Croatia offers a marvelous fusion of old-fashioned authenticity and modern glamor. Age-old folk traditions, ancient architecture, splendid beaches, and fine weather make the country an idyllic destination for study abroad. While Croatia is known for its authentic Mediterranean flavor, the exciting yet often ignored beauty of the Continental inland Croatia students shouldn’t miss out on. Croatia offers an irresistible package of appealing characteristics.
Geography & Demographics
Croatia, located in Southeast Europe, is situated on the Adriatic Sea just across the peninsula of Italy. Croatia’s neighbors are Montenegro to the south, Serbia to the east, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the southeast, Hungary to the north, and Slovenia to the northwest. About the same size as West Virginia, Croatia has a population of over 4.4 million people.
The majority of Croatia’s inhabitants are Croats, over 90 percent, with about twenty minority groups, most prominently including Serbs, Romanian, Czechs, Germans, Slovenes, Italians, Hungarians, and Bosnians. The predominant religion in Croatia is Roman Catholicism. Minority religions include Christianity and Islam, although more than five percent of the population does not align themselves with any religion.
The climate in Croatia is dependent on any given location’s distance from the Adriatic Sea. The regions located near the coast experience a predominantly Mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm summers. Further inland locals experience a Continental climate, with colder winters and warm summers.
Areas in the coastal region are ideal destinations throughout the year. The warmest temperatures are experienced during July and August, daytime temperatures average in the mid to lower 80’s. Nighttime temperatures can drop to approximately the mid 60’s, however. The coastal region is at its coldest during January and February, with daytime highs in the 50’s and nighttime temperatures as low as the 40’s.
The best time to visit the nation’s more inland areas is during the summer. The warmest months in the area are still the months of July and August, when temperatures range from upper 70’s to the low 80’s. Winter months in inland Croatia can get very wet, and nighttime temperatures often drop below freezing.
Food & Culture
About 95 percent of Croatian citizens consider Croatian their mother tongue while less than 2 percent consider Serbian to be their native language. Common second languages in the Croatia are Italian, French, Czech, and Hungarian, most likely due to the relative proximity of those nations.
Croatian cuisine is a reflection of its diverse geographic and cultural influences. Both foreign occupiers and the region's proximity to fertile farmland and the sea, determine any given region’s flavor. Food is mainly distinguishable by location in the continental interior or the Mediterranean coastal areas. Across regions food is characteristically grilled or baked, and freshness is always preferred.
Among Croatian delicacies, students must try Pršut (dry-cured ham) and Paški sir, a cheese made from milk produced by sheep on a special kind of diet that includes aromatic plants and sparse grass. Pašticada, beef marinated in garlic, red wine, and various herbs and cooked slowly, Crni rižot (seafood risotto with squid and cuttlefish), and Tartufi (rare mushrooms believed to be an aphrodisiac) are local delicacies that must be tasted too!
Mainly because of the Mediterranean climate, people in Croatia tend to have a lack of urgency and are into “café culture.” Therefore, they have a tendency to get things done a little later as they relax over a coffee or chill with a pivo (beer). Croatian people stereotypically create the impression of being standoffish, but foreigners are typically pleasantly surprised to find them warm and graciously helpful underneath.
Croatians commonly say “Nema problema”, which means “No problem.” The local culture allows students to take a break away from the usual taxing grind back home and enjoy Croatia’s laidback lifestyle. Though sometimes foreigners must muster a lot of patience, as everything takes longer a little longer in Croatia. From a business approval permit to a restaurant bill, most things require a little more time to complete.
With a predominantly Roman Catholic population, Croatia is similar to Italy in many respects. Family values are strong, and children are very respectful to the elderly. The characteristic Mediterranean lifestyle is apparent in summer afternoon siestas. Many students especially enjoy evening walking parades, when they can join onlookers who leisurely sip their drinks as they enjoy the sight of locals dressed in their finest clothes strolling together through the streets.
Croatia has been using the currency kuna since 1994. The word kuna refers to the previous unit of value used in the medieval era, marten pelts or monkey droppings. Each kuna is worth 100 lipa, in English lime tree.
Studying in Croatia
The Croatian city of Dubrovnik, with its distinct identity, rich heritage, and remarkable economic and diplomatic history, offers a great location for studying Business and International Relations. Coastal Dubrovnik, encompassing much medieval architecture and numerous picturesque sidewalk cafes, offers an idyllic backdrop for studying the issues underlying the historical transition of Southern Europe from communism. International students can also grab the chance to study the Croatian language and culture through Slavic Language and Literature programs.