijepa nasa domovino" (Our Beautiful Homeland)

lyrics/music: Antun Mihanovic/Josip Runjanin
note: adopted 1972; "Lijepa nasa domovino," whose lyrics were written in 1835, served as an
unofficial anthem beginning in 1891
Economy - Overview: Though still one of the wealthiest of the former Yugoslav republics,
Croatia's economy suffered badly during the 1991-95 war. The country's output during that time
collapsed and Croatia missed the early waves of investment in Central and Eastern Europe that
followed the fall of the Berlin Wall. Between
2000 and 2007, however, Croatia's economic
fortunes began to improve with moderate but
steady GDP growth between 4% and 6% led
by a rebound in tourism and credit-driven
consumer spending. Inflation over the same
period remained tame and the currency, the
kuna, stable. Croatia experienced an abrupt
slowdown in the economy in 2008 and has
yet to recover; economic growth was
stagnant or negative in each year since 2009.
Difficult problems still remain, including a
The Croatian Kuna
stubbornly high unemployment rate, uneven
regional development, and a challenging
investment climate. Croatia continues to face reducedThe
On 1 July Currency
Croatia joined the EU, following a decade-long application process. Croatia will be a member of
the European Exchange Rate Mechanism until it meets the criteria for joining the Economic and
Monetary Union and adopts the euro as its currency. EU accession has increased pressure on the
government to reduce Croatias relatively high public debt, which triggered the EUs excessive
deficit procedure for fiscal consolidation. Zagreb has cut spending since 2012, and the
government also raised additional revenues through more stringent tax collection and by raising
the Value Added Tax. The government has also sought to accelerate privatization of nonstrategic assets, with mixed success.
GDP (Purchasing Power Parity): $78.9 billion (2013 est.); Country comparison to the world:
GDP - Real Growth Rate: -1% (2013 est.); Country comparison to the world: 205
GDP - Per Capita (PPP): $17,800 (2013 est.); Country comparison to the world: 78
GDP - Composition by Sector: Agriculture: 5%, Industry: 25.8%, Services: 69.2% (2013 est.)
Labor Force: 1.715 million (2013 est.)
Agriculture - Products: Wheat, corn, sugar beets, sunflower seed, barley, alfalfa, clover,
olives, citrus, grapes, soybeans, potatoes; livestock, dairy products

Industries: Chemicals and plastics, machine tools, fabricated metal, electronics, pig iron and
rolled steel products, aluminum, paper, wood products, construction materials, textiles,
shipbuilding, petroleum and petroleum refining, food and beverages, tourism
Current Account Balance: -$102.3 million (2013 est.)
Exports - Commodities: Transport equipment, machinery, textiles, chemicals, foodstuffs, fuels
Exports - Partners: Italy 14.1%, Bosnia Herzegovina 13.1%, Germany 11.1%, Slovenia
10.1%, Austria 6.3% (2012 est.)
Imports - Partners: Germany 13.7%, Italy 12.5%, Slovenia 11.5%, Austria 9.1%, Hungary
6.2%, Russia 5.4% (2012 est.)
Debt - External: $60.47 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
Exchange Rates: Kuna (HRK) per US dollar 5.775 (2013 est.)
Military Service Age and Obligation: 18-27 years of age for voluntary military service; 16
years of age with parental consent; 6-month service obligation; conscription abolished 1 January
2008 (2010)
Military expenditures: 2.39% of GDP

History of Croatia
Text taken directly from Lonely Planet:

The Origin: Excavations

Krapina have revealed that the
area has been inhabited since the
Palaeolithic Age. Although the
results of the excavations are in
the Croatian Natural History
Museum in Zagreb, you can get a
general picture of Neanderthal life
in the outdoor prehistoric park
at Krapina. Eastern Slavonia was
the base for what became known
as the Vucedol culture, which
reached Slovakia, Slovenia,
Austria, Germany, Hungary and
the Czech Republic before
moving southward to the Adriatic

