Croatia a Small Country but Not a Small People. (Feature Article)

Article excerpt

CROATIAN FLAG

The coat-of-arms of the Republic of Croatia is a historical Croatian symbol in the form of a shield decorated with red and white (silver) fields, of which the first field in the upper left-hand corner is red. Above the shield, there is a crown with five smaller shields bearing historical Croatian coats-of-arms representing (from left to right): the oldest known Croatian coat-of-arms, the Dubrovnik Republic, Dalmatia, Istria, and Slavonia. The coat-of-arms of the Republic of Croatia is placed at the center of the flag which has three horizontal stripes: red, white, and blue.

The Republic of Croatia, situated on the crossroads between Central Europe and the Mediterranean, is spread across 56,542 square kilometers of land area. A small but diverse country, Croatia borders with Slovenia to the north, Hungary to the northeast, Bosina-Herzegovina to the south, and Serbia and Vojvodina to the southeast. The geographic shape of today's Croatia (the shape of an extended horseshoe formed by elongated Adriatic and Pannonian strips with a broader central zone) is the result of the 14-century long history of the Croatian people in this crossroads of different civilizations. According to its relief and geographical position, Croatia can be divided into three main regions: Adriatic, Dinaric, and Pannonian.

The Croatian Adriatic Sea is one of the most beautiful seas in the world, and as such, attracts many tourists, particularly from Central and Western Europe. Croatia's coastline, which is 5,835 kilometers long, has the most hours of sunshine in Europe after Spain. Along the Adriatic coast, which is the second most indented coastline in Europe (second only to the Norwegian coast), there are 1,185 islands out of which 67 or only 6 percent are inhabited. Because of this, Croatia is often referred to as the coast of one thousand islands. Korcula, a southern Dalmatian fortified city. Korcula is the birthplace of Marco Polo. One of Zagreb's greatest assets is its well preserved surroundings.

Forests cover 36 per cent of Croatia's surface area. The most densely forested region is that of Gorski Kotar, located in the Dinaric region, and also that of eastern Croatia. The Pannonian region is mainly characterized by large fertile plains defined by rivers. Among the largest of these rivers are the Sava, Drava, Kupa and Dunav (Danube). The longest river in Croatia is the Sava, measuring 562 kilometers. It flows into the Dunav which in turn flows into the Black Sea.

Population

According to the 2001 census, Croatia has a population of 4,381,352 or 80.5 people per square kilometer. The most densely populated area is central Croatia with the capital Zagreb, the administrative, cultural and academic center of the country, having a population of 770,058 or close to one-fifth of the entire population. The majority of the population (roughly 90 percent) are Croats. National minorities include Serbs, Muslims, Slovenes, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Italians, and others. It is also important to note that many Croats live outside the borders of Croatia. Approximately 700,000 live in Bosnia-Herzegovina and many live in Serbia, mostly in Vojvodina (today part of Serbia). …