Facing Energy PovertyWhat if you could help solve two problems with just one solution? Well, Croatia has managed to do just that with the implementation of a new policy. Croatia, a country in southeastern Europe, launched an ambitious new initiative in September first. The goal of this initiative is to help alleviate those who are facing energy poverty and mitigate the environmental crisis. Croatia’s Fund for Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency allocated 203 million Kuna to renovate the energy facilities in people’s homes, specifically renewable energy sources. Houses owned by families account for more than half of all households in Croatia and consume around 40% of energy in the country.

Homes in Croatia

Many family-owned properties were built in the late 1980s and are not energy efficient. These homes consume around 70% of the energy-related to utilities. Croatia believes that these homes’ energy consumption can become closer to approximately 40%. Croatians facing energy poverty will have all the funding required to renovate covered by the government. Thirty-two million kunas in the 203 million kuna budget has been allocated specifically for Croatians facing energy poverty.

The Issue of Energy Poverty

Currently, many Croatians are victims of energy poverty. Back in 2018, 17.5% of Croatians were not able to afford their utility bill. In comparison, only around 6.6% of people in the European Union faced this challenge. The issue of energy poverty can seriously stress a family’s budget, especially as Croatians facing energy poverty are more likely to be impoverished.

The numbers are even more drastic in “social housing,” where about one-third of the people in social housing owe money for their utility bill. High utility bills are because of Croatia’s chilly climate, which means families will want to spend more money on heating to ensure their homes are comfortable in the winter. Thus, Croatians pay a significantly higher amount for the same energy. This forces many families into energy poverty. The poorest one-fifth of Croatians spend about 12% of earnings on energy-related bills, whereas the poorest one-fifth spend only about 7% in the European Union.

Eradicating Energy Poverty

Croatia’s new energy initiative will work to lift people out of energy poverty. However, the policy would also have incredible environmental benefits. An integral part of the plan will replace current energy facilities with renewable options. As a result, Croatia would be actively working to reduce climate change’s adverse effects. Renewable energy is great for the environment because it emits less toxic material into the air like carbon pollution. Natural gas emits around 0.6 to 2 pounds of carbon. In comparison, popular forms of renewable energy like wind emits at most 0.04 pounds, and solar emits only 0.07 to 0.2 pounds of carbon.

Croatia’s plan would even have some economic benefit. By investing in renewable energy, Croatia is opening up a new sector of the economy by creating more jobs for Croatians. Many Croatians will benefit from the government’s new initiative, allowing for a better livelihood for all.

Overall, Croatia’s new initiative demonstrates how innovative solutions can help make strides in many different sectors. It can also help improve thousands of lives. Its new policy could help inspire other countries to take similar strides to alleviate energy poverty and aid in helping the environment at the same time.

– Anushka Somani
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in Croatia
Croatia is a southern European country on the coastlines of the Adriatic Sea and to the east of Italy. From 2012-2020, Croatia created a National Health Care Strategy policy to reform healthcare and close the gap on the inequalities that its citizens faced. The policy covered standardization, availability, connection and improving overall care. The country just gained and declared independence in 1992, but healthcare in Croatia has developed quickly and ranked highly. Here are five reasons why healthcare in Croatia is so commendable.

5 Reasons Healthcare in Croatia is Commendable

  1. Croatia provides healthcare to nationals and longterm visitors. The state provides access to healthcare in Croatia and everyone pays into what the country calls HZZO. HZZO is a mandatory country-wide health insurance system. Funding comes from two fronts that cover general healthcare. Payments to HZZO are calculated based on yearly income and are paid monthly by an individual or by a family through the employers. The Ministry of Health of Croatia also budgets the system. Visitors who stay three months or more must register and contribute to the health insurance plan.
  2. Croatia grants low cost, high-quality medical care. With Croatian government assistance and affordable living, physicians can offer a high standard of care. The quality of services provided at a lower rate has attracted many foreigners seeking medical treatment to travel to Croatia for those procedures. Competitively, reports have stated that renowned medical care costs 70% less than other leading countries. Former famous visitors for healthcare in Croatia include Russian Chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov and numerous athletes.
  3. Healthcare is available to everyone. As residents pay for mandatory health insurance, there are options to get supplemental health insurance for extra care. Both the Ministry of Health and local town or city governance owns Croatia’s hospitals. Private care is optional but links to existing medical establishments. Issues with lack of insurance or care are not prevalent as the state covers those unable to pay into the insurance.
  4. Polyclinics exist throughout Croatia. Under the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT), healthcare in Croatia meets international standards, reporting sufficiently stocked medical hospitals throughout the country. Pharmacies, clinics and even dental have emerged in every town, with rural areas having similar access.
  5. Croatia has exhibited state of the art medical research. Croatia has shown advances in medical research in both its past and present. In the 1980s, its pharmaceutical industry developed drugs like the antibiotic Azithromycin, which people in the country commonly used. In recent headlines, a new incision-less Gamma Knife emerged in the University Hospital Center Zagreb for radiation therapy on brain aberrations like tumors. Croatia also implemented new technologies in dentistry, while other countries are behind. Paying into a national healthcare system has its advantages, as Croatia has its citizens pay by their ability and receiving commendable levels of care based on specialized needs. As a leader for new medical technologies and devices, healthcare in Croatia has a record of excelling, even at international standards.