Migration: While the Roman Empire was disintegrating, the

Croats and other Slavic tribes were tending fields and raising
livestock in a swampy terrain that roughly covered the area
of modern Ukraine, Poland and Belarus. It appears that early
in the 7th century they moved south across the Danube and
joined the Avars (Eurasian nomads) in their attacks on
Byzantine Dalmatia. Salona and Epidaurus were ravaged,
their inhabitants taking refuge in Spalato (Split) and Ragusa
(Dubrovnik) respectively. Sometimes the Croat and Slavic
tribes joined the Avars in their attacks on Byzantium and
other times they were persuaded by Byzantium to attack the
By the middle of the 7th century the Croat tribe had begun to
settle in Pannonia and Dalmatia, mingling with earlier Slav
settlers on the Pannonian plains and forming communities
around the Dalmatian towns of Jadera (Zadar), Aeona (Nin)
and Tragurium (Trogir). During the course of the 8th century
the Dalmatian and Pannonian Croats organised themselves
around powerful clans, one of which was called Hrvat
(Croat), a name that the clan gave to its territory in central
Dalmatia, Bijela Hrvatska (White Croatia).

Croatian kings: Charlemagnes Frankish army seized

Dalmatia in AD 800, which led to the Christianisation of the
Croat rulers in a series of mass baptisms. After
Charlemagnes death in AD 814, the Pannonian Croats
revolted unsuccessfully against Frankish rule without the support of the Dalmatian Croats, whose
major coastal cities remained under the influence of the Byzantine Empire throughout the 9th
century. Even as Dalmatia accepted the political domination of Byzantium, the spread of
Christianity encouraged cultural ties with Rome, which proved to be the unifying factor in
forging a national identity.
The first ruler to unite Pannonia and Dalmatia was Tomislav, who was crowned in AD 925 and
recognised by the pope as king. His territory included virtually all of modern Croatia as well as
part of Bosnia and the coast of Montenegro. By the mid-10th century, the countrys fragile unity
was threatened by power struggles in its ruling class. Venice took advantage of the disarray to
launch an invasion of Dalmatia at the turn of the 11th century that established its first foothold
on the coast. Kreimir IV (105874) regained control over Dalmatia with the help of the papacy,
but the kingdom once again descended into anarchy upon his death. The next king, Zvonimir

(107589), also cemented his authority with the help of the pope, but the independent land he
forged did not survive his death.
Hapsburgs and the Ottomans: The rise of the Ottoman Empire brought new threats to 16thcentury Croatia. The defeat of the Serbs in 1389 at Kosovo opened the door to Bosnia, which did
not last long after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Sensing nasty weather from the east, the
Croatian nobility desperately appealed to foreign powers for help but to no avail. The Ottomans
continued their relentless advance, virtually wiping out the cream of Croatian leadership at the
1493 Battle of Krbavsko Polje. Despite the sudden unity of the remaining noble families, one
city after another fell to the Ottoman sultans. The important bishopric at Zagreb heavily fortified
the cathedral in Kaptol, which remained untouched, but the gateway town of Knin fell in 1521.
Towns were burned, churches and monasteries sacked, and tens of thousands of citizens were
either killed or dragged off into slavery.
Neither Hungary nor Austria was able to protect Croatia against the Ottoman onslaught and the
Croats continued to lose territory. By the end of the century only a narrow strip of territory
around Zagreb, Karlovac and Varadin was under Habsburg control. The Adriatic coast was
threatened by the Turks but never captured and Ragusa (Dubrovnik) maintained its independence
throughout the turmoil.
To form a buffer against the Turks the Austrians maintained a string of forts south of Zagreb
called the Vojna Krajina (Military Frontier). Initially open to anyone who wanted to live on the
marshy land, the Habsburgs invited Vlachs to settle the land in the 16th century. At the time,
most Vlachs belonged to the Serbian Orthodox Church, which irritated the Croatian Sabor
(Parliament); however, they were much more irritated by the arrangement allowing the settlers to
escape the harsh feudal system that the Hungarians had instituted in the country. Despite
repeated efforts by the Croatian nobility to either turn them into serfs or get rid of them
completely, the Serbian peasants stayed on their land until they were expelled in 1995.
It wasnt until the Ottoman rout at the siege of Vienna in 1683 that Croatia and much of Europe
finally freed themselves from the Turkish threat. In the Treaty of Sremski Karlovci (1699), the
Turks renounced all claims to Hungary and Croatia. During the 18th century, Croat and Serb
immigrants flooded into Slavonia joined by Hungarians, Slovaks, Albanian Catholics and Jews.
Under the rule of Maria Theresa of Austria, the region returned to stability.
The 1848 revolution: One of the effects of Hungarian heavy-handedness was to create the first
stirrings of a national identity among the southern Slavic people. The sense of a shared identity
first found expression in an Illyrian movement in the 1830s that centred on the revival of the
Croatian language. Traditionally, upper-class Dalmatians spoke Italian, and northern Croats
spoke German or Hungarian. The establishment of the first Illyrian newspaper in 1834, written
in Zagreb dialect, prompted the Croatian Sabor to call for the teaching of the Slavic language in
schools and even for the unification of Dalmatia with Slavonia. Despite Hungarian threats, in
1847 the Sabor voted to make Illyrian the national language.
The increasing desire for more autonomy and the eventual unification of Dalmatia and Slavonia
led the Croats to intervene on the side of the Habsburgs against a Hungarian revolutionary

