Brief history of Croatia

Croatia (Hrvatska)

Welcome to Zadar Guided Tours, the site dedicated to promoting the natural and cultural beauties of the newest edition to the European Union. Although Croatia is recognized as a small state somewhere in the Balkans, and as a former Yugoslavia country, the history of Croatian people and their country goes far into the 7th century when Slavic tribes came to this land.

ancient Croatia Ilyricum


Before Slavic tribes, there existed tribes such as Delmati, Histri, Liburni, Japodi and Ardijejci, also because of the Mediterranean Sea Greeks and Romans made their colonies along the Croatian coast, lots of their remains still can be seen along many Croatian islands and mainland cities.

After the Slavic tribes came to settle, began the rise of Croatia. In the year 862 came the saint brothers Cyril and Methodius to preach Christianity to Slavic people. For that occasion Cyril created the first alphabet named Glagoljica (Glagolitic alphabet) and the two brothers translated holy books to Slavic languages and started spreading Christianity along with literacy. It is considered that students from Methodius created the second type of letters used in Croatia, named Ćirilica (Cyrillic alphabet). By the end of the year 800 people accepted Latinica (Latin alphabet) as other nations were using it, but through the history all three types of alphabet were in use and there exist multiple monuments and incunabula written with all three types of letters. Below you can see Bašćanska ploča, the most famous document written with Glagolitic letters.

glagolitic alphabet


In the 9th century we had a couple of Princes such as Višeslav, Borna, Mislav, Trpimir, Domagoj, Branimir: under his rule in the year 879 Croatia was recognized as an independent country. In 925 pope Clement IV crowns Tomislav king which brings Croats together to form a unified state and repel Hungarian forces.

In 11th century was formed the city of Zagreb, today’s capital city of Croatia.

In the 12th century there was created the personal union with Hungary, since then a lot of alliances were created, Venice took over the city of Zadar along with a large part of the coast, later on attacks from the Ottoman emperor though the Ottoman Turks never conquered Croatia, in the 16th century Croatia was considered Antemurale Christianitatis.

18th century and the rule of the Austro-Hungarian empire and Maria Theresa made some progress, schools were opened, and medical institutions which helped to raise the population.

19th century was a struggle to keep the Croatian language intact under constant attempts to Hungarianise the Croats, which resulted in rebellion and the idea of connecting all Slavic nations and creating the Illyrian language and newspapers. The name Illyrian was soon replaced as the project failed, but Ljudevit Gaj created the standard Croatian language from many Croatian dialects. In 1835 he publishes the first orthography.

20th century began with the assassination of Austrian Duke Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo, Bosnia and the First World War. As the Austro-Hungarian monarchy is destroyed, a new alliance was made, called the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians, later Yugoslavia was created, but it didn’t last long. After the Second World War the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia was made and Tito was the president. After his death in 1980 Yugoslavia started falling apart and as a result of that the 20th century ended with another war here in the 90’s.

Today, Croatia is an independent country; from July 2013 it is also part of the European Union, which made it more interesting and approachable for tourists. Even from the time of Yugoslavia, Croatian coast was always appealing to tourists, many cities are under the UNESCO protection, and Dubrovnik has the title of pearl of the Adriatic Sea.

Croatia’s Adriatic Sea coast contains more than a thousand islands on the 31.067 km² of territorial waters.

Croatia covers 56,594 square kilometres and is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb.


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