In 2003 Croatia received help from the World Bank to fix damage due to the war from 1991 to 1995. The Bank has rehabilitated roads, improved health care and implemented a national environmental action plan. Since joining the European Union in 2013, Croatia has followed strict guidelines keeping their country up to standards. Infrastructure in Croatia has been a focus and continues to evolve as the nation expands for locals and visitors alike.

The year 2016 generated many projects for improving infrastructure in Croatia. Reported by N1, almost ten billion kuna for investments in transportation that will be used for construction and reconstruction that will assist the transportation of people and goods. According to the Flanders investment report in April 2016, “Construction and Infrastructure Market in Croatia” better “links” were needed to connect inland parts of the country to coastland. August brought in a shift. Not only was emphasis placed on road safety, but also, “improving accessibility to inhabited islands and connecting the islands with the mainland.”

Durbrovnik – Neretva County and the city of Durbrovnik is an area of importance benefiting from the growing connections. With construction of the Peljesac Bridge and expansion of the Durbrovnik airport this city will be more connected to the rest of the country.

Infrastructure in Croatia is showing great results. From 2015-2016 transportation infrastructure gained high marks according to the World’s Economic Forum survey. At the time air-transport and railroads infrastructure brought in low marks for the country. In 2017 however, finance from the EU Cohesion Fund have been constructing ongoing railway and road construction, improving future scores from the forum.

From help of the EU Cohesion Fund as well as the European Investment Bank Infrastructure in Croatia is building at a steady rate. Known as Croatia’s biggest finance provider, in 2014 and 2015 approximately 1.6 billion euro was given to Croatia to finance various projects. With hopes high and a key player in funding Croatia’s infrastructure is on a great track to bridging natives as well as neighboring Europeans.

– Tara Jackson

Photo: Flickr

Steady Progress for Women's Empowerment in Croatia

One of Croatia’s major foreign policies is to support women’s empowerment, both domestically and internationally. With revisions to existing policies and the implementation of new policies, there has been steady progress for women’s empowerment in Croatia.

From 2001 to 2005, the National Policy for Promotion of Gender Equality, under the Beijing Platform, was the main policy that served as the basis for promoting women’s rights. Unfortunately, this policy was not heavily enforced.

Due to gender inequality and stereotypes, violence against women in Croatia has been reported in the thousands. In 2010, there were 15,198 reported domestic violence offenses recorded by the Ministry of the Interior. For some time, due to a substantial gap that enforced combat against domestic violence, protection was impeded. Currently, 18 shelters support women who have been abused through trafficking or domestic violence.

Although gender discrimination is prohibited in the workplace by the Croatian Labor Law, in 2009, women earned only 76 percent of the average wages men earned. However, seven years later, that percentage increased to 78.9 percent which shows Croatia’s steady progress.

The significant change for women’s empowerment in Croatia began in 2011. A national action plan for the implementation of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) ran from 2011 to 2014. This plan focused on women, peace and security, specifically encouraging women to join peace operations as well as the police and armed forces. 

As of 2017, new and revised policies are being drafted with a focus on women’s empowerment in Croatia. The new National Strategy of Protection against Domestic Violence is being drafted, set to be implemented between 2017 and 2022. Further, Croatia maintains its obligation to “protect the human rights of the people living within its borders” as a member of the U.N., as stated on the Implementation of Croatia’s Domestic Violence Legislation: A Human Rights Report.

Croatia is setting positive examples for women’s empowerment, as it elected its first female president, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. Incorporating women’s perspectives in efforts to address and redirect initiatives proves that women’s empowerment in Croatia is no longer a faraway dream. With a focus on the social and economic issues Croatia there is hope for women in Croatia to not only be viewed as powerful but also treated as such.

– Tara Jackson

Photo: Flickr

Facts About the Ustase GenocideMost people know little about or have never heard of the Ustase – a Croatian, racist, Nazi-like movement formed in 1929 that ruled Croatia during World War II. Modeled after the Italian fascists, the Ustase sought to separate Croatia from Yugoslavia in order to attain Croatian independence and create a “pure” Croatian state, using genocide to rid the country of “impure” people. This dark period for Croatia resulted in the Ustase genocide.