movement that sought to free the country from Austrian rule. The Croatian Sabor informed
Austria that it would send the Croatian commander Josip Jelai to fight the Hungarian rebels in
return for the cancellation of Hungarys jurisdiction over Croatia, among other demands.
Unfortunately, Jelais military campaign was unsuccessful. Russian intervention quelled the
Hungarian rebellion and Austria firmly rejected any further demands for autonomy from its
Slavic subjects.
The kingdom of Serbs, Croats & Slovenes: With the outbreak of WWI, Croatias future was
again up for grabs. Sensing that they would once again be pawns to the Great Powers, a Croatian
delegation, the Yugoslav Committee, convinced the Serbian government to agree to the
establishment of a parliamentary monarchy that would rule over the two countries. The Yugoslav
Committee became the National Council of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs after the collapse of the
Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 and they quickly negotiated the establishment of the Kingdom
of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes to be based in Belgrade. Although many Croats were unsure about
Serbian intentions, they were very sure about Italian intentions since Italy lost no time in seizing
Pula, Rijeka and Zadar in November 1918.
Given, in effect, a choice between throwing in their lot with Italy or Serbia, the Croats chose
Serbia. Problems with the kingdom began almost immediately. Currency reforms benefited Serbs
at the expense of the Croats. A treaty between Yugoslavia and Italy gave Istria, Zadar and a
number of islands to Italy. The new constitution abolished Croatias Sabor and centralised power
in Belgrade while new electoral districts under-represented the Croats.
Opposition to the new regime was led by the Croat Stjepan Radi, who remained favourable to
the idea of Yugoslavia but wished to transform it into a federal democracy. His alliance with the
Serb Svetpzar Pribievic proved profoundly threatening to the regime and Radi was
assassinated in 1928. Exploiting fears of civil war, on 6 January 1929 King Aleksandar in
Belgrade proclaimed a royal dictatorship, abolished political parties and suspended
parliamentary government, thus ending any hope of democratic change.
WWII & the rise of Ustae: One day after the proclamation, a Bosnian Croat, Ante Paveli, set
up the Ustae Croatian Liberation Movement in Zagreb with the stated aim of establishing an
independent state by force if necessary. Fearing arrest, he fled to Sofia in Bulgaria and made
contact with anti-Serbian Macedonian revolutionaries before fleeing to Italy. There, he
established training camps for his organisation under Mussolinis benevolent eye. After
organising various disturbances, in 1934 he and the Macedonians succeeded in assassinating
King Aleksandar in Marseilles while he was on a state visit. Italy responded by closing down the
training camps and imprisoning Paveli and many of his followers. When Germany invaded
Yugoslavia on 6 April 1941 the exiled Ustae were quickly installed by the Germans, with the
support of the Italians who hoped to see their own territorial aims in Dalmatia realised.
Within days the Independent State of Croatia (NDH; Nezavisna Drava Hrvatska), headed by
Paveli, issued a range of decrees designed to persecute and eliminate the regimes enemies
who were mainly Jews, Roma and Serbs. Over 80% of the Jewish population was rounded up
and packed off to extermination camps between 1941 and 1945. Serbs fared no better. The
Ustae programme called for one-third of Serbs killed, one-third expelled and one-third