Tick-borne Encephalitis

Northeastern parts of Croatia contain tick-borne encephalitis or TBE, which is prevalent from March through November. This illness comes of Ixodes ticks, which transmit the disease. Humans will show symptoms within one to two weeks, with flu-like reactions, meningitis and brain swelling in the first phase. The second phase involves injury to the central nervous system resulting in seizures, paralysis and many other neurological complications.

Vaccines and boosters for both adults and children are available, as the TBE is endemic to Croatia. Prevention information and availability have become key to dropping reported numbers for annual reported cases. Between 1999 and 2009, Croatia had up to 44 reported annual cases, while that number dropped to 20 from 2006-2011.

Poverty and Healthcare

Even with advancements in healthcare in Croatia, there is poverty, social exclusion and large disparities among citizens. Poverty areas affect citizens with different socioeconomic statuses, located east and southeast of the country which have been primarily affected form the 1990 Homeland War. To change the poverty affected and at-risk communities, Croatia has agreed to the Europe 2020 strategy to curtail inadequacies that its citizens face.

All permanent residents pay into the Croatian health insurance fund. Those who are unable to pay can still receive healthcare if they are do not have employment, are students or are asylum seekers.

Croatia has shown how government policies can go a long way when agendas receive support from both the public and its leaders. Healthcare in Croatia may serve as a role model for all others to follow suit in more ways than one.

– Loan Tran
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in CroatiaHunger in Croatia has been a historical plague starting in 1917 when World War I set the country to a two-year famine. The struggle continued through the 2008 recession that increased poverty and unemployment rates by 8%. As in many contexts, Croatia’s economic hardship left many families with insecure food sources, with children being the most vulnerable to malnutrition and stunting. Consequently, in UNICEF’s 2014 report “Children of Recession,” the number of Croatian children living in poverty or at the brink of poverty was at an alarming level.

Fighting Hunger in Croatia by Addressing Poverty

Due to the correlation between poverty and hunger, the Minister of Social Welfare Milanka Opacic launched an initiative in 2015 to combat issues of hunger in Croatia. Part of this initiative included providing free school lunches to all children. As a result of this initiative, the Global Hunger Index in 2015 reported that Croatia, alongside 17 other countries, had reduced the number of people with insecure food sources by half. Furthermore, in 2016, the Global Hunger Index ranked Croatia as being of low concern for hunger.

The Link Between Hunger in Croatia and Agriculture

However, the problem of hunger in Croatia is not solely caused by poverty. Croatia is a country heavily dependent on food imports. Despite the fact that Croatia has quality agricultural land, plenty of water as well and a diverse climate and landscape, it is unable to produce enough food for the consumption needs of citizens. Based on its resources, Croatia should be a major exporter of agricultural goods; instead, Croatia imports 3.5 billion euros worth of food. One main cause of insufficient agriculture production in Croatia is inadequate and ineffective management of land. Due to this mismanagement, Croatian agricultural estates remain small, fragmented, underdeveloped and ultimately unproductive. Croatia suffers from agricultural stunting as a result of depopulated rural areas, a poor market value chain and outdated technology.

These issues will perpetually tie Croatia to food imports and fundamentally prevent the nation from being agriculturally independent. From an economic or trade perspective, this import dependence is not a problem. Every country in the world imports goods that it cannot produce domestically. However, in the era of COVID-19, heavy reliance on imports raises concerns; especially when the import is something as important and life-sustaining as food.