Top 10 facts about the Ustase Genocide:

  1. The targets of the Ustase genocide were mainly Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. These groups were also the main targets of the German Nazi genocide (the Holocaust).
  2. Initially, the Ustase’s enacted race laws against the groups they saw as non-Croatian and who they felt threatened Croatian identity, much like how the Nazi’s established race rules against those who weren’t considered pure Germans.
  3. Additionally, like the German Nazis, the Ustase also established concentration camps to carry out their ethnic cleansing. The largest was Jasenovac where the Ustase murdered around 70,000 to 100,000 people.
  4. The Jewish population of Croatia was practically eliminated – almost all of the 40,000 Jews that resided in Croatia were murdered.
  5. It is estimated that about 30,000 Croatian Gypsies were murdered as well. The most number of deaths comes from the Serbs killed by the Ustase; it is estimated (on the low end) that 300,000 to 400,000 Serbs were murdered in the Ustase genocide. Some reports estimate that around 750,000 Serbians perished.
  6. The leader of the Ustase movement, Ante Pavelic, fled to South America after the end of World War II in 1945. He eventually moved to Spain and died in 1959 at the age of 70 and was never prosecuted for his crimes.
  7. The racism in Croatia did not end after the end of World War II, it continued into the later twentieth century with Serbs still being persecuted and even murdered as late as 1991.
  8. Even the United States was complicit in the continued racism in Croatia. The Assistant US Secretary of State who served as the American Ambassador to Germany during the beginning of the Yugoslav War, Richard Holbrooke, represented the US view that “The Serbs started this war.”
  9. Unlike the German concentration camps, which most often used gas chambers to murder the innocent people they targeted, the Ustase genocide was carried out through much more brutal means. Croatian Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies were cruelly beheaded, drowned and murdered in other barbaric and torturous ways.
  10. Even the German Nazis noticed the brutality of the Ustase. A Gestapo report to Heinrich Himmler from 1942 stated, “The Ustaše committed their deeds in a bestial manner not only against males of conscript age but especially against helpless old people, women and children.”

The shocking cruelty of the Ustase genocide has gone forgotten but should be remembered as an example of the senseless tragedy that occurs from allowing nationalism and racism to fester rather than rooting it out immediately.

Mary Kate Luft

Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in CroatiaA member of the Balkan states, Croatia is located in on the northeastern shore of the Adriatic Sea. It is bordered by Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia and Bosnia- Herzegovina. The region has been experiencing a significant migrant crisis since 2015 following the outbreak of the Syrian civil war. The population of 4.5 million is mainly composed of Croats, followed by Serbians at 12 percent.

Before 1991, Croatia was part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Much of population was displaced by the war for independence between 1991 and 1995. Economic damage also resulted from the war and Croatia has been making a slow recovery since. About 11 percent of the population remains below the national poverty line. The question of how to help people in Croatia has been tackled by multiple nonprofit groups.

SOS Children’s Villages International is an organization that specializes in supporting vulnerable children in Croatia. Occasionally, some of the most disenfranchised children in Croatia do not receive proper care or support from government organizations responsible for protecting children. Abandoned or disenfranchised children that receive support from the ministries responsible for protecting children are often placed in institutional homes.

SOS Children’s Villages works in Lekenik and Ladimirevci, and in both locations, supports children by providing homes and education on how to live relatively independently. Most recently in 2015, the SOS Emergency Program in Croatia has responded by supporting children found unaccompanied, young people in general, mothers of children and pregnant women. In the last five years, the organization has started a kindergarten in their area of influence where children could be looked after. Child-friendly spaces were constructed as a result of flooding in 2014 as well.

Wondering how to help people in Croatia, and specifically, children? The SOS Children’s Villages International organization has established means of sponsoring an SOS village, as well as sponsoring an individual child. Sponsoring a village or a child provides orphaned children with a loving home and a more supportive community. This is a recurring financial donation occurring on a long-term basis.

