Tuesday, 19 September 2017

CROATIA: Popular Nudist Destination,Unpolluted Marine Areas, More Than 11 Million Tourists Each Year.

Croatia is situated in Central Europe. It is to the east side of the Adriatic Sea, to the east of Italy. It is also bordered by Slovenia to the northwest, Hungary to the north, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the southeast, Serbia in the east, and Montenegro to the south.

The Republic of Croatia is a country in Central and Southern Europe, on the Adriatic Sea. Its capital city is Zagreb, which forms one of the country's primary subdivisions, along with its twenty counties. Croatia has a total area of 56,594 square kilometres (21,851 square miles) and a population of 4.28 million, most of whom are Roman Catholics.

Northern Croatia has a temperate continental climate whereas the central and upland regions have a mountainous climate. The entire Adriatic coast has a pleasant Mediterranean climate. Spring and autumn are mild along the coast, while winter is cold and snowy in central and northern regions. The average temperature inland in January ranges from -10° to 5°C (14° to 41°F) and in August, from 19° to 39°C (66° to 102°).

The average temperature at the seaside is higher: in January, from 6°C to 11°C (43° to 52°F) and in August from 21°C to 39°C (70° to 102°F).

Geographically diverse; flat agricultural plains along the Hungarian border the Central European area, low mountains and highlands near the Adriatic coastline and islands. There are 1,246 islands; the largest ones are Krk and Cres. The highest point is Dinara, at 1,830m.

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. It lies mostly between latitudes 42° and 47° N and longitudes 13° and 20° E.

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).

The hilly northern parts of Hrvatsko Zagorje and the flat plains of Slavonia in the east (which is part of the Pannonian Basin) are traversed by major rivers such as Sava, Drava, Kupa and Danube. The Danube, Europe's second longest river, runs through the city of Vukovar in the extreme east and forms part of the border with Serbia.

The central and southern regions near the Adriatic coastline and islands consist of low mountains and forested highlands. Natural resources found in the country in quantities significant enough for production include oil, coal, bauxite, low-grade iron ore, calcium, gypsum, natural asphalt, silica, mica, clays, salt and hydropower.

Karst topography makes up about half of Croatia and is especially prominent in the Dinaric Alps.There are a number of deep caves in Croatia, 49 of which are deeper than 250 m (820.21 ft), 14 of them deeper than 500 m (1,640.42 ft) and three deeper than 1,000 m (3,280.84 ft). 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.

Croatia can be subdivided between a number of ecoregions because of its climate and geomorphology. The country is consequently one of the richest in Europe in terms of biodiversity. There are four types of biogeographical regions in Croatia—Mediterranean along the coast and in its immediate hinterland, Alpine in most of Lika and Gorski Kotar, Pannonian along Drava and Danube, and continental in the remaining areas.

One of the most significant are karst habitats which include submerged karst, such as Zrmanja and Krka canyons and tufa barriers, as well as underground habitats.

The karst geology harbours approximately 7,000 caves and pits, some of which are habitat of the only known aquatic cave vertebrate—the olm. Forests are also significantly present in the country, as they cover 2,490,000 hectares (6,200,000 acres) representing 44% of Croatian land surface. Other habitat types include wetlands, grasslands, bogs, fens, scrub habitats, coastal and marine habitats.

In terms of phytogeography, Croatia is a part of the Boreal Kingdom and is a part of Illyrian and Central European provinces of the Circumboreal Region and the Adriatic province of the Mediterranean Region. The World Wide Fund for Nature divides Croatia between three ecoregions—Pannonian mixed forests, Dinaric Mountains mixed forests and Illyrian deciduous forests.

There are 37,000 known species in Croatia, but their actual number is estimated to be between 50,000 and 100,000.The claim is supported by nearly 400 new taxa of invertebrates discovered in Croatia in the first half of the 2000s decade alone.There are more than a thousand endemic species, especially in Velebit and Biokovo mountains, Adriatic islands and karst rivers.

Legislation protects 1,131 species.The most serious threat to species is loss and degradation of habitats. A further problem is presented by invasive alien species, especially Caulerpa taxifolia algae.

The invasive algae are regularly monitored and removed to protect the benthic habitat. Indigenous sorts of cultivated plants and breeds of domesticated animals are also numerous. Those include five breeds of horses, five breeds of cattle, eight breeds of sheep, two breeds of pigs and a poultry breed. Even the indigenous breeds include nine endangered or critically endangered ones.

There are 444 protected areas of Croatia, encompassing 9% of the country. Those include eight national parks, two strict reserves, and ten nature parks. The most famous protected area and the oldest national park in Croatia is the Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Velebit Nature Park is a part of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme.

The strict and special reserves, as well as the national and nature parks, are managed and protected by the central government, while other protected areas are managed by counties. In 2005, the National Ecological Network was set up, as the first step in preparation of the EU accession and joining of the Natura 2000 network.

Croatia has an upper-middle income economy. International Monetary Fund data projects that Croatian nominal GDP stands at $52 billion, or $12,405 per capita for year 2017, while purchasing power parity GDP stands at $97 billion, or $23,171 per capita. According to Eurostat data, Croatian PPS GDP per capita stood at 61% of the EU average in 2012.

Real GDP growth in 2007 was 6.0 per cent. The average net salary of a Croatian worker in January 2017 was 5,895 HRK per month, and the average gross salary was 7,911 HRK per month.As of February 2017, registered unemployment rate in Croatia was 15.3%.

In 2010, economic output was dominated by the service sector which accounted for 66% of GDP, followed by the industrial sector with 27.2% and agriculture accounting for 6.8% of GDP.According to 2004 data, 2.7% of the workforce were employed in agriculture, 32.8% by industry and 64.5% in services.

The industrial sector is dominated by shipbuilding, food processing, pharmaceuticals, information technology, biochemical and timber industry. In 2010, Croatian exports were valued at 64.9 billion kuna (€8.65 billion) with 110.3 billion kuna (€14.7 billion) worth of imports. The largest trading partner is rest of the European Union.More than half of Croatia's trade is with other European Union member states.

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, the GDP fell 40.5%. The Croatian state still controls a significant part of the economy, with government expenditures accounting for as much as 40% of GDP.

A backlogged judiciary system, combined with inefficient public administration, especially on issues of land ownership and corruption, are particular concerns. In the 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index, published by Transparency International, the country is ranked joint 50th with a score of 51, where zero denotes "highly corrupt" and 100 "very clean".

June 2013, the national debt stood at 59.5% of the nation's GDP.

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.

