Overview History Croatia
Croatia is a country in south-eastern Europe on the Adriatic Sea. The area that is now Croatia has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and over the centuries various cultures and civilisations have left their mark on the area.
In ancient times, the Illyrians lived in what is now Croatia. They were a group of Indo-Europeans who lived in large parts of the Western Balkans, including present-day Croatia, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Illyrian culture was influenced by the Greeks, Romans and Celts, leaving behind many artefacts and structures that can still be seen today.
The Croats, an ethnic group of Slavic origin, arrived in the region in the 7th century and gradually established a kingdom in the 9th century. The Kingdom of Croatia was united with the Kingdom of Hungary in the 12th century and remained a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the end of the First World War.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Croatian nationalists demanded autonomy and independence from Hungary. The Croatian National Party, founded in 1861, demanded the unification of all territories inhabited by Croats into a single state.
After the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, Croatia became part of the Kingdom of Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia, which later became Yugoslavia. During the Second World War, Croatia was occupied by the Axis powers and ruled by the Ustasha government led by Ante Pavelić. The Ustasha regime committed numerous war crimes against Jews, Serbs and other ethnic minorities, killing about 200,000 people. The Ustasha government was overthrown by Yugoslav partisans led by Josip Broz Tito and after the war Croatia became a republic within Yugoslavia.
During the Cold War, Yugoslavia remained a non-aligned state and had close ties with the Soviet Union and the Western powers. However, tensions between different ethnic groups within Yugoslavia began to increase in the 1980s and Croatia declared independence in 1991. A short war with Serbian forces followed, which Croatia won in 1995. The civil war displaced more than 250,000 people and caused extensive damage to the country’s infrastructure.
Since its independence, Croatia has been a democratic republic with a market economy. The country joined the EU in 2013 and has made great strides towards membership in the European Union and NATO. Croatia’s economy has grown rapidly in recent years, with tourism, manufacturing and information technology among the country’s main industries.
Today, Croatia is known for its beautiful coastline, historic cities and rich cultural heritage. The country has a diverse population of about 4 million people, with Croats being the largest ethnic group. Other important ethnic groups are the Serbs, Bosniaks and Hungarians. Croatian is the official language and the majority of the population is Roman Catholic.
The war in Croatia 1991 to 1995
The war in Croatia, also known as the Croatian War of Independence, was a conflict that took place from 1991 to 1995 after Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia. The war was fought between Croatian armed forces and Serbian militias supported by the Yugoslav People’s Army.
The roots of the war can be traced back to the break-up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. Croatia and Slovenia declared independence in June 1991, but the Serbian-dominated Yugoslav government refused to recognise their independence. The Yugoslav People’s Army, largely controlled by Serbia, intervened in both Croatia and Slovenia, triggering an armed conflict.
In Croatia, the conflict quickly escalated into a full-blown war, with both sides committing numerous war crimes and atrocities. The Croatian forces were initially poorly equipped and trained, but quickly gained strength when they were joined by Croatian emigrants and volunteers. The Serb militias were better armed and trained and were supported by the Yugoslav People’s Army, which provided heavy weapons, ammunition and troops.
The war was characterised by widespread violence, including ethnic cleansing, rape and murder. Both sides committed atrocities, with Serb militias targeting Croat civilians and Croat forces targeting Serb civilians. Many historical buildings and human monuments were also destroyed during the war, including the city of Dubrovnik, which was severely damaged during the conflict.
The war ended in 1995 with a Croatian victory after a battle called Operation Storm. The fighting forced Serb militias to withdraw from Croatian territory and led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Serbs. The war caused considerable damage to the country’s economy and cost many people their lives.
After the war, Croatia began the process of reconstruction and reconciliation. The people established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate war crimes committed during the conflict and many perpetrators were brought to justice. The people also undertook fundamental reconciliation efforts that were supported by the entire world community.