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Croatia (krōāˈshə), Croatian Hrvatska, officially Republic of Croatia, republic (2020 est. pop. 4,105,267), 21,824 sq mi (56,524 sq km), in the northwest corner of the Balkan Peninsula. Roughly crescent-shaped, Croatia is bounded by Slovenia in the northwest, by Hungary in the northeast, by Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (enwrapped in the north and south arms of Croatia, giving it its distintive shape), and Montenegro in the east, and by the Adriatic Sea in the west. Zagreb is the capital. There are important seaports at Rijeka, Split, Pula, Zadar, Šibenik, and Dubrovnik.

Land and People

The republic includes Croatia proper, Slavonia, Dalmatia, and most of Istria. Western Croatia lies in the Dinaric Alps; the eastern part, drained by the Sava and Drava rivers, is mostly low lying and agricultural. The Pannonian plain is the chief farming region.

The Croats, who make up about 90% of the population, are mainly Roman Catholic. The Serbs, who belong largely to the Orthodox Church, are the largest minority, but evictions and evacuations during the early to mid-1990s reduced their numbers. Both Croats and Serbs speak dialects of Serbo-Croatian that are mutually intelligible but also recognizably Croatian and Serbian.


Wheat and other grains, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, alfalfa, clover, olives, citrus, grapes, and soybeans are grown; dairying, beekeeping, and fishing are also important. More than one third of the country is forested, and lumber is a major export. Croatia is, excepting Slovenia, the most industrialized and prosperous of the former republics of Yugoslavia. There are oil fields and deposits of bauxite, iron ore, and other minerals. Shipbuilding, petroleum refining, and food processing are important; chief manufacturers include chemicals, plastics, machine tools, fabricated metal, electronics, iron and steel, aluminum, paper, wood products, and textiles. Tourism, primarily along the Adriatic coast, also is important to the economy. Severely curtailed during the warfare of the early 1990s, the tourist trade grew in significance in the 21st cent. Transportation equipment, textiles, chemicals, foodstuffs, and fuels are exported, while machinery, electrical equipment, chemicals, and fuels are imported. The main trading partners are Italy, Germany, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Croatia is governed under the constitution of 1990 as amended. The president, who is the head of state, is popularly elected for a five-year term. The government is headed by the prime minister, who is appointed by the president and approved by the legislature. Members of the unicameral Assembly (Sabor), are elected from party lists by popular vote to serve four-year terms. Administratively, Croatia is divided into 20 counties and the capital city.


History through the Nineteenth Century

A part of the Roman province of Pannonia, Croatia was settled in the 7th cent. by Croats, who accepted Christianity in the 9th cent. A kingdom from the 10th cent., Croatia conquered surrounding districts, including Dalmatia, which was chronically contested with Venice. Croatia's power reached its peak in the 11th cent., but internecine strife facilitated its conquest in 1091 by King Ladislaus I of Hungary.

In 1102 a pact between his successor and the Croatian tribal chiefs established a personal union of Croatia and Hungary under the Hungarian monarch. Although Croatia remained linked with Hungary for eight centuries, the Croats were sometimes able to choose their rulers independently of Budapest. In personal union with Hungary, Croatia retained its own diet and was governed by a ban, or viceroy. After the battle of Mohács in 1526 most of Croatia came under Turkish rule. In 1527 the Croatian feudal lords agreed to accept the Hapsburgs as their kings in return for common defense and retention of their privileges. During the following century Croatia served as a Hapsburg outpost in the defense of central Europe from a Turkish onslaught.

The centralizing and Germanizing tendencies of the Hapsburgs, however, severely weakened the power of the Croatian nobility and awakened a national consciousness. During the 19th cent. Hungary imposed Magyarization on Croatia and promulgated (1848) laws that seriously jeopardized Croatian autonomy within the Hapsburg empire. Joseph Jellachich, ban of Croatia, had the diet pass its own revolutionary laws, including the abolition of serfdom. Jellachich's forces also marched against the Hungarian revolutionaries in the 1848–49 uprisings in the Hapsburg empire. When the dual Austro-Hungarian monarchy was established in 1867, Croatia proper and Slavonia were included in the kingdom of Hungary, and Dalmatia and Istria in the Austrian empire. The following year Croatia, united with Slavonia, became an autonomous Hungarian crownland governed by a ban responsible to the Croatian diet.

Croatia in Yugoslavia

Despite the achievement of autonomy in local affairs, Croatia remained restless because of continuing Magyarization. Cultural and political Croat and South Slav organizations arose, notably the Croatian Peasant party, founded in the early 20th cent. With the collapse of Austria-Hungary (1918), the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later renamed Yugoslavia) was formed. Serbs dominated the new state, however, and promoted centralization, ignoring Croat desires for a federal structure.

Agitation resulted in the assassination (1928) of Stepjan Radić, head of the Croatian Peasant party. After Radič's successor, Vladimir Maček, connived with fascist Italy to form a separate Croatian state, Yugoslavia allowed the formation (1939) of an autonomous banovina comprising Croatia, Dalmatia, and parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Nevertheless, many Croats, especially members of the Ustachi fascist terrorist organization, insisted on complete independence.

When the Germans invaded Yugoslavia in 1941, the Ustachi seized power and declared Croatian independence under Ante Pavelič. Croatia was placed under Italian and later German military control, while the Ustachi dictatorship perpetuated brutal excesses, including the establishment of concentration camps; in the Croat-operated Jasenovac camp alone, it has been estimated that some 200,000 Serbs, Jews, Romani (Gypsies), and Croat opposition figures were killed. A large part of the population joined the anti-Fascist Yugoslav partisan forces under Tito, himself a native of Croatia.

Pavelič fled in the wake of Germany's defeat in 1945, and Croatia became one of the six republics of reconstituted Yugoslavia. Croatian nationalism persisted in Communist Yugoslavia, however, and the Ustachi and other émigré nationalist groups remained active abroad. A major Yugoslavian decentralization reform that took effect in the early 1970s was designed in part to satisfy Croat demands for increased autonomy and dampen secessionist sentiment. The death of Tito in 1980, however, weakened Yugoslavia and increased demands for secession.

An Independent Croatia

In 1990, the Croats elected a non-Communist government and began to demand greater autonomy. On June 25, 1991, Croatia declared its independence, with Franjo Tudjman, a former general, as president. Immediately fighting erupted with federal troops (mostly Serb) and Serbs from the predominantly Serb-populated areas of Croatia. The Serbs carved out the Republic of Serbian Krajina in central and NE Croatia.

In Jan., 1992, after other European Community–brokered cease-fires had failed, a more stable truce was mediated by the United Nations, which in February sent in a peacekeeping force. This force froze the territorial status quo, which left 30% of the land, in Serb hands and also left as refugees many Croatians who had been displaced by “ethnic cleansing” from Serb-held lands. Croatia was recognized as an independent nation by the European Community (now the European Union) in Jan., 1992, and was accepted into the United Nations. In 1993, Croatian forces launched attacks against Serb rebels in various areas. During 1995, Croatian forces recaptured most Serb-held territory (but not E Slavonia, in the northeast), leading approximately 300,000 Serbs to flee into Bosnia and Yugoslavia; in war crime trials in 2010, Croatian forces were accused of deliberately expelling many Serb civilians in the campaign.

Croatia had supported and directed Bosnian Croats when fighting erupted in neighboring Bosnia in 1992, and Croatia played a role in negotiations for a Bosnian peace agreement. The Bosnian peace treaty was signed by Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbia in Dec., 1995. A separate accord called for the return of E Slavonia to Croatian rule; this went into effect in Jan., 1998, following a transition period overseen by UN peacekeeping forces. The international community has expressed concern over Croatia's slow implementation of the Bosnian peace treaty, the delay in the return of Serb refugees, and alleged human-rights abuses, including the muzzling of independent newspapers. Tudjman's autocratic rule and failure to cooperate on Bosnian issues led to Croatia's international isolation in the late 1990s.

In Nov., 1999, Vlatko Pavletic, the speaker of parliament, became acting president as Tudjman lay on his deathbed. Parliamentary elections in Jan., 2000, resulted in a victory for a six-party, center-left opposition coalition, and, after a runoff in February, Stjepan (Stipe) Mesić, an opposition candidate, captured the presidency. Elected on a reform platform, the coalition failed to improve Croatia's stagnant economic situation, and in the Nov., 2003, parliamentary elections the conservative nationalist party founded by Tudjman won a plurality of the seats. The party, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), formed a minority government the following month, with Ivo Sanader as prime minister.

Mesić was reelected in Jan., 2005, after a runoff in which he defeated Deputy Prime Minister Jandraka Kosor. In Oct., 2005, the European Union opened membership talks with Croatia, contingent on Croatian cooperation with the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Croatia's claim to large areas of the Adriatic, effectively blocking Slovenia's maritime access from its coast, and other issues have created tension between the two nations. In 2007, however, the countries agreed to submit their boundary disputes to international arbitration. The HDZ again won a plurality in the Nov., 2007, parliamentary elections; Sanader remained prime minister, leading a coalition government.