In the Eurostat Eurobarometer Poll of 2005, 67% of the population of Croatia responded that they believe there is a God.In a 2009 Gallup poll, 70% answered yes to the question Is religion an important part of your daily life?.However, only 24% of the population attends religious services regularly.

Croatian is the official language of Croatia, and became the 24th official language of the European Union upon its accession in 2013.Minority languages are in official use in local government units where more than a third of population consists of national minorities or where local legislation defines so. Those languages are Czech, Hungarian, Italian, Ruthenian, Serbian and Slovakian.

According to the 2011 Census, 95.6% of citizens of Croatia declared Croatian as their native language, 1.2% declared Serbian as their native language, while no other language is represented in Croatia by more than 0.5% of native speakers among population of Croatia.Croatian is one of the three standard varieties of the Serbo-Croatian language of the South Slavic group of languages.

Croatian is written using the Latin alphabet. Croatia has three major dialects of Serbo-Croatian represented, with standard Croatian based on the Shtokavian dialect. The Chakavian and Kajkavian dialects are distinguished by their lexicon, phonology, and syntax.

From 1961 to 1991, the official language was Serbo-Croatian. Even during socialist rule, Croats often referred to their language as Croato-Serbian instead of Serbo-Croatian or as Croatian.Croatian and Serbian variants of the language were not officially recognised as different at the time, but referred to as the west and east version, and had different alphabets: the Latin alphabet and Serbian Cyrillic.

Croatians are protective of their Croatian language from foreign influences, as the language was under constant change and threats imposed by previous rulers,i.e. Austrian German, Hungarian, Italian and Turkish words were changed and altered to Slavic looking and sounding ones.

Efforts made to impose policies to alter Croatian into Serbo-Croatian or South Slavic language, met resistance from Croats in form of Croatian linguistic purism. Croatian replaced Latin as the official language of the Croatian government in the 19th century.

A 2011 survey revealed that 78% of Croatians claim knowledge of at least one foreign language.According to a survey ordered by the European Commission in 2005, 49% of Croatians speak English as the second language, 34% speak German, and 14% speak Italian. French and Russian are spoken by 4% each, and 2% of Croatians speak Spanish.

However, there are large municipalities that have minority languages that include substantial populations that speak these languages. A odd-majority of Slovenes (59%) have a certain level of knowledge of Croatian.The country is a part of various language-based international associations most notably, the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie and the European Union Language Association.

Croatian traditional cuisine varies from one region to another. Dalmatia and Istria draw upon culinary influences of Italian and other Mediterranean cuisines which prominently feature various seafood, cooked vegetables and pasta, as well as condiments such as olive oil and garlic.

The continental cuisine is heavily influenced by Hungarian, Austrian and Turkish culinary styles. In that area, meats, freshwater fish and vegetable dishes are predominant.

There are two distinct wine-producing regions in Croatia. The continental region in the northeast of the country, especially Slavonia, is capable of producing premium wines, particularly whites. Along the north coast, Istrian and Krk wines are similar to those produced in neighbouring Italy, while further south in Dalmatia, Mediterranean-style red wines are the norm.

Annual production of wine exceeds 140 million litres. Croatia was almost exclusively a wine-consuming country up until the late 18th century when a more massive production and consumption of beer started; the annual consumption of beer in 2008 was 83.3 litres per capita which placed Croatia in 15th place among the world's countries.

After Tito's death in 1980, the weakening of political repression led to a period of political instability. Faced with the rise of nationalist sentiment, a decade-long recession, and the weakening of communist grip on power on the eve of the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, first free elections were held in Yugoslavia in almost 45 years.

In these elections, nationalist options won power in all Yugoslav republics, which led to rise in inter-ethnic tensions, culminating when Croatia and Slovenia declared their independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. This led to open war in newly independent Croatia and later in Bosnia and Herzegovina which declared its independence in 1992.

The wars ended four years later, in 1995, with decisive Croatian victory in operation Storm, bringing peace to both countries. The anniversary of operation Storm is celebrated as Thanksgiving Day in Croatia every August 5th.

As tensions rose, Croatia declared independence on 25 June 1991; however, the full implementation of declaration only came into effect on 8 October 1991.In the meantime, tensions escalated into overt war when the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and various Serb paramilitary groups attacked Croatia.

By the end of 1991, a high-intensity conflict fought along a wide front reduced Croatia to control of only about two-thirds of its territory.The various Serb paramilitary groups then began pursuing a campaign of killing, terror and expulsion against the non-Serb population in the rebel territories, killing hundreds of Croat civilians and forcing a further 170,000 from their homes.

On 15 January 1992, Croatia gained diplomatic recognition by the European Economic Community members, and subsequently the United Nations. The war effectively ended in August 1995 with a decisive victory by Croatia.This was accompanied by the exodus of about 200,000 Serbs from the rebel territories, whose lands were subsequently settled by Croat refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The remaining occupied areas were restored to Croatia pursuant to the Erdut Agreement of November 1995, with the process concluded in January 1998.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.

After a period of accelerated economic growth in the late 90's and 2000's Croatia joined NATO in 2009 and the EU in 2013. Croatia today is a functioning liberal democracy, with a free market system and a robust welfare state.

Tourism dominates the Croatian service sector and accounts for up to 20% of Croatian GDP. Annual tourist industry income for 2014 was estimated at €7.4 billion.Its positive effects are felt throughout the economy of Croatia in terms of increased business volume observed in retail business, processing industry orders and summer seasonal employment.

The industry is considered an export business, because it significantly reduces the country's external trade imbalance.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.Length of a tourist stay in Croatia averages 4.9 days.

The bulk of the tourist industry is concentrated along the Adriatic Sea coast. Opatija was the first holiday resort since the middle of the 19th century. By the 1890s, it became one of the most significant European health resorts.

Later a number of resorts sprang up along the coast and islands, offering services ranging from mass tourism to catering and various niche markets, the most significant being nautical tourism, as there are numerous marinas with more than 16 thousand berths, cultural tourism relying on appeal of medieval coastal cities and numerous cultural events taking place during the summer.

Inland areas offer mountain resorts, agrotourism and spas. Zagreb is also a significant tourist destination, rivalling major coastal cities and resorts.

Croatia has unpolluted marine areas reflected through numerous nature reserves and 116 Blue Flag beaches.Croatia is ranked as the 18th most popular tourist destination in the world. About 15% of these visitors,over one million per year are involved with naturism, an industry for which Croatia is world famous. It was also the first European country to develop commercial naturist resorts.