converted to Catholicism, a programme that was carried out with a brutality that appalled even
the Nazis. Villages conducted their own personal pogroms against Serbs and extermination
camps were set up, most notoriously at Jasenovac (south of Zagreb), which also liquidated Jews,
Roma and political prisoners. The exact number of Serb victims is uncertain and controversial,
with Croatian historians tending to minimise the figures and Serbian historians tending to
maximise them. The number of Serb deaths ranged from 60, 000 to 600, 000, but the most
reliable estimates settle somewhere between 80, 000 to 120, 000, including victims of village
pogroms. Whatever the number, its clear that the NDH and its supporters made a diligent effort
to eliminate the entire Serb population.
Tito & the Partisans: The most effective antifascist struggle was conducted by National
Liber-ation Partisan units and their leader, Josip Broz, known as Tito. With their roots in the
outlawed Yugoslavian Communist Party, the Partisans attracted long-suffering Yugoslav
intellectuals, Croats disgusted with Chetnik massacres, Serbs disgusted with Ustae massacres,
and antifascists of all kinds. The Partisans gained wide popular support with their early
programme, which, although vague, appeared to envision a postwar Yugoslavia that would be
based on a loose federation.
Yugoslavia:During the 1960s, the concentration of power in Belgrade became an increasingly
testy issue as it became apparent that money from the more prosperous republics of Slovenia and
Croatia was being distributed to the poorer republics of Montenegro and Bosnia and
Hercegovina. The problem seemed particularly blatant in Croatia, which saw money from its
prosperous tourist business on the Adriatic coast flow into Belgrade. At the same time, Serbs in
Croatia were over-represented in the government, armed forces and police, partly because stateservice offered an opportunity for a chronically disadvantaged population.
Titos habit of borrowing from abroad to flood the country with cheap consumer goods produced
an economic crisis after his death. The country was unable to service the interest on its loans and
inflation soared. The authority of the central government sank along with the economy, and longsuppressed mistrust among Yugoslavias ethnic groups resurfaced.
With political changes sweeping Eastern Europe, many Croats felt the time had come to end
more than four decades of Communist rule and attain complete autonomy. In the Croatian
elections of April 1990, Franjo Tudjmans Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ; Hrvatska
Demokratska Zajednica) secured 40% of the vote, to the 30% won by the Communist Party,
which retained the loyalty of the Serbian community as well as voters in Istria and Rijeka. On 22
December 1990, a new Croatian constitution was promulgated, changing the status of Serbs in
Croatia from that of a constituent nation to a national minority.
Independence: Under pressure from the EC (now EU), Croatia declared a three-month
moratorium on its independence, but heavy fighting broke out in Krajina, Baranja (the area north
of the Drava River opposite Osijek) and Slavonia. The 180,000-member, 2000-tank Yugoslav
Peoples Army, dominated by Serbian Communists, began to intervene on its own authority in
support of Serbian irregulars under the pretext of halting ethnic violence. During the summer of
1991, a quarter of Croatia fell to Serbian militias and the Serb-led Yugoslav Peoples Army.