Steps Towards a Secure Croatia

While initiatives combating hunger in Croatia have made great domestic progress through increasing access to impoverished communities, there is still work to do. Experts call on Croatia to extend their hunger policies and focus on investing in domestic agricultural production. Croatia has already proven to be a country prone to hunger and it simply cannot afford to be self-sufficient in the provision of food in order to survive potential events like security threats, natural disasters or resource depletion.

Croatia has indisputably improved remarkably in regards to hunger since the 2008 recession. However, there is still a long way to go. This work requires funding, research and dedication; if successful, these efforts will result in an agriculturally independent and secure Croatia.

Lily Jones
Photo: Flickr

Health tourism in CroatiaWith over 1,000 islands and 3,600 miles of coastline, Croatia is the perfect tourist getaway. After facing devastating wars, Croatia has turned to tourism to boost its economy. Croatia’s beaches and national parks have become notable tourist attractions. In fact, 19.6% of the country’s GDP depends on tourism. The combination of its magnificent landscape and suitable healthcare has resulted in the emergence of a new type of travel in the Balkans: health tourism in Croatia.

Poverty in Croatia

The Yugoslav Wars resulted in freedom for the former states of the Yugoslavia Republic; Croatia gained its independence in 1991. The war affected the regions along the country’s borders of Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Unable to recover from the war, these regions became highly impoverished. 

In 2013 Croatia joined the European Union. While the EU typically has 8% unemployment, Croatia’s unemployment rates are much higher, reaching 15.4%. The cost of living in Croatia is higher than in other Eastern European countries, making it more difficult for those in poverty to afford what they need. To provide relief, the country has implemented its “Strategy for Combating Poverty and Social Inclusion in the Republic of Croatia.” This plan’s purpose is to improve the condition of vulnerable groups and help those that are socially excluded by offering more opportunity.

Health Tourism in Croatia

As Europeans grow frustrated with healthcare in their home countries, they travel to other countries to access medical care. This innovative and growing trend has promoted the rise of health tourism in Croatia. Market Research Future (MRFR) projects that the global medical tourism market will grow 21.4% a year for the next five years. The reasons health tourism has grown in Croatia include:

  • The health care system appeals to patients as it is both affordable and reputable. Obtaining surgeries in Croatia often costs less compared to receiving that same treatment in visitors’ home countries. Additionally, EU citizens can use their EU health insurance in Croatia.
  • The use of the internet and social media encourages travelers to visit attractive destinations like Croatia. Websites promote healthcare options while emphasizing the popular vacation spots in the area.
  • Technological advancements continue in the health care system. The quality of medical specialties in Croatia constantly progresses and ensures excellence.

The main concentration of health tourism in Croatia involves medical surgeries and wellness. Croatia specializes in popular medical procedures including plastic surgery, orthopedics and dentistry. Spa tourism encourages travelers to relax in the therapeutic resort town of Opatija. Tourists can explore the country while getting procedures all in one trip.

Future of Health Tourism

The same conflict that led to Croatia’s independence also brought about poverty and unemployment that continues to impact Croatians. In order to improve its economy, Croatia focused on tourism and created a strategy to combat poverty. Now, the country’s beautiful coastlines have become trendy destinations and health tourism in Croatia captivates vacationers. Improvements in healthcare have resulted in more Europeans flocking to Croatia for medical surgeries and therapeutic resort towns. Almost 10% of tourists visit Croatia for its healthcare, and that number is expected to grow. As the demand for health tourism in Croatia increases, this new industry can generate future economic benefits.

– Hannah Nelson
Photo: Pixabay

Homelessness in Croatia
Croatia has become a massive tourist destination in recent years. Whether visitors are in search of relaxing beaches, national parks or Games of Thrones filming locations, the small Balkan nation offers a myriad of attractions. In the midst of a mass exodus of tourists due to the COVID-19 outbreak though, a 5.3-magnitude earthquake struck the country in March and damaged thousands of buildings, injured dozens and killed one person. Immediately following the disaster, the government drafted a vague plan for reconstruction. Josip Atalic, an associate professor at Zagreb’s Faculty of Civil Engineering, anticipates it will take years for the affected infrastructure to be completely repaired.

Thousands of buildings, from schools and hospitals to apartments and homes, have been deemed unusable. Unfortunately, Croatia doesn’t have the resources to handle more displaced persons. Here are four facts about homelessness in Croatia.

4 Facts About Homelessness in Croatia:

  1. “Croatia ranks among the most vulnerable countries of the European Union in terms of poverty rates,” according to the nation’s Ministry of Demographics, Family, Youth and Social Policy. Between 2010 and 2017, the number of citizens receiving unemployment benefits decreased from almost 80,000 to about 35,000. Yet, the rate of people at risk of poverty has consistently hovered around 20% since 2013. Poverty, unemployment and homelessness intersect at different points. With so much of the population at risk of poverty, the risk of homelessness grows all the more.