There are three distinct areas of Croatia: Lowland Croatia - Nizinska Hrvatska, Littoral Croatia - Primorska Hrvatska and Mountainish Croatia - Gorska Hrvatska and these can be neatly split into five travel regions:

- Istria or Istra a peninsula in the northwest, bordering Slovenia

- Kvarner seashore and highlands north of Dalmatia, includes subregions; Bay of Kvarner and Highlands Lika and Gorski Kotar.

- Dalmatia or Dalmacija a strip of mainland and islands between the Adriatic Sea and Bosnia and Herzegovina

- Slavonia including subregions Slavonija and Baranja north of river Drava - Slavonija northeastern area of forests and fields, bordering Hungary, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina

- Central Croatia or Sredisnja Hrvatska north central highlands, location of Zagreb

Cities of Croatia

Zagreb - the capital and largest city

Dubrovnik - historic coastal city and UNESCO World Heritage site

Split- ancient port city with Roman ruins

Pula - biggest town in Istria with the Roman amphitheatre commonly called Arena

Osijek - capital of Slavonia and an important city

Slavonski Brod

Rijeka - Croatia's largest and main port

Varazdin - Croatia's former Baroque capital

Zadar - biggest city of north-central Dalmatia with rich history

Good destinations To visit are:

- Krka National Park - a river valley near Sibenik

- Kornati National Park

- Island of Cres

- sland of Solta

- Island of Hvar

- Island of Brac

- Island of Krk

- Island of Solta

- Plitvice National Park - home of the magnificent Plitvice Lakes (UNESCO world heritage site)

- Vrsar

- Salona

- Zumberak is a mountainous region that spans the border between Slovenia and Croatia

Croatian is, of course, the country's official language and as such is known by everybody. Italian is not only widely spoken and understood but is also recognised as a co-official language in most of Istria, due to that region's history and the presence of ethnic Italian communities.

English is commonly spoken, particularly by the younger generation and by those who work in tourism or live in tourist areas such as the coastline from Istria to Dubrovnik and the capital city of Zagreb.

German is also commonly spoken, particularly by older Croatians, given both the volume of German tourists and the historical relationships with German-speaking regions.

Polish and Czech have some mutual intelligibility with Croatian, so you may wish to try these as well.

Croatian is not an easy language to learn - but making an effort to learn a few basic phrases such as greetings and thanking will result in a positive response from most Croats, who will usually see it as a show of respect.

Small gestures of this type do not go unnoticed, and travellers who engage in local culture will usually find that Croats who may seem somewhat reserved will open up much more readily, thus making the interaction much more enjoyable for the traveller.

Croatia became a member of the European Union on the 1st of July 2013, however it is not part of the Schengen Area. This means that immigration controls still take place, but travellers from another EU state are exempt from customs checks.

EU, EEA, Swiss, Andorran, Monégasque, San Marinese and Vatican City citizens can enter Croatia visa-free for up to 90 days with either a passport or a national identity card.

Foreign nationals of the following countries/territories can enter Croatia visa-free for up to 90 days with a passport: Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras.

As well as Israel, Japan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan (Republic of China), Turkey, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, additionally persons holding British National (Overseas), Hong Kong SAR or Macau SAR passports.

Holders of valid travel documents for refugees or stateless persons issued by an EU member state, Andorra, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, the United States or the Vatican City can enter Croatia visa-free for up to 90 days.

Further, as of the 1st of January 2013, holders of any of the following are exempt from the visa requirement:

- Residence permits issued by one of the Schengen area members

- Uniform visas (C) or long-stay visas (D) issued by one of the Schengen area members

Pursuant to the Government’s decision, starting with 1 January 2014 until the Republic of Croatia fully applies the provisions of the Schengen acquis, all aliens holders of valid Schengen documents do not require an additional Croatian visa for entry and short-term stay in Croatia.

Any person not covered by one of the visa exemptions listed above will need to apply for a visa at a Croatian embassy or consulate in advance. The application fee for a short stay Croatian visa is 35€.

More information about visa exemptions and the visa application procedure is available at the website of the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.

Currently, the only non-European flights to Croatia are from Qatar and Tel Aviv. There are occasional charter flights from Tokyo and Seoul. If coming from North America, you will have to transfer at a hub such as London or Frankfurt. From Asia, Africa or Australasia, transferring in Doha or Istanbul will be quicker than back-tracking through the main European hubs.

- Croatia Airlines, the national carrier and a member of Star Alliance, flies to Amsterdam, Athens, Berlin, Brussels, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Istanbul, London, Nice, Madrid, Milan, Moscow, Munich, Paris, Prague, Tel Aviv, Rome, Sarajevo, Skopje, Vienna, Zurich and - during the tourist season - Manchester.

Aegean Airlines - Greek national carrier flies from Athens to Dubrovnik and Split.

Adria Airways - Slovenian national carrier flies from Ljubljana to Split and Dubrovnik, there are no flights from Ljubljana to Zagreb as the two are located close together and are around 2 hours by car/train/bus.

Aer Lingus - Dublin to Dubrovnik

Air Transat - Toronto Canada to Zagreb

Austrian Airlines - flies from Vienna to Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik

Alitalia flies from Milan Malpensa to Zagreb and Split.

British Airways - flies from London Heathrow to Zagreb, and London Gatwick to Dubronik

CSA Czech Airlines - SkyTeam member; flies from Prague to Zagreb all the year, and to Split during summer.

Darwin Airline - flies between Geneva and Dubrovnik (Thursdays and Sundays) as well as Zurich and Dubrovnik (Saturdays).

EasyJet - has flights to the following destinations in Croatia:

London Gatwick - Split

Estonian Air - is flying every Wednesday and Saturday from Tallinn to Dubrovnik.

FlyBe - operates routes between Dubrovnik and two UK destinations Exeter and Birmingham.

GermanWings - cheap connection from Berlin, Cologne, Stuttgart and Hamburg, to Zagreb, Split, Zadar and Dubrovnik

HLX (Hapag-Lloyd Express) - flies to Rijeka and Dubrovnik from Germany, has good overview of cheaper flights

Intersky - flies from Friedrichshafen to Zadar

Jat Airways - flies from Belgrade to Dubrovnik and Pula

KLM - connects Amsterdam with Zagreb

Norwegian connects Oslo with Rijeka, Split, Pula and Dubrovnik; Bergen with Split and Dubrovnik; Stavanger with Split and Dubrovnik; Trondheim with Split and Dubrovnik; Stockholm with Pula, Split and Dubrovnik; Copenhagen with Split, Dubrovnik and Zagreb; Helsinki with Split and Dubrovnik; and London-Gatwick with Split and Dubrovnik

Qatar Airways- flies daily from Zagreb via Budapest to Doha, and onwards through their network to the Middle East, Asia, Australaisa and Africa.

