At the beginning of the 20th century, Croatia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Following the empire’s demise in 1918, a kingdom of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs was established. Croat opposition to the new structure gradually increased, but any attempts to promote democratic change were stifled, and Yugoslavia was established in 1929. An independence movement, led by the Ustase Croatian Liberation Movement, gradually grew. Force was used in an attempt to establish an independent state. However, it was not until the German invasion of Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941, that Ustase leader Ante Pavelic was installed as the leader of an independent state of Croatia. However, by 1943 partisan opposition forces, under Josip Broz (Tito), controlled much of Croatia. On October 20, 1944, Tito became prime minister of Yugoslavia; Croatia became one of six constituent republics of a federal, independent communist state.
The further concentration of power in Belgrade produced further unrest in Croatia, culminating in the Croatian Spring of 1971—a call for greater autonomy and constitutional reform. When Tito died in 1980, Croatia was still a long way from independence. However, 1989 saw political change sweeping across Eastern Europe. Following elections, constitutional changes, and a referendum, Croatia declared independence on June 25, 1991. Fighting broke out. Amid ethnic rivalries thousands were killed and hundreds of thousands were forced to leave their homes. In January 1992 the United Nations negotiated a cease-fire and Croatia was recognized by the European Union (EU), and in April by the United States.
January 1993 saw further fighting in the Krajina region. In June 1993, the Krajinian Serbs voted to join Greater Serbia. Fighting continued, with widespread atrocities on both sides, until the Dayton Accord, recognizing Croatia’s traditional boundaries, was signed in Paris in December 1995, establishing the Republic of Croatia as a presidential/parliamentary democracy, with Zagreb as its capital. The last Serb-held enclave in eastern Slavonia was returned to Croatia in 1998. Croatia’s bid for membership of the EU received a boost in March 2008 when the European Commission said that it should be possible to complete accession negotiations by the end of 2009.
Croatia is now divided into 20 counties, and in 2008 the population is estimated to be approximately 4.5 million. The president is the head of state, elected to a five-year term. The leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the president and then approved by the unicameral Assembly or Sabor. The Assembly comprises 153 seats; members are elected from party lists, by popular vote, to serve a four-year term. In the elections of November 25, 2007, the center-right Croatian Democratic Union or HDZ was the biggest party, with 66 seats; although not a majority, they were able to hold power through deals with smaller coalition partners that gave them an 83-seat total.
Croatia’s economy suffered badly during the 1991–95 war as output collapsed. Since 2000, however, economic fortunes have improved steadily. gross domestic product (GDP) growth has been between 4 and 6 percent (5.6 percent in 2007). This has largely been on the back of a rebound in tourism and credit-driven consumer spending. Croatia registered 53 million tourist nights in 2006, up 36 percent from 2000. Total annual visitors could top 12 million by 2012. Inflation over the same period has remained low, 2.2 percent in 2007, and the currency has been generally stable. The government has also reduced the budget deficit to 2.6 percent of GDP in 2007. On the downside, the unemployment rate remains high at 11.8 percent in 2007, though economic growth should bring this down. There is also a growing trade deficit and uneven regional development.
Incremental reforms have helped the investment climate, as reflected in improved ratings in 2007 from Transparency International, the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum (WEF). The WEF’s Global Competitiveness Index for 2006–07, published at the end of October 2007, ranks Croatia 57th out of 122 countries, with strong scores for education and technological readiness, along with weak scores for state administration and corruption.
- Central Intelligence Agency, “Croatia,” The World Factbook, www.cia.gov (cited March 2009);
- Marcus Tanner, Croatia: A Nation Forged in War (Yale University Press, 1997);
- United States, Croatia. Foreign Labor Trends (U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of International Labor Affairs and U.S. Embassy, Zagreb, 2004);
- Susan Woodward, Balkan Tragedy: Chaos and Dissolution after the Cold War (Brookings Institution, 1995).
This example Croatia Essay is published for educational and informational purposes only. If you need a custom essay or research paper on this topic please use our writing services. EssayEmpire.com offers reliable custom essay writing services that can help you to receive high grades and impress your professors with the quality of each essay or research paper you hand in.