  2. The official number of homeless people in Croatia depends on a very particular definition of homelessness. As a result, the statistic is lower than it might be if other organizations were to calculate the quantity. European Typology of Homelessness and Housing Exclusion, or ETHOS, has six categories that encompass varying degrees of homelessness. These degrees range from people living in public spaces to temporary residence due to a lack of personal housing accommodations. The Ministry of Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy found only 364 homeless persons in Croatia in 2018. This number is quantified by the definition in the Social Welfare Act of 2013, which determines a homeless person as one “who has no place to live, resides in a public or other place not intended for housing and has no means to settle the need for housing.” The government only counts most extreme cases of homelessness, in which a person is without a roof over his or her head. The total does not include the number of individuals who are without permanent residences and occupy beds in shelters, refuge accommodations, healthcare institutions or penal institutions. If the ministry were to include all ETHOS categories, there could be up to 10,000 homeless people in Croatia.

  3. Croatia has 14 homeless shelters in the entire country, with enough space to house 383 people. About a fourth of the nation’s population lives around Zagreb; as a result, most of Croatia’s homeless occupy the nation’s capital. There is only one shelter in Zagreb, and just recently it nearly closed as its lease with the city government came to an end. Without adequate resources to combat homelessness in Croatia, those afflicted have fewer chances to escape it.

  4. Aside from these aforementioned statistics, there is little research on poverty and homelessness in Croatia. In the last few decades, however, a number of organizations dedicated to homeless and vulnerable populationsPragma, Caritas and the Croatian Anti-Poverty Network, to name a fewhave materialized in Croatia. Most of these organizations are connected to the Croatian Network for Homelessness. Just a few years ago, a formerly homeless man began giving “anti-tours” of Zagreb; this was done in partnership with a social impact agency and the humanitarian association Fajter. He educates tour groups on the existence of homelessness in Zagreb, which is hardly noticeable due to strict vagrancy laws.

In the wake of two disasters that have impaired the infrastructure and the health of Croatia, it’s unclear how the country’s homeless population is faring. Nonetheless, between anti-tours and the growing number of aiding organizations, homelessness in Croatia is becoming more central to humanitarian efforts. Hopefully, in a few years, further research about the country’s vulnerable populations will be conducted. This would make more information available, and thus lead to more effective policies needed to address homelessness in Croatia.

Mary Wilkie
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Facts About Sanitation in Croatia
The Republic of Croatia is a country in Southeast Europe. After declaring independence from Yugoslavia, Croatia went through a period of bitter conflict. Under U.N. supervision, Croatia entered NATO in April 2009 and the E.U. in July 2013. Situated next to the Adriatic Sea, Croatia is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Croatia has abundant but unevenly distributed sources of water. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Croatia.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Croatia