Sponsoring a child also allows you to write back and forth and communicate with children in the SOS village. Meanwhile, one-time donations go towards providing emergency care, shelter, food as well as “Child Friendly Spaces.” Answers to frequently asked questions and more information can be found on the SOS Children’s Villages International website.

Melanie Snyder

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Croatia
Croatia, a beautiful country home to numerous tourist destinations, is quickly becoming the EU’s poorest and slowest growing nation. With 19.5 percent of the population below the poverty line and an unemployment rate of almost 12 percent, the situation is dire.

While these numbers may not seem especially concerning, they are deceiving, as significant income disparities exist in Croatia. The poor in Croatia experience greater income differences among themselves than most countries. Those living in small towns in the east and southeast regions and in rural areas are especially at risk.

These areas suffered the most from the Homeland Wars in the 1990s. The wars and the corrupt privatization of state-owned companies hurt Croatia’s industrial sector. Once an industrial powerhouse, Croatia now has turned to a less dependable and less lucrative service-based economy that relies on tourism for jobs and income.

 

Main Causes of Poverty in Croatia

 

  • Rising Foreign Debt: Croatia’s external gross debt has risen to €46.4 billion, which equals 108 percent of the annual GDP and is an all-time record. The debt is still trending upward and shows no sign of stopping. Consequently, Croatia’s credit rating continues to drop and the country cannot accumulate as much of the foreign aid it desperately needs.
  • A Six-Year-Long Recession: The Great Recession of 2008 severely impacted the Croatian economy for years. During this period, child poverty increased by more than 50 percent. The recession exacerbated issues already present in the Croatian economy and is a large reason why the country’s growth rate remains under 2 percent. Furthermore, the poor economic performance has contributed to a doubling of the public debt that has resulted in high taxes and fewer jobs.
  • High Unemployment: The last of the main causes of poverty in Croatia is high unemployment, especially among youths. Among those aged 15 to 24, Croatia has the third highest unemployment rate in the European Union. The youth unemployment rate reached an all-time high of 49.8 percent in 2013 and currently fluctuates around 30 percent.

 

However, Croatia is working to improve these conditions. For example, as a member of the European Union, it has committed itself to the Youth Guarantee Programme. Through this initiative, Croatia receives funding from the EU to build a support system for Croatian youths that would feature more opportunities for vocational education and apprenticeships in the public and private sectors. The goal of this program is to ensure that youth members receive a job offer within four months of registering as unemployed.

Croatia also is implementing the Strategy on Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion in Croatia (2014-2020), which aims to reduce poverty and social exclusion in Croatia through a regional approach. Through initiatives like these, the government hopes to address the causes of poverty in Croatia and lift itself into economic prosperity.

Lauren McBride

 

Human Rights in CroatiaAs a newly elected member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Croatia is promising to protect human rights and fight against discrimination. Considering the unfair treatment of minorities and hate crimes that were written of in the Human Rights Practices report for 2016, the country has a great deal of work to do.

Out of the 24 reported hate crimes in 2015, 15 were related to racism and xenophobia. A recent example of xenophobia in the nation can be seen through the way policemen have been treating asylum-seekers from Serbia. Out of the 10 Afghani asylum seekers who were interviewed, nine reported that the Croatian police were physical with them. Not only did they punch them, but they also seized some of their possessions. After doing all of this, the Croatian police officers forced them out of the country and back to Serbia.

Another large issue in Croatia is the segregation of people with disabilities. People with disabilities in Croatia tend to lack control in their lives because they are placed into institutions rather than communities.

Although human rights in Croatia still need to improve greatly, the people are still making a conscious effort to fix the problems they are faced with. For example, the Humans Rights House Zagreb addresses the country’s issues and introduces solutions to help them. In 2016, they partnered with Gong to explain both the importance of and how to combat hate speech.

To combat segregation of people with disabilities, de-institutionalization has begun in Croatia, in an attempt to legally give those with disabilities their rights. So far, 24 percent of institutions have begun de-institutionalization. While this number may be small, it is a start to a solution.