Ryanair - flies from Dublin and Karlsruhe-Baden to Zadar.

Scandjet - is a Scandinavian low fare airline that connects Sweden, Norway and Denmark with Croatia. It flies from:

Oslo to Split

Stockholm to Pula, Split and Dubrovnik

Gothenburg to Zagreb, Pula, Zadar and Split

Copenhagen to Pula, Split.

TAP Portugal is flying from Zagreb to Lisbon via Bologna three times a week (Wednesdays, Fridays, Sundays).

Turkish Airline flies daily from Zagreb to Istanbul.

Vueling, a Spanish low-cost carrier flies between Dubrovnik and Barcelona.

Wizz Air flies between Zagreb and London (Luton Airport)

Additionally you can use airports in neighbouring countries which are within few hours of reach from Zagreb and Rijeka,apart from some of the listed options in Italy:

Ljubljana for EasyJet flights to London Stansted or other Adria Airways flights.

Graz and Klagenfurt for Ryanair flights from London Stansted.

Trieste for Ryanair flights from London Stansted. You can also use Venice Marco Polo for British Airways flights from the UK or Venice Treviso ,Ryanair from Stanstead.

Ancona is also an option,Ryanair from Stanstead for those who want to take ferry or hydrofoil to Zadar and Split. Ryanair also flies to Pescara which is a short drive away from Ancona.

Some may decide to use Tivat Airport in Montenegro which is within easy reach from Dubrovnik.

The rail network connects all major Croatian cities, except Dubrovnik,you can take a train to Split then take one of the frequent buses or the more scenic ferry to Dubrovnik, the train station is at the pier. There are direct lines from Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Greece. There are indirect lines from almost all other European countries.

Tourists coming from or going to neighbouring countries should note the following EuroCity and InterCity railway lines:

- EC "Mimara": Berlin - Leipzig - Munich - Salzburg - Ljubljana - Zagreb

- IC "Croatia": Vienna - Maribor - Zagreb

- IC "Kvarner": Budapest - Zagreb - Rijeka

While Croatia paired with Slovenia is covered on some Eurail passes, staff at domestic ticket windows will tend to have no idea about validating the pass on the first day of use. There are recorded instances of staff saying that the conductor would validate the pass, and the conductor simply treating it as a regular ticket.

Fortunately, the international ticket staff particularly in Zagreb are aware of how to validate the pass, and have been known to validate it retroactively where necessary. They even ask for the details of the domestic ticket seller who gave the wrong information.

The traveller is therefore recommended to have already validated their Eurail pass on arrival in Croatia, or to have it validated at an international window even if the first trip on it will be domestic.

To enter Croatia, a driving licence, a vehicle registration card and insurance documents are required. If you need road assistance, you should dial 1987. The following speeds are permitted:

- 50km/h - within built-up areas

- 90km/h - outside built-up areas

- 110km/h - on major motor routes

- 130km/h - on motorways

- 80km/h - for motor vehicles with a caravan trailer

- 80km/h - for buses and buses with a light trailer

When driving in the rain, you should adjust speed to conditions on wet roads. Driving with headlights is not obligatory during the day during Daylight Savings Time; it is obligatory during winter months.

Use of mobile phones while driving is not permitted. Maximum permitted amount of alcohol in blood is currently 0.5 ‰ matching neighbouring Slovenia and Bosnia Herzegovina although this has varied recently and was down to 0.0 ‰ until that was found to not be tenable in the country. Use of seat belts is obligatory.

Hrvatski Auto Klub is the Croatian Automobile Club dedicated to assisting drivers and promoting greater traffic security. Its site offers minute-by-minute updates, status of national traffic, weather, numerous maps and webcams located all over Croatia. Content is available in Croatian, English, German and Italian.

Very good network of buses once in the country - cheap and regular.

If you are coming from Italy there are two buses daily from Venice leaving at 11:00 and 13:45 going to Istria, with a final stop in Pula. These are operated by two different bus companies, but you can buy tickets for both buses at the A.T.V.O bus office at the Venice bus station. The office is in the bus station, but located outside on the ground level across from where all the buses park. Both buses pick up at spot b15.

It is roughly a 5 hour bus ride, with stops in Trieste and Rovinj. You can also pick up the bus at the bus station in Mestre, fifteen minutes after the scheduled bus leaves Venice. Coming in from Trieste, Italy is popular among Europeans, for Trieste is a Ryanair destination. You cross the Italian-Slovenian border first, followed by the Slovenian-Croatian border, but they are very close to one another.

Dubrovnik and Split are the main destinations of international buses from Bosnia and Hercegovina or Montenegro, with daily buses traveling to cities such as Sarajevo, Mostar and Kotor,some lines such as Split-Mostar operate every few hours.

Seasonal lines also extend through to Skopje from Dubrovnik. Border formalities on the buses are extremely efficient, and do not involve leaving the bus,previous services from Dubrovnik to Kotor involved changing buses at the Croatian border.

Osijek is a very big bus hub for international travel to Hungary, Serbia and Bosnia in addition to its local buses, and the station is located conveniently next to the railway station. Many buses heading from Zagreb north into Hungary or Austria will pass through Varazdin.

From Germany with Cazmatrans,ferries are cheap and go regularly between various places by the coast. Although not the fastest, they are probably the best way to see the beautiful Croatian islands of the Adriatic Sea.

Jadrolinija is the main Croatian passenger shipping line that maintains the largest number of regular international and domestic ferry and shipping lines. The following international lines are serviced by car ferries:

- Rijeka - Zadar - Split - Hvar - Korčula -Dubrovnik - Bari

- Split - Ancona - Split

- Korcula - Hvar - Split - Ancona

- Zadar - Ancona - Zadar

- Zadar - Dugi otok - Ancona

- Dubrovnik - Bari - Dubrovnik

Blue Line International operates the international route:

Split - Ancona - Split

Venezia Lines has regular catamaran connections between Venice and the Croatian cities of Porec, Pula, Rovinj and Rabac.

National airline company Croatia Airlines connects major cities in Croatia to each other and foreign destinations. Due to the comparatively short distances and relatively high hassle of air travel - especially when you travel with luggage - domestic air travel is used mostly for getting to end points - eg, Zagreb to Dubrovnik and vice-versa.

There is a daily link between Pula and Zadar continuing to Zagreb, the 20 minute flight saves a long road journey, though has very awkward flight times.

Another popular flight available in the summer months only is between Split and Osijek, saving a long trip back through Croatia, or alternatively through the middle of Bosnia.

Train travel has definitely improved in Croatia, with all the money that has been invested in updating the aging infrastructure and train cars. Trains are clean and mostly on time.

