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Country profile - Distinguishing factors (Croatia)

Country profile
SOER Country profile from Croatia
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 08 Apr 2011

Croatia (officially The Republic of Croatia) is a European country geographically situated at the crossroads between Central and South East Europe. It borders Slovenia and Hungary in the north, Serbia in the east, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro in the south and east. It has only a maritime border with Italy. The most important cultural influences in the Croatian history come from Central Europe and Mediterranean. The political system of the Republic of Croatia is parliamentary democracy.

Most of Croatia has a moderately warm, rainy climate with a mean monthly temperature in the coldest month above -3°C and below 18°C. Only the highest mountainous regions – >1 200 m above the sea level – have a snow forest climate with mean temperature in the coldest month below -3°C. The warmest month in inland has a mean temperature of below 22°C and in the coastal area above 22°C, and more than four months in the year have a mean monthly temperature of above 10°C. There are no particularly dry months, and the month with the least precipitation falls in the cold period of the year. An olive-tree climate predominates on the islands and in the coastal area of the central and southern Adriatic, the warm part of the year being a dry season with less than 40 mm of precipitation in the driest month, which is less than a third of that of the rainiest month of the cold part of the year. With an average 2,600 hours of sunshine in a year, the Adriatic coast is one of the sunniest in the Mediterranean, and the average sea temperature in the summer is between 25°C and 27°C [1].

The overall area of Croatia is 87,661 km2 of which 56,594 km2 is land and 31,067 km2 sea. According to the CLC 2006 Land Cover map, the majority of the total area is under forests and shrubs – 26,487.6 km2 (46.8%). Bush and grass-covered surfaces cover 4,742.1 km2 (8.4%). The total agricultural land is 22,841.1 km2, of which heterogeneous agricultural areas account for 18,452 km2 (32.6%), and plough land and permanent crops for 4,389.1; km2 (7.8%). Areas subject to human activity account for 1,774.5 km2 (3.1%). Inland waters account for just 539.3 km2 (0.95%), and marshland for 200 km2 (0.4%) [2]. Islands occupy 3,259 km2 (5.8% of the land area), forming the second largest archipelago in the Mediterranean. Croatia has a total of 1,185 islands, 47 of which are inhabited, 651 uninhabited, 389 are islets and 78 are reefs.

According to the latest 2001 Census, Croatia had approximately 4.44 million inhabitants, 56% of whom lived in urban areas. The 2005 birth rate was 9.6%, with decreasing population rate (-2.1%). According to projections of the average fertility rate including migrations, total population by 2050 should be 3.68 million, 80% of whom would live in urban areas [3]. 


Figure 1. Structure of the GDP 1989-2008

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Figure 1. Structure of the GDP 1989-2008
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In the past five years, the average real growth of gross domestic product (GDP) exceeded 4% per year (Table 1). In 2008, GDP per capita was EUR 10 681, while GDP growth compared to 2007 was 2.4%.  The slowdown in the economic growth that began in the second half of 2008 is expected to continue in 2009, giving a 2% growth projection for 2009. Croatia is currently at the level of just slightly above 50% of the average European per capita income. Although falling, unemployment remains one of the biggest problems for the Croatian economy. The Services and Industry sectors are dominant in the structure of the GDP (Figure 1).

Table 1. Main economic indicators for the 2004 – 2008 period







GDP, current prices (EUR billion)






GDP, real growth rates (%)






[1]Unemployment rate (%)






[2]Inflation (%)






                                                           Source: Central Bureau of Statistics,

[1]  According to the definition of the International Labour Organization, inhabitants above the age of 15

[2]  According to the Consumer Price Index 



The institutions providing for sustainable development and environmental protection in Croatia are the Croatian parliament, government, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Physical Planning and Construction (MEPPP) and other relevant ministries and authorities, administrative departments in counties and/or cities in charge of the environmental protection, and towns and municipalities. Though, the leading administrative authority is the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Physical Planning and Construction (MEPPP).

The Croatian Environment Agency (CEA) and Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund (EPEEF) have specific roles. CEA is nationally designated institution for collecting, consolidating and processing of environmental data, managing environmental databases and assessing and reporting on the state of environment. EPEFF's main task is funding, preparation, implementation and development of programs and projects in the field of the environment protection and sustainable development, as well as in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy recourses. Enforcement of regulations relating to sustainable development and environmental protection at the local level is ensured by the administrative departments of counties, the City of Zagreb and other cities/towns and municipalities responsible for environmental protection, legal persons vested with public authority in the area of environmental protection as well as individuals authorised for the performance of professional environmental protection activities, as regulated by the Environmental Protection Act, Official Gazette 110/07, and special regulations. The important role is played by scientific and professional institutions and a number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which express their views, participate in the creation of public opinion and also influence  environmental policy. In order to achieve a coordinated economic growth related to the environmental protection and ensure conditions for sustainable development, as well as to ensure continuity in providing a professional and scientific basis for dealing with matters of environmental protection and sustainable development, as stipulated by the Environmental Protection Act (Official Gazette 110/07), the government has established the Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection Council. Since 2000, Croatia’s environmental protection policy and the development of institutions have been shaped by the process of approximation to the European Union (EU). The process of harmonizing the national legislation with the acquis communautaire  in the environmental field is almost completed.



Figure 2. Investment in environmental protection - long-term assets, 1997 – 2008

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Figure 2. Investment in environmental protection - long-term assets, 1997 – 2008
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Figure 3. Investment in environmental protection by sectors, average for 2004–2008

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Figure 3. Investment in environmental protection by sectors, average for 2004–2008
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Financial investment in environmental protection can be approached both in terms of  invested budgetary resources and investment from other sources such as resources collected into non-budgetary funds, personal resources of polluters, loans and international aid resources.

According to statistical data, investment in environmental protection consisting exclusively of infrastructure investment – long-term assets – has been growing (Figure 2), and the most significant increase was recorded in 2007 with the allocation of 399 million EUR (HRK 2, 900.80 million). In 2008 investment in environmental protection fell to 318.42 (2,316.50 million HRK).

In the period 2003-2008, the EPEEF approved 676.37 million EUR (HRK 4,917.22 million) for 2,927 projects: 2,402 environmental and 525 energy efficiency projects, including treatment of special categories of waste. Additionally, in the period 2001-2008 Croatia also used resources from the EU pre-accession funds – CARDS, Phare, ISPA and IPA – to a total value of EUR 145 million. 

From the structure of investment by the environmental protection sectors, it could be concluded that in the period 2004–2008 most money was invested in wastewater management – nearly 40% of the total environmental investment (Figure 3).


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