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Welcome to Croatia
Croatia, officially the Republic of Croatia (Croatian: Republika Hrvatska), is a country in Central Europe and Southeastern Europe at the crossroads of the Pannonian Plain, the Balkans, and the Adriatic Sea. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. Croatia borders Slovenia to the north, Hungary to the northeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the southeast, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast.

Croatia is a member of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, NATO, the World Trade Organization and CEFTA. The country is a candidate for European Union membership and is a founding member of the Union for the Mediterranean. Croatia is classified as an emerging and developing economy by the International Monetary Fund and a high income economy by the World Bank.
Croatia is inhabited mostly by Croats (89.6%), while minority groups include Serbs (4.5%), Bosniaks, Hungarians, Italians, Slovenes, Germans, Czechs, Romani people and others (5.9%). For most of the 20th century, the population of Croatia has been rising from 3,430,270 in 1931 to 4,784,265 in 1991. The natural growth rate of the population is currently negative with the demographic transition completed in the 1970s. Average life expectancy is 75.1 years, and the literacy rate is 98.1 percent. During recent years, the Croatian government is pressured each year to add 40% to work permit quotas for foreign workers and in accordance with its immigration policy it is trying to entice emigrants to return. The main religions of Croatia are Roman Catholic 88%, Orthodox 4.4%, other Christian 0.4%, Muslim 1.3%, other and unspecified 0.9%, none 5.2%.

During the last decade of the 20th century the population of Croatia has been stagnating because of the Croatian War of Independence. During the war, large sections of the population were displaced and emigration increased. In 1991, in predominantly Serb areas, more than 400 000 Croats and other non-Serbs were either removed out of their homes by the Croatian Serb forces or fled the violence. During the final days of the war in 1995, more than 120,000 Serbs, and perhaps as many as 200,000 fled before the victory by Croatian forces.

Only a small fraction of Serbs have returned to their homes since 1995, according to Human Rights Watch. Croatia's remaining Serbs do not live in the highlands and inland of Dalmatia but in the Croatian heartland and major cities. Serbs have been only partially re-settled by the Croatian Government in the regions they previously inhabited. Many of the towns previously settled by Serbs were settled by Croat refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina, mostly from Republika Srpska.

Croatian culture is the result of a fourteen century-long history which has seen the development of many cities and monuments. The country includes seven World Heritage sites and eight national parks. Croatia is also the birthplace of a number of historical figures. Included among the notable people are three Nobel prize winners and numerous inventors.

Some of the world's first fountain pens came from Croatia. Croatia also has a place in the history of clothing as the origin of the necktie (kravata). The country has a long artistic, literary and musical tradition. Also of interest is the diverse nature of Croatian cuisine and the famous Croatian Traditional gift Licitar.

Croatians are protective of the their Croatian language from foreign influences, 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/sounding ones).

From year 1961 to year 1991, it was known as a dialect of the Serbo-Croatian language, while Croats use the Latin alphabet instead of Cyrillic of the Serbians. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Serbian and Yugoslav nationalist scholars began to impose policies to change or alter Croatian words into "Serbian" or "South Slavic" ones, which have infuriarated Croats over the purity and preservation of their native language. Assumably thousands of pre-modern Croatian words had Iranian/Persian, Illyrian, Greek/Hellenic and Teutonic/Frankish origins in Croatia's ancient history of ethnolinguistic influences.

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