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Croatia, officially called the Republic of Croatia, is a small country located in the northwestern portion of the Balkan Peninsula. the capital city and largest city is Zagreb. The official language of Croatia is Croatian and its minority languages are Czech, Hungarian, Italian, Serbian, Slovak, and Ruthenian.

Today's Croatia is made up of several historically Croatian regions including Croatia-Slavonia in the upper part of the country, Dalmatia on the Adriatic Sea, Istria on the Istrian Peninsula on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, all of which were ruled by foreign powers for centuries. Even so, these regions remained rooted in Western culture including the Latin alphabet, Roman law, and the economic traditions of the west.

In 1939, the government of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia declared that it was neutral, but by 1941, the pressure for Yugoslavia to join the Axis was heavy. On March 25, 141, the Yugoslav government signed the agreed to join the Axis. Immediately, demonstrations erupted in Belgrade, and two days later, on March 27, a coup d'état occurred and the Yugoslavian government was overthrown. When the new government refused to ratify the signing of the Tripartite Pact, Hitler launched an invasion of Yugoslavia.

On April 10, German soldiers arrived in Zagreb. That same day, the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia was declared. It was led by the Ustaše and declared an Axis puppet state. On April 17, Yugoslavia once again joined the Axis. Germany, Italy, and Hungary divided up the Slovene lands, and the Serbian territory was put under German administration.

For the rest of World War II, the Axis occupied Yugoslavia, a circumstance which allowed the Croatian radical right, Ustaše, to come to power and establish the Independent State of Croatia in 1941. Ustaše belonged to the Ustaša, the Croatian Revolutionary Movement, a fascist, ultranationalist terrorist organization which was responsible for the murders of thousands of Serbs, Roma, and Jews during the Second World War. Mimicking the actions of other European fascist regimes in Europe, they established no fewer than eight concentration camps and enacted racial laws, all in accordance with Hitler's Final Solution.

The anti-fascist, communist Partisan movement was established in 1941, led by a Croatian named Josip Broz Tito. This movement spread like wildfire to other parts of Yugoslavia. In 1945, the Soviet Red Army helped the Partisans expel the Axis forces as well as those who supported them. Once the Independent State of Croatia was defeated at the end of the war, many members of Ustaše as well as conscripts, anti-communists, sympathizers, and others fled toward Austria in order to surrender to the British and obtain refuge from England. But the British soldiers interned them and then returned them to the Partisans.

In 1945, Croatia became a socialist republic as a part of the six-part Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia. Under this new form of communism, factories and estates formerly owned by individuals were nationalized, and the new economy was a type of planned market socialism. Beginning in 1963, citizens of Yugoslavia were allowed to travel to any other country freely and without visas due to their neutral politics. They were guaranteed free health and dental care as well as secure pensions. The country started rebuilding and Yugoslavia began developing the tourism industry.

The economy eventually morphed into a kind of socialism called "samoupravljanje" or self-management. This was a type of socialism where workers controlled socially owned businesses, creating a kind of system which was much better than the form of economy which was practiced in the Eastern Bloc countries. During the 1960s and '70s, industrialization in Croatia skyrocketed.

In the first few years of the 1970s, the so-called Croatian Spring during which students organized demonstration in order to demand more freedoms and greater autonomy. The government stifled all such protest and jailed the leaders of the movement, but this led to the constitution of 1974 which gave more rights to the various individual republics.

For most of the 20th century, Croatia had been part of Yugoslavia. That federation disintegrated and Croatia was granted its independence once again in 1991, and Croatia was a little slow to re-invent itself. Finally, in 2013, Croatia joined the European Union.

 

 

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