  1. Currently, 99.6 percent of people in Croatia have access to improved drinking water. The majority of the Croatians have access to public water infrastructure. The Croatian Ministry of Health monitors the country’s water infrastructure.
  2. Some Croatian islands can procure their own water supply. Croatia has over 1,000 islands as part of its territory. Croatian islanders sometimes procure their own water by building private wells, harvesting rainwater and water slimming. Some islands also have their own water infrastructure such as desalination plants or water pumping stations near a water source.
  3. The World Bank aided in improving sanitation in Croatia. In 2018, the World Bank stated that the six-year-long project, which the World Bank funded, improved sanitation in Croatia. After the conclusion of its $87.5 million project, the World Bank stated that the country eradicated the practice of discharging untreated sewage into the ocean.
  4. Coastal water contamination is an issue that needs attention. People know Croatia for its beautiful beaches. This contributes to Croatia’s booming tourism industry, which constituted about 20 percent of the country’s GDP in 2016. This makes it especially important for Croatia to maintain the swimming water quality of its coasts. Recognizing this importance the Croatian government requested project support from the World Bank. The project, which lasted from 2009 to 2015, strengthened water supply and sanitation services across 23 municipalities. The World Bank reports that this project benefited over 230,000 people.
  5. The European Union’s Cohesion Fund is further supporting the modernization of sanitation in Croatia. On March 1, 2020, the E.U. approved the investment of more than 128 million Euros (143,143,808 USD) from the Cohesion Fund to improve sanitation in Croatia. The supported project aims to give access to high-quality drinking water and wastewater treatment to more than 29,000 people.
  6. There are concerns over possible pharmaceutical pollution in the Sava River. Located 15 kilometers upstream from Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia, there are concerns over possible contamination of the city’s water source. Nikolina Udikovic Kolic, a microbiologist who raised this concern, reported that bacteria in the Sava River are possibly developing antimicrobial resistance. This is problematic since this means that there is a chance that a superbug could develop from this river which can resist anti-bacterial chemicals. Kolic suggested that a factory that Pliva owns, which is Croatia’s biggest drugmaker, might be responsible for polluting the waterways.
  7. Around 97 percent of people in Croatia have access to improved sanitation facilities. The percentage of people without basic sanitary facilities decreased since 2012. Compared to 2012, when 1.9 percent of the population lacked access to basic sanitary facilities, the conditions improved to only 1.1 percent of the population in 2018.
  8. While access to flush toilets in rural areas is nearly universal, people have limited access to sewerage services. A 2018 study found that 94 percent of rural areas had access to flush toilets. Nearly 93 percent of flush toilet users had on-site fecal sludge containment facilities. However, among the interviewed households, only 12 percent of them had access to sewerage services.
  9. People in the poorest wealth quintile are the ones who lack access to piped water access and flush toilets. The same 2018 study stated that 25 percent of the rural Croatian population relies on self-supplied water and sanitation facilities. The main reason these houses were not connected to the public system was that these houses’ were physically not able to connect to the network.
  10. Climate change poses multiple threats to sanitation in Croatia. A 2012 study that the E.U. and other organizations conducted studied the impact that climate change could bring to Croatia. Experts suggest that the potential decrease in precipitation can diminish groundwater levels, which will affect the supply of drinking water in Croatia.

These facts about sanitation in Croatia show that it maintains adequate service quality and access to service. The wide availability of sanitation facilities and water facilities is making life better for many Croatians. However, for the residents of rural communities in Croatia, the need for improvement is apparent. The Croatian government and many other international organizations are addressing this need. Organizations such as the World Bank are working with the Croatian government to improve sanitation in Croatia. With all the dangers that climate change poses, the need for sustainable development is also paramount. With all this assistance, better sanitary conditions are coming for the people of Croatia.

– YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

Economy in Croatia
While beautiful, Croatia is not the most affluent in terms of economic standards. As of 2015, 19.5 percent of the Croatian population was below the poverty line. The financial crash of 2008 stunted the development of gross domestic product the country experienced since 1998. The convergence gap widened by 3 percent, launching the country into a recession. Luckily, RIMAC and its car, the Concept Two, is impacting the economy in Croatia in a positive way by offering Croatian’s jobs and allowing Croatia to compete in the international market.

Croatian Economic Slump

Various key issues lead to a poor economy in Croatia including labor shortages, minimal pay, lack of adequate education and subsequent lack of skill. Such domestic problems are integral to why many Croats are unable to find opportunities that match up to wealthier Western European countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden and/or Switzerland. According to the Croatian Employers Association (HUP), firms in Croatia are unable to fill some 30,000 jobs. Most of these openings exist in the tourism industry, making up at least 20 percent of Croatia’s gross domestic product.

Potential for a Great Economy

Despite the current state of the economy in Croatia, an emerging market may turn it around. Croatia, along with many other European Union member states, has benefited from the integration and trade of modern goods and services, specifically in technology.

Concept Two’s Impact

In 2018, a zoomer of a car sped onto the world’s tech radar at the Geneva Motor Show called the Concept Two. This car may support the development of a thriving economy in Croatia. Some have deemed the vehicle as “alive with technology,” elevating the bar as the fastest electric car around the globe.

The CEO of RIMAC, Mate Rimac, developed the lightning-fast vehicle. Mate Rimac began the development roughly 10 years ago when he turned his gas-powered vehicle into an electric car. The CEO has also discussed his desire to create opportunities in Croatia, “a country where people usually emigrate from,” to keep citizens from leaving. Further, Mate Rimac has already hired individuals of 22 different nationalities to work at his company.

The company manufactures all components of the Concept Two in-house. With the pricey, technologically loaded unit selling for more than $2 million, the average Croat would not be able to afford such a speedster. although, this hefty price tag could bring in a large influx of stimulation for the economy in Croatia.

RIMAC’s Impact

According to recent reports, the manufacture and production of the Concept Two are now employing many. The company has listed 429 full-time employees as of October 2018. Prior to this report in 2017, a venture capital funding organization noted the availability of 100 new jobs at RIMAC. These efforts have resulted in a growth of nearly double.

