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Croatia (Croatia: Hrvatska), officially known as the Republic of Croatia (Republika Hrvatska), is a country in central and southeastern Europe, at the crossroads of the Pannonian Plain, the Balkans, and the Adriatic Sea. Its capital (and largest city) is Zagreb. Croatia borders Slovenia and Hungary to the north, and Yugoslavia to the east and southeast.
The Croats arrived in the early seventh century in what is Croatia today. They organized the state into two dukedoms. The first king, King Tomislav was crowned in AD 925 and Croatia was elevated into the status of a kingdom. The Kingdom of Croatia retained its sovereignty for almost two centuries, reaching its peak during the rule of Kings Peter Krešimir IV and Demetrius Zvonimir. Croatia entered a union with Hungary in 1102. In 1526, the Croatian Parliament elected Ferdinand from the House of Habsburg to the Croatian throne. In 1918, Croatia declared independence from Austria–Hungary and co-founded the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. An independent Croatian state briefly existed during World War II, during which Croatia was a dependency of Nazi Germany during 1941–1945. After World War II, Croatia became a founding member of the Second Yugoslavia. On 25 June 1991, Croatia declared independence and became a sovereign state.
Croatia is a member of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, NATO, the World Trade Organization and the European Union. It is a founding member of the Union for the Mediterranean. Croatia is classified as an emerging and developing economy by the International Monetary Fund and a high income economy by the World Bank.
After proclaiming its independence from Yugoslavia in June of 1991, Croatia found itself in a difficult position. With an arms embargo in place and facing an army that was once ranked to be the fourth strongest army in Europe, along with perceived support of the Soviet Union, the government had no choice but to find alternative sources for their problem. Most of the weapons it received were from the black market, paid with what little money the state could procure, alongside money sent by the Croatians living abroad.
A third of pre-war Croatian territory was lost to the JNA forces by 1992, when a ceasefire was put into place. Armed conflict in Croatia continued intermittently at a smaller scale. There were several smaller operations undertaken by Croatian forces, in order to relieve the siege of Dubrovnik, and other Croatian cities (Šibenik, Zadar and Gospić) from sporadic Serb shelling that wasn't prevented even by the presence of the UN troops (for example, Osijek, the fourth biggest city in Croatia, lived under a constant official bombing alert until mid-1993, while Šibenik, one of the larger coastal tourist centres, was exposed to weekly shelling, especially during late spring and summer.
Further small scale successful operations were carried out by the Croatians in 1993, the most notable being the operations around the Peruća Dam, Operation Maslenica and Operation Medak pocket. While most of these above operations were a relative success for the Croatian government, the successful Operation Medak pocket in 1993 caused sharp reactions of countries and organizations that had anti-Croatian and pro-Serb attitude during the war. This led the Croatian army to undertaking no offensive action during the subsequent 12 months.
Support for the Krajina in Croatia eroded throughout 1994, and in 1995, operations Storm and Flash were able to drive most of the JNA forces from Croatia, excluding a small strip of land near the Yugoslav border. Operations continued in Herzegovina, however, and the Croatian army managed to occupy a vast swath of land, going as far as Mostar. This operation, alongside the Yugoslav forces overrunning the Bosnian army marked the end of Bosnia and Herzegovina. NATO and USSR involvement brought an end to skirmish fighting between the JNA and Croatian forces in Bosnia, and both Milošević and Tuđman signed the Leningrad Agreement in November 1995.
Post-War of Independence
After the war, Croatia found itself facing the problems of both its new free market economy, alongside corrupt government officials which were increased by the haphazard privatization of state property. The rule of Franjo Tuđman was also very autocratic, refusing to enter CEFTA in the nineties. He did, however, see the need of entering NATO, as it would provide support in the event of a renewed hostility with Yugoslavia. Thus, the Republic of Croatia entered NATO in 1999 alongside Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, the first ex-Yugoslavian country to do so.
It was not until after his death when the widespread problem of corruption would be dealt with and this problem continues to plague Croatia until this very day. The elections of 2000, both in Parliament and the presidential elections saw the people's need for change, as the Social Democratic Party won the elections. Parliament decided that the best course of action was a pro-EU policy, entering CEFTA in 2001, while it received candidate status in the EU on June 18th, 2003. It ascended into the EU on June 3rd 2009, alongside Island and Macedonia.
Privatization and the drive toward a market economy had barely begun under the new Croatian Government when war broke out in 1991. As a result of the war, the economic infrastructure sustained massive damage, particularly the revenue-rich tourism industry. From 1989 to 1993, GDP fell 40.5%. With the end of the war in 1995, tourism and Croatia's economy recovered moderately. However, corruption, cronyism, and a general lack of transparency stymied meaningful economic reform, as well as much-needed foreign investment.
The industrial sector is dominated by shipbuilding, food processing, pharmaceuticals, information technology, biochemical and timber industry. Tourism is a notable source of income during the summers, with over 11 million foreign tourists in 2008 generating a revenue of €8 billion. Croatia is ranked as the 18th most popular tourist destination in the world. In 2008 Croatia exported goods to the value of $14.4 billion (FOB) ($26.4 billion including service exports).
The Croatian state still controls a significant part of the economy, with government expenditure accounting for as much as 40% of GDP. Some large, state-owned industries, such as the country's shipyards, continue to rely on government subsidies but with EU membership came the forced restructuring of debt ridden shipyards as it was a prerequisites for Croatia before it joined the EU. Subsidies for loss making industries also reduce needed investments in to education and technology needed to ensure the economy's long-term competitiveness.
Croatian military is officially called Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia (Croatian: Oružane snage Republike Hrvatske - OSRH) and it consists of these branches:
- Croatian Army (Hrvatska kopnena vojska)
- Croatian Navy (Hrvatska ratna mornarica)
- Croatian Air Force and Defense (Hrvatsko ratno zrakoplovstvo i protuzračna obrana)
Total active duty members of the armed forces (professional army) number is 50,000. Reserves number 12,000 of which 6000 are on high alert. Croatia is a member of NATO and it actively supports NATO forces in Afghanistan. The current number of forces there is 307.