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A country in south-eastern Europe, formerly a constituent republic of Yugoslavia.


Croatia is bounded by Slovenia, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and the Adriatic Sea. In the south-west, the Dinaric Alps form a rugged chain, while the north-eastern part is mostly flat and fertile and well suited to agriculture.


Croatia has an industrialized economy in which mining, petroleum production, shipbuilding, and other heavy industry are important. Mineral resources include bauxite, petroleum, and natural gas. The civil war and fighting with Serbia (1991–95) inflicted great damage on tourism, the principal earner of foreign exchange. The main agricultural products are grains, sugar beet, and potatoes. Grapes are grown mainly on the off-shore islands.


Once the Roman province of Illyricum, the area suffered successive barbarian invasions, with the Slavs becoming the majority population. Conquered by Charlemagne, the first Croatian state was formed with its own knezes or princes when the Carolingian empire collapsed. With papal support Kneze Tomislav became the first king. Struggles between Hungary, Venice, and the Byzantine empire resulted in rule by the Hungarian crown until 1301, when the House of Anjou took control. From 1381 there was a long period of civil war. The Battle of Mohács in 1526 brought most of the country under Ottoman rule with the remainder governed by the Habsburgs. From 1809–1813 Croatia was part of Napoleon's Illyrian province, during which time Croatian nationalism emerged, strongly resisting both Habsburg imperialism and Hungarian control. In 1848 a revolution reasserted Croatian independence, ending serfdom, and proclaiming all citizens equal. In the following year Austria countered by proclaiming the nation an Austrian crownland. In 1868, following the establishment of Austria-Hungary, the territory was pronounced to be the autonomous Hungarian crownland of Croatia-Slovenia, apart from the coastline of Dalmatia, which was to remain an Austrian province. The Hungarian authorities tried to crush all manifestations of Croatian nationalism, with little success, and in October 1918 an independent Croatia was again proclaimed. This then joined the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (1921), later renamed Yugoslavia. In 1941 it was once again declared an independent state under the fascist leader Ante Pavelič, whose brutal government provoked a guerrilla war. Croatia joined the new Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1945. A movement for Croatian independence re-emerged in the late 1980s and a non-communist government was formed in May 1990. By the end of the year anti-Serbian partisans were attacking enclaves of Serbian residents, who were then supported by units of the Serbian-dominated Yugoslav army. A confused military situation developed through 1991 with the ancient city of Dubrovnik being bombarded by Serbian artillery. Croatia was recognized as an independent country by the European Community in 1992, with Franjo Tudjman as President. Fighting continued in the region of Krajina, which had declared itself to be a Serbian republic, and UN peacekeepers were sent in (1992). Croatian forces attacked Krajina in 1993, and in 1995 launched an offensive that enabled them to regain possession of much of the region. From 1992 Croatian forces were involved in the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, fighting Bosnian Serbs and, in some areas, Bosnian Muslims. Some Bosnian Croat nationalists even proclaimed themselves to be a separate republic. In 1994, however, the Croatians and the Bosnian government agreed to cooperate. Fighting with the Bosnian Serbs continued until late 1995, when the governments of Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia accepted a US-brokered peace plan for the region. Tudjman died in office in 1999; his party was defeated in the 2000 elections but regained power in 2003.


Subjects: History.

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