Further, the European Investment Bank (EIB) notes RIMAC as a good investment. In 2018, the EIB provided a direct loan to expand the research and development department, in part due to RIMAC introducing jobs and growth of the economy in Croatia.

Investment in Innovation

Often, the best way a country can improve the national economy is to grow business that can compete on an international level. Countries in the Baltic have been able to improve the internal business climate by increasing competition at the global playing field. One can promote allowing businesses to start and grow through investment in innovation, much like the Concept Two with RIMAC. One of the most productive methods to increase economic growth is through research and development in modern technology.

Companies like RIMAC should improve the business climate and economy in Croatia. With enough investment and support, companies with bravery and innovative force have the potential to be a major player in promoting Croatia into the international economy.

– Robert Forsyth
Photo: Wikimedia

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Croatia
Croatia is a small country in Southeastern Europe’s Balkan Peninsula on the Adriatic Sea. It is about 56,594 square kilometers, which is smaller than West Virginia and has a population of about 4.2 million. As of 2018, Croatia’s overall GDP was $60.8 billion, according to the World Bank. The country’s economy received a boost from joining the European Union in 2013 that helped facilitate its recovery from the 2008 global financial crisis.

However, the country still faces challenges. Due to factors including an aging population, increasing levels of emigration and a declining birth rate, Croatia’s population has been in decline for decades. After reaching a peak of 4.7 million in 1990, the population dipped back to levels that the country saw in 1960. Many expect Croatia’s population to slip to 3.4 million by 2050. Enmeshed within the discussion of Croatia’s population is the aspect of life expectancy. Croatia’s average life expectancy is 77.8 years. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Croatia.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Croatia

  1. Life expectancy has steadily increased over time. The average life expectancy in 1960 was 64.6. The age has increased ever since with just a few exceptions. There was a slight dip between 1977 and 1985, again between 1991 and 1992 and again from a peak of 78 in 2016 to what it is now.
  2. Croatia’s medical advancements and increased life quality have helped improve life expectancy. Total Croatia News also reported that declines in the past were because of “extraordinary situations” including wars or disasters. The declines in the early ’80s and early ’90s coincided with rising tensions linked to Croatia’s 1991 war for independence from Serbian-controlled Yugoslavia. There have been no recent major events in Croatia.
  3. Life expectancy is higher for Croatian women than men. Echoing the commonality for male versus female life expectancy across the developed world, women in Croatia have a higher life expectancy. For women, the average age of death is 80.9 years old compared to 74.9 years for men.
  4. Historically, life expectancy has differed for Croats living on one of Croatia’s 1,000 islands than those living on the mainland. In the past, male Croatian islanders lived three to 10 years longer than mainland men, while island women lived two to seven years longer than mainland women, according to a study that the Croatian Medical Journal published in 2018. However, researchers found the gap in life expectancy for islanders versus mainland Croats has shrunk, with islanders having lost mortality advantages due to diminishing adherence to a traditional Mediterranean diet and lifestyle.
  5. For the past decade, the leading causes of premature death in Croatia have been ischemic heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. The rate per 100,000 people of deaths due to ischemic heart disease as of 2018 was 1,907.6. Further, the rates of deaths stood at 1,000.5 and 726.8 for stroke and lung cancer respectively. As smoking and diet flaws play a substantial role in these figures, the Croatian government and leading health organizations are gradually working to address these issues. In the early 2000s, the Ministry of Health commissioned its first national survey examining cardiovascular risk problems and formulated a health care intervention program based on the results. In recent years, Croatia created a heart health-focused national e-campaign to reduce salt consumption in diets and other initiatives.
  6. While the leading causes of death have remained stagnant, there have been sharp changes in the top causes of death. Road incidents went from Croatia’s seventh-highest cause of death in 2007 to 13th highest in 2017. A study credits this to the government’s implementation of a new road safety program and enhanced enforcement of laws linked to key problem areas. These areas include speeding, drunk-driving and failure to use motorcycle helmets, seat-belts and child restraints. Meanwhile, Alzheimer’s disease has moved from the eighth highest cause of death to the fifth, which echoes a global rise in the prevalence of the disease.
  7. Concurrent with declining birth rates, infant mortality rates have steadily declined over the last three decades. Croatia’s birth rate per 1,000 people stood at 8.9 in 2017 compared to 14.6 in 1981. During the same time period, the infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births improved to four from 20.7 in 1981.
  8. Croatia stacks up fairly well against other countries. Croatia’s life expectancy is average compared to its bordering Balkan neighbors. Based on 2017 data, the country’s life expectancy is on par with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. Croatia has a higher life expectancy than Serbia and Hungary and a lower one than Slovenia. Croatia ranked as the 31st healthiest nation in the world in 2019 and its capital city Zagreb ranked as the 16th healthiest capital city in Europe.
  9. There have been reports of problems with health care for women. In 2018, a Croatian parliament member shared a story on the parliament floor about a poorly handled abortion procedure, re-igniting a longstanding national debate about health care for women. The BBC subsequently produced a story on how the member’s story inspired hundreds of other women to share their own experiences.
  10. Croatia’s health triumphs could be a result of its health care system. Croatia has a universal and mandatory health insurance scheme. The program utilizes both private and public care providers and the national Croatia Health Insurance Fund funds the system. The country’s health care system is so well regarded that medical tourism in Croatia continues to grow in popularity.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Croatia show that the health care system is not perfect, indicating life expectancy is not as high as it could be. However, the nation does boast several positive characteristics. The evolving internal and external economics and unfolding policy initiatives in the country are likely to impact life expectancy, as well as other quality of life elements.