Croatia began excluding EU members from a protected fishing zone off its coast in Jan., 2008, despite a previous agreement with the EU. The act threatened to delay accession talks with the EU, but enforcement of the zone was suspended in March. However, negotiations with the EU were slowed nonetheless, as Slovenia blocked some talks because of its border dispute. In Apr., 2009, Croatia joined NATO; the Slovenian border dispute had threatened to postpone Croatia's accession.

In July, 2009, Sanader announced his resignation as prime minister; Jadranka Kosor succeeded him, becoming Croatia's first woman prime minister. Slovenia ended the freeze on Croatia's accession talks after Croatia agreed in September that none of the documents associated with its EU application would have any legal impact on the resolution of the border dispute. Ivo Josipović, the candidate of the opposition Social Democrats, was elected president in Jan., 2010.

In Dec., 2010, Sanader was arrested on an international warrant in Austria after Croatian prosecutors sought to detain him in connection with a corruption investigation. He was extradited to Croatia in July, 2011, and additional corruption charges were subsequently brought against Sanader (as well as others and the HDZ itself). Sanader was convicted of taking bribes in 2012, and he, others, and the HDZ were convicted of corruption in 2014, but retrials of both cases were ordered in 2015.

Parliamentary elections in Dec., 2011, resulted in a majority for the center-left coalition led by the Social Democrats and Zoran Milanović, who became prime minister. Later the same month the country signed a treaty with the EU that was intended to lead to its accession as a member in mid-2013; a referendum (Jan., 2012) approved joining the EU, but turnout within Croatia was only 47%. Josipović failed in his reelection bid in Jan., 2015, narrowly losing to Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, a former foreign minister and the HDZ candidate. Grabar-Kitarović became the first woman to serve as president of Croatia.

In the parliamentary elections in Nov., 2015, the HDZ-led coalition edged the center left, and in December HDZ and the new Most [Croatian,=bridge] party, which had placed third, agreed to form a government led by business executive and political independent Tihomir Orešković. Croatia announced its withdrawal from international arbitration of its maritime border with Slovenia in 2015 after a Croatian newspaper revealed that unauthorized conversations between the Permanent Court of Arbitration's (PCA) Slovenian judge and a Slovenian official had taken place, However, in 2016 the PCA ruled that the violation was insufficient to justify withdrawal, and said it would continue with the arbitration process. It ultimately ruled (2017) largely in favor of Slovenia; the decision was rejected by Croatia.

In June, 2016, the coalition government collapsed over conflict-of-interest accustions involving the HDZ leader, Tomislav Karamarko, and parliament voted to dissolve and hold elections. The HDZ again won a plurality and formed a government with Most; Andrej Plenković, the HDZ's new leader, became prime minister. The coalition with Most collapsed in Apr., 2017; in June Plenković and the HDZ formed a new coalition with some members of the Croatian People's party (HNS). Zoran Milanović was elected president in Jan., 2020, defeating Grabar-Kitarović in a runoff. In the July parliamentary elections, the HDZ increased its plurality, and Plenković subsequently formed a new government with the support of two smaller parties.


See S. Gazi, A History of Croatia (1973); H. Lydall, Yugoslavia in Crisis (1989); M. Tanner, Croatia: A Nation Forged in War (1997).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Hrvatska), Socialist Republic of Croatia (Socija-listička Republika Hrvatska), a republic in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). Situated in northwestern Yugoslavia and washed by the Adriatic Sea, Croatia has an area of 56,500 sq km and a population of 4.5 million (1976), the majority of whom are Croats. The capital is Zagreb, with 566,000 inhabitants in 1971. The other major cities are Split and Rijeka.

A socialist republic, Croatia has voluntarily united with other equal socialist republics to form a federal state, the SFRY. The republic’s present constitution was adopted in 1974. The supreme organ of state power is the Sabor, composed of three chambers: the Council of United Labor, the Sociopolitical Council, and the Council of Communes. The Executive Council of the Sabor constitutes the government of the republic.

Natural features. Eastern Croatia, a rolling plain crossed by the Sava and Drava rivers, forms the southwestern border of the Central Danubian Plain. The central and western parts of Croatia are occupied by the rugged Dinaric Alps, rising to 1,831 m in the Dinaric Mountains and 1,758 m in the Velebit Mountains. The Dinaric Alps are noted for their extensively developed karst topography. Croatia also includes a narrow strip of the mountainous Adriatic coast and the offshore islands, among the largest of which are Krk, Cres, and Pag.

Except for the coast, where the climate is subtropical Mediterranean, Croatia has a continental climate, moderate in the east and more severe in the Dinaric Alps, with their long and cold winters. The annual precipitation averages 600–700 m, increasing to 1,000 m along the coast. Tracts of deciduous forests are found in the plains, which have been largely plowed up. Beech, oak, and mixed forests cover the mountains in all but the karst areas, which are barren wasteland. The coastal zone supports the Mediterranean vegetation known as maquis.

Historical survey. The territory of modern Croatia has been inhabited from the early Paleolithic. During the Bronze Age Illyrian and then Celtic tribes settled in the area. Conquered by Rome in the first century B.C, the greater part of Croatia was divided between the Roman provinces of Pannonia and Dalmatia in the first century A.D. Subsequently, it was annexed by Byzantium (395). Slavic tribes settled in Croatia in the sixth and seventh centuries. In the eighth century the Croatian lands fell under the rule of the Franks, whose oppression provoked the Ljudevit of Posavina Uprising, which lasted from 819 to 823.

In the late ninth century the Croatian princes won their independence from both the Franks and Byzantium, and in 925, Prince Tomislav assumed the title of king. The spread of Christianity and the rise of feudal relations in the tenth century coincided with Croatia’s transformation into one of the strongest states in the Balkans. By the Hungarian-Croatian Union of 1102, Croatia came under the rule of the Hungarian kings but retained internal self-government under a ban (governor). In the 12th and 13th centuries the feudalization of Croatian society was completed, and in 1273 the Croatian feudal lords began convening assemblies of the estates, called sabors. In the 13th and 14th centuries the Kingdom of Hungary and Venice fought for control over the cities of Dalmatia; by the early 15th century Venice had acquired all but Dubrovnik.

From the middle of the 15th century Croatia was repeatedly raided by Turkish forces, who inflicted a crushing defeat on the army of King Lajos II at the battle of Mohács in 1526. After the battle, the Croatian nobles, hoping for Hapsburg support in the struggle against the Ottoman conquerors, recognized the right of Ferdinand of Austria to the Croatian throne. The Ottoman Turks seized the greater part of Croatia in the late 16th century. The Croatian lands that remained under the Hapsburgs suffered devastating raids by the Turkish troops. Growing feudal exploitation of the peasants in the Hapsburg-ruled areas sparked the Matija Gubec Revolt of 1573. Liberated from Ottoman rule in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, most of the Croatian lands in the Sava-Drava interfluve were included in the Military Frontier. The Hapsburg policy of centralization and germanization, as well as the social and economic reforms promulgated by Emperor Joseph II, impelled the Croatian nobility to strengthen the alliance between Croatia and Hungary. In 1790 the Croatian nobility acknowledged Croatia’s administrative and political dependence on the Hungarian authorities.

Part of Croatia was included in the Illyrian Provinces in 1809. Five years later the Congress of Vienna awarded this part of Croatia to the Austrian Hapsburgs, who placed it under the jurisdiction of the authorities in Ljubljana. In 1822 this region was reunited with the rest of Croatia. Meanwhile, the Hungarians were striving to strengthen their hold over Croatia through magyarization.

From the late 18th century the feudal system declined, to be replaced by capitalist relations. The development of capitalism and the emergence of a Croatian nation (see) in nationally and politically dependent Croatia gave rise to a social, political, and cultural movement in Croatia and Slavonia known as the Illyrian Movement, which had a large following in the 1830’s and 1840’s. At the outbreak of the Revolution of 1848–49 in Austria both the class struggle and the anti-Hapsburg liberation movement gained momentum in Croatia. The liberation movement was led by the Croatian liberals whose aim was the establishment of a constitutional and federal Austrian Empire within which the South Slavic lands would form a unified entity. Meeting in Zagreb on Mar. 25, 1848, the National Skupština adopted the programmatic document “Demands of the People” and elected J. Jelačić ban of Croatia. On April 25 the ban issued a manifesto abolishing the main feudal obligations of the peasants and the church tithe.