Croatia, like every other country in the world, is nowhere near perfect. However, with the help of citizens and activists who advocate for what they believe is morally right, human rights in Croatia will continue to progress.

Raven Rentas

Why Is Croatia Poor
Croatia is one of the more economically unstable European Union countries, with 19.5% of its population falling below the poverty line. There are many regional disparities within Croatia, with some areas making efforts towards industrializing while others have done little to no effort. In order to improve the situation in the future, a question must be answered: why is Croatia so poor?

Many of the highest rates of poverty are found in small towns and settlements in the east and southeast regions of Croatia, along the country’s border with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. These areas were the most profoundly affected by the Homeland War of the 1990s and failed to recover afterward.

Croatian poverty is often attributed to the fallout after Croatia gained independence in 1991 and moved to a free-market system. During this transition, there was very little progress made towards the privatization of industries, and some faith was lost when the government appointed political favorites to influential positions.

Many groups that depended on the government, including pensioners and previously middle-class people, suffered greatly because of the changing economic system and the impact of the war. The U.N. Development Program’s 1999 Human Development Program reported that, in 1997, the average pension was less than half of the average salary.  On top of this, many pension payments were often months late. Currently, the pension system is becoming increasingly overburdened as the ratio of pensioners to workers increases.

To reduce its poverty rate and answer the question “why is Croatia poor?”, Croatia is taking part in the Europe 2020 Strategy.  This strategy was developed to lessen the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion by 2020. This goal will require the development and successful implementation of policies and programs that specifically target people who risk falling below the poverty line.

Croatia has also developed “The Strategy for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion in the Republic of Croatia 2014-2020,” which seeks to identify population groups that are extremely vulnerable to poverty and social discrimination. These groups are usually made up of older people, single-parent families, lower educated individuals, disabled people, war veterans and victims of war and ethnic minorities such as Roma and Serbs.

By creating more social programs to support these groups and strengthening inter-European trade, Croatia can hopefully reduce its poverty rate and expand its economy.

Saru Duckworth

Photo: Pixabay


The cost of living in Croatia is relatively steep in comparison to the minimum monthly wage, though expected growth in the region’s economy and hikes in the area’s minimum wage will benefit its residents trying to make ends meet.

This year alone, the country’s economy is expected to grow by 2.9%, according to the World Bank. In the following year, it is projected to increase by approximately 2.6%.

Items such as service exports, investments and personal consumption all contribute to the economy’s growth.

According to Wageindicator, as of March 2017, the minimum monthly wage in Croatia is just shy of $507. In comparison, approximate month-to-month living costs in Croatia total around $330.

Other expenses such as food, clothing and utilities often push the total cost of living over the minimum monthly wage. This fact means residents might resort to sharing a living space with multiple people, though these spaces are often not intended for more than one person.

According to an article from Croatia Week, in Zagreb, the country’s capital, the average resident will earn a little under $1,000 a month. Of these wages, just over $200 must be set aside for utility bills, according to the article.

A full week’s work is required to cover basic living costs in Zagreb. Approximately 38 hours of work per week are needed in Zagreb to cover the cost of utilities.

Compared to other European capitals, Zagreb has some of the highest utility rates, topping even that of London, one of the world’s most expensive cities.  The cost of living in Croatia is typically greater than that of its neighboring countries.

In recent years, a rise in tourism in the region has increased the cost of living in Croatia. Compared to other Eastern European countries, everyday costs are significantly higher in Croatia, though they are lower than in Western Europe and the U.S.

Leah Potter

Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Croatia Refugees
Croatia is a top tourist destination with its long, beautiful coastline along the Adriatic Sea, and tourism accounts for 17 percent of country’s annual gross national product. However, over the past 25 years, the country has been in headlines for something quite different. The Balkan Wars of the 1990s saw a large number of Croatian refugees leaving the country. In addition, the Syrian refugee crisis of the last few years has caused an influx of foreign refugees into Croatia. Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi refugees began arriving in Croatia in 2015. Below are 10 facts about Croatian refugees.

