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Country Information Croatia


at a glance

destination Croatia

civilization and culture





56 542 square kilometres


4.49 million (July 2009)

Capital city

Zagreb (700.720 inhabitants, 2006)

Official language

Croatian (Serbo-Croatian)

Gross national product per capita

US$ 16100 (2008) (PPP)

Population growth

-0.05 (2009)

Life expectancy

75,4 years (men: 71,7 years, women: 79,2 years) (2009)

Infant mortality

6.4 per 1000 live births (2009)

Rate of illiteracy

1.5% (men 0.6%, women 2.2%) (2004)




Tourism has traditionally been very important in Croatia. The coastal resorts of the Adriatic Sea are favourite destinations for West European tourists. According to UNWTO in the year 2005 approximately 8,5 million guests came into the country and paid 6 billion Euro.

Although most visitors come to Croatia in the summer to stay on the Adriatic coast, there are also large numbers of inland spas and hot springs offering wellness holidays. Less well known are the areas offering opportunities for skiing and winter sports, some of which have yet to be provided with a full tourist infrastructure.


Commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism

Croatia does not play a major role as a destination for paedosexual perpetrators, but there have recently been increased numbers of reports about forced prostitution in the coastal towns. The country is also a staging-post for traffickers transporting victims from the Ukraine, Romania or Bulgaria  into Western Europe. But Croat women and children are also taken, mainly to west European countries where they are sexually abused and exploited.



The penalty for the sexual abuse of children in Croatia is up to ten years in prison. Croatia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in October 1991. In June 2002 it also approved the optional protocol on child trafficking, child prostitution, and child pornography.



According to UNAIDS and the World Health Organization, approximately less than 500 people in Croatia were infected with HIV at the end of 2007. But there are no sure informations about that. With the spread of prostitution, there are also fears of an increase in the frequency of HIV and AIDS.


Local Contacts


South East European Child Rights Action Network (SEECRAN)

Metelkova 6,

1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

Phone: +386 1 438 5250

Fax: +386 1 432 3383







The Croats first settled in the region in the 7th century, and soon came under the influence of Charlemagne. They were Christianised, and Croatian kingdom was formed in the 10th century. 

Hungary ruled over Croatia in personal union in the 12th century, but with the expansion of the Ottoman Empire and the weakening of Hungary, most of Croatia sought the protection of the Habsburgs. It later became part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. After the defeat of Austria-Hungary in the First World War,  Croatia joined other south Slav countries in a Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes which was subsequently renamed Yugoslavia.

In the Second World War, the Germans occupied Yugoslavia, and Croatian groups collaborated with the Nazis. Partisans from all over Yugoslavia were able to regain control over large parts of the country.

After the Second World War, Croatia was accepted as a people's republic of the newly founded socialist Yugoslavia under Marshall Tito. Although more open to the West than the other countries of the Soviet Bloc, dissidents were faced with harsh reprisals. After the death of Tito in 1980, the tensions grew between the  centralist Serbian tendencies and Croat nationalists. In 1991 Croatia declared its independence; which led to insurrections by Croatian Serbs, who received the backing of the Serbian-led Yugoslavian army. By 1995, Croatia had regained most of the areas originally lost. The economy subsequently began to regenerate. Since 2004, Croatia has been a candidate country to join the EU.


State and society

With the revision of the constitution in 2001 Croatia has developed a stable political system, with a President and a House of Representatives. Numerous reforms have been initiated with pending EU accession negotiations in mind, but in 2004 there was still much progress to be made, particularly in the courts and legal system. 


The Serbs are the largest minority group in Croatia (4.5%), although this figure has been falling constantly since the outbreak of the war, which still casts its shadow over relations between Croats and Serbs. The political situation and the economy are also still facing considerable problems for the same reason.

The ethnic mix is reflected in the religious affiliations. The Croats are almost all Roman Catholic (some 90%). A further 4% are Serbian Orthodox, 1% are Muslim.



After going through a very difficult period after the war, the economy has made appreciable progress since 2000. The growth rate has been encouraging (2002: 5.3%, 2003: 4.3%) while at the same time inflation has been very low for a transitional country (2002: 1.7%, 2003: 1.8%). Nevertheless, the overall economic situation remains difficult. The budget deficit is large (2003: 5.7%) and although the numbers of people without jobs is now decreasing slightly, the unemployment rate of 20% is still a cause for concern. There is also an urgent need for further reforms of the social security system and for privatisation of state-owned operations.

Agricultural production, the chemical industry, and oil processing are all important for the Croatian economy, as is tourism, which contributes 21% of the gross national product.