Amanda Ostuni
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Poverty in Croatia
Croatia is located between central and southeastern Europe and includes a multitude of small islands that are scattered alongside its maritime coast with the Adriatic Sea. Despite being a member of the wealthy European Union, Croatia is economically unstable and wide-reaching poverty affects much of the population. Here is a list of 10 facts about poverty in Croatia that will illustrate living conditions today.

10 Facts About Poverty in Croatia

1. High poverty rates: In 2008, Croatia experienced a sharp rise in poverty that exceeded the rates recorded by other EU members. About one-third of all citizens live in conditions of extreme material deprivation and just over 15 percent are unable to afford the basic necessities needed to lead a comfortable life. Furthermore, there is a correlation between poverty and inequality in Croatia. A higher income is necessary as the world around develops. This makes it difficult for uneducated workers to afford the goods needed to increase their standard of living.

2. The country faces a significant debt burden: In 2018, the national debt in Croatia accumulated to $45.3 billion, which is equal to 74.1 percent of the country’s GDP. This amounts to $11,048 of debt for each individual living in Croatia. While the ratio has been improving since 2014, central government spending outweighs government revenues by a considerable margin. This will ensure that foreign debt will continue to burden Croatian citizens in the foreseeable future.

3. Croatia has the fourth highest youth unemployment rate in the EU: Statistics showed the Croatian youth unemployment rate at 23 percent in January 2019. According to Marijana Petir, a member of the European Parliament, the Croatian government has thus far created “improper employment conditions.” This has driven educated Croatian youth to seek jobs in wealthier European countries that have entrenched stable job opportunities into their economies.

4. Children are disproportionately affected by poverty: When the national debt peaked in 2014, about 2.6 million Croatian children were living in destitution. These vulnerable groups of individuals suffer the most due to a lack of necessary nutrients needed to grow and an adequate government infrastructure needed to secure future prospects of upward mobility. UNICEF is a leading organization working to improve the lives of impoverished children. In 2017, UNICEF entered into a partnership with the Croatian government in which both parties agreed to focus on improving children’s rights across the country.

5. Croatia is experiencing a massive emigration wave: Records show that far more individuals have left Croatia since the recession than previously estimated. While Croatia had recorded the number at 102,000, foreign statistics indicate that the number accumulates to 230,000 individuals. Many of these emigrants are in fact refugees and asylum seekers hoping to find better living conditions in other EU states.

6. Croatia struggles with underdeveloped regions: Small towns and settlements on the eastern and southeastern borders experience the highest rates of poverty. Economic struggles are attributed to the effects of the Croatian War of Independence in the 1990s. This war to separate from Yugoslavia led to massive destruction in these regions, as it cause $36 billion worth of damage and destroyed thousands of houses.

7. Education decreases the risk of poverty: Among those who attend primary school in Croatia, the risk of poverty is 37.1 percent. This number drops by 16 percent for those who attend secondary school. The chance of attending even basic levels of education is unlikely for impoverished children in Croatia, as families struggle to afford the necessary supplies needed to excel.

8. Health care is in need of reform: The European Commission released an assessment of the Croatian health care system at the end of 2017 indicating their concerns. Some issues include low spending on health care, an insufficient number of nurses and doctors and an unhealthy general population. Croatians struggle with drinking, smoking and obesity, which all harm the immune system and increase the risk of attracting disease.