Croatia's rail network connects all major Croatian cities, except Dubrovnik. If you want to visit Dubrovnik, you will have to travel by train to Split, and then go on the bus for Dubrovnik. Trains to Pula are actually connected via Slovenia due to historical accident, though there are designated connecting buses from Rijeka.

Rail is still the cheapest connection between inland and coast, though not the most frequent. As of 2004, the new 160kph tilting trains that connect Zagreb with Split and other major cities in Croatia such as Rijeka and Osijek have been progressively introduced, resulting in higher levels of comfort and significantly faster journeys between cities,Zagreb-Split is now 5.5h from 9, Osijek is now 3 when other trains take around 4.5h. If you make a reservation early enough you can get a substantial discount, or if you are a holder of an ISIC card etc.

Information for the trains can be found on the Hrvatske Zeljeznice - Croatian Railways site in Croatian and English has timetable and prices.

Tickets are not usually sold on-board, except if you happen to get on the train on one of the few stations/stops without ticket sales. However, only local trains stop on such stations. In all other cases, a ticket bought on the train will cost considerably more than the one bought outside the train.

A very comprehensive coach network connects all parts of the country. Bus service between major cities the intercity lines is quite frequent, as well as regional services. The most frequent bus terminal in Croatia is Bus Terminal Zagreb. Despite the recent improvements in the railway network, buses are faster than trains for inter-city travel. See Bus travel in the former Yugoslavia for more information.

- Autobusni kolodvor Zagreb - Bus Terminal Zagreb, timetable information, content in Croatian, English

- CroatiaBus - bus company - timetable information, prices, content in Croatian and English.

- Autotrans Rijeka - bus company - timetable information, prices, content in Croatian and English.

- Autobusni promet Varazdin - bus company - timetable information, prices, content in Croatian, English and German.

- Contus - bus company - timetable information, prices, content in Croatian and English.

- Libertas Dubrovnik - bus terminal and company information in Dubrovnik, with international and domestic information. Content mostly in Croatian.

Croatia is blessed with a beautiful coastline which is best explored by ferry to access the hundreds of islands.

Ferries run more frequently in the summer months, and service varies by day of the week and by season. Many lines are designed to suit commuters rather than tourists, so be sure to check the schedule in advance.

Jadrolinija is the Croatian National ferry company. It operates among the coastal cities and islands of Croatia, and it runs several routes between Italy and Croatia. Schedules vary by day of the week and by season. Coastal ferries include two types of boats. Car ferries are larger boats designed to transport vehicles and passengers.

They are slower, and more expensive, but with more extensive facilities e.g. restaurant than the smaller boats. Foot ferries also called fast ferries, fast boats, passenger ferries, or catamarans are less expensive and faster, and they do not carry vehicles. Bicycles can be transported on car ferries only.

G&V Line is a Croatian company based out of Dubrovnik. It runs fast ferries/catamarans along the Croatian coast. Bicycles may be accepted at the captain's discretion.

In addition to ferries, private transportation by boat can be arranged through boat taxi services or private charter.

- Yacht Charter Croatia Cro Sailing is Croatian sailing charter company established to provide you best possible sailing experience. They offer a variety of sailing yachts, catamarans, gulets and motor yachts.

- Catamaran Charter Wide range of Lagoon catamarans for charter in Split area, bareboat and skippered.

- Split Hvar taxi boat Taxi boat service that works 0-24/7 and can take you anywhere you want.

- Luxury Yacht Charter Croatia offers a wide range of Luxury Mega Yachts, sailing Yachts, Catamarans for charter in Croatia.

- Catamaran Charter Croatia offers a wide range of catamarans for charter in Croatia

- CharterCroatia is an online yacht charter company where you can easily choose from the best yachts in Croatia, and get a wide range of prices.

- Cruising in Croatia The professional company Lion Queen provides all the information on Cruising in Croatia

- Croatia Small Ship Cruises AdventureSmith Explorations is an American company specializing in small ship and yacht cruises in Croatia. Cruises depart from Split or Dubrovnik and include domestic Croatia itineraries or nearby Mediterranean countries.

- YachtHoliday offers more than 2500 yachts at a wide range of prices. You can find a yacht, destination on the website, and book a yacht completely online.

- Polaris yachting The best place for booking all types of gulet cruises, yacht charters, boat transfers and excursions, weddings on a boat. Only family owned and run boats in offer.

- Luxury Croatia Cruises Sail Croatia offers luxury small ship cruises for mature trevellers. Their Elegance cruise has 4 different itineraries, Split - Dubrovnik - Split, Split - Dubrovnik, Split - Zadar - Split and Dubrovnik - Split.

- Yacht Charter Croatia Sailing is best place to find yachts for rent. Easy, safe and fast booking. In their offer you can find Luxury Yachts, Catamarans, Sailing Yachts, Gulets and Mega Yachts.

- Luxury Catamaran Charter Croatia is great place to find luxury catamarans for rent.

- Navis Luxury yacht Charter offers Luxury yachts in Croatia for charter.

- Five Islands Tour daily speedboat tours of 5 Dalmatian islands.

- Pinkuin - Yachtcharter Kroatien is a great place to find yachts for rent. Easy, safe and fast booking.

- Wake Riders - Wake Surfing Wake surf and day trips from Split and surrounding islands.

Roads in Croatia are usually well maintained, but usually very narrow and full of curves. Some local roads in Istria have been worn down to a smooth surface from regular wear and tear, and can be extremely slippery when wet. It's difficult to find a true highway with more than one way per direction, the only exceptions being the ones connecting Rijeka, Zagreb, Zadar and Split.

Speed limits are thus low (60-90km/h), and it's not recommended to drive faster although most locals do, especially at night. Be aware of animals crossing the road.

Renting a car is around the same price as in the EU,from around €40. Almost all cars have a manual transmission. Most rental agencies in the Balkans allow you to rent a car in one country and drive in the neighbouring countries however try to avoid a renting a car in Serbia and driving it into Croatia or vice versa in order to avoid negative attention from nationalists.

On the recently built Croatian Motorways,toll fees apply and may be paid in either HRK or EUR, the motorway A6 between Zagreb and Rijeka was finished end of 2008, the main motorway A1 from Zagreb to Dubrovnik is still under construction the current ending point is in Ravca, which is 140km from Dubrovnik.

Notice that to reach south Dalmatia including Dubrovnik, you need to cross a short portion of Bosnia-Herzegovina, so check if you need a visa or other special requirements for entry into Bosnia.

When exiting a toll motorway, ask the receipt at toll booth if it is not given to you to be sure you do not get overcharged,you could receive along with the receipt some unexpected change compared with the price you were given verbally.