In early October 1991, the federal army and Montenegrin militia moved against Dubrovnik to
protest the ongoing blockade of their garrisons in Croatia, and on 7 October the presidential
palace in Zagreb was hit by rockets fired by Yugoslav air-force jets in an unsuccessful
assassination attempt on President Tudjman. When the three-month moratorium on
independence ended, Croatia declared full independence.
On 19 November, heroic Vukovar finally fell when the army culminated a bloody three-month
siege by concentrating 600 tanks and 30,000 soldiers there. During six months of fighting in
Croatia 10,000 people died, hundreds of thousands fled and tens of thousands of homes were
The self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina held elections in December 1993, which no
international body recognised as legitimate or fair. Meanwhile, continued ethnic cleansing left
only about 900 Croats in Krajina out of an original population of 44,000. In March 1994, the
Krajina Serbs signed a comprehensive cease-fire that substantially reduced the violence in the
region and established demilitarised zones of separation between the parties.
While world attention turned to the grim events unfolding in Bosnia and Hercegovina, the
Croatian government quietly began procuring arms from abroad. On 1 May 1995, the Croatian
army and police entered occupied western Slavonia, east of Zagreb, and seized control of the
region within days. The Krajina Serbs responded by shelling Zagreb in an attack that left seven
people dead and 130 wounded. As the Croatian military consolidated its hold in western
Slavonia, some 15, 000 Serbs fled the region despite assurances from the Croatian government
that they were safe from retribution.
The Dayton Accords signed in Paris in December 1995 recognised Croatias traditional borders
and provided for the return of eastern Slavonia, which was effected in January 1998. The
transition proceeded relatively smoothly with less violence than was expected, but the two
populations still regard each other over a chasm of suspicion and hostility. The Serbs and Croats
associate with each other as little as possible and clever political maneuvering has largely barred
Serbs from assuming a meaningful role in municipal government. The return of Serbian refugees
is as guaranteed at Dayton is also far from being fulfilled. Although the central government
in Zagreb has made the return of refugees a priority in accordance with the demands of the
international community, its efforts have often been subverted by local authorities intent on
maintaining the ethnic purity of their regions. In many cases, Croat refugees from Bosnia and
Hercegovina have occupied houses abandoned by their Serb owners. To date, only about half
have returned.


Timeline of Major Events in Modern Croatian History

Text taken directly from BBC News. Timeline: Croatia. Available at:
1918 - Croatia joins the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.
1929 - The Kingdom becomes Yugoslavia.
1941 - Nazi Germany invades. A "Greater Croatia" is formed, also comprising most of Bosnia
and western Serbia. A fascist puppet government is installed under Ante Pavelic. The regime acts
brutally against Serbs and Jews as it seeks to create a Catholic, all-Croat republic. Hundreds of
thousands lose their lives.
1945 - After a bitter resistance campaign by partisans under Tito, Croatia becomes one of the six
constituent republics of the Yugoslav socialist federation. Croatia is multi-ethnic.
1980 - Tito dies. The slow disintegration of Yugoslavia begins as individual republics assert their
desire for independence.
1989 - Collapse of communism in eastern Europe leads to rise in support for parties with a
nationalist program.
1990 - First free elections in Croatia for more than 50 years. The communists lose to the
conservative, nationalist HDZ led by Franjo Tudjman.
1991 - Croatia declares its independence. Croatian Serbs in the east of the country expel Croats
with the aid of the Yugoslav army. By the end of the year, nearly one-third of Croatian territory
is under Serb control.
1992 - The UN sets up 4 protected areas in Croatia, with 14,000 UN troops keeping Croats and
Serbs apart. Croatia also becomes involved in the war in Bosnia-Hercegovina (1992-5),
supporting the Bosnian Croats against the Bosnian Serbs, then against the Bosniaks (Muslims).
Franjo Tudjman is elected president of Croatia.
1995 - Croat forces retake three of the four areas created by the UN. Croatian Serbs flee to
Bosnia and Serbia. Tudjman is one of the signatories of the Dayton peace accords ending the war
in Bosnia-Hercegovina.
1999 - Tudjman dies.
2000 - Parliamentary elections in January see Tudjman's HDZ party defeated. The social
democrats and social liberals win at the head of a coalition. The new prime minister is Ivica
Racan. In February, Stjepan Mesic of the Croatian People's Party wins the presidency. He says
he wants Croatia to join NATO and the EU.


2003 February - Croatia submits formal application for EU membership.

2003 December - Ivo Sanader of the right-wing Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) becomes
prime minister in a minority government following his party's success in elections the previous
2004 December - EU agrees to start accession talks with Croatia in March 2005.
2005 March - EU delays talks on Croatia's membership because of failure to arrest Gen Ante
Gotovina, who is wanted by the Hague tribunal on war crimes charges.
2005 October - Green light given for EU accession talks to go ahead again even though Gen
Gotovina remains at large. Croatia calls for international mediation after Slovene parliament
declares ecological zone in the Adriatic with rights to protect and use sea bed.
2005 December - Fugitive Croatian General Ante Gotovina, sought by the Hague tribunal on war
crimes charges, is arrested in Spain.
2008 April - NATO summit in Bucharest invites Croatia to join alliance. Final status expected in
2009 April - Croatia officially joins NATO
2011 December - Parliamentary elections. Centre-left opposition bloc led by Social Democrats
ousts the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), which has been in power since 2003.
2011 December Croatia concludes negotiations for EU accession, to join as the 28 member
state on 1 July 2013
2012 January - Croatian voters back joining the European Union in a referendum by a margin of
two to one, albeit it on a low turnout of about 44%.


Croatian Culture
Croatian Cuisine (Text and pictures taken directly from: http://www.iexplore.com/dmap/Croatia/Dining)
Hungarian, Italian and Austrian influences can be found in Croatian food, with hearty meat stews
and goulashes dominating the menu in the hinterland. The Adriatic coast is renowned for its
variety of seafood dishes.
Prut i paki sir (air-dried ham similar to Italian
prosciutto and sheep's cheese from the island of Pag)
platters are usually served as an appetizer. Salata od
hobotnice (octopus salad) is made from octopus, potato,
onion, chopped parsley, olive oil and lemon juice. Crni
rioto (black risotto) is made from cuttlefish black ink.
(goulash), a
specialty of
Croatia, is
similar to the
version from
where it
originated. Janjetina (roast lamb) is popular in inland
regions, where its not unusual to see whole lamb
roasting on a spit at roadside eateries.
In addition, the Turkish influence through Bosnia-Herzegovina is present in Croatian food, most
notably dishes such as evapii (special meatball made of seasoned and spicy pork or beef) or
burek (a pastry made of cheese, apple or meat).
Rakija (spirit) is a potent firewater drunk as a toast at celebrations, and as an aperitif before
eating. Types of rakija include travarica (made from distilled grapes and flavored with herbs)
and livovica (made from distilled plums).
Croatian Music
(Taken from National Geographic:

Croatia is rich in folkloric music, including a well-known polyphonic choral tradition. This
choral tradition was particularly popular during the communist era, when large women's choirs
were sponsored by the state. The best-known of these Croatian folkloric ensembles is Lado, who
survived the collapse of both communist Yugoslavia and the war-torn 1990s intact.
Croatia's other great folk music tradition is the tumburica and tamburica bands. The tamburica is
a lute-like instrument similar to the turkish saz and is the national instrument of Croatia. Picked

or strummed, played solo or in a huge ensemble of other

tamburica players, the instrument accompanies everything
from lively folk dances to sentimental ballads. Zagrebbased band Ex-Pannonia are the most visible tamburica
artists on the international stage.
Extant ecclesiastical works survive from the 11th century,
and by the second half of the 15th century Croatian
literature embraced biblical stories, legends, folklore, and
popular stories. In the 15th and 16th centuries the
outstanding Old Croatian writers were Marko Maruli,
author of the epic Istoria sfete udovice Judit u versih
harvacchi slozena (written 1501, published 1521; The
History of the Holy Widow Judith Composed in Croatian
Verses, usually known as Judita), a plea for the national
struggle against the Ottoman Empire; Hanibal Luci, author
of Robinja (The Slave Girl), the first South Slav secular
play; Marin Dri, who wrote pastoral dramas and
comedies portraying Renaissance Dubrovnik (his comedy
Dundo Maroje, first performed about 1551, played
throughout western Europe); and poet Petar Hektorovi. In
the 17th and 18th centuries the leading voice belonged to
Ivan Gunduli, author of a stirring epic, Osman (oldest
existing copy approximately 1651; Eng. trans. Osman),
describing the Polish victory over the Turks at Chocim
(Khotin, now in Ukraine) in 1621.

Ivan Goran Kovacic

Ivan Goran Kovacic was born in
Lukovdol (part of Vrbovsko), a
town in Gorski Kotar, in 1913 to
Croatian father Ivan and Jewish
mother Rua His middle name
Goran stems from that ("goran"
meaning "hill-man"). During World
War II, he joined the Partisan
His best known work is "Jama"
(The Pit), which ranks among the
most celebrated Croatian poems
ever written. He penned it during
the war, while in service near the
city of Livno, Bosnia and
Herzegovina. The poem was
written out of intellectual and
ethical responsibility that
condemns fascist atrocities
committed by the Ustae.