  1. Croatia declared its independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991. This resulted in a war that lasted until 1995. During this time, 900,000 Croats were displaced both inside and outside the country.
  2. It is estimated that between 200,000 and 300,000 ethnic Serbs left Croatia in August 1995 after a military conflict. In turn, 130,000 ethnic Croats left Bosnia and Herzegovina for Croatia.
  3. War broke out in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992. During the war, an estimated 403,000 refugees arrived in Croatia as a result of the conflict.
  4. The Croatian refugees who left the country began returning in 1996. By 2012, more than 132,600 of the Croatian refugees of Serbian descent had returned to Croatia. One of the main issues impeding their return was housing. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has worked to help alleviate this problem as well as the legal, social and technical issues that arise for returning refugees.
  5. In 2015, Croatia faced new refugee challenges, when a huge wave of Syrian refugees arrived en route to northern Europe. During this influx, more than 800,000 people passed through Croatia.
  6. During this period, there were two refugee camps set up in Croatia, and the government provided free transport for refugees to Hungary and later to Slovenia.
  7. On September 16, 2015, Croatia became one of the main transit countries when Hungary closed its borders to refugees. Since then, the country sees approximately 12,000 entries each day.
  8. The Balkan refugee route was effectively closed in March of 2016, when Slovenia closed its borders to migrants, and Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia quickly followed suit. The aim was to end the flow of migrants to Europe through the Balkans.
  9. As a member of the European Union, Croatia has an obligation to abide by a plan to relocate refugees from Greece and Italy, countries where the most refugees have arrived.
  10. Croatia has agreed to receive a total of 1,600 asylum-seekers by the end of 2017 as agreed with the EU resettlement scheme.

These 10 facts about Croatian refugees demonstrate that the refugees that left Croatia in the 1990s as well as those that have entered the country since 2015 have brought Croatia into world headlines for the last quarter of a century.

Jene Cates

Photo: Flickr


Croatia is one of the smaller countries in the world with just over four million people currently living in the country. The average life expectancy in Croatia is 77 years, which is higher than the average life expectancy worldwide, which is 71 years according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Females are expected to live longer than the males in Croatia. The most major diseases in Croatia mostly contribute to deaths from an older age group.

The top two causes of deaths in Croatia pertain to the heart and the vascular system. Topping the list is ischemic heart disease (IHD), which caused 12 percent more deaths in 2015 than in 2005. IHD is the leading cause of premature death in Croatia, and it has held this spot for more than 10 years. In this way, IHD has become quite a large problem for Croatia. The second-highest cause of death in the country is cerebrovascular disease; it has maintained the second spot for years as well.

Cancer holds the next few spots on the list of top diseases in Croatia. One disease which has risen in prevalence in Croatia is Alzheimer’s disease, which kills 45 percent more people in the country than it did in 2005. Alzheimer’s has affected many people around the world, and it is now on the rise in Croatia as well. It has risen one spot on the list from fifth place to fourth place in the span of 10 years.

Rounding out the list of top diseases in Croatia is COPD, hypertensive heart disease, falls, diabetes and breast cancer. Falls are the only entry on the list that is an injury; the rest are non-communicable diseases. The most prevalent communicable disease on the list is the 14th entry: lower respiratory infections.

Risk factors in Croatia that can cause some of these diseases to begin or persist include dietary risks, high blood pressure and tobacco, alcohol and drug use, among others. These are major risks behind the list of premature and preventable deaths in Croatia.

When traveling to Croatia, there are many vaccines that should be up-to-date or received for the first time weeks in advance of the trip. These vaccines include those for hepatitis A and B, as well as the rabies vaccine.

The most prevalent diseases in Croatia mirror some of the major diseases found in other countries around the world. Cancers and heart diseases are some of the highest causes of death and disease worldwide. This is a trend that needs to be taken seriously, along with every other disease on the list.

Brendin Axtman

Photo: Flickr