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Croatia is in the Adriatic Sea and boasts beautiful pebble beaches all down the coast. The country is boarded by five other countries; to the north of Croatia is Slovenia, Hungary is northeast, east of Croatia is Serbia, with Bosnia and Herzegovina at the southeast, and Montenegro also southeast.
Croatia is becoming a popular destination for expats; the country has so much on offer, with Continental and Mediterranean inspired food, vast amounts of historic monuments, and beautiful scenery. Croatia has a lovely and relaxed lifestyle, with healthy food and community spirit at the heart of Croatian culture.
Croatia is known for its sweltering summer days and its cold winters. The ‘Bura’ is the infamous element of Croatian weather that you may have heard whispers of. The ‘Bura’ is a very strong wind that blows towards the coastline – causing disruption for those sailing off the coast and on ferries. Usually this wind can be felt in the winter months, but the effects can sometimes be seen throughout the year. This occurs due to two different climate types conflicting, with wind speeds that can reach over 125 miles per hour.
Summer temperatures reach mid to high 30s °C and can be a little uncomfortable when there is no breeze in the air. Due to its geographic location, Croatia has a variety of differences with its climate. Some parts of the country are of a Mediterranean climate, whereas others, like the capital, is considered continental with cold and snowy winters, but hot summers.
The coastal areas of Croatia have hot, dry summers and mild winters; the climate in these areas are influenced by the Adriatic Sea. Whereas the mountains act as a wall to the influences from the sea, parts of the country at the east of the mountain, such as the capital Zagreb, are shielded from the Mediterranean climate and are used to a much cooler continental environment.
The inland areas experience the wettest periods in the summer and autumn months, whilst expecting below freezing temperatures in the winter, mainly between December and February. The mountain areas of Croatia have the highest rainfall in the country.
Croatia has many different elements to its history; which plays a big part into the nationalism and independent pride of the country. Croatia holds rich history, where Roman empires flourish, Christianity was introduced and adored, and independence was concurred. Much of the history of Croatia can be seen in its beautiful monuments. For example, Dubrovnik’s city walls, which was created after liberation from the Venetians in the mid-1300s.
Religion in Croatia plays a huge part into the culture, although the country is a secular state. The catholic religion is celebrated with enthusiasm, and most Croats regularly attend mass and class themselves as religious. You can also see a lot of young Croats entering converts or the priesthood. Although there are nudist beaches, and abortion is an option in Croatia, homosexuality is still not widely accepted.
Croatia take pride in their independence after the War of Independence, which saw the country take independence in 1999. It is within Croatian culture to show nationalism and independent pride, however it is respectful to not bring up the war, it is still quite a sensitive subject among many who lost loved ones, so unless it is bought up by a local to the country, try to avoid the subject.
Croatian culture has family at the heart of it. In past times, many families having three generations living in the home; grandparents, parents and children. Croatia is seeing a lot of diversity to family life, but family still stays as a high importance in Croatia. Weekends are commonly reserved for ‘family time’ and business affairs should not interfere with time spent with family. It is usual for the elderly to be treated with the upmost respect, and that their family care for them as they get older.
Croatia is known for its ‘dress to impress’ ways of life. Fashion is important in Croatia, so be mindful when you are going out that overly casual clothing may be considered inappropriate.
Croatia holds its own language of Croatian. The language is a Slavic language that would have arrived to the country in the 6th or 7th century. Over history with influences from other languages such as German, Turkish and Italian, the language was enriched with new words.
Croatian, Serbian and Bosnian are very similar languages according to linguists, however, due to political differences this point is quite controversial. The primary difference between Croatian and Serbian is the alphabet. Croatian is written in the Roman alphabet, whereas, Serbian is written in Cyrillic.
Croatia isn’t the best known for its public transport, although the transport is efficient and good value. Due to Croatia’s unusual geographic location it can be quite tricky getting mainland, and with over a thousand islands to explore, it can be a difficult to know how to get around!
There are limited trains in Croatia, however they are very comfortable. If you want to travel in style and comfort from Zagerb to Split train is the way to do it. Trains are not common along the coast; however, they are present in the county’s interior, Zagerb being the train hub. The train service is inexpensive, but limited.
