With a coastline stretching about 500 miles north-south along the eastern edge of the Adriatic Sea, and an interior full of mountains, lakes and stunning scenery, Croatia is indeed a beautiful country.
A little Croatian history
Dating back to the prehistoric period, the area known today as Croatia has come under Greek and Roman rule, the latter coming to an end in the 7th century due to the invasion of the Croats, who destroyed nearly all the Roman towns. In the 15th century, the country came under Ottoman rule, until 1527 when it became allied to the House of Habsburg. Croatia has witnessed a succession of changing fortunes, including being ruled by the Austrian Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, joining a union of Slovenes and Serbs, and, during World War Two, gaining independence although being administered by the Nazis, who committed genocide against Serbs, Roma, and Jews. Following the War, Croatia became part of Yugoslavia until declaring independence in 1991, which led to a campaign of terror perpetrated by Serbs and the Yugoslav People’s Army. Thousands of Croats were killed and nearly a quarter-of-a-million were forced from their homes.
The war came to an end in 1995, and Croatia eventually became a member of the European Union in 2013. Although predominantly Roman Catholic, getting on for 90%, the country sees freedom of religion as a natural right. is a member of NATO and the World Trade Organisation.
A little Croatian geography
Croatia is bordered to the north by Slovenia, which just about manages to separate it from Italy and the Italian port of Trieste, and by Hungary. Far to the east the country runs into the Voldovina state of Yugoslavia, while to the south and southeast it meets Bosnia and Herzegovina. The capital, Zagreb, located in the north, is about 75 miles from the coast and has a population of around 800,000, with the country as a whole being home to nearly 4.5 million.
With an area of nearly 22,000 square miles, the nation benefits from its extensive coastline as well as from its mountainous area running along the southeastern border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the far east of the country, Vukovar is located on Europe’s mighty waterway, the River Danube, which flows into the Black Sea about 500 miles away.
The coastal region enjoys a typically Mediterranean climate, while inland the temperature can dip to –30°C and, in the summer, rise to a high of 40°. Famous for its idyllic beaches, Croatia is also home to forests, wetlands, and rocky areas featuring deep caves and sparse vegetation. There are several national parks and natural areas, the most famous being the Plitvice Lakes National Park, a region of outstanding beauty. One might say almost as beautiful as the ladies of this magnificent country.
What to do? Where to go?
Ranked the world’s 18th most popular tourist destination, most seem to head for the beaches strung along the Adriatic Coast, especially the folks who come from colder northern countries, especially Germany, Slovenia, Austria and the Czech Republic. As well as grabbing a towel and lazing around on golden sand, visitors can visit a seemingly never-ending supply of mediaeval coastal cities, each of which appears to have some sort of castle or fort in which to wander open-mouthed in genuine awe. In fact, there are castles and ancient monuments almost everywhere you go in this fabulous nation. Naturists are also welcome here – there’s a wealth of resorts and spas which have no problem with the assorted shapes of naked humanity.
Dotted along the coastline there are more than a thousand islands, ranging in size from a piece of rock just big enough to stand on to the largest, which have an area of approximately 150 square miles. Big enough for a party, then!
And if caves and deep holes in the ground are your fetish, Croatia is definitely an interesting place to visit. Some of the caves are deeper than 1,000 metres, so pack your tin hat and a torch.
The country also produces some pretty good wines, so a tour of vineyards could well be on the agenda. Well – wine not? Whites are all the rage in the northeast while, further south in Dalmatia, a few varieties of excellent red can be sipped as you gaze across the azure sea.
And what about food?
Yes, important stuff – and here you’ll definitely be amazed at the variety and the quality: there’s something for everyone. Obviously, with an abundance of sea close at hand, fresh fish can be enjoyed up and down the length of the coast. With its Mediterranean-style climate, the food follows suit, and traditional fare will include all sorts of things dragged out of the deeps, from lobsters and giant prawns to tasty fishy items such as mackerel, turbot and hake. Because of the country’s turbulent past its cuisine is heavily influenced by traditional recipes from nations such as Hungary, Austria and Turkey – so expect delicious variations wherever you may venture. And, as mentioned above, culinary excursions into the country’s various regions can be enhanced by savouring some of the excellent local wines.
And what about Croatian women? What are the stereotypes?
First and foremost, if you’re starting to worry that the Croatian language might be a little hard to master, don’t! Most people from this country have a good education, and most speak a credible English as they learn it in school from an early age.
So, brushing this aside, you’ll be amazed at the natural beauty of Croatian ladies. Because of the brilliant weather, their skin is of a similar hue to that of their cousins across the waters in Italy and Spain. So, if you are drawn to olive complexions, dark brown hair and brown eyes, you will have stepped into a heavenly oasis. Most females in this marvellous place tend to be on the slim side and, with their high cheek-bones and happy smiling faces, they could pass as models ready for the cat-walk. Because of their natural in-built beauty, most women and girls, especially in the cities and towns, don’t bother with too much makeup. Anyway, as with virtually every other country, it’s probably wise to stay away from the frisky lolitas perched on high-heels, wearing layers of rouge and not too many clothes. Such liaisons will be costly, not only to your pocket but also to your reputation.
......to be continued!
Unsure about Croatian women? Never mind, you can meet people from other cultures. For example, girls from Russia, Mexico, Hungary, China, German, Brazil and females from any of the countries of world!