Istrian Riviera (Pula) culture
The Croatians are generally friendly and hospitable people, whose outlook and social conventions are similar to most Western European countries. For example, it's customary to shake hands when greeting or saying goodbye to someone.
Smoking is generally acceptable but there are restrictions in public buildings and on public transport.
It's generally acceptable to take photographs in tourist locations, but you should avoid photography in the vicinity of military installations or anywhere that might be construed as a security risk.
A tip of around 10 per cent is the norm in hotels, restaurants and taxis, although it's also common practice just to round the bill up.
Around 77% of the Croat population are Roman Catholics, with 11% Eastern Orthodox Serbs. There are small communities of Protestants, Jews and Muslims.
Croatia has been inhabited since the Stone Age, but the foundations of the country we know today were not laid properly until the 7th century, and it wasn't until the 9th century that the country became a Christian kingdom.
In 1102 Croatia united with Hungary, and later took over large parts of Dalmatia, Slavonia and Bosnia. However, by the 14th century much of Croatia's territory had been lost to the Ottoman Empire.
In 1527 the Croatia came under the rule of the Hapsburgs, and by the 1700s the Ottoman Empire had been driven out. When the dual Austro-Hungarian monarchy was established in 1867, Croatia 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.
With the collapse of Austria-Hungary in 1918, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later renamed Yugoslavia, was formed. When the Germans invaded Yugoslavia in 1941, the Ustachi revolutionary organisation seized power and declared Croatian independence under Ante Pavelic. However, their reign was short lived. By 1945 Croatia had become part of Yugoslavia again.
Growing calls for a split with Yugoslavia finally resulted a declaration of independence in 1991. But the Croatian Serbs were having none of it and a civil war broke out. Over 300,000 Serbs fled into neighbouring Bosnia and Yugoslavia.
Since the death of President Tudjman in 1999, the country has stabilised and had begun the process of joining the European Union.
The population of Croatia is approximately 4.5 million with a population density of 78.4 people per square kilometre.
Croats make up 90% of the population and are mainly Roman Catholic. The Serbs, who belong mainly to the Orthodox Church, are the largest minority, but evictions and evacuations during the early to mid-1990s reduced their numbers significantly.
Both Croats and Serbs speak dialects of Serbo-Croatian, and luckily can understand each other. Many younger Croatians and those in the tourist industry speak English as their second language, but the older generation mostly have a few English words at most.
Apart from Slovenia, Croatia is the most industrialized and prosperous of the former republics of Yugoslavia. Tourism, especially along the Adriatic coast, is important to the economy. Severely curtailed during the warfare of the early 1990s, the tourist trade had largely recovered by 2000.