If an unknown person flashes their car lights at you it may be a sign that they've recently passed a police unit doing speed limit checks. Ensure you are on compliance with all the traffic rules and regulations to ensure that you are not stopped.

Be advised that reckless endangerment of traffic,e.g. driving > 50km/h over the posted speed limit, driving under the influence of a blood alcohol content 0.5 ‰ may, under some circumstances, be prosecuted as a felony offence punishable by up to 3 years of incarceration.

All major cities in Croatia are served by taxi. They should be reasonably easy to pick up at airports, bus stations, and city centres. Hotels, hostels, and the apartment you are staying in will call the cab company for you, if they have one with which they work closely, but check first.

You can also find the phone numbers for taxis in any city on internet.

See taxi prices Some taxi companies, particularly in larger towns, require the cab to be ordered online. It is recommended to call a cab company in advance, if possible, and give them time to pick you up. Prices may vary from company to company, but the average price is 3 euro per km. + 0.70 cent every next kilometre. To avoid being overcharged always ask for the price before you get in cab.

The best situation for choosing a taxi service is certainly in the form of airport transfers and transfers from all travel terminals, where is always a circulation of a large number of passengers.

Taxi Croatia service and transfer have evolved substantially in the last 10 years and spread throughout the major croatian cities, which are visited by many tourists from around the world. In most cases taxi is a the better choice of public transport, with which over the years had become almost equalized in the price.

Hitchhiking is generally good. If you can get to a highway toll stop simply ask people to take you with them as they open their windows to pay the toll. The toll collectors usually won't mind. The tricky part, of course, is to get to the toll stop.

If you are in Zagreb and you are, like most people, heading south, take the bus 111 from the Savski most station in Zagreb and ask the bus driver where to get off to get to the toll stop. Next best place to ask people to pick you up are gas stations. And finally, just using the good old thumb will work too if everything else fails.
Croatia has an impressive history, a fact that is best explained through the vast array of sites worth visiting. Most towns have a historical center with its typical architecture. There are differences between the coast and the continental part, so both areas are a must. The most famous is Dubrovnik, a prime example of the coastal architecture, but by no means the only one worth visiting.

Equally important is the capital and largest city, Zagreb, with a population of about 1 million. It is a modern city with all the modern features, yet it has a laid back feel. In the east, in the region of Slavonija with it's regional capital Osijek and the war torn Vukovar are awe inspiring. Scattered throughout the region are vineyards and wine cellars, most of which give tours and tastings.

Sailing is a good way to see the coastal islands and networks of small archipelagos. Most charters leave from Split or the surrounding area on the North or the South circuit, each offering its own pros and cons. A good way is to book a package with a company at home, but many Croatian companies also offer both bareboat and crewed charters.

Booking of a charter vessel is basically done in two parts. Fifty percent of the charter price is paid right away, after which the booking is confirmed. The other fifty percent of the charter fee is usually paid four weeks before the charter date. Before the first payment of the charter fee you should request to see the charter contract from the agency where you chartered a boat.

Pay close attention to cancellation fees because many times if you cancel your charter vacation you could lose the initial fifty percent you already paid when you booked a charter so take a close look at that in the charter contract. After that you are set for a sailing vacation.

When you arrive to marina where your chartered yacht is situated you need to do the check in usually Saturday around 16:00 and you have to do the shopping for the charter vacation. Don't neglect the groceries shopping because the sea is unpredictable and you don't want to get stuck on the boat without anything to eat or drink.

You can do the shopping in a marina although the prices are much higher there or you can order from yacht provisioning services who usually deliver the products to your chartered yacht at no extra fee. This is convenient because it takes the load off you and the things you must do when you arrive at the marina for your sailing holiday.

Croatia offers amazing weather conditions and incredible scenery for various activities throughout the year. Water sports, mountain and rock activities, biking and many more. There are several tour companies organizing various outdoor activities, as sea kayaking, biking, hiking, canyoning, rock climbing, etc.

With more than 70 routes rock climbing on Marjan is must do outdoor adventure.

Croatia's currency is the kuna (HRK). Although many tourist business owners may accept euros, Euros are not legal tender in Croatia. Any amount of kuna you have left at the end of your stay can be converted to euros at a local bank or exchange office.

Prices are around 10% to 20% lower than most EU countries. Touristic destinations and articles are much more expensive.

ATMs in Croatian bankomat are readily available throughout Croatia. They will accept various European bank cards, credit cards,Diners Club, Eurocard/MasterCard, Visa, American Express etc. and debit cards, Cirrus, Maestro, Visa electron etc. Read the labels/notices on the machine before using.

If you buy goods worth more than 740 kuna you are entitled to a PDV (VAT) tax return when leaving the country. Note that this applies to all goods except petroleum products. At point of purchase ask the sales person for a PDV-P form. Fill it out and have it stamped on the spot. On leaving Croatia the receipt will be verified by the Croatian Customs service.

A PDV refund in Kunas can be obtained within six months, either at the same shop where you bought the goods,in that case the tax will be refunded to you immediately, or by posting the verified receipt back to the shop, together with the account number into which the refund should be paid.

In this case the refund is dealt with within 15 days of receipt of the claim. There is another, much easier way to receive the refund. Buy your goods in shops with a "CROATIA TAX-FREE SHOPPING" label. This label is displayed on the shop's entrance, usually next to the labels of credit and debit cards this particular shop accepts.

Using an international coupon, refund is possible in all countries-members of the TAX-FREE international chain. In this case the service charge is deducted from the tax refund amount.

Croatia now uses the Global Blue system. They will do the refund and take a commission off the price. You can do this at the airport or post it once you get home.

The ingredients used herbs, olive oil, etc. are grown in Croatia. In comparison to some world famous beauty products, Croatian natural cosmetics present real value for the money.

Ulola manufacturers soaps, bath salts, body butters and more. It's all natural and comes in combinations like: orange and cinnamon, goats milk and almond oil, etc

S-Atea manufacturers soaps, shower gels, body butter and more. Seaweed, olive oil, rosemary and lavender are some of their main ingredients.

Brac fini sapuni, Brac quality soaps manufacturers a wide range of natural soaps, the lastest addition to their bath line is Aurum Croaticum made from virgin olive oil and thin leafs of 23 carat gold!

There are many Croatian designers and clothing specialists.

Etnobutik "Mara" designs by Vesna Milkovic offers a range of really unique clothing and accessories inscribed with "glagoljica". Some of her designs are protected as Authentic Croatian produce.