At the height of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848–49, Croatia’s national and political dependence on the Hapsburgs weakened. On June 5, 1848, the Croatian Sabor proclaimed the national autonomy of Croatia and proposed forming a political union with the other South Slavic regions of the empire. The Sabor also enacted a law on agrarian reform and universal taxation that liberated the peasants from feudal obligations and the jurisdiction of the landlords, who would be compensated by the state. The Sabor invested Jelačić with dictatorial powers. The refusal of the Hungarian government of Count L. Batthyány to recognize the national autonomy of Croatia, as well as the strengthened position of the Austrian court, impelled the Croatian nobility and bourgeoisie toward Austro-Slavism and bolstered the conservative forces, resulting in Jelačić’s campaign against revolutionary Hungary and Vienna from September to November 1848. After suppressing the Revolution of 1848–49 throughout the empire, the Hapsburgs deprived Croatia of its principal political gains, recognizing only its independence from Hungary, the use of Croatian in institutions and schools, and the system of universal taxation.

The abolition of feudal vestiges in the 1840’s and the introduction of bourgeois reforms of the 1850’s stimulated the development of capitalism in Croatia. Several distinct ideological and political currents arose in Croatia in the 1860’s. The National Party, headed by J. J. Strossmayer, advocated both Austro-Slavism and the unification of the South Slavs (Yugoslavs) and looked to Russia for support. The Unionists, most of them large landowners, favored union with noble-dominated Hungary. The Pravaši (Party of Right), whose leading spokesmen were A. Starčević and E. Kvaternik, stood for national independence and Pan-Croatianism. The establishment of a dual monarchy, Austria-Hungary, strengthened the pro-Yugoslav and Russophile tendencies in Croatia. The Croatian-Hungarian Agreement of 1868 guaranteed the administrative, judicial, cultural, and ecclesiastical autonomy of Croatia, which was to remain as an integral part of the Kingdom of Hungary. The Military Frontier was gradually incorporated into Croatia between 1869 and 1881.

The late 19th and early 20th centuries witnessed the expansion of industries engaged in the primary processing of raw materials, principally lumbering, tanning, and flour milling. Nevertheless, Croatia remained a backward borderland of Austria-Hungary. Large landholdings continued to prevail; according to the 1895 census 209 landlords owned one-fourth of the land. Petit bourgeois circles and the clergy aspired to the creation of a “Greater Croatia” within the empire through the annexation of Bosnia and Hercegovina to Croatia and through the suppression of the Croatian and Serbian pro-Yugoslav movement. Some members of the Party of Right were also opposed to South Slavic unity. The pro-Yugoslav movement found a new champion in the Social Democratic Party of Croatia and Slavonia, which was organized in 1894 and which adhered to the principles of the Second International. The proletarianization of the countryside and the intensification of class conflicts in Croatia, coinciding with an economic and political crisis in Austria-Hungary, caused an upsurge in the liberation movement of the Croatian people in the early 20th century. The broad democratic and labor movement that arose in Zagreb, Osijek, and other cities in 1905–06 was accompanied by expressions of solidarity with the Russian revolution.

Formed at the end of 1905 largely through the efforts of F. Supilo, the Croat-Serbian Coalition took a position hostile to the Hapsburgs and to the idea of a united empire. The coalition was opposed by the Croatian Peasant Party, founded in 1904 by S. Radić and A. Radić. Between 1905 and 1914 the authorities vacillated between wooing the national bourgeoisie by concessions to the middle classes (the electoral reform of 1910 increased the number of voters by several times) and resorting to repression (arrest of Serbs, the Zagreb Trial of 1909) to thwart the first attempts at Croat-Serbian cooperation. The Balkan War of 1912–13 strengthened the pro-Yugoslav liberation tendencies in Croatia. During World War I pro-Entente politicians who had emigrated, among them A. Trumbić and Supilo, formed the Yugoslav Committee in London in May 1915. In July 1917 the committee and the Serbian government signed the Corfu Declaration, providing for the unification of the South Slavic lands of Austria-Hungary with Serbia and Montenegro.

Demonstrations by workers and peasants became more frequent in late 1916 and early 1917. Under the influence of the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia, the Croatian working people stepped up the struggle for their economic and political rights. In 1918 an insurrection broke out in the Austro-Hungarian fleet at Kotor, and demonstrations calling for bread, peace, and freedom were held in Tuzla, Vukovar, and other cities.

From the spring of 1918 tens of thousands of soldiers deserted the army, and peasant unrest spread widely.

On Oct. 29, 1918, the Croatian Sabor resolved to break completely with Austria-Hungary and to recognize the National Council, founded on Oct. 6, 1918, in Zagreb, as the supreme authority. On Dec. 1, 1918, the South Slavic regions of former Austria-Hungary, including Croatia, united with Serbia and Montenegro to form the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929. In 1919–20 Croatia, like other parts of the newly created state, was the scene of revolutionary workers’, peasants’, and soldiers’ demonstrations supporting Soviet Russia and calling for the democratization of the government and society. In April 1919 left-wing socialists from the Social Democratic Party of Croatia and Slavonia joined the Socialist Workers’ Party of Yugoslavia (Communist), founded at that time and renamed the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY) in 1920. (In 1952 the party changed its name to the League of Communists of Yugoslavia.) The Communist Party of Croatia was founded in 1937 as part of the CPY.

Rapidly gaining the dominant position in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the Serbian bourgeoisie pursued a policy of national oppression in Croatia, a policy bitterly resented by the Croatian people. The growing federalist tendencies among the Croatian bourgeoisie were supported by Serbian and Slovenian bourgeois circles opposed to the regime. At the same time, separatist elements became more active. A. Pavelić, who had fled abroad, founded the fascist Ustaše (Ustashi) organization in Italy in 1929. In the late 1930’s, when Yugoslavia was threatened with dismemberment by fascist Italy and Germany, the Yugoslav ruling circles worked out an agreement with the leaders of the Croatian Peasant Party granting autonomy to Croatia. Signed in August 1939, the agreement was essentially a deal between the Serbian and Croatian bourgeoisie for sharing power in Yugoslavia.

During the fascist aggression against Yugoslavia (Apr. 6–17, 1941), the Ustaše, meeting in Zagreb under the aegis of the occupation forces, announced the formation of the Independent State of Croatia (Apr. 10, 1941), headed by Pavelić. The Independent State of Croatia, to which the Nazis added Bosnia and Hercego-vina in the summer of 1941, was divided into German and Italian occupation zones. The Ustaše unleashed a reign of terror in Croatia, setting up 24 concentration camps that were used for mass extermination. Seeking to foment national intolerance among the Croatian people, they organized, with the support of the Catholic clergy, savage massacres of the Serbian population. In four years of fascist occupation 800,000 persons perished in Croatia, out of the 6.3 million who were living in the Independent State of Croatia in 1941.

From the beginning of the National Liberation War in Yugoslavia (1941–45), the Croatian people struggled against the occupation forces and their confederates. The first battle between partisans and Ustaše was fought near Lika on July 27, 1941, subsequently commemorated as the Day of the Uprising of the People of Croatia. In October 1941 the Main Headquarters of the National Liberation Partisan Detachments of Croatia was established by the CPY. From 1942 until the middle of 1944 the liberation war of the peoples of Yugoslavia centered on Croatia. The Antifascist Council for the National Liberation of Croatia held its first session on June 13–14, 1943. At its third session, held in May 1944, the Council constituted itself the supreme organ of state authority in Croatia. The People’s Government of Croatia was formed in April 1945, and by May 15 the Yugoslav Army had completely freed Croatia of the occupation forces and their confederates.

After the proclamation of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia (FPRY) on Nov. 29, 1945, Croatia became one of its six people’s republics. The status and sovereign rights of the People’s Republic of Croatia (PRC) as an equal member of the federation were stipulated in the constitutions of the FPRY (January 1946) and the PRC (January 1947). Over the years Croatia, like the rest of Yugoslavia, has undergone profound social and economic changes in the course of building socialism. In 1963 the PRC was renamed the Socialist Republic of Croatia (SRC). The achievements of socialist construction on the basis of self-government were set forth in the 1963 and 1974 constitutions of the SFRY and the SRC. The principal ideological and political force in the SRC is the League of Communists of Croatia, an integral part of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia. The Socialist Alliance of the Working People of Croatia is an integral part of the Socialist Alliance of the Working People of Yugoslavia.

IU. V. BROMLEI (to 1790), I. I. LESHCHILOVSKAIA (1790–1850), V. I. FREIDZON (1850–1914), and V. K. VOLKOV (since 1914)

Economy. Croatia is one of the economically more highly developed republics of Yugoslavia. In the structure of its national income, industry and construction exceed agriculture by three times, although the latter employs relatively more of the population. In terms of the absolute volume of industrial output, Croatia is surpassed only by Serbia, and in level of industrial development it is second only to Slovenia.