The bus industry in Croatia is huge, efficient and will get you around the country. There is less flexibility travelling by bus than car, however, is it a more environmentally better choice. The bus travel industry it a pretty comfortable one, with seats that recline and air conditioning on most of the buses. Many of the bus companies also offer free Wi-Fi!
Croatia’s roads are relatively safe to drive a car on after a crackdown on drink driving and speeding. As an expat you can either buy, rent or import a car in Croatia. Have a look into the area you will be in and weigh up whether the expense of a car is worth it if you have the bus travel option.
With more than a thousand islands around Croatia, the ferry travel industry is prominent and frequent. Ferry travel is popular in summer seasons, although, they do operate throughout the year; check before you travel.
The Croatian healthcare system is notable, and employs good, quality healthcare. Croatia is recognised for its cutting-edge medical research. The industry is almost 100 years old and has been helping to shape and innovate the industry since the beginning. Croatia can also brag that it is Europe’s leading dentistry and cosmetic surgery location, with people travelling far and wide to come and get work done.
In Croatia it is mandatory to pay for the state national insurance, called HZZO, which gives you access to the public health system. The public healthcare system in Croatia is good, however waiting times can be an issue, so it is advised to get private insurance so that you have access to the fantastic private healthcare that Croatia provides.
Croatia’s currency is the Croatian Kuna; every 1 Pound Sterling is currently 8.54 in Croatian Kuna. Since Croatia gained its independence, Croatia has seen an influx of tourism to its country, resulting in everyday expenses in the country tending to be higher than other eastern European countries.
Expats looking to open a bank account in Croatia should have relatively few problems. There are a large variety of banks available in Croatia which have a high concentration of foreign capital. The largest banks in Croatia are foreign owned. Most ATMs in Croatia will limit your withdrawal to 2,000 kuna each day. Opening a bank account in Croatia is relatively easy, just walk into a bank branch and a specialist will help you set one up. Make sure you bring the following documentation with you:
Croatia’s schooling is dissimilar to the UK’s system, and it is a good idea to research into schools around the area and the different Croatian system before migrating.
Early school years is not compulsory for children in Croatia. However, there is a compulsory that children must attend kindergarten for a year prior to primary school. Children can attend kindergarten from as your as six months to one, then one to three years and then from the ages of three until the child starts primary school.
Primary education in Croatia begins when the child is six or seven. They are divided into three or more classes and will remain in those classes through the eight years. The first to fourth grade is taught by one teacher per class; subjects include, Croatian, music education, visual art, nature and society, mathematics and physical education. At least one foreign language is usually undertaken which is most likely English. The fifth to eighth grade is taught by different teachers for each subject, these include; sciences, history, geography, informatics and often another second language in addition to English.
Secondary education in Croatia is currently optional, however most political parties in the country advice that it should be mandatory. Croatian secondary schools last four years and are divided by trade and focus which currently have four available tracks.
Croatia has two basic kinds of higher education: Polytechnic schools and Universities. These two different schools don’t have many differences since the implementation of the Bologna process. The qualifications that you can obtain in higher education in Croatia are:
Croatia has a range of delicacy’s that show the country’s diverse cultural and geographical influences. There is a variety of traditional and culturally different dishes, with meat and seafood taking the centre stage of the show. Influences from other countries have inspired the Croatian culinary seen into what it is today, with inspiration from ancient Greece, Italy and Turkey coming through all over Croatia.
In Croatia, every religious holiday or time of celebration is celebrated with a traditional serving dish. On Christmas and Good Friday, served to you is cod; New year is celebrated with a pork dish, and at carnivals and festivals kranfe or donuts are prepared for one and all.
The cuisine in Croatia ranges depending on where you are. Due to difference in climate and other aspects, the cuisine can vary. The Dalmatia cuisine is based strongly around fish, with black risotto taking the spotlight. Black risotto is a seafood dish, which uses squid and cuttlefish. The blackness of the risotto is made from the squid ink, which gives it the unique quality. In this part of Croatia the cuisine is Mediterranean, and the use of rosemary, sage bail and olives are common in dishes.
In the region of Istra and Kvarner, the cuisine is a mix of Mediterranean and Continental, and seafood once again takes a strong presence. Although in this part of Croatia you will see the influence of Italy coming through, with beautiful homemade pasta dishes all around. Truffles are also popular in Istra and known to be a true delicacy.