I-gle Fashion Studio by two female designers Natasa Mihaljcisin i Martina Vrdoljak-Ranilovic. Their clothing is sold in Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge,London.

Nebo "Sky" is a fashion house that makes really nice, funky clothes and shoes.

Nit "Thread" is definitely not widely known even among Croats but is definitely worth visiting as they have some funky and arty but seriousclothing items that are "value for money.
Punjena Paprika A Croatian Traditional Food
Croatian cuisine is quite diverse so it is hard to say what meal is most typically Croatian.

In the eastern continental regions Slavonija and Baranja spicy sausage such as kulen or kulenova seka is a must-try.

Cobanac or shepherd's stew is a mixture of several different kinds of meat with a lot of red spicy paprika.

In Hrvatsko Zagorje and Central Croatia pasta filled with cheese called strukli is a famous delicacy,it is said that the best strukli in Croatia is served in the Esplanade Hotel restaurant in Zagreb, as is purica s mlincima or baked turkey with a special kind of pastry.

Sir i vrhnje or sour cream with cottage cheese can be bought fresh on the Zagreb main market Dolac. Croats love a bit of oil and you will find plenty of it in piroska.

In mountainous regions of Lika and Gorski Kotar meals made of mushrooms, wild berries and wild meat are very popular. One of typical dishes in Lika is police or oven-baked potatoes covered with bacon and several kinds of cheese - smoked cheese and skripavac.

The coastal region is well known for truffle delicacies and soup manestra od bobic or Istria, Dalmatian prsut or dry-cured ham and paski sir or Pag-island cheese. Dishes made of fresh fish and other products of the sea like calamari, octopus, crabs, scampi shouldn't be given a miss. Many places serve fish delivered from the local fisherman the night before,find out which ones.

Croatian cuisine has yet to come up with a Croatian fast food representative. The market is dominated by globally ubiquitous hamburgers and pizzas but you will also find burek and cevapcici imported from the medieval Ottoman empire which stretched from Turkey to neighboring Bosnia.

The latter two dishes are widely popular in the entire South and Eastern Europe. Burek is a type of cheese-pastry whereas cevapcici are seasoned minced meat shaped in finger-size portions served in bread and often covered with onions. Although definitely not a fast meal,takes several hours to prepare also foreign in origin is the so-called sarma or sauerkraut rolls filled with minced meat and rice.

For those coming back from nightclubs at 4 or 5AM as is common in Croatia, it is popular to go to the local bakery and get fresh bread, burek or krafne or Croatian chocolate filled donuts straight out of the oven. Delicious! As far as fast food goes, who needs it when you can buy delicious prsut during the day and warm bread at night to compliment it. Most Croatians generally look down at fast food.

Desserts: What it lacks in the fast food department Croatia makes up with a myriad of desserts. Probably the most famous is its delicious creamy cake called kremsnite but different kinds of gibanica, strudla and pita similar to strudel and pie such as orehnjaca (walnut), makovnjaca (poppy) or bucnica (pumpkin and cheese) are also highly recommended.

Dubrovacka torta od skorupa is delicious but hard to find. Paprenjaci (pepper cookies) are said to reflect the Croatian tumultuous history because they combine the harshness of the war periods (pepper) with the natural beauties (honey). They can be bought in most souvenir shops though fresh-made are always a better choice.

Rapska torta (The Rab island cake) is made with almonds and locally famous cherry liquor Maraschino. It should be noted that this is hardly an exhaustive list and even a casual glimpse in any Croatian cookbook is likely to be worth the effort. Chocolate candy "Bajadera" is available throughout shops in the country and along with "Griotte" is one of the most famous products of the Croatian chocolate industry.

An unavoidable ingredient in many meals prepared in Croatia is "Vegeta". It is a spice produced by Podravka.

Olives, a lot of people claim that Croatian olives and their olive oil are the best in the world, which is not even well known in Croatia and less worldwide. Many brands exist and some of them have several world awards. Try to buy olive oil from Istra,although oil from Dalmatia is also excellent and choose only Croatian brands for olives. Most notable sms, few times awarded as the world's best.

Try to read the declaration before buying to ensure you are buying Croatian olives and oil, since there are a lot of imports usually cheap products from Greece. All of this can be found in most of the supermarkets, but you should be really aware of the imports, most of the Croatian people aren't experts and prefer cheaper products, so they dominate.

The olive oil is a irreaplaceable ingredient in the coastal cuisine, but you should be aware of the use of cheaper, not Croatian, oil in restaurants because most of the tourists don't notice the difference so the restaurants don't find it profitable to use excellent oil; they rather use cheaper Spanish or Greek.

Usually, asking the waiter for a better oil and look like an expert, helps and soon he gets you a first-class oil from a hidden place.

Alcoholic,Try many different kinds of wines. Also worth trying is rakija, a type of brandy which can be made of plum or sljivovica, grapes or loza, figs or smokovaca and many other types of fruit and aromatic herbs. Pelinkovac is a bitter herbal liquor popular in Central Croatia, but is said to resemble cough-medicine in flavor.

Famous Maraschino, a liquer flavored with Marasca cherries, which are grown around Zadar, Dalmatia. Non-alcoholic: Sometimes although very rarely you may find sok od bazge or elderflower juice in the continental region. Worth trying! Also, in Istria there is a drink called pasareta and it is a sparkling red drink with herbal extracts.

Very sweet and refreshing. In some parts of Istria especially south in local basements, you can try smrikva - a non alcoholic refreshing drink made out of berries which grow on one sort of pine tree. The taste is a bit sour but very refreshing.

On a more general note, Croatia produces a broad palette of high quality wines,up to 700 wines with protected geographic origin and brandies, fruit juices, beers and mineral water. On the coast people usually serve bevanda with meals. Bevanda is heavy, richly flavored red wine mixed with plain water. Its counter-part in northern parts of Croatia is gemisht. This term designates dry, flavored wines mixed with mineral water.

Two most popular beers are Karlovacko and Ozujsko, but Velebitsko and Tomislav pivo have received a semi-cult status in the recent years. It is served only in some places in Zagreb and Croatia.

Officially, alcoholic drinks can't be sold or served to anyone under 18. However, this rule is almost never enforced.

Croatia was the first country in Europe to start with the concept of commercial naturist resorts. According to some estimates about 15% of all tourists that visit the country are naturists or nudists who are more than one million each year.

There are more than 20 official naturist resorts as well as a very large number of the so-called free beaches which are unofficial naturist beaches, sometimes controlled and maintained by local tourist authorities. In fact, you are likely to find nudists on any beach outside of town centers. Naturist beaches in Croatia are marked as "FKK".

The most popular nudist destinations are Pula, Hvar and island Rab.

