With nearly 1,800 kilometers of cliffs and coastline and more than a thousand islands, Croatia is one of the best-preserved stretches of the Mediterranean coast. Yet there is much diversity in this small European country, with mountain ranges spreading south of the Alps, idyllic hills to the north and fertile plains to the east.
The capital Zagreb is a prime example of Central European identity, with its wonderful parks and architecture reminiscent of its Austro-Hungarian past. Historical monuments from Romanesque and Venetian times can be seen along the coast, especially in Istria and Dalmatia.
In the 4.5 million inhabitants, one can clearly recognize the proud Slavic spirit. It comes out especially when Croatian athletes perform well, whether it is handball, water polo, football or tennis.
- CAPITAL CITY: Zagreb
- LANGUAGE: Croatian
- CURRENCY: Kuna (HRK)
- AREA: 56,594 km2
- POPULATION: 4,284,889 (2011 estimate)
People and community
Your host family can live anywhere in Croatia: from a rural area in Slavonia to the capital Zagreb or perhaps in a coastal area. No matter where you live, your family will expect you to behave responsibly and maturely: help with household chores, use public transportation to get to school, and help prepare meals.
Most Croatian schools have teaching in two shifts: from 8:00 to 14:00 and from 14:00 to 20:00. In school you will probably have six to seven subjects a day and then theater, choir or sports after school.
The official language is Croatian, but you can also hear other languages in Croatia: Czech, Hungarian, Italian, Serbian and Slovak. As an exchange student, it will be beneficial if you have a basic knowledge of English. AFS organizes language courses in the first months, and then you get materials that can help you learn the language on your own.
Food in Croatia varies from region to region and it can be anything from seafood to meat dishes. A cheesecake called strukli is very popular and famous. Bread is usually eaten at every meal. Although Croats tend to eat lots of meat, they also enjoy fresh vegetables from the local markets. The main meal of the day is lunch which you will eat around 14:00. On weekends, lunch is crucial family time.