Dubrovnik, Croatia. Photo: Alan Grant
Dubrovnik, Croatia. Photo: Alan Grant

Did you know that…

  • a group of four Croatian parliamentarians, including three opposition deputies, was touring key European capitals and played a crucial role in ensuring that Croatia managed to complete EU accession negotiations by 30 June 2011? (Read an extensive ESI interview with Vesna Pusic, a member of this group and then head of the National Committee for Monitoring the Accession Negotiations)
  • a border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia has led to a number of bizarre incidents? (Watch and listen to ESI's audio slideshow on the background of the dispute)
  • before a country can start EU accession negotiations, the European Commission conducts a detailed "screening" of the applicant's record in all policy areas relevant for EU membership? (Read the respective screening reports for Croatia)

Official Name:

Republic of Croatia


4,290,612 (2011 census, Central Bureau of Statistics – CBS)

Capital city:

Zagreb (792,875 inhabitants, 2011 census, CBS)

Other important cities:

Split, Osijek, Rijeka


56,594 km2

Main religion:

Christianity (Catholic)

Main ethnic groups
(2001 census)


89.6 %
4.5 %
0.5 %
0.4 %
0.4 %
0.3 %
0.3 %
4.0 %


Kuna (HRK) [1 EUR = 7.57 HRK, annual average 2013]


€ 43,128 million (2013, at market prices, Eurostat)

GDP per capita:

15,600 (in purchasing power parity, 2013, Eurostat)

Employment rate:

57.2 % (20-64 year olds, Eurostat)

Average wage:

€ 1,025 (HRK 7,820) gross, € 714 (HRK 5,442) net (Croatian Bureau of Statistics, September 2014)

Short chronology of EU accession:

29 October 2001

Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) signed

21 February 2003

Croatia submits membership application

9 October 2003

Croatia submits answers to the EC questionnaire

20 April 2004

EC issues positive opinion ("avis") on Croatia's application

18 June 2004

Candidate status granted (Brussels European Council)

20 December 2004

European Council sets 17 March 2005 as launch of negotiations

1 February 2005

SAA enters into force

3 October 2005

Start of accession negotiations (following postponement due to insufficient cooperation with the ICTY)

19 December 2008

Slovenia blocks the closing of five and the opening of 10 negotiation chapters due to a border dispute with Croatia

4 November 2009

Croatia and Slovenia sign agreement on international arbitration over the border dispute; Slovenia lifts its blockade

10 June 2011

European Commission proposes to EU Council of Ministers to close the last four chapters in the accession negotiations with Croatia

30 June 2011

EU closes association negotiations with Croatia

1 December 2011

European Parliament approves Croatia's accession as the 28th member of the EU

9 December 2011

Signing of the EU-Croatia Accession Treaty in Brussels

22 January 2012

Croatians vote for Croatia's EU accession in referendum (66% support membership)

1 July 2013

Croatia becomes the 28th member of the EU

Membership in international organisations:


22 May 1992


24 March 1992


14 December 1992

World Bank


Council of Europe

6 November 1996


30 November 2000


1 April 2009



Ivo Josipovic (elected in run-off on 10 January 2010, in office since 18 February 2010)

Prime minister:

Zoran Milanovic, leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). A four-party coalition led by the SDP won the parliamentary elections on 3-4 December 2011, ousting the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and its leader Jadranka Kosor (in office from 6 July 2009, after the unexpected resignation of her former mentor Ivo Sanader at the middle of his second mandate). The HDZ had ruled independent Croatia uninterruptedly except from early 2000 to late 2003.

Milanovic's government is composed of the members of the four governing coalition parties and two independent experts. Minority representatives are not included in the government, but they supported it when it was confirmed in parliament on 23 December 2011.

Milanovic succeeded Ivica Racan (prime minister from 2000 to 2003) as the head of the SDP after Racan’s death in 2007.

Political Parties:

Since  the constitutional changes of 2001 the Croatian "Sabor" is a unicameral parliament. In the 3-4 December elections, 151 councilors were elected. 

The Government is composed of members of the four-party coalition that won 80 seats and is led by the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

The SDP is the successor of Croatia's communist party, transformed into a social democratic party. The party lost Croatia's first multi-party elections in 1990 to the Croatian Democratic Union (Hrvatska Demokratska Zajednica – HDZ) led by late Franjo Tudjman. Since independence, the SDP was in government only from January 2000 to December 2003 in a coalition with five other center-left parties.

Besides the SDP the current coalition includes the Croatian People's Party (HNS), a party of liberal orientation and one of the two historic parties revived after 1990; the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS), a regional party with its electoral heartland in the northwestern part of Istria; and Croatian Party of Pensioners (HSU) which promotes the interests of pensioners.

The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) will be in opposition for only the second time since Croatia became independent in 1991. The center-right party had ruled Croatia ever since, except from 2000 to 2003. Now led by Jadranka Kosor, the HDZ lost the elections, obtaining only 47 seats (including 3 MPs elected by Croats living abroad), down from 66 they had before.

Croatian Labourists-Labour Party (Hrvatski laburisti-Stranka rada) led by a longtime labor union leader, Dragutin Lesar, won 6 seats. The party focuses on the rights of workers. Lesar, originally elected to parliament in 2003 as a member of HNS, left the party five years later and became an independent MP. He formed his own party in 2010.

Croatian Democratic Alliance of Slavonia and Baranja  (Hrvatski Demokratski Savez Slavonije i Baranje – HDSSB), a right-leaning regional party, won 6 MPs. The party is led by Branimir Glavas, a convicted war criminal who is serving his eight-year sentence in neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Constitutional Court rejected the party's request to nominate Glavas in the elections.

Neovisna lista – Ivan Grubisic is an independent list led by a retired Roman Catholic priest. A liberal theologian, Grubisic competed in the elections for the first time and managed to win two seats.

Croatian Peasant Party (Hrvatska Seljacka Stranka – HSS) is one of Croatia's oldest political groups. The conservative party was in coalition with HDZ in the previous government; it now won only 1 seat.

Croatian Party of Rights Ante Starcevic, a center-right party, will be represented in new parliament by its leader, former policewoman in Canada, Ruza Tomasic.

Croatian minorities have a constitutional right to eight seats in parliament, three of which are designated for the biggest minority, ethnic Serbs. The Independent Democratic Serbian Party (Samostalna Demokratska Srpska Stranka - SDSS), which was in coalition with the HDZ since 2003, won all three seats reserved for Serbs. Five other MPs represent Hungarian, Italian and other minorities.

1 November 2014