The republic’s diversified industry is dominated by sectors producing means of production. Croatia is the country’s leading producer of hard coal (Raša), oil and gas (mainly in the Sava-Drava interfluve), bauxite and cement raw material (coastal regions), and salt (from seawater). Using the water resources of its mountain rivers, Croatia generates one-fifth of Yugoslavia’s hydroelectric power. Croatia also accounts for two-thirds of the country’s petroleum output and oil-refining capacity, concentrated in Rijeka and Sisak.

A ferrous metallurgy plant in Sisak produces cast iron, steel, and pipes. Aluminum is smelted at plants in Lozovac and Razina, near Šibenik.

Croatia’s flourishing machine building industry produces electrical equipment, transport machinery, chiefly ships (Rijeka, Split, Pula) and railroad rolling stock (Slavonski Brod), machine tools (mainly in Zagreb), and power engineering equipment (Slavonski Brod, Karlovac). The chemical industry manufactures organic chemical products (OKI Combine in Zagreb), plastics (Split), and pharmaceuticals (Zagreb). Much of the republic’s cement output, some 3 million tons annually, comes from around Split and Zagreb. The textile industry is dispersed, with Zagreb, Karlovac, Duga-Resa, and Varaždin being the chief centers. Leather goods and footwear are manufactured at Borovo (footwear) and at Zagreb and Karlovac. Two other important industries are food processing and woodworking.

The main branch of agriculture is crop farming, especially in the fertile northern part of the republic. The main crops are grain, chiefly wheat and corn, sugar beets, sunflowers, hemp, flax, and forage. Also important are fruit growing (mostly prunes and apples) and viticulture. Livestock includes cattle, horses, pigs, and fowl. In the mountainous areas the main economic activities are logging and sheep herding. The coastal areas produce subtropical fruit, notably olives, figs, citrus fruit, and grapes, as well as early vegetables. Fishing is also important. Rijeka is the largest port in Yugoslavia. Some of the coastal and island resorts are internationally famous, notably Opatija and Dubrovnik.


Cultural affairs and public health. The public education system is based on a law enacted in 1958. Under the law, all children between the ages of seven and 14–15 are required to attend a basic eight-year school, which is the first level of the educational system in Croatia. In the 1974–75 school year there were 3,019 such uniform eight-year schools with an enrollment of 531,992. Upon completing the eight-year school, students may enroll in a four-year general-education Gymnasium or in a four-or five-year secondary technical school. In the 1974–75 school year the republic’s 110 Gymnasiums had an enrollment of 44,583, and its 413 technical schools had an enrollment of 90,765. There are also lower-level vocational schools for training skilled workers, requiring two or three years of study, 88 special schools, and 288 schools for adults. A post-secondary education is offered by higher educational institutions (curriculum of four or five years) and two-year lower advanced schools. In the 1975–76 academic year the republic’s 83 higher educational institutions were attended by 78,511 students. There are three universities, located in Zagreb (founded 1669, reorganized 1948), Rijeka (1973), and Split (1974).

Most of the republic’s scientific instititutions are located in Zagreb. Founded in 1867 and reorganized in 1948, the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts, the republic’s highest scientific institution, coordinates the work of 17 institutes. Some 60,000 people were associated with the academy in 1976. Several federal research institutes operate in the republic: the R. Boskovié Institute (founded 1950, reorganized 1955), which does research in theoretical and nuclear physics, electronics, and chemistry; the Adriatic Institute (1945), devoted to research in history and economics; and the Agricultural Institute in Osijek (1916). Republic agencies have jurisdiction over institutes of hydrometeorology (1947), nature preservation (1961), oceanography and fisheries (1930, Split), and medical research (1947; affiliated with the academy). Attached to the University of Zagreb are research institutes of physics, mathematics, transportation (under federal jurisdiction), and art history. The most important learned and cultural society is the Matica Hrvatska.

In 1974 Croatia’s cultural life centered on 482 research and specialized libraries, 305 public libraries, 108 museums, 29 theaters, including ten children’s and ten amateur theaters, and 385 motion-picture theaters. In 1975 the republic published 413 newspapers (total circulation, 196,514), 304 magazines (total circulation, 47,676), and 2,405 titles of books (18,076,000 copies). The leading newspapers are the Zagreb edition of the national newspaper Borba and the daily Vjesnik (founded 1940; 1975 circulation 107,000), published in Serbo-Croatian by the Socialist Alliance of the Working People of Croatia. The literary monthly Republika (founded 1945; circulation 3,000) is issued in Serbo-Croatian by Zora, the Croatian state publishing house.

Medical care is provided (1973) by 32 hospitals, 963 outpatient clinics, 640 dental clinics, 98 tuberculosis dispensaries, 251 gynecological clinics, 304 polyclinics for infants, and 127 polyclinics for schoolchildren. There are 361 pharmacies. The Adriatic coast attracts numerous tourists.

The largest libraries are the National and University Library in Zagreb (more than 1 million volumes), the Municipal Library in Zagreb (some 150,000 volumes), the Research Library in Rijeka (about 400,000 volumes), the Science Library in Zadar (more than 180,000 volumes), and the Municipal Library in Split (about 200,000 volumes).

The major museums are the Strossmayer Gallery of Old Masters, the Gallery of Contemporary Arts of the Yugoslav Academy, the Archaeological Museum, the Ethnographic Museum, the Arts and Crafts Museum, and the People’s Revolution Museum, all in Zagreb. Also outstanding are the Maritime Museum in Dubrovnik, the Natural Science Museum in Rijeka, and the Archaeological Museum, the Ethnographic Museum, the Art Gallery, and the Meštrović Gallery in Split.


Literature. The disciples of Cyril and Methodius, who came to the Croatian lands from Moravia in the ninth century, played a major role in the founding of a Croatian written literature, which augmented the existing rich folklore traditions. But inasmuch as Croatia adopted the Western form of Christianity, the church tried to impose Latin as the language of both the divine service and secular affairs. Two alphabets coexisted at that time: the gla-golitic, used for Old Slavonic, and the Latin. Religious literature, notably hagiography, and the chronicles employed folklore motifs and images. The earliest works of religious poetry were prayers. The church encouraged the development of religious drama on biblical themes. Among the first secular works to appear were satires on the clergy and love lyrics. The heroic epics of the 15th century glorified the struggle of the junaks and haiduks against the Turkish conquerors.

From the 15th to the 18th century the cultural centers of Croatia were Dubrovnik and Dalmatia, which had escaped Ottoman oppression. In the other Croatian regions literary development was impeded by the Turkish conquest. The Dubrovnik literature (seeDUBROVNIK REPUBLIC) was influenced by the Renaissance and baroque. The first Protestant works and the first printed books appeared in the second half of the 16th century. However, the development of Protestant literature was arrested during the Counter-Reformation, when the Protestants were driven out and their books burned. The 17th-century writers N. Zrinski (1620–64), P. Zrinski (1621–71), and P. Ritter-Vitezovic (1652–1713) wrote patriotic works incorporating folk elements. The poet F. K. Frankopan (1643–71) was noted for his love lyrics.

The spread of Enlightenment ideas coincided with the national awakening of the late 18th to mid-19th centuries. The first magazines were founded, and satirical literature flourished, exposing the conservatism and ignorance of the nobility and townspeople and idealizing rural life. Among the best works of this genre were The Satyr (1761) by M. A. Reljković (1732–98) and the comedy Sorcerer’s Apprentice (1804) by T. Brezovački (1757–1805). The Illyrian Movement played an important role in the evolution of a Croatian national culture. In 1847, Croatian was recognized as the official language of Croatia and Slavonia, and three years later an agreement was reached making Serbo-Croatian the literary language of both Serbs and Croats. The main literary trend, romanticism, drew extensively on folklore traditions. The Romantics L. Gaj (1809–72), D. Demeter (1811–72), and S. Vraz (1810–51) propounded the idea that literature must embody distinctive national traits. The main genres were patriotic poetry (Gaj), intimate lyric poetry (Vraz), and philosophical lyric poetry (P. Preradović, 1818–72). Historical themes treated in the epic poems of Demeter and I. Mažuranić (1814–90), best known for his lyric epic Death of Smail-age Čengić (1846). Demeter was also important in the development of dramaturgy and the theater.

The peasant disturbances of the 1860’s and 1870’s drew attention to the life of the peasantry, which Croatian writers described from a democratic standpoint. The dominant trend of the 1880’s was realism, strengthened by the theoretical writings of A. Šenoa (1838–81), J. Pasarić (1860–1937), and M. Šrepel (1862–1905). A concern with social issues distinguishes the novels Peasant Uprising (1877) by Šenoa; Dead Capital (1889) by J. Kozarac (1858–1906), who depicted the impoverishment of the peasants and raised the question of the rational use of natural resources; and Pavel Šegota (1888) and Tito Dorčić (1906) by V. Novak (1859–1905). In The Lawyer (1882) and At the Registry (1888), A. Kovačić described the life of various urban social strata, showing the corrupting effect of bourgeois relations on country folk. K. Š. Djalski (1854–1935) portrayed the decline of the nobility, the theme of his short-story collection Beneath Old Roofs (1887), and the pessimism of the intelligentsia. As early as the 1880’s naturalism found a champion in E. Kumicic (1850–1904), who defended it in his article “On the Novel” (1883) and embodied its principles in his novel Mrs. Sabina (1883). Naturalism was assailed by Pasarić and Šrepel, who were strongly influenced by Russian literature.

