This Mediterranean country is quickly becoming a favorite for both tourist and study abroad students
by Katherine LaGrave
Croatia may have had a rocky past, but its future is marked by promise and progress. A former socialist country, Croatia has moved powerfully into the twenty-first century: It is a founding member of the Union for the Mediterranean and has a high-income economy with an emerging economic and tourist market. Located across from Italy on the Adriatic Sea and bordered primarily by Slovenia, Hungary and Bosnia & Herzegovina, the country has 1,777 km of coastline and is known for its natural beauty and friendly residents.
POPULATION 4,290,612 (July 2011 estimate)
CAPITAL CITY Zagreb: approximately 792,875
- Dubrovnik (pronounced Doo-brove-nick), roughly 42,641: Located on the Adriatic Sea, this city is on the country’s southernmost tip. It has been on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites since 1979 for its remarkably intact Old Town, where stone walls from the Middle Ages remain 1.2 miles around the city.
- Hvar City (pronounced Xhhvar), roughly 4,341: This island has been inhabited since pre-historic times. During Medieval Times, it served as an important naval base for the Venetian Empire. Today, it’s famous for its marinas, restaurants, beaches and cafes.
- Split (pronounced Spleet), roughly 178,192: The second-largest urban area in Croatia, Split boasts a Mediterranean shoreline and a history dating back more than 1,700 years. In summers, the Split Music Festival draws tourists, and its busy ports ferry passengers to nearby Croatian and Italian islands.
The official language of Croatia is Croatian, which has 5 vowels and 25 consonants. Croatian is grouped in the Serbo-Croatian languages, which includes Bosnian and Serbian. However, unlike other similar languages that have Cyrillic alphabets, Croatian is written in the Latin alphabet.
EATING & DRINKING
Because of its dynamic history, Croatian cuisine varies incredibly by region. However, traditional Croatian staples include mlinci, thin noodles that usually accompany turkey or other poultry, and prsut, or smoked ham. Croatians also typically mix sparkling water in with their wine.
Faust Vrančić, inventor of the parachute
Krist Novoselic, bassist and co-founder of Nirvana
Lavoslav Ružička and Vladimir Prelog, winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
A COUNTRY IN TRANSITION
“Students can read a lot about globalization, the Cold War and socialism, but here is a country that’s actually undergoing transition,” says Vincent Serravallo, associate professor of sociology at Rochester Institute of Technology, who has taught a class on social change in Dubrovnik the past three years. “It has a tremendously rich history as the crossroads of civilization in Eastern Europe as a region and as a whole.”
- The modern day necktie originated in Croatia in the 17th century. Originally called a cravat, these neckties were used to designate the military regiment supporting the king.
- In 2010, Croatia was ranked 22nd on Newsweek’s list of quality of education in different countries, tying with Austria.
Hear from Northwestern University alum Chelsea Bruck, who studied history and political science in Dubrovnik, Split and Zagreb for a total of six weeks: