Watch out there are bears in the wood! It’s true. In the forests around Croatia’s beautiful National Park Plitvice Lakes (a UNESCO Heritage Site) bears and wolves live alongside rare plants and other animals. This is just one of the many wonderful places to visit if you choose to study and live in Croatia.
Where is Croatia? It’s not an unusual question since the country is often viewed as a well-kept secret by those who have recently discovered its stunning natural beauty. That’s hardly surprising after the country experienced significant upheaval following its declaration of independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 (before World War One, it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). The post-independence turmoil saw four years of often bitter fighting with the occupying Serb armies and this kept outside visitors away. Today, the country has opened up to tourism and is a popular destination. Croatia sits alongside the Adriatic Sea with its western reaches facing out towards Italy. Inland it borders countries whose names (like Croatia itself) are typically only familiar as contestants in the Eurovision Song Contest: Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Serbia. It’s a country rich in culture with seven sites on the UNESCO World Heritage list. These include Dubrovnik Old Town on the Adriatic and the Early-Christian Euphrasius Basilica Complex in Poreč with its famous mosaics. From the stunning Adriatic coast to Croatia’s highest point in the Dinara Mountains, the natural scenery is diverse and, at times exhilarating. Its people work in the service, industrial and agricultural sectors and typically have a good command of English, many of them viewing it as their second language. This makes it an attractive destination for students and tourists alike. There’s nothing too scary about the cuisine. On the Adriatic coast side of the country, expect to see Mediterranean flavours with plenty of fish. Elsewhere, there’s plenty of meat, especially grilled pork and roasted lamb, and it’s worth trying the burek – layers of filo-like (but tougher and chewier) dough with a filling, such as cheese or spinach and cheese. Try the delicious Pag cheese and maybe a glass of the famous Maraschino desert liqueur made from Maraska cherries.
Croatia is a parliamentary democracy. The President serves for a term of five years and can only serve for two terms. The President also appoints a Prime Minster with the consent of the parliament.
At a glance facts
- Language: Croatian (a Slavic language)
- Population: 4,164,783 (2018)
- International dialling code: 385
- Time – one hour ahead of the UK
Joined EU in 2013