In poetry, realism was represented by the poems of S. S. Kranjčević (1865–1908), full of philosophical reflections on the meaning of life, man’s duty, and the fate of his homeland, and by the patriotic lyric poetry of A. Harambašić (1861–1911).

At the turn of the century the literary process was complicated by the development of capitalism and the deepening of social conflicts. Socialist ideas had a marked impact op literary life. Expanding contacts with Western European culture, while enriching Croatian writers, also exposed them to modernist influences. A Croatian modernist movement that arose in the second half of the 1890’s, essentially antibourgeois, reflected writers’ dissatisfaction with the low artistic level and insularity of Croatian literature and their awareness of the need for change. Neither politically nor aesthetically unified, the movement encompassed a wide range of views on the purpose of art and artistic method. The individualist tendencies within the movement, best expressed in the impressionist and symbolist lyrics of A. G. Matos (1873–1914), V. Vidrie (1875–1909), and D. Domjanic (1875–1933), clashed with the naturalism of M. Begovic (1876–1948) and B. Livadic (1871–1949), the romanticism of V. Nazor (1876–1949), and the realism of M. Marjanovic (1879–1955), J. Kosor (1879–1961) and Kozarac.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Croatian writers began to portray social reality in a more critical spirit. Djalski’s historical novels Dawn (1892) and For the Mother Tongue (1906) addressed themselves to pressing issues of the national liberation struggle. The finest novels of this period, however, dealt with contemporary subjects. The theme of social differentiation was admirably developed in three novels by V. Car Emin (1870–1963): The Deserted Hearth (1900), Dry Spring (1904), and After the Flood Tide (1913). Kosor’s Ruin (1906) showed the destructive effect of capitalism on rural life. In Ruined Estates (1896), J. Leskovar (1861–1949) gave a psychological portrayal of the impoverished nobility, irrevocably losing its social position. D. Šimunovic (1873–1933) evoked the life of the common people in a romantic folkloric style in The Stranger (1911). The realist tradition in poetry was continued by Kranjcevic. Nazor’s poetry of this period mingled realist and romantic elements. Outstanding plays included the The Equinox Storm (1895) and Dubrovnik Trilogy (1902) by I. Vojnovic (1857–1929) and Car Emin’s Winter Sun (1903) and Golden Illness (1906). The symbolist and impressionist plays of M. Krleža (born 1893)— Kraljevo (1915) and Christopher Columbus (1918)—departed from modernism in their social criticism.


1918 TO 1945. The establishment of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes in 1918 (Yugoslavia since 1929) inaugurated a new phase in the development of Croatian literature. The intellectual climate of the first postwar years was dominated by issues raised by the war, the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia, the revolutionary events in Europe and in Croatia, and the founding of the Yugoslav state, issues on which the creative intelligentsia was divided. Literature was imbued with a sense of the impending doom of contemporary civilization, man’s impermanence, and the loss of human dignity. The quest for a social and aesthetic ideal gave rise to very different, and often short-lived, literary groups and journals. Nonrealist artistic trends prevailed, united by a disgust with the imperialist war, disillusionment with postwar Yugoslav reality, and a nihilist attitude toward cultural traditions.

Expressionism, the most influential literary movement, and the one with the most clearly formulated program, attracted writers with very different world views. The work of the Catholic poets D. Sudeta (1903–27) and N. Šop (born 1904), tinged by mysticism and melancholy, dealt for the most part with man’s alienation in the bourgeois world.

The anarcho-individualist current, which rebelled against bourgeois morality and culture, included the poets A. B. Simić (1898–1925), best known for his Metamorphosis (1920), and T. Ujević (1891–1955), noted for his Lament of the Slave (1920) and The Necklace (1926). Krleža and A. Cesarec (1893–1941) passed through a period of fascination with anarcho-individualist art. Their magazine Plamen, founded in 1919, heralded the revolutionary trend in Croatian and other South Slavic literature. Krleža’s story cycle The Croatian God Mars (1922) and Cesarec’s short-story collection In Search of a New Path (1926), both dealing with the theme of war and revolution, were strongly influenced by expressionism but contained elements of social and psychological realism. Expressionism disappeared as a movement by the middle of the 1920’s. Impressionist tendencies, strong in Croatian poetry of the 1920’s and 1930’s, may be found in Nazor’s poetry collections Coral Thread (1922) and Songs About Four Archangels (1927).

Realism gained ground in the second half of the 1920’s. S. Kolar (1891–1963) and D. Cesaric (born 1902) introduced new themes and gave greater depth to social criticism. In the mid-1930’s realism became the leading trend in all genres, and prose literature attained new heights. Epic sweep, typical of earlier literature, gave way to more profound social and psychological analysis and to a philosophical interpretation of life. The central figure in progressive literature was Krleža, whose works were known throughout Yugoslavia. Among his finest achievements were the novels Return of Filip Latinovic (1932), On the Brink of Reason (1938), and Banquet in Blitva (books 1–2, 1938–39), the collection Ballad of Petrica Kerempuh (1936), and the cycle of plays In Agony (1928), The Glembaj Family (1928), and Leda (1932).

Social realism, based on revolutionary ideology, emerged as a major literary trend in the 1930’s. Its leading exponents— Cesarec, Galogoža (1893–1944), H. Kikić (1905–42), N. Simić (born 1906), and M. Feldman (1899–1976)—dealt with the life of the common people and showed how spontaneous protest could develop into conscious struggle. These writers excelled in the short-story and essay genre and in reportage. Kikić produced two outstanding novels, Heave-Ho! (1936) and The Beech Trees (1938).

During the fascist occupation many progressive Croatian writers fought in the national liberation war (1941–45). Poetry was the leading genre. The narrative poem The Pit, written in 1943 by I. G. Kovačić (1913–43) and published in 1944, became world famous.

SINCE 1945. The liberation of Croatia and the proclamation of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia opened a new era in Croatian literature. In the immediate postwar years poems about the antifascist struggle were written by J. Kaštelan (born 1919), V. Popović (born 1910), and G. Vitez (1911–66), and the building of a new life was celebrated in the verse of M. Franičević (born 1911) and V. Parun (born 1922). Prose was represented by the short story, essay, and reportage, to which J. Horvat (born 1915) and V. Kaleb (born 1905) made a noteworthy contribution.

The novel came to the fore in the mid-1950’s. A realistic analysis of prewar life was offered by I. Dončević (born 1909) in The Peacemakers (1956), Simić in Brothers and Idols (1955), and M. Bošić (born 1919) in Kurlani, Upper and Lower (1952) and Unshed Tears (1955). The national liberation struggle was depicted by J. Franičević-Pločar (born 1918) in his trilogy The Silent Bells (1956), Cracks (1957), and Sound the Tocsin (1961) and by V. Kaleb in his ballad novel The Wonders of Dust (1954). After the mid-1950’s, intimate psychologism and Reflection, elements that had appeared earlier in the novels of P. Šegedin (born 1909), the author of Gods’ Children (1946) and The Lone (1947), came to figure more prominently in the works of such writers as R. Marinković (born 1913) and V. Desnica (1905–67). At the same time, there was a heightened interest in universal social problems, which were posed in an abstract and allegorical manner and resolved with the help of existentialism by A. Šoljan (born 1932), I. Slamnig (born 1930), and I. Kušan (born 1933).

After a brief period of “intimism,” when landscape and love lyrics were cultivated, poetry gravitated toward neo-expression-ism, surrealism, and “abstract intellectualism.” An ardent humanism animated the poetry of Parun (Coral Returned to the Sea, 1959), Vitez (Trust in Life, 1957; Like Leaves and Grass, 1960), M. Slaviček (born 1929), and N. Miličević (born 1922).

Several novels that appeared in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s broadened the scope of the sociopsychological study of social problems, notably Aromas, Gold, and Incense (1968) by S. Novak (born 1924) and Peace (1974) and The Whirlpool (1974) by Franičević-Plocar. A unique work, Krleža’s epic novel The Banners (parts 1–5, 1962–68) portrays the fate of individuals caught up in great national events—World War I and the revolutionary movement—and shows the impact of the revolutionary movement on the life of the country. M. Matković (born 1915), a writer preoccupied with controversial moral and ethical issues of contemporary life (Dream Fair, 1959), often draws on mythological subjects and images and motifs from classical Greek drama, as in the dramatic trilogy The Gods Also Suffer (1962).

Contemporary literary criticism and scholarship embraces a variety of aesthetic trends. M. Matković, G. Krklec, and Š. Vučetić have written perceptive essays on various literary problems, and I. Frangeš, A. Flaker, and Z. Skreb have done important work in literary history, emphasizing stylistic problems but relating them to the literary process as a whole. Another major trend is the structural analysis of poetics (B. Donat, T. Ladan). M. Franičević has worked on the theory of versification and the history of Dubrovnik literature, and H. Badalić has written extensively on Russian-Croatian literary relations.


Architecture and art. The Neolithic pottery unearthed in Croatia, decorated with rectilinear and curvilinear geometric designs, both incised and painted, shows Central European and Mediterranean influences. The remains of Illyrian and Celtic fortified settlements and metal artifacts have been discovered. Along the Adriatic coast lie the ruins of numerous ancient, mainly Roman, cities, among them Salona (Solin), Spalatum (Split), and Pola (Pula), containing the remains of forums, triumphal arches, temples, amphitheaters, baths, and villas. The most famous Roman building is the palace built by Diocletian in Split circa A.D. 300. Excavations have unearthed fine examples of classical sculpture, including mosaics, dishware, statues, reliefs, and sarcophagi decorated with multifigure relief compositions. In Poreč, Salin, and other cities there are fifth-and sixth-century Christian basilicas, many of them adorned with mosaics. Archaeological finds from the sixth and seventh centuries include artifacts produced by the Avars and the ancient Slavs, such as belt buckles, fibulae, and earrings decorated with stylized floral and zoomorphic designs.

In the independent Croatian state that arose in the late ninth century and lasted to the early 12th century stone churches of various shapes were erected, reflecting Central European as well as Byzantine influences. The finest examples of such churches— the cruciform church in Nin, the rotunda Church of St. Donat in Zadar, and the basilicas in Zadar and Trogir—are distinguished by skillful stonework, harmonious proportions, and a minimum of carved decoration, usually an interlace pattern. Princely palaces with small chapels were also built; one such palace has survived at Bijaći near Split.

The Romanesque style spread to Croatia from northern Italy and Central Europe in the late 12th century. In the rich commercial cities of Dalmatia (Split, Poreč, Trogir, Zadar) houses, public buildings of the urban communes, and basilica churches were constructed in the Romanesque style. Especially noteworthy are the Romanesque St. Krševan Church (1175) and St. Stošija Church (1285) in Zadar. The facades of the churches were decorated with rows of false arcades and arcatures, which lent them rhythmic harmony and grandeur. As in Italy, bell towers of many tiers were erected near churches. The Romanesque structures in northern Croatia, notably the 13th-century Cathedral in Zagreb, were later rebuilt. The carved wooden door of the Cathedral in Split, the work of Andrija Buvina (1214), attests to the high level of Romanesque sculpture in Dalmatia in the 13th century. The door’s panels, multifigure reliefs, are enclosed by rich floral and geometric ornamentation. Traces of late classical art may be seen in the relief carving of the portal of the Cathedral in Trogir (1240, Radovan), which includes figures of saints, scenes from the Gospels, and naïvely expressive scenes from everyday life. The earliest examples of Croatian painting, the frescoes in St. Mary’s Church in Zadar and in the sacristy of the Cathedral in Zagreb, dating from the late 13th century, reflect the influence of Byzantine art.

In the 13th century Gothic influences penetrated into Croatia. In Dalmatia these influences never evolved into a coherent system but manifested themselves chiefly in the decoration of buildings. Venetian Gothic motifs, manifested in the adornment of windows and portals, were often mingled with Romanesque traits, such as heavy masonry work and thick proportions. The Gothic structures in northern Croatia had a strong affinity with those of Central Europe. Three-aisled basilica churches, and later hall churches, were built with cross vaults and huge choirs. The Gothic Cathedral (13th to 15th centuries) and St. Mark’s Church (14th and 15th centuries) in Zagreb were largely rebuilt between the 17th and 19th centuries. The rapidly growing cities of the 15th and 16th centuries were encircled by new stone fortifications as protection against Ottoman attacks. The cities on the Adriatic coast, with their regular layouts inherited from antiquity, contrasted sharply with the northern Croatian cities, haphazardly and densely built up with low houses, that sprang up around the castles of feudal lords.

The cultural efflorescence in the Dubrovnik Republic in the 15th and early 16th centuries gave rise to a distinctive style that was transitional between Gothic and Renaissance. During this period Dubrovnik acquired, besides strong fortifications and churches, residential and public buildings and fountains. The republic produced a number of outstanding local architects, among them Juraj Dalmatinac and Nikola Firentinac, who erected buildings in other Dalmatian cities as well, notably the Cathedral in Šibenik (1431–1505), its graceful and majestic facade articulated by pilasters and surmounted by a trefoil pediment. In Dalmatian architecture, Renaissance loggias, galleries, colonnades, and portals framed by columns were blended with various Gothic decorative motifs. Among the finest examples of Renaissance sculpture in Dalmatia are the remarkably individualized heads on the eastern facade of the Cathedral in Šibenik, carved by Juraj Dalmatinac, and the sculptural decoration of the Ursini Chapel in the Trogir Cathedral, executed by Nikola Firentinac, A. Aleši, and I. Duknović. Easel painting reached a high level in the works of N. Božidarević and M. Hamzic. From the late 16th century, as Dubrovnik lost its commercial and political importance, its art gradually declined.

Renaissance forms were never fully assimilated in the architecture of central Croatia. Here, Renaissance traits manifested themselves most strongly in a few altarpieces, influenced by the painting of southern Germany and the Netherlands. The triptych in the sacristy of the Cathedral in Zagreb exemplifies this style. An indigenous school of painting developed in Istria. Like the painting of Slovenia, it combined Renaissance features with a naïve realism, as illustrated by the colorful and lifelike multifi-gure frescoes in the church at Beram (1474), the work of Vincent of Kastva.

The many castles built in northern Croatia in the 15th and 16th centuries generally had an irregular polygonal plan and massive walls with thick round or rectangular towers. A notable example is the castle in Varaždin. The Ottoman invasion and the incessant Austro-Turkish wars caused a sharp decline in building activity from the latter half of the 16th through the 18th centuries. During this period Italian and Austrian architects introduced the baroque style in Croatia. The second half of the 17th and the early 18th centuries saw the rise of new fortified cities (Karlovac) and the erection of baroque churches, notably St. Catherine’s Church in Zagreb and St. Mary’s Church in Dubrovnik. In the 18th century the baroque style was widely adopted in secular architecture. Among the finest examples of this style are the Oršić-Rauch Palace in Zagreb and the Patačić Palace in Varaždin. The baroque palaces of Croatia, usually no more than two stories high and having a prominent central part, are notable for their relative informality and restraint. An ornate baroque altar sculpture and painting developed in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Outstanding examples are the altar images of F. Benković and B. Bobić and the illusionist frescoes of I. Ranger. Woodcarving, artistic weaving, metalworking, and furniture-making flourished from the 15th to the 18th centuries.

A few classical buildings were erected in the early 19th century, notably the palaces designed by the architect B. Felbinger in Zagreb, but the style never became popular in Croatia. The growth of the national liberation movement in the middle of the 19th century stimulated artistic endeavor, principally the development of secular art genres. V. Karas’ portraits, simple but realistic, and his mythological compositions, executed in the Biedermeier style, initiated a national school of painting. In the second half of the 19th century historical paintings on national themes, marked by academic romanticism, were produced by F. Quiquerez, V. Bukovac, and C. Medović. N. Mašić painted idealized scenes of folk life. The genre compositions and landscapes of M. K. Crnčić reflect a greater spontaneity in the depiction of nature and experimentation with color.

Industrial development in the second half of the 19th century led to intensive urban growth and the emergence of slums on the outskirts of cities. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries southern Zagreb was built up according to a standard plan under which single-family dwellings and apartment houses, built in the eclectic style, were arranged perimetrically in a grid pattern. Foreign architects designed public buildings in the neo-Renaissance and neo-baroque styles, exemplified in the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts in Zagreb (1879–80) and theaters in Zagreb, Split, and Dubrovnik. In the early 20th century, as more Croatian architects were trained, a national school of architecture began to emerge. Popular in the 1920’s, neoclassicism (Stock Exchange in Zagreb, 1923–27, architect V. Kovačić) gradually gave way to functionalism (the modest houses, villas, and hotels designed by S. Gomboš and D. Ibler in Zagreb and Dubrovnik). Most of the residential housing construction was reserved for Zagreb; in other Croatian cities overcrowded medieval conditions persisted until the mid-20th century.

In the early 20th century the painters M. Kraljević and J. Racic and the graphic artist T. Krizman, whose portraits, genre scenes, and landscapes were executed in a generalized and dramatic style, laid the foundation for 20th-century Croatian painting. The late 19th-century sculptural portraits of R. Valdec and the monuments of R. Frangeš-Mihanović heralded the celebrated work of I. Meštrović, whose monuments, statues, and portraits were acclaimed for their bold heroism, their ardent national affirmation, and their harmonious stylized volumes. Meštrović had a strong influence on A. Augustinčić, F. Kršinić, and V. Radauš.

The founding in 1918 of the independent Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, renamed Yugoslavia in 1929, promoted a national cultural revival. Artists found fresh inspiration in the natural beauty of their land and folk life. The painters associated with the Group of Three, founded in 1929 by V. Becić, L. Babić, and J. Miše, combined the color techniques of postimpressionism with a striving for material plasticity of form. Cézanne’s influence may be seen in D. Tiljak’s severe and rhythmically ordered landscapes, in M. Tartaglia’s genre scenes, and in M. Trepše’s still lifes. O. Gliha and I. Job created colorful national landscapes and genre scenes in the fauvist manner. The painters and graphic artists of the Land group, founded in 1929 by K. Hegedušić, turned to peasant life and sought to revive folk art. Associated with the group were several gifted peasant primi-tivists, notably I. Generalić, M. Virius, and F. Mraz. The group’s works on peasant themes are marked by decorative picturesque-ness, naïvely poetic imagery, traits of the grotesque, and at times a dramatic intensity. In the 1930’s, growing social contradictions gave rise to social criticism in Croatian art, best illustrated by the drawings and engravings of the graphic artists O. Postružnik and M. Detoni, who were close to the Land group. Many Croatian artists who fought in the National Liberation War (1941–45) recorded their experiences in expressive sketches.

After the establishment of people’s rule in Yugoslavia in 1945, construction was put on an industrial basis. In the immediate postwar years factories and new residential districts were built, and plans for the modernization of cities were drawn up. Contemporary Croatian architecture, seeking to develop creatively the traditions of functionalism, shows a predilection for severe and precise forms and an understanding of the expressive potential of modern building materials. In modernizing such old towns as Dubrovnik and Trogir, the historical appearance has been faithfully preserved. In other old cities, notably Split, Šibenik, and Pula, modern multistory buildings have been erected near historical ensembles, injecting new accents into the traditional panorama. Built as a rule on the outskirts of cities, the new residential districts are characterized by flexible spatial organization and a mingling of vertical and horizontal volumes. Among the best examples of such new districts are Turnić in Rijeka and Trnsko and Sopot in Zagreb. Contemporary public buildings owe the success of their design to an expressive juxtaposition of compact volumes and a contrast between solid concrete surfaces and aluminum or glass details. Outstanding achievements of postwar civil architecture include the Rudjer Bošković Research Center in Zagreb (1950–65, architect K. Ostrogović), the Zagreb Airport (1965–67, architect I. Uhlik), the Marjan Hotel in Split (1965, architect L. Perković), and the Prima Department Store (1960’s, architect A. Satara), also in Split. A striking example of Croatian architects’ success in integrating buildings into the natural environment is the Palas Hotel in Dubrovnik (1973, architect A. Čičin-Šain), which descends in steps with the terrain.

Progressive national artistic traditions retain their vigor. Monuments, sculptures, and paintings devoted to the national liberation struggle, imbued with heroism and drama, have been created by the sculptors A. Augustinčić and F. Kršinić and the graphic artists and painters M. Detoni, F. Mraz, and Z. Prica. The sculptors P. Perić and V. Radaš are noted for their truthful and expressive portraits and their poetically generalized images of women and children. Primitivist painting continues to flourish.

The influence of Western modernist trends has increased since the late 1950’s. The painters E. Murtić and I. Vojvodić have turned to abstract art. Elements of surrealism may be found in some works by K. Hegedušić and in the pathologically mystical compositions of M. Stančić. Formalism and abstract textural experimentation mark the work of such sculptors as V. Bakić and D. Džamonja. Since the late 1960’s a number of artists, notably Z. Princa, have been adapting folk motifs. Noteworthy works of applied art in the 20th century include the pottery of H. Juhn, the wrought-iron objects of C. Pečar, the woodcarvings of S. Sabljak, and the fabrics of D. Brössler and M. Kovačević.

Music. Folk music, originating in the rituals of the ancient Slavic tribes who settled the Balkans in the sixth and seventh centuries, holds an important place in the musical culture of Croatia. The folk songs that have survived—ritual, epic, dance, and lyric songs—show regional variations reflecting Italian, Hungarian, and other influences, depending on locale. Croatian folk songs are generally based on seven-step natural modes, although some employ the pentatonic scale or alternating modes. They typically have syncopation and variable meters.

The first professional music was religious music, composed in the monasteries of Dalmatia in the tenth century. Maintaining close ties with Italy and, unlike the other parts of Croatia, escaping Ottoman oppression, Dalmatia became the center of the country’s musical life in the 16th century. In Dubrovnik, the most culturally advanced Dalmatian city, pastorals, spectacles accompanied by singing, and plays with musical numbers were staged. The leading Dalmatian composers were A. Patricij, J. Skjavetić (Schiavetto), V. Jelić, and I. Lukačić, whose collection of motets, entitled Sacred Songs, was published in Venice in 1620. In the 18th century several Croatian musicians became known abroad, among them N. Stjepan (called Spadina), I. M. Jarnovic, a virtuoso violinist and composer of violin pieces who performed in European countries (he lived for a time in England and Russia), J. Bajamonti, L. Sorkočević, and A. Sorkočević.

During the social, political, and cultural revival of the 1830’s and 1840’s, the period of the Illyrian Movement, the center of musical life shifted to Zagreb in northern Croatia. The first Croatian musical society, the Musikverein, subsequently renamed Hrvatski Glazbeni Zavod, was founded in Zagreb in 1827. The society established a music school (1829) and formed an orchestra. Singing societies were organized, such as the National Illyrian Choral Society (1839). Interest in folk creativity and national history was awakened, and musical training was offered, chiefly by the choral societies. Such musicians as F. Livadic and F. Pokorni composed patriotic songs and marches for large choirs. In 1834 a special building was erected, the future Croatian National Theater, to accommodate performances by Italian opera companies. The first Croatian national musical play, the heroic Singspiel Juran and Sophia (text by I. Kukuljević-Sakcinski and music by Livadić), was staged in 1840. The founder of Croatian music was V. Lisinskij, who composed the operas Love and Malice (staged 1846) and Porin (1851, staged 1897) and various pieces for orchestra, chorus, and piano.

After the suppression of the revolutionary movement of 1848–49, the Austrian authorities closed a number of choral societies, and the development of a national musical culture was retarded by forcible germanization. It was not until the early 1860’s that the choral societies were revived and new associations were founded in various cities, notably Zora in Karlovac and Kolo and Venec in Zagreb. In the late 19th century workers’ choral societies were also established, among them Sloboda and Sloga. F. Kuhač, the founder of Yugoslav folklore studies, made an outstanding contribution to the musical culture of Croatia. The author of several musicological works on national music, Kuhac published four collections of South Slavic folk songs between 1878 and 1881.

The conductor and composer I. Zajc did much to promote the development of Croatian music in the last third of the 19th century. Zajc was the founder (1870) and director of the opera company of the Croatian National Theater; until 1908 he was the director of the Zagreb music school, where he also taught. The National Theater presented many classical and contemporary operas and musical stage works by Croatian composers, including operas and operettas by Zajc, whose patriotic opera Nikola Šubić Zrinjskij (1876) enjoyed great popularity. The flowering of the opera theater in the 1890’s owed much to the efforts of the conductor N. Faller. A permanent opera company was founded in 1909; its soloists included M. Strozzi-Pečić, J. Križaj, and M. Vušković. Among Croatian singers who won renown abroad in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were M. Mallinger, M. Trnina, and later S. Jurinac. In the early 20th century Croatian composers continued to develop the opera genre. The influence of Italian verismo is clearly discernible in B. Bersa’s opera Fire and J. Hatze’s opera The Return.

A Croatian national school of composition arose only after the establishment of the unified Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (Dec. 1, 1918), renamed Yugoslavia in 1929. The development of musical education contributed to the emergence of this school. The music school founded by the Hrvatski Glazbeni Zavod (called the Conservatory from 1916) was taken over by the state in 1920 and reconstituted the Academy of Music in 1922. Concurrently, secondary music schools opened in Zagreb (Lisin-ski, 1927) and other cities. Performances were given by the Zagreb String Quartet (founded 1919), the symphony orchestra of the Zagreb Philharmonic Society (1920), the Merkur Amateur Orchestra (1929), and the orchestras affiliated with the Hrvatski Glazbeni Zavod and the Academy of Music. In the late 1930’s the musical life of Zagreb was enriched by the performances of the Zagreb Chamber Orchestra, the Zagreb String Quartet, the Zagreb Madrigal Singers, and various choral societies. The principal music journals were the Music Review and The Musician.

