The territory of Croatia has three distinctly distinct types of natural environment: Mediterranean in Istria, Dalmatia and the Adriatic islands, mountainous in the Dinaric Alps and karst plateaus, continental in the Pannonian plain. As with the other republics of the former Yugoslav federation, Croatia also inherited a tradition of environmental protection that dates back to the post-World War II period. In fact, eight national parks were established between 1949 and 1999 to protect specific ecosystems and rare species of flora and fauna. The oldest is that of the Plitvice lakes in the mountainous region of Lika, with marked karst characteristics, which for the exceptional nature of its nature has been declared by UNESCO World Heritage Site. Initially extended over 191.72 km², it was enlarged to reach 330. It occupies a hydrographic basin made up of sixteen lakes connected to each other by waterfalls and fed by rivers included in the Danube basin. Part of its surface covered by beeches and silver and red firs is fully protected and therefore closed to the public. The area of the park, an ancient border region between the Habsburg and Ottoman dominions, in the past has been little touched by anthropization and for this reason it has been able to preserve its natural environment, whose integrity has been compromised, however, by the war events of the nineties. In addition to wild boars and roe deer, a few dozen live in the park brown bears. Other mountain national parks are Risnjak (1953), Northern Velebitsett (1999) and Paklenica (1949), made up mostly of karst rocks and a traditional destination for mountaineers and other mountain lovers. Inland from Sibenik lies the Krka River National Park (1986), on the river of the same name with karst characteristics. There are three island national parks: that of the Brijuni archipelago (1983) in front of the Istrian coast, that of Kornati, formed by islets off the coast of Zadar, in Dalmatia, dominated by the Mediterranean scrub and cormorants and hawks nest there. pilgrims, as well as that of Mljet (Mljet) (1960), NW of Dubrovnik. In eastern Slavonia, at the confluence of the Drava with the Danube, the Kopacki nature reserve was established in 1967 to preserve the marshy environment, habitat for hundreds of bird species, including the sea eagle that nests there. In total, the protected areas comprise 6.4% of the national territory (2007).
Internal ethnic conflicts slowed Croatia’s economic development in the 1990s and early 2000s, although in 2004-05 GNP grew by approx. 4%. despite the stagnation that afflicts the country as generally the rest of Europe. Inflation is just over 6% per year, while GDP per capita, which reached $ 15,628 in 2008, remains among the highest in the Balkan region. A major problem that has not yet been resolved is unemployment, which in 2008 reached 8.4% of the active population. Croatia faces its large foreign debt thanks to the income it derives from tourism, exports and domestic savings. The country easily attracts foreign capital, which flows mainly from German-speaking states, Hungary, Italy and the USA. According to allcountrylist, the sectors to which foreign investments flow the most are those of telecommunications, banking-finance and the pharmaceutical industry. In 2003, the government’s intention to clean up the state accounts by reducing salaries and jobs in the public sector and cutting pensions collided with the hostility from political forces and public opinion, to the point of having to review these projects. On the other hand, the privatizations of banks and companies continue, although it is expected that part of their ownership will remain with the state. The International Monetary Fund has allocated funds to meet the needs of the public debt during the preparation of the appropriate measures to carry out structural reforms, also concerning fiscal discipline. The World Bank in turn, assists Croatia in reforming pensions, the judiciary and the civil code to establish firm regulations in order to encourage foreign investors; international aid programs also concern the modernization of agriculture and the road network. The aforementioned reforms are aimed at adapting Croatia’s economic and infrastructural system to the parameters of the EU, with a view to future accession. Agriculture is concentrated in the northern plains, rich in water; the main crops are corn, wheat, potatoes, sugar beet; along the coasts, vines and olives are grown. A large amount of wood is obtained from the forests, most of which is exported. There are some natural gas fields (Gojilo, Kloštar, Ivaniæ) and oil (Benicanci, Struzec, Zutica, Kloštar). An oil pipeline connects the port of Omišalj (island of Krk) to Sisak, where it branches off to Bratislava and Budapest. Other resources are coal and bauxite (in Istria). Before the destruction of the war, Croatia was, with Slovenia, the most industrialized Yugoslav republic. Thanks also to the influx of notable foreign capital, many sectors have become competitive again: steel (Sisak, Split, Topusko), metallurgy (Sibenik), chemicals and petrochemicals (Zagreb, Split, Kutina, Osijek, Rijeka, Sisak), mechanics (Slavonski Brod, Zagreb), shipbuilding (Rijeka, Split, Pula), food, textiles (Varaždin, Zagreb, Duga Resa). The elongated shape of the state does not favor communications, given the huge distances to be covered; moreover, the connections between the NE and the S must pass through Bosnia. There are almost 30,000 km of roads, including the Zagreb-Split motorway built after 2000, while the railway network consists of only 2,726 km of tracks, electrified for less than a thousand. Tourism is also recovering significantly, returning to the levels of 1990 (when there were about 4 million visitors). The country mainly exports chemicals, machinery, timber. The first commercial partner is Italy.