Present day Croatia was first inhabited during the prehistoric age by Neanderthals, as evident by fossils discovered in the northern reaches of the country.
During the 4th century BC Liburnians and Illyrians moved into the region, and remained there until the Roman's conquered the land in 168 BC.
The Roman empire lasted until their final emperor, Julius Nepos, was killed in 480 AD, and by the 7th century AD Croatia's early history had ended with the invasion of the Avars.
Roman survivors of this invasion retreated towards the coastline, and founded the modern city of Dubrovnik.
Croats arrived soon thereafter, and were organized into two dukedoms. The northern part of the country fell under the duchy of Pannonian Croatia, while the south became the duchy of Littoral Croatia.
In the early 900's, the two duchies were united under the first Croatian King, Tomislav, and it was during the reign of King Petar Kresimir IV between 1058 - 1074 that the medieval Croatian kingdom had reached its peak.
After the Battle of Gvozd Mountain towards the end of the 11th century, the kingdom became unified with Hungary, and fell under the rule of Coloman.
Croatia remained an autonomous kingdom over the next four centuries under Hungarian rule, but with the Hungarians came the introduction of feudalism. And in 1526, the union between the two countries dissolved.
After the Hungarians were defeated by Ottoman forces during the Battle of Mohacs, the Croatian assembly appointed the Habsburgs as their new rulers, provided they ensure protection against the Ottoman Empire.
The Ottoman's raged war against Croatia, and over the next two hundred years many Croats fled the area.
By the 19th century, the Illyrian movement (an advocation for the unity of all Serbs) began to gain momentum, and because of its popularity, Croatian replaced Latin as the official language in 1847.
Under the new constitution a unitary state was proposed, and Croatia lost their autonomy as a country.
This, of course, did not sit well with the people of the nation, and a movement to restore their freedom began swiftly under the guidance of the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS).
Tensions mounted and grew worse as the president of HSS, Stjepan Radic, was assassinated in 1928, prompting King Alexander to completely void the constitution, and announced a new royal dictatorship.
At the onset of World War II, German and Italian forces invaded the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, forcing Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the region of Syrmia to incorporate into the Independent State of Croatia run by Nazis.
At the end of the war, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was formed, and Communistic rule was put into place.
By the late 1960's, Croatian's began demanding more civil rights, but were dismissed by Yugoslavian leaders.
However, in 1974 the goals of the movement were accomplished, as Yugoslavia ratified the constitution, granting more freedom to the individual republics.
In 1991, Croatia officially declared their independence from Yugoslavia, which instantly sparked a war against Serbia and Croatia.
Largely due to economic reasons, Serbia was against Croatia's separation from Yugoslavia, and the Croatian War of Independence raged until the summer of 1995.
For the Croatian's it was a victory, and the country became a member of the Council of Europe in late 1996.
For the next couple of years, as the country recovered from the war, they set their sights on improving their economic conditions.
Today, Croatia maintains a thriving tourism industry.
With medieval castles and ancient architecture punctuating the Dalmatian coastline, and the interior capital city of Zagreb replete with museums and theater halls, the Croatian experience is certainly timeless.
|Land Area||55,974 km2|
|Water Area||620 km2|
|Total Area||56,594km2 (#124)|
|Government Type||Parliamentary Republic|
|GDP (PPP)||$94.24 Billion|
|GDP Per Capita||$22,400|