Facts about Croatia
Nov. 22 — CAPITAL: Zagreb, population 1 million.
GEOGRAPHY: Bordered by Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia-Montenegro and Bosnia, Croatia is slightly smaller than Ireland. It has a varied landscape, ranging from lush valleys and fields in the east to forests in its interior and a long Adriatic Sea coastline dotted with hundreds of islands.
PEOPLE: 4.5 million. Main ethnic minorities are Serbs, Italians and Hungarians. Average monthly wage roughly $625.
RELIGION: 80 percent Roman Catholic, with small Orthodox, Muslim and Jewish communities.
POLITICS: Croatia declared its independence in 1991, prompting its Serb minority to take up arms in an effort to keep the republic from breaking away from Yugoslavia. At least 10,000 people were killed in the six-month war. Sporadic fighting ended in 1995, when Croatia recaptured about a third of its territory seized by the Serb rebels.
From 1991-2000, the nationalist Croatian Democratic Union ruled the country. A pro-Western coalition took power three years ago after the death of nationalist President Franjo Tudjman.
Earlier this year, the country applied for membership in the European Union and hopes to join as early as 2007. Croatia also hopes to join NATO in its next round of enlargement.
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