Romanticism in Croatian literature evolved out of the

Ivan Goran Kovai was killed by
Illyrian political movement (183548), which aimed at a
Serbian Chetnik troops in an eastunion of all South Slavs within the Habsburg federation.
Bosnian village of Vrbica near
Ljudevit Gaj, one of the leaders of the movement, promoted
Foa on July 13, 1943.
the tokavski (Shtokavian) dialect as the literary language
of Croatia and also developed a unified orthography.
Personal, patriotic, and reflective lyrics were popular and
were well represented by the sensitive, moving poems of
Stanko Vraz and Ivan Maurani. The latter was best
known for his longer narrative poem Smrt Smail-age
engia (1846; The Death of Smail Aga), written in the
tradition of oral epic poetry and showing South Slavic allegiance by taking as its subject the
struggle of Montenegrins against the Turks. Other representative lyrical works include the
patriotic songs and poetic drama of Petar Preradovi and the dramatic works of Dimitrije
Demeter. Another major figure, in the late 19th century, was August enoa, poet, dramatist,
critic, journalist, and creator of the Croatian historical novel of realism. Conditions among the
lower classes became a concern of many Croat writers of the period, including Evgenij Kumii,
Ksaver andor Gjalski, and Silvije Strahimir Kranjevi. In his autobiographically charged U

registraturi (1888; In the Registrars Office), commonly considered the best Croatian novel of
the 19th century, Ante Kovai tells a poignant tale of a talented village boy sent to the city for
schooling. He gives a penetrating portrayal of both rural and urban settings and of human
destinies of the time.
In the opening years of the 20th century, poetry was the dominant genre, much of it influenced
by the Aestheticism movement and concerned with the inner struggles of modern humans with
their world and the search for meaning in individual existence. These common Western themes
were modified by specifically Croatian concerns with the countrys lack of development and
political subjugation (to Hungary at that time). Well-known writers of that time include Vladimir
Vidri and Vladimir Nazor. The leading figure of the early Modernist phase until World War I
was Antun Gustav Mato. He edited the anthology Mlada hrvatska lirika (1914; The Young
Croatian Lyric), which marked the zenith of such verse. Between the wars, avant-garde poetry
continued to be expressed in the verse of poets such as Tin Ujevi and Antun Branko imi,
while Ivan Goran Kovai, in Jama (1943; The Pit), a long poem evoking the horror of war,
retained a classical elegance in his verse. Prose writers included Dinko imunovi, whose
memorable stories depicted both the backwardness and the beauty of Dalmatia; Ivana BrliMaurani, who earned lasting popularity with her masterpiece collection of poetic fairy tales,
Prie iz davnine (1916; Croatian Tales of Long Ago); the prolific Marija Juri Zagorka, who
wrote gripping historical novels; and Slavko Kolar, who depicted the life of the peasant in a
changing world. The dominant writers of the interwar period were August Cesarec (Zlatni mladi
[1928; The Golden Boy]) and Miroslav Krlea (Povratak Filipa Latinovicza [1932; The Return
of Philip Latinovicz] and the collection of English translations The Cricket Beneath the Waterfall
and Other Stories [1972]). Both presented contemporary social problems as the result of class
exploitation and deeply explored the psychology of their characters. Krlea is known not only for
his imaginative writing, which spanned the century to his death in 1981, but also for his work as
an editor of literary periodicals, as an essayist, and as a critic who dominated Croatian cultural
life for much of the century.
In the less-restrictive atmosphere that followed Yugoslavias break with the Stalinist Soviet
Union in 1948, new prose writers included Ranko Marinkovi (Kiklop [1965; The Cyclops])
and Vjekoslav Kaleb (Divota praine [1954; The Wonder of Dust, Eng. trans. Glorious Dust]),
who wrote on the war and contemporary society in Croatia. Vesna Parun, an important and
fruitful poet, was recognized most notably for her collection of poems Crna maslina (1955;
Black Olive Tree). The younger prose writer Antun oljan took more cosmopolitan themes for
his work, as did the poet Ivan Slamnig of the same generation. In the latter part of the 20th
century, Croatian literature included experimental autobiographies by Irena Vrkljan (Marina ili o
biografiji [1985; Marina; or, About Biography]), playing with the boundaries between
autobiography and biography; spirited stories and novels by Dubravka Ugrei; essays and
novels by feminist journalist and writer Slavenka Drakuli (The Balkan Express, 1993); genre
novels by the popular Pavao Pavlii; prose by a prolific Croatian-Bosnian writer of the younger
generation, Miljenko Jergovi, and, at the turn of the 21st century, by Zoran Feri, Ante Tomi,
and Julijana Matanovi.