Increasingly Croatia is becoming a popular place for health tourism. A number of dental surgeries have experience in treating short term visitors to Croatia. Croatian dentists study for 5 years in Zagreb or Rijeka. Harmonization of training with EU standards has begun, in preparation for Croatia's accession.

Facilities for the disabled are not as developed as elsewhere, but there are exceptions to this and certain hotels, campsites and beaches have facilities for the disabled and wheelchair access. A more comprehensive guide to Croatia for the disabled, including contact details or various associations, can be found here

One of Croatia's more wild holiday offers are the lighthouses. Most of them are situated on a deserted coastline or in the open sea. The speciality of this is that you are able to cut yourself off from the rest of the world and take the time to smell the roses. Sometimes the best way to relax is to take part in a Robinson Crusoe style holiday.

Croatia has 11 rent-a-lighthouses along the Adriatic coast: Savudrija, Sv. Ivan, Rt Zub, Porer, Veli Rat, Prisnjak, Sv. Petar, Plocica, Susac, Struga and Palagruza.

Croatia is the destination of many worldwide volunteer organizations that send groups of volunteers throughout the year to help with agriculture, community development, education, animal welfare, and more.

These programs are put together by nonprofits, community groups and volunteers to help locals improve their economy and way of life. With rich cultural history and stunning coastline, Croatia is truly is the jewel of Europe. If you would like to travel to Croatia as a volunteer, visit these websites for volunteer programs, accommodations, travel dates, and tours.

- Essential Croatia

- ISV Croatia

- Volunteers Centre Zagreb

During summer make sure you use adequate SPF to protect yourself from sunburn. There are no ozone holes over Croatia but it's fairly easy to burn in the sun. If this happens make sure you get out of the sun, drink plenty of fluids and rehydrate your skin. The locals will often advise covering the burnt spot with cold yogurt bought from the supermarket.

In case of an emergency you can dial 112 - responsible for dispatching all emergency services such as fire departments, police, emergency medical assistance and mountain rescue.

Since the hostilities ended in 1995, there remain an estimated 90,000 landmines in Croatia. However these are not to be found in areas visited by tourists. If you plan to hike consult locals before you go. The mine suspected areas are marked with 16.000 mine warning signs.

Do not stray from marked roads or known safe areas.

Watch out for Bura wind danger signs. Bura is known in Velebit area, can blow up to 200 km/h and is known to have thrown lorries on the sides.

Avoid strip clubs at all costs. They are often run by very shady characters, and often overcharge their guests. Recent cases include foreigners that were charged 2000 euros for a bottle of champagne.

These clubs overcharge their customers to the extreme, and their bouncers will not have any mercy if you tell them you are unable to pay. You will soon find yourself in a local hospital. Using common sense is essential, but due to the nature of the clubs this may be in short supply, and you may be better advised simply to steer well clear of these clubs.

There are no vaccination required to enter Croatia.

If you're going camping or hiking in continental Croatia during summer, you should be aware of ticks and tick-carrying diseases such as encephalitis and lyme-disease. Approximately 3 ticks in 1000 carry the virus.

In Eastern Slavonia,particularly around the Kopacki Rit near Osijek wear long sleeves and take insect repellent.

Tap water in Croatia is perfectly safe, and in some areas considered the best in the world. However, you can still choose from several brands of excellent bottled water,Jamnica being the most popular, and Jana, several times awarded as the world's best bottled water.

Croatia's centuries long struggle for political independence defines political discourse in Croatia. Some Croats are fiercely patriotic and immensely proud of their cultural heritage, their language and their history.
Keep in mind that 1990s, marked with ethnic conflict and the following war between Croatia and the separatist Republika Srpska Krajina, are still a painful subject, but generally there should be no problem if you approach that topic with respect. Visitors will find that domestic politics and European affairs are everyday conversation subjects in Croatia.

Socially, displays of affection among the younger generation are the same as Western European standards, but the older generation over 65 still are quite conservative.

When driving on rural roads, particularly where a driver has to pull in to allow you to pass, it is customary to wave a thanks to the other driver, by raising your hand from the steering wheel.

Most Croats will respond to thank you with something along the lines of "It was nothing" or "not at all" which is equivalent to English "Don't mention it".

Croatia uses the GSM 900 (T-Mo, Vip) /1800 (Tele2) system for mobile phones. There are three providers, T-Mobile (also operates the Bonbon and MultiPlus Mobile prepaid brand), Vip (also operates the Tomato prepaid brand) and Tele2. Over 98% of the country's area is covered. 3G (UMTS 900, 2100) has been available since 2006, while 4G (LTE 800, 1800, 2600MHz) has become available in 2012.

However, 4G is supported in larger cities only. If you have an unlocked phone, you can buy a Tele2 prepaid SIM card for 25 kn. GSM phones (Nokia 1200, Nokia 2610, Motorola F3, LG KG130 or Samsung C170) bundled with T-Mobile or Vip prepaid SIM cards can be found in post offices, grocery stores and kiosks at prices between 50 and 200 kn.

An alternative to using mobile phones are Calling Cards which can be bought in postal offices and kiosks. There are two providers - Dencall and Hitme. The cheapest cards' price is 25kn.

Area Codes: When calling between cities you must dial specific city area codes: (area code)+(phone number)

Zagreb (01) Split (021) Rijeka (051) Dubrovnik (020) Sibenik/Knin (022) Zadar (023) Osijek (031) Vukovar (032) Varazdin (042) Bjelovar (043) Sisak (044) Karlovac (047) Koprivnica (048) Krapina (049) Istria (052) Lika/Senj (053)

Broadband is widespread in Croatia. The most common ways of connecting to the internet are ADSL(2+), cable (EuroDOCSIS), FTTH and VDSL.

Broadband connections start at just 79kn for ADSL (BTnet 4/0.384, unlimited) and 99kn for FTTH (BTnet 10/10, unlimited).

However, the cheapest ISPs are usually available only in the largest towns, while the most widespread ISP is T-Com, with very high prices but wide coverage - prices start around 180kn for unlimited 4/0.5.

The fastest private internet package available in Croatia is Amis' 100/100 package which costs 880kn, and it also includes a landline. The more economically feasible high-speed broadband is H1's 50/15 VDSL for 300kn, which includes (unlimited) landline calls as well.

Internet cafes are available in all major cities. They are relatively cheap and reliable. A free Wi-Fi signal can be found virtually in every city cafes, hotels, private unsecured networks.

One of the leading cellular network providers has a deal which provides a tourist SIM card with unlimited data for 7 days at the cost of HRK 85 or EUR

Tourism Observer
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