9. Croatia’s Human Development Index (HDI) rate is increasing: Croatia’s HDI is steadily increasing, showing that the country is bettering its economic standing. Indicators in 2017 show that life expectancy at birth, years of schooling and GNI per capita are all on the rise. While Croatia’s HDI value of 0.831 puts it in the very high human development category, it is still well under the average HDI value for the European Union.

10. The Programme for Fighting Poverty and Social Exclusion: The EU created this initiative in order to combat the coupled problems of poverty and exclusion. The Croatian government adopted this program in 2015 as a strategy to halt the expansion and mitigate the effects of these two issues. The Croatian government has taken a regional approach when implementing the program, as it has allocated resources based upon which areas are in most need of aid.

These 10 facts about poverty in Croatia detail the hardships endured by the Croatian population; however, they also present a few avenues the central government is taking in order to alleviate these issues. Croatia has experienced slow yet impactful progress since 2014. Croatia needs to do more work if it is to become among the most affluent European states.

– Annie O’Connell
Photo: Flickr

Top Ten Facts About Living in Croatia
Nestled between Bosnia, Herzegovina and Slovenia, Croatia is a small country in Eastern Europe with an extensive history. Once a part of Yugoslavia, Croatia officially declared its independence in 1991 and became a fully developed country in 1998. Despite the country’s tumultuous beginnings as an independent nation, it has established itself fairly well as a developed nation. Keep reading to learn about the top 10 facts about living conditions in Croatia.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Croatia

  1. Ninety-nine percent of children attend primary school, which is split into two stages: grades one to four and grades five to eight. After primary school, children receive the option of stopping school or obtaining a secondary education. There are three options for secondary education in Croatia including grammar schools, vocational schools and art schools. After completing any of these options and receiving a Certificate of Education, students may enroll in a university.
  2. Croatia requires people to have a public health insurance plan as of 2002 which is funded via tax collections. While the quality of medical care in Croatia is good, the country is facing a financial problem due to low fertility rates in relation to the older population. To help combat this burden, doctor’s appointments, hospital visits and prescription medications require co-payments.
  3. Taking the bus is the most efficient way to travel in Croatia. The railways are not up-to-date and run slowly, whereas the bus systems are well-developed and fairly priced. Other travel options throughout Croatia include flights, coastal ferries and of course, driving.
  4. A portion of Croatia’s population (24.4 percent) is obese, ranking the country 59th in the world for obesity rates. The large reliance on transportation to get around the country may be a cause.
  5. Up until the 1990s, Croatia’s population was steadily increasing. In the 1990s, however, the population underwent a significant demise in population growth due to displacement from war, emigration to countries like the United States, Australia and Canada and increased deaths. As of 2018, 40 percent of the Croatian population is between the ages of 25 and 54, which places stress on both the majority population of older citizens and the minority population of younger citizens.
  6. Formerly a communist state up until 1990, Croatia’s economy has shifted to market-oriented capitalism. This shift was not easy due to the lasting effects of war in the country, leading to high unemployment rates lasting into the 21st century. Additionally, Croatia’s war-torn past has allowed the country to sustain an informal economy and has led to the emergence of a black market.
  7. Unemployment is prevalent among young Croatian citizens in particular, with 27.4 percent of people between the ages of 15 and 24, and 12.4 percent of the total population living without work. However, the government’s economic reform plan — scheduled for implementation beginning in 2019 — may lead to more job opportunities.
  8. Croatia largely depends on its imports in terms of resources and power. It uses up more oil and gas than it can produce, and while it has enough rivers to potentially use hydroelectric power, Croatia receives the vast majority of its electricity as imports. Croatia has begun efforts to implement the use of liquefied natural gas by early 2020, planning to redistribute this LNG throughout southeast Europe.
  9. Croatia had no organized armed forces when the country declared its independence in 1991 but subsequently formed an army, a navy and an air force. The country is not very militaristic and relies mostly on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for national security after joining the Treaty in 2009.
  10. Croatia is not a significant haven for refugees, though refugees do use it as a transit country. Between 2015 and 2019, roughly 672,418 refugees and migrants passed through Croatia. However, as of June 2018, the country only had about 340 asylum seekers actually residing in Croatia.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Croatia make it clear that despite progress, the country still has work to improve the quality of life for its inhabitants.

– Emi Cormier
Photo: Flickr