The rest of the country has a continental cuisine, with meat being the most popular food to serve. A traditional dish is the Kulen, which is a spicy sausage and one of Croatia’s most traditional and famous dishes; which is usually prepared in autumn to be enjoyed throughout winter. Another traditional Croatian dish served in these areas is Paprikas, which is a paprika based stew, it includes meat, paprika, potatoes, bacon or spicy sausage and peppers. One to warm you up on a colder day.
Wherever in Croatia you are, enjoy some traditional Croatian wine with your food for the ultimate Croatian experience.
Croatia is overall a very safe place to visit and live. In the major cities the most usual crime is pickpocketing, so stay vigilant in these areas. Violent crime in Croatia is rare, and other crime rates are low which makes Croatia a safe country to travel around. There is a little unrest still from the War of Independence, every now and then racially or ethnically motivated crimes do occur because of this tension. There is an ongoing threat of terrorism that exists around Europe, that as an expat you must be conscious of.
However ultimately, Croatia is seen as one of the safest places in Europe, due to its sense of community spirit and low crimes rates.
Croatia is full of beauty and has many fascinating and memorising places to visit. There is loads to do and see, including the Roman ruins in Split, the beauty of the national parks, the Game of Thrones tour in Dubrovnik, or a hike into the mountains! Boredom isn’t an option in this beautiful country.
Dubrovnik is a stunning city, filled with the rich history of Croatia. With the medieval walls, Dubrovnik cathedral and the Fort of St John, there is some fascinating site seeing to be done. Not only does Dubrovnik hold magical history tales in its architecture, but it is set along the sparkling Adriatic Sea, which is the perfect location to start the Croatia island hoping experience. Experience islands like Lopud and Kolocep, and make sure you go and see the stunning uninhabited islands too.
Dubrovnik is also home to the famous Kings Landing from Game of Thrones. Take the tour and see Westeros for yourself, enjoying the fascinating beauty and architecture at the same time. Dubrovnik itself has inspired poets, artists and writers alike. Let Dubrovnik inspire you too.
Split holds the beauty to some of Croatia’s most historic architectures. The 1700-year-old Diocletian’s Palace was built for a Roman emperor; the fully functional high street is home to Splits outlets and brilliant restaurant and nightlife scene. The palace was abandoned after the fall of the Roman empire but has been in use ever since the 7th century. History by day and party by night; Split has an exceptional and growing nightlife, with bars, live music and clubs all over the city.
Split is on the Adriatic Sea and has beautiful beaches to be explored. Island hopping is also an experience not to be missed in Split. Brac, Vis and Hvar are easy to reach from Split, these islands are just short ferry rides from one another, but all have a different kind of charm which should be discovered.
In 1763 Rovinj became mainland Croatia after a land reclamation project, before this Rovinj was an island just off Croatia. In Old Town Rovinj history can be seen all over the town, with medieval archways, stairways and cobbled streets that present times past. Another historic monument to go and discover when in Rovinj is the St Euphemia Cathedral which was built by Venetians in the 17th century. The interior of the cathedral offers luxurious designs, a marble altar and a 15th century statue of a saint.
Rovinj boasts a beautiful port, which hosts some great restaurants and cafes along the water edge. The stunning port has some of best positions to see Rovinj in all its beauty, the lovely painted houses that surround the waterfront, and the busy working day of the port is always a memorising watch.
The Croatian inland capital is full of interesting heritage, which can be explored in museums, galleries and institutions of national importance. St Marks Church is a place in Zagreb to visit, with its distinctively beautiful tiled roof. The church is in the Upper Town of Zagreb, which is where you will find the medieval neighbourhood, full of fascinating history. However, Zagreb is an amazing flourishing city; full of nightlife, restaurants, shows and festivals. The vibrant food markets, captivating architecture and gorgeous greenery are well worth the visit.
A quirky museum that is one to go to is the museum of broken relationships. The museum holds memories from broken relationships and withered family ties, it is a real walk through human experience, which holds humour and raw heartache.
Plitvice Lakes National Park is a must-see destination in Croatia. The beautiful park is filled with emerald green lakes, flowing waterfalls and booming foliage. The park has sixteen lakes with differing tones to be seen. The hike is easy and fun to do, whilst taking in the natural beauty of Plitvice Lakes National Park.
The national is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its ‘outstanding natural beauty’ and was inscribed in 1979.
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