Croatia

Croatia ( Croatian: Hrvatska ) , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a sovereign state between Central Europe, Southeast Europe, and the Mediterranean. Its capital city is Zagreb, which forms one of the country’s primary subdivisions, along with its twenty counties.

Croatia covers 56,594 square kilometers (21,851 square miles) and has diverse, mostly continental and Mediterranean climates.

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Croatia’s Adriatic Sea coast contains more than a thousand islands. The country’s population is 4.28 million, most of whom are Croats, with the most common religious denomination being Roman Catholicism.

In 1918, after World War I, Croatia was included in the unrecognized State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs which seceded from Austria-Hungary and merged into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. On 25 June 1991 Croatia declared independence, which came wholly into effect on 8 October of the same year. The Croatian War of Independence was fought successfully during the four years following the declaration.

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On 15 January 1992, Croatia gained diplomatic recognition by the European Economic Community members, and subsequently the United Nations.  Croatia became a World Trade Organization (WTO) member on 30 November 2000. The country signed a Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union in October 2001. Croatia became a member of NATO on 1 April 2009, and joined the European Union on 1 July 2013.

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The territory is consisting of 56,414 square kilometers (21,782 square miles) of land and 128 square kilometers (49 square miles) of water, it is the 127th largest country in the world.

Elevation ranges from the mountains of the Dinaric Alps with the highest point of the Dinara peak at 1,831 meters (6,007 feet) near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina in the south to the shore of the Adriatic Sea which makes up its entire southwest border. Insular Croatia consists of over a thousand islands and islets varying in size, 48 of which are permanently inhabited. The largest islands are Cres and Krk, each of them having an area of around 405 square kilometers (156 square miles).

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Croatia’s most famous lakes are the Plitvice lakes, a system of 16 lakes with waterfalls connecting them over dolomite and limestone cascades. The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colors, ranging from turquoise to mint green, grey or blue.Tourism dominates the Croatian service sector and accounts for up to 20% of Croatian GDP.

Since the conclusion of the Croatian War of Independence, the tourist industry has grown rapidly, recording a fourfold rise in tourist numbers, with more than 11 million tourists each year. The most numerous are tourists from Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Italy and the Czech Republic as well as Croatia itself.

Croatia has no official religion. Freedom of religion is a right defined by the Constitution which also defines all religious communities as equal in front of the law and separated from the state.

According to the 2011 census, 91.36% of Croatians identify as Christian; of these, Roman Catholics make up the largest group, accounting for 86.28% of the population, after which follows Eastern Orthodoxy (4.44%), Protestantism (0.34%) and other Christianity (0.30%). Second largest religion is Islam (1.47%). 4.57% of the population describes themselves as non-religious.

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