In the 1920’s and 1930’s Croatian composers produced several fine works for the musical theater, as well as symphonies and instrumental chamber music. K. Baranovic, the conductor at the Croatian National Theater and its director from 1929 to 1940, was best known for his comic opera Shorn and Mown (1932) and his ballet The Gingerbread Heart (1935). J. Gotovac was noted for his opera Ero From the Other World (1935). J. Slavenski, who worked in Belgrade from 1924, wrote mostly symphonies and instrumental chamber works. Other important composers included B. Bersa (symphonic poems), A. Dobronić (lyric opera The Equinox, 1938), and F. Lhotka. The music scholar and publicist P. Markovac was the first Croatian musicologist to apply Marxist research methods to the study of music.

During the National Liberation War in Yugoslavia (1941–45) patriotic partisan and antifascist songs were written by I. Tijardović, N. Hercigonja, S. Zlatić, and other composers who fought in the war or were members of underground organizations. The proclamation of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia in 1945 (renamed the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1963) was followed by a strong revival of Croatian musical culture. Many music schools, organizations, and music groups, including amateur ones, were founded. The leading postwar music groups are the Brotherhood and Unity Choral Society in Zagreb, the Unity Choral Society in Split, and the Lado folk song and dance ensemble in Zagreb. The best-known music festivals are the international “summer festivals” in Dubrovnik (since 1950) and Split (since 1954) and the Zagreb Musical Biennial (since 1961).

The foremost composers of the 1940’s and 1950’s were I. Brkanović, B. Papandopulo; B. Bjelinski, S. Šulek, and N. Devčić. The influence of modern trends in Western European music may be seen in the work of I. Malee, M. Kelemen. B. Sakač, and L. Županović. In the 1960’s and 1970’s the Socialist Republic of Croatia produced a number of fine musicians, among them the composers S. Horvat, R. Radica, and D. Detoni, the pianists I. Maček and J. Murai, the violinists I. Ozim and J. Klima, and the singers D. Ilić, M. Radev, V. Ruždjak, and T. Neralić.


Theater. Dramatic elements were present in the rituals (koleda, dodole) of the Slavic tribes that settled the Balkans in the sixth and seventh centuries. A church theater emerged in the 14th and 15th centuries on Hvar Island and in Split and Zadar. Amateur theatricals were popular in Dubrovnik in the 16th and 17th centuries. The professional troupes that appeared in Dalmatian cities at this time staged pastorals, comedies, and farces written by local authors. The school drama that flourished in the 17th and 18th centuries was usually based on historical or biblical subjects (Nikola Zrinjski, 1749). Foreign plays in translation, notably those of A. von Kotzebue and A. W. Iffland, were often staged in the late 18th century and in the first quarter of the 19th century. Two comedies by the Croatian playwright T. Brezovački, Mathias the Magician (1804) and Diogenes, or the Servant of Two Vanished Brothers (1804), were frequently performed in the early 19th century.

The first permanent theater, the Amadea Theater in Zagreb (1797–1834), staged plays, operas, and ballets with German performers. The Theater on Mark Square (Old Theater), built in Zagreb in 1834, produced plays in German on subjects from Croatian history; between acts the audience was regaled with Croatian poetry, read in the native tongue, and folk songs. Between 1840 and 1842 a Serbian amateur traveling company from Novi Sad performed in the theater, its repertoire consisting chiefly of historical plays by J. Sterija-Popović and by I. Kukuljević-Sakcinski, a Croatian man of letters and historian. The Serbian company’s productions helped create a professional acting tradition.

At the urging of patriotic cultural figures, the Old Theater began staging plays in Croatian in the 1850’s and 1860’s. In 1861 the theater received a state subsidy and was renamed the Croatian National Theater. Its directors, D. Demeter and J. Freudenreich, included in the repertoire works by dramatists associated with the Croatian national renaissance. The theater staged Demeter’s Teuta (1864) and M. Bogović’s The Peasant King (1873), both patriotic romantic tragedies on historical subjects, as well as comedies on themes from everyday life by A. Nemčić, Freudenreich, and J. Tomić (The Marriage Proposals. 1873). Fine performances were given of plays by Shakespeare, Schiller, Molière, V. Sardou, and E. Labiche. The theater’s leading performers were A. Mandrović, D. Freudenreich, J. Freudenreich, M. Ružička-Strozzi, and A. Fijan. The first drama school functioned from 1896 to 1898. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the National Theater staged works by G. Hauptmann, H. Ibsen, N. V. Gogol, A. N. Ostrovskii, L. N. Tolstoy, A. P. Chekhov, and M. Gorky. Relocated in 1895, the National Theater enriched its repertoire with I. Vojnovic’s fine plays The Equinox Storm (1895) and The Dubrovnik Trilogy (1903) and the highly successful naturalist dramas of S. Tucić and J. Kosor.

At the turn of the century the National Theater began to favor realistic characterization; M. Dimitrijević, I. Borštnik, and N. Vavra were masters of this method. In the 1920’s and 1930’s the company included the actors H. Nučić, T. Strozzi, E. Hafner-Gjermanović, J. Pavić, and J. Papić, the stage directors B. Gavella and A. Verli, and the stage designers L. Babić and V. Žedrinski. Along with the works of Shakespeare Molière. F. N. Dostoevsky, L. N. Tolstoy, B. Shaw, and K. Čapek, the theater staged plays by the national playwrights M. Držić. B. Nušić, and B. Kreft. An advocate of realism in acting, Gavella exerted an important influence on the Yugoslav theater as a whole by staging progressive and revolutionary plays, including those of M. Krleža and I. Cankar. After the National Theater was reopened in 1945, the distinguished actors M. Crnobori, M. Stupica, and M. Fotez joined its company. Several new theaters were organized, among them the Gavella Drama Theater and children’s and puppet theaters.

In the mid-1970’s the National Theater’s leading directors were K. Spaić and G. Paro and its most gifted performers were B. Kraljeva, V. Drah, T. Lonza, M. Župan, N. Rošić, B. Buzančić, and Koraljka Hrs. The theater stages Yugoslav and foreign classics, contemporary Croatian plays, and modern European and American plays.

The Academy of Theater, Music, Film, and Television was founded in Zagreb in 1950. The Institute of Literature and Theater was established in 1948 under the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts in Zagreb. The magazine Kronika, founded in 1975, publishes articles on the Croatian theater.



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Official name: Republic of Croatia

 Capital city: Zagreb

Internet country code: .hr

Flag description: Three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and blue superimposed by the Croatian coat of arms (red-and-white checkered)

National anthem: “Lijepa nasa domovino” (Our Beautiful Homeland), lyrics by Antun Mihanovi´c, music by Josip Runjanin

Geographical description: Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea, between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia

Total area: 21,831 sq. mi. (56,542 sq. km.)

Climate: Mediterranean and continental; continental cli­mate predominant with hot summers and cold winters; mild winters, dry summers along coast

Nationality: noun: Croat(s), Croatian(s); adjective: Croatian

Population: 4,493,312 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: Croat 89.6%, Serb 4.5%. other (including Bosniak, Hungarian, Slovene, Czech, and Roma) 5.9%

Languages spoken: Croatian 96.1%, Serbian 1%, other and undesignated (including Italian, Hungarian, Czech, Slo­vak, and German) 2.9%

Religions: Roman Catholic 87.8%, Serbian Orthodox 4.4%, other Christian 0.4%, Muslim 1.3%, other and unspecified 0.9%, none 5.2%

Legal Holidays:

All Saints' DayNov 1
Assumption DayAug 15
ChristmasDec 25
Croatian Independence DayOct 8
Croatian Statehood DayJun 25
Croatian Uprising DayJun 22
Easter MondayApr 25, 2011; Apr 9, 2012; Apr 1, 2013; Apr 21, 2014; Apr 6, 2015; Mar 28, 2016; Apr 17, 2017; Apr 2, 2018; Apr 22, 2019; Apr 13, 2020; Apr 5, 2021; Apr 18, 2022; Apr 10, 2023
EpiphanyJan 6
Labor DayMay 1
New Year's DayJan 1
St. Stephen's DayDec 26
Statehood DayMay 30
Victory and Homeland Gratitude DayAug 5
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


a republic in SE Europe: settled by Croats in the 7th century; belonged successively to Hungary, Turkey, and Austria; formed part of Yugoslavia (1918--91); became independent in 1991 but was invaded by Serbia and fighting continued until 1995; involved in the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina (1991--95). Language: Croatian. Religion: Roman Catholic majority. Currency: kuna. Capital: Zagreb. Pop.: 4 416 000 (2004 est.). Area: 55 322 sq. km (21 359 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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