Croatia, officially the Republic of Croatia,
is a southern Central European country at the crossroads with the Mediterranean,
and Southeastern Europe. Croatia borders with Slovenia,
Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia and
Herzegovina and Montenegro to the far southeast.
Its southern and western flanks border the Adriatic Sea, and it also shares a
sea border with Italy in the
Gulf of Trieste.
The Croats settled on the east
coast of the Adriatic Sea and the Pannonian lands in early 7th century. Croatia became
a part of the Austrian Empire (from 1867 to 1918 as Austro-Hungarian Empire) in
1527. In 1918 Croatia joined
the Kingdom of Serbia
into a Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later Kingdom of Yugoslavia).
In 1941-1945 during World War II,
an Axis puppet state known as the Independent
State of Croatia existed. After the victory
of Tito's People's Liberation Movement and the Allies, Croatia became
a constitutive federal republic of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
In 1991 Croatia
proclaimed independence by holding the first democratic elections in the country
but had to fight a long and bloody war against the Serb rebels and JNA until