|Area||56,542 sq km|
|Population||4,480,043 (est 2012)|
|Religions||Roman Catholic 88%. none 5%. Orthodox 4%. Muslim 1%. other and unspecified 2%.|
|Life expectancy||75.99 (est 2012)|
Known as the country of a thousand islands, Croatia is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe. However, it is a land recovering from the festering wounds of bitter rivalries and war.
Following the demise of Austria-Hungary in World War I, Croatia joined the Yugoslav kingdom, made up of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. When the Axis powers were defeated at the end of the war, Yugoslavia, of which Croatia was a part, became a federal socialist state under the leadership of Marshal Tito.
In 1991 Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia resulting in four years of war between the Serbian-led Yugoslavian army and Croatians. During this time violent fighting and ethnic cleansing took place between Croats and Serbs, devastating the region. By 1998, under UN supervision, peaceful integration of all separatist territories was completed. The war left Croatia economically devastated.
Croatia has now made sufficient progress to apply for membership to the EU, however there are lingering concerns over its inability to manage areas of organised crime and Mafia-linked violence and its relations with neighbour Slovenia over sea and land borders.
The War of Independence (1991-1995) brought with it huge economic suffering from which Croatia is still recovering and unemployment remains high.
Croatia applied for EU membership in 2003 and is expected to become the 28th member of the EU on 1 July 2013.
BMS involvement in Croatia
BMS World Mission works with the Baptist Union of Croatia and has helped through finance and the provision of personnel. The Union’s first full-time General Secretary, Zeljko Mraz, and three other couples involved in church planting and theological education are being supported financially.
A crescent-shaped country, Croatia is made up of three regions – the rolling hills in the north around Zagreb; the rocky mountains along the Adriatic coast; and the inland valleys of the Pannonian Basin.
Croatia has a mixture of climates – continental in the north, Mediterranean along the coast and
semi-highland and highland climate in the central region.
Christianity has a long history in Croatia, going as far back as before the fifth century AD. Today, 94 per cent of the population claim to be Christian. While the majority of Christians are from the Roman Catholic community, Orthodox Christians, Lutherans and other Protestant churches are also present.
Currently within the Baptist Union of Croatia there are 52 Baptist congregations with a membership of around 2,000.