What are the Historical Regions of Croatia?

Dalmatia, one of the historical regions of Croatia.
Dalmatia, one of the historical regions of Croatia.

The Republic of Croatia is situated between Central and Southeastern Europe. It covers an area of about 21,851 square miles of which 21,782 square miles is land and the rest of the area is covered by water. In the Middle Ages, Croatia was subdivided into counties, however, the counties were abolished in the 1920s. The counties were reintroduced in 1992 with the country currently subdivided into 20 counties. The counties are further divided into 127 cities and several municipalities. Croatia is also divided into four historical and cultural regions which are further subdivided into other smaller regions. The four regions include Croatia Proper, Dalmatia, Slavonia, and Istria.

4. Croatia proper

Croatia Proper is not legally defined by Croatian law with its borders described differently by different sources. It encompasses the territories around Zagreb, situated between Slavonia and the Adriatic Sea. The area is an important economic region, accounting for about 50% of the country’s GDP. Most of Croatia Proper form part of the Continental Croatia. The region comprises of other smaller regions including Croatian Littoral, Gorski Kotar, Moslavina, and Prigorje among other regions. The region also includes some of the largest rivers flowing in Croatia such as Sava, Drava, and the Kupa. Croatia proper experiences a continental climate with the mean monthly temperature ranging from -30C AND 180C.According to the 2011 census, the ten regions of Croatia Proper including Zagreb had a total population of 2.4 million people, representing 56% of country’s population. The majority of the population lives in the capital Zagreb. The population density in the region is between from 155 to 10 persons per square kilometers. Croats account for the largest portion (92%) the people in Croatia Proper with Serbs accounting for only 3.4%.Croatia Proper is an important economic region, responsible for over 50% of the country’s GDP. The capital Zagreb contributes over 31% of Croatia’s GDP, with the city representing the bulk of the economy of Croatia Proper. The major components of the Zagreb’s economy include wholesale and retail which account for 38% of its economic income. Other important industries include processing, energy, electric power, and natural gas industries. Companies that have their headquarters in Croatia Proper are some of the largest income companies in the country, with 27 of 30 best companies in Croatia based in the region.

3. Dalmatia

The region of Dalmatia derived its name from the Dalmatae tribe, connected to the Illyrian tribe. The word “delme” means “sheep” with the Latin word “Dalmatia” giving rise to the current English name. The region became a Roman province, leading to the emergence of the Romance culture alongside the Dalmatian language which has since been replaced with the Venetian. The Croats arrived in Dalmatia in the 8th century, leading to an intermixing of culture between the Croatians and the Romance culture. Today, Dalmatia is only a historical region, not formally recognized by the Croatian law.The exact extent of Dalmatia is uncertain and is only subject to public perception. It does not only signify geographical unit but also cultural and settlement entities. Most of the region is covered by the Dinaric Alps Mountain ranges. It is often described as a narrow belt on the east shores of the Adriatic Sea, stretching from Rab to Bay of Kotor. It corresponds to four southernmost counties of Croatia including Zadar, Sibenik-Knin, Split-Dalmatia, and Dubrovnik-Neretva counties. The region experiences Mediterranean climate with frosty and snowy winter, and hot and dry summer.Dalmatia has a population of about 858,000 people. The population is culturally subdivided into three groups; the urban families who live mainly in the coastal cities, the Zagora, and the group that has been influenced by the Ottoman Culture. The first two groups are made up of mainly the Venetian and Italians while the latter group is are closely related to the Herzegovinian Croats.

2. Slavonia

Slavonia region covers the eastern part of Croatia, corresponding with counties on the east of the country. The counties that are considered part of Slavonia cover a total area of 4,848 square miles or 22% of the country and have a total population of about 806,000 people. Some of the largest cities in the region include Osijek, Slavonski Brod, and Vincovic. The region was named after the Slavs who inhabited the area and referred to themselves as Slovene. The boundary of the Slavonia region does not coincide with the boundaries of the five counties. The northern boundary coincides with the Drava River while the western boundary is not specifically defined. The region is located on Pannonian Basin, with the entire region belonging to the Danube basin and the Black Sea catchment area.According to the 2011 census, the five counties making up the Slavonia region had a total population of about 806 people or 19% of the total Croatian population. The majority of the people live in Osijek-Baranja. The population density is about 64.2 persons per square kilometer. The Slavonia population has for long been characterized by constant economic migration. The economy of the region is largely wholesale trade and processing industry. The food processing industry plays a significant role in the economy of Slavonia, supporting agricultural production in the area. Agriculture provides raw material not only for the industries in the region but also in Croatia Proper and the neighboring counties.

1. Istria

Istria is located at the head of Adriatic between Trieste Gulf and Kvarner Gulf. The area is covered by the Ucka mountain ridge. The region extends into Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy with the largest portion (89%) lying in Croatia. Istria is divided into two counties with the larger county being Istria County. The northeastern part of the region known as the Slovenian Istria lies in Slovenia. The largest city in Istria is the Pula, sutuated at the southern end of the peninsula. The region experiences Continental and Oceanic climate, characterized by moderate precipitation.The name “Istria” is derived from the Histri tribe who is credited for building hillfort settlements in the region.Istria has traditionally been ethnically mixed. During the Austrian rule the large population of the region comprised of Italians, Croats, and Slovenes. As per the 2011 census, about 68% of the population was Croats while the rest of the population was Italians, Serbs, Bosniaks, and Albanians. Istro-Romanian community is also an important Istrian community living in the east and north of Istria and parts of Liburnia


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