Folklore: The Mouse and the Frog

There was one mouse who used to constantly beg one frog to ferry him across to the other side of
the river, as the Mouse had heard there was an abundant amount of grain waiting to be eaten over
there. The Mouse asked the Frog over and over again to do him that favor and take him across.
That may have been, but that Frog was particularly uncooperative and wouldn't be bothered.
Once, when the Frog was in an atrociously bad temper, it happened that the Mouse yet again
asked to be conveyed to the opposite bank of the river. "Oh, alright, you good-for-nothing
Mouse. You've driven me mad with your nagging. I'll take you across, but hurry up and find a
long piece of thick string so that we can tie ourselves together leg-to-leg, then I can tow you
across so that you won't drown.
The Mouse excitedly ran off and found some string, totally ignorant of what the Frog was
planning for him. He tied one end of the thread around his leg, the other end around the Frog's
leg and said a brief prayer to God imploring that their crossing would be safe and successful.
The Frog started swimming across the river, all the while thinking to herself, "I'll really give you
a big treat now, Mouse, seeing you caught me in just the right mood. I'll take you swimming
alright, underwater to the riverbed!"
When the Frog reached the very centre of the river, she dived towards the bottom, with the
intention of drowning the Mouse. As soon as the poor Mouse realized that the Frog was dragging
him down under the water and would drown him, he mustered all his energies in an effort to
remain on the surface. Death was imminent, but life is sweet,
so the Mouse began to straggle furiously through the water, like some hooked fish. With all his
might he fought against the Frog's downward force. Splash-he leapt into the air. Splash-he was
pulled down again. Such was their deadly struggle.
Just at that moment, a stork happened to be gliding by and spotted the
Mouse as it catapulted out of the water. The stork cruised low over the water, snatched up the
Mouse in its beak, then flew back to its nest with the tied Frog dangling at die end of the string.
At first, the stork gobbled up the Frog, then later, the Mouse.
Don't dig a grave for someone else lest you fall in it yourself!


Select Bibliography of Sources on Croatia

Croatia : a nation forged in war
Tanner, Marcus
New Haven : Yale University Press, 2010
Croatia through history : the making of a European state
Maga, Branka
London ; San Francisco : Saqi, c2007
Croatia : between Europe and the Balkans
Bartlett, William, 1950London ; New York : Routledge, 2003
Croatia : travels in undiscovered country
Fabijani, Tony, 1966Edmonton : University of Alberta Press, c2003
Croatia: land, people, culture
Eterovich, Francis H
[Toronto] Published by University of Toronto Press [1964Strangers either way : the lives of Croatian refugees in their new home
apo, Jasna
New York : Berghahn Books, 2007
They would never hurt a fly : war criminals on trial in The Hague
Drakuli, Slavenka, 1949New York : Viking, 2004
Balkan babel : the disintegration of Yugoslavia from the death of Tito to the fall of Miloevi
Ramet, Sabrina P., 1949Boulder, Colorado : Westview Press, 2002
The demise of Yugoslavia : a political memoir
Mesi, Stipe, 1934Budapest ; New York : Central European University Press, 2004
The medieval Dalmatian episcopal cities : development and transformation
Dusa, Joan, 1949New York : P. Lang, c1991
Croatia between war and independence
Zagreb : The University of Zagreb and OKC Zagreb, 1991