Capital | Zagreb
Population | 4,486,881 (July 2010 est.)
Area | 56,542 SQ KM
Official Language | Croatian
Holidays | Independence Day 8 October
Currency | Kuna (HRK)
Time Zone | UTC+1
Best Time to Visit | April to September for the good weather
Connecting with the Culture | Wandering through the walled medieval city of Dubrovnik – a rhapsody in limestone, cobbled streets and terracotta tiles; Frolicking in Split, a city built around Roman Emperor Diocletian’s palace; Sunning yourself in the Venetian harbor town of Hvar, where the sun shines 300 days a year; Visiting the country’s surprisingly cosmopolitan capital, Zargreb; Watching the tumbling cascades at Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Read | Rebecca West’s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, a classical account of a 1930s trip through the region, Slavenka Drakulic’s Café Europa, an insightful series of essays on Croatia and Eastern Europe.
Watch | How the War Started on My Island by Vinko Bresan, a contemporary black comedy
Eat | cevapcici (grilled, spiced meatballs), a Balkan classic; pasticada (beef stuffed and roasted in wine and spices)
Drink | sljivovica, plum brandy with a kick; wines from Istria or Kvarner
In a Word | Na zdravlje (to your health)
Characteristics | Untouched fishing villages on the Dalmatian coast; European café culture; terracotta rooftops and baroque cathedrals; paprika and garlic; crystal-clear seas and beachside promenades; al fesco dinning – meat on the grill.
Surprises | Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is set in Dalmatia; cravats and ballpoint pens were invented by Croatians; there are few spotted dogs in Dalmatia.