Republic of Croatia (Croatian: Republika Hrvatska) 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 kilometres (21,851 square miles) and has diverse, mostly continental and Mediterranean climates. 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.
Croatia is located in Central and Southeast Europe, bordering Hungary to the northeast, Serbia to the east, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the southeast, Montenegro to the southeast, the Adriatic Sea to the southwest and Slovenia to the northwest. Part of the territory in the extreme south surrounding Dubrovnik is a practical exclave connected to the rest of the mainland by territorial waters, but separated on land by a short coastline strip belonging to Bosnia and Herzegovina around Neum.
The territory covers 56,594 square kilometres (21,851 square miles), consisting of 56,414 square kilometres (21,782 square miles) of land and 128 square kilometres (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 metres (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 kilometres (156 square miles).
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 colours, ranging from turquoise to mint green, grey or blue.
The highlight of Croatia’s recent infrastructure developments is its rapidly developed motorway network, largely built in the late 1990s and especially in the 2000s.By September 2011, Croatia had completed more than 1,100 kilometres (680 miles) of motorways, connecting Zagreb to most other regions and following various European routes and four Pan-European corridors. The busiest motorways are the A1, connecting Zagreb to Split and the A3, passing east–west through northwest Croatia and Slavonia. A widespread network of state roads in Croatia acts as motorway feeder roads while connecting all major settlements in the country. The high quality and safety levels of the Croatian motorway network were tested and confirmed by several EuroTAP and EuroTest programs.
Croatia has an extensive rail network spanning 2,722 kilometres (1,691 miles), including 984 kilometres (611 miles) of electrified railways and 254 kilometres (158 miles) of double track railways. The most significant railways in Croatia are found within the Pan-European transport corridors Vb and X connecting Rijeka to Budapest and Ljubljana to Belgrade, both via Zagreb. All rail services are operated by Croatian Railways.
There are international airports in Zagreb, Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik, Rijeka, Osijek and Pula. The largest and busiest is Franjo Tuđman Airport. As of January 2011, Croatia complies with International Civil Aviation Organization aviation safety standards and the Federal Aviation Administration upgraded it to Category 1 rating.
The busiest cargo seaport in Croatia is the Port of Rijeka and the busiest passenger ports are Split and Zadar. In addition to those, a large number of minor ports serve an extensive system of ferries connecting numerous islands and coastal cities in addition to ferry lines to several cities in Italy.
Safety and security
Crime levels are low and violent crime is rare.
Some tourists have been the victims of overcharging in so-called ‘Gentlemen’s Clubs’, sometimes amounting to thousands of Euros. Victims can be threatened with violence if they refuse to pay.
Take care in busy tourist areas, where pickpockets are known to operate. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Don’t leave valuables unattended, particularly on the beach. Use a hotel safe if possible.
Report all incidents of crime to the local police station and get a police report.
As of 7 April 2017, there are delays on roads approaching the border crossings between Croatia and neighbouring Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Hungary, as Croatia implements an EU decision on enhanced border controls which involves additional checks.
You can drive using a your driving licence. If you bring your own or rented vehicle into the country you may need to provide proof of ownership by presenting a V5 log book. If you fail to produce this when asked you will be refused entry and the car might be impounded until you can prove ownership.
You don’t need a Green Card to drive in Croatia, but if you are driving to or through Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the 20km strip of coastline at Neum on the Dalmatian coastal highway, make sure that you have a Green Card that includes cover for Bosnia and Herzegovina. You can’t buy insurance for Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Neum border crossing.
It is illegal to drive with more than 0.05% of alcohol in the blood system.
You must drive with dipped headlights from the last weekend in October until last weekend in March, even during the daytime. You must not use a mobile phone whilst driving.
It’s obligatory to carry a fluorescent vest in your car whilst driving in Croatia. You must keep the vest in the car and not in the boot. You should wear the vest while attending to a breakdown. All passengers must wear seat belts and special seats are required for infants. Children under the age of 12 may not sit in the front seat.
Emergency road help (HAK) may be reached by dialling (385 1) 1987. This service is staffed by English speaking operators. Traffic information in English is available on 98.5FM during the tourist season only.
Local laws and customs
We recommend that you carry your passport (or, if a resident your Croatian ID card) at all times. They are the only officially recognised form of identification in Croatia.
Keep a photocopy of the biographical details page in a safe place, including details of your next of kin. If your passport is lost or stolen you should report it to the police and get a police report. You need to do this before applying for an Emergency Travel Document.
Drug related offences are punished with fines and jail sentences.
Croatia is an EU member state. You don’t need a visa for tourist and business trips of up to 90 days in any 6 month period.
You may be asked to produce evidence of the financial means necessary to cover your stay and return or onward trip.
Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you don’t need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this.
If you’re visiting Croatia you should get a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
The EHIC isn’t a substitute for medical and travel insurance, but it entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Croatian nationals.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Major credit and debit cards are accepted in most banks and hotels. Sterling, US Dollars and Euros are easily exchanged for local currency. There are plenty of ATMs. Only exchange money at reliable places like banks and ATMs.
Important phone numbers
- +385 International Dialing Code of Croatia
- 112 Unique European Emergency Number (Police, Fire department, Emergency)
- 192 Police
- 193 Fire department
- 194 Emergency
- 195 Search and rescue service at sea in the Republic of Croatia
- 1987 Emergency road help (HAK)
- (If calling from abroad or by mobile, dial +385 1 1987)
- 18981 General information
- Capital and largest city Zagreb
- Official languages Croatian
- Anthem: “Lijepa naša domovino” English: “Our Beautiful Homeland”
- Total area 56,594 km2 (21,851 sq mi) Water (%) 1.09
- Population 2011 census 4,284,889
- Density 75.8/km2 (196.3/sq mi) (126th)
- Currency Kuna (HRK)
- Time zone CET (UTC+1)
- Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
- Drives on the right