|HISTORY OF CROATIA|
Croatian lands before the 7th century
Croatia as it is known today has been inhabited throughout the prehistoric period, since the Stone Age. In the middle Paleolithic, Neanderthals lived in Krapina. The area was inhabited by the Illyrians, and since the 4th century BC also colonized by the Celts and by the Greeks. Illyria was a sovereign state until the Romans conquered it in 168 BC. The Western Empire organized the provinces of Pannonia and Dalmatia, which after its downfall passed to the Huns, the Ostrogoths and then to the Byzantine Empire. Forebears of Croatia's current Slav population settled there in the 7th century.
The first native Croatian ruler recognized by a pope was duke Branimir, whom Pope John VIII called dux Chroatorum in 879. The first King of Croatia, Tomislav of the Trpimirović dynasty, was crowned in 925. Tomislav united the Pannonian and Dalmatian duchies and created a sizeable state. He defeated Bulgarian Tsar Symeon I in one of the greatest battles in history - battle of the Bosnian Highlands. The medieval Croatian kingdom reached its peak during the reign of King Petar Krešimir IV.
Following the disappearance of the major native dynasty by the end of the 11th century in the battle of Gvozd Mountain the Croats recognized the Hungarian ruler Coloman as the common king for Croatia and Hungary in a treaty of 1102 (the Pacta Conventa treaty).
The princes of Bribir from the Šubić family became particularly influential, asserting control over large parts of Dalmatia, Slavonia and Bosnia. Later, however, the Angevines intervened and restored royal power. They also sold the whole of Dalmatia to Venice in 1409.
As the Turkish incursion into Europe started, Croatia once again became a border area. The Croats fought an increasing amount of battles and gradually lost significant amount of territory to the Ottoman Empire.
Croatia in the Habsburg Empire
After the Bihać fort finally fell in 1592, only small parts of Croatia remained unconquered. The remaining 16,800 km2 were the remnants of the once great Croatian kingdom. The Ottoman army was successfully repelled for the first time on the territory of Croatia following the Battle of Sisak in 1593. The lost territory was mostly restored, except for large parts of today's Bosnia and Herzegovina.
By the middle of the 17th century the Ottoman Empire was driven out of Hungary and Croatia and Austria brought the empire under central control. Empress Maria Theresia was supported by the Croatians in the War of Austrian Succession of 1741–1748 and subsequently made significant contributions to Croatian matters.
With the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797, its possessions in eastern Adriatic became subject to a dispute between France and Austria. The Habsburgs eventually secured them and Dalmatia and Istria became part of the empire. Croatian romantic nationalism emerged in mid-19th century to counteract the apparent Germanization and Magyarization of Croatia. The Illyrian Movement attracted a number of influential figures from 1830s on, and produced some important advances in the Croatian language and culture.
Following the Revolutions of 1848 in Habsburg areas and the creation of the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary, Croatia lost its domestic autonomy, despite the contributions of its ban Jelačić in fighting the Hungarian rebellion. Croatian autonomy was restored in 1868 with the Hungarian–Croatian Settlement which wasn't particularly favorable for Croatia.
Croatia in the first Yugoslavia
The Kingdom underwent a crucial change in 1921 to the dismay of the Croatian political leadership led by the Peasant Party of Stjepan Radić. The new constitution abolished the historical and political entities, including Croatia and Slavonia, centralizing authority in the capital of Belgrade. The Croatian Peasant Party boycotted the government of the Serbian Radical People's Party throughout the period, except for a brief interlude between 1925 and 1927, when external Italian expansionism was at hand with her allies, Albania, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria that threatened Yugoslavia as a whole.
In 1928, Radić was mortally wounded during a Parliament session by Puniša Račić, a deputy of the Serbian Radical People's Party, which caused further upsets among the Croatian elite. In 1929, King Aleksandar proclaimed a dictatorship and imposed a new constitution which, among other things, renamed the country into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The territory of Croatia was roughly composed out of the Sava and Littoral Banates.
In 1934, King Aleksandar was assassinated abroad, in Marseilles, by a coalition of two radical groups: the Croatian Ustaše and the Macedonian pro-Bulgarian VMRO. The Serbian-Croatian Cvetković-Maček government that came to power distanced Yugoslavia's former allies of France and the United Kingdom, and moved closer to Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany in the period of 1935-1941. A national Croatian Banate was created in 1939 out of the two Banates, as well as parts of the Zeta, Vrbas, Drina and Danube Banates. It had a reconstructed Croatian Parliament which would choose a Croatian Ban and Viceban. This Croatia included a part of Bosnia (region), most of Herzegovina and the city of Dubrovnik and the surroundings.
Independent State of Croatia
Ustaše collaborated with the Axis powers and fought against the Partisans. By 1943, the partisan resistance movement greatly expanded and was able to expel all Nazi collaborators by 1945, with the help of the Soviet Red Army. The ZAVNOH, state anti-fascist council of people's liberation of Croatia, functioned since 1943 and formed an interim civil government.
Croatia in the second Yugoslavia
The constitution of 1963 balanced the power in the country between the Croats and the Serbs, and alleviated the fact that the Croats were again in a minority. Trends after 1965, however, led to the Croatian Spring of 1970–71, when students in Zagreb organized demonstrations for greater civil liberties and greater Croatian autonomy. The regime stifled the public protest and incarcerated the leaders, but this led to the ratification of a new Constitution in 1974, giving more rights to individual republics. In 1980, after Tito's death, political, ethnic and economic difficulties started to mount and the federal government began to crumble. The emergence of Slobodan Milošević in Serbia and many other events provoked a very negative reaction in Croatia, followed by a rise in nationalism.
The Croatian government declared independence from Yugoslavia on 25 June 1991, and the JNA launched an aggression on Croatia. Many Croatian cities, notably Vukovar and Dubrovnik, came under attack of Serbian forces. The Croatian Parliament cut all remaining ties with Yugoslavia in October of that year. The civilian population fled the areas of armed conflict: generally speaking, thousands of Croats moved away from the Bosnian and Serbian border, while thousands of Serbs moved towards it. The border city of Vukovar underwent a three month siege during which most of the city buildings were destroyed and a majority of the population was forced to flee. The city fell to the Serbian forces in late November 1991. Soon after, shocked with atrocities committed by Serbs, the foreign countries started recognizing Croatia's independence. By the end of January 1992, most of the world recognized the country.
Subsequent UN-sponsored cease-fires followed and the Yugoslav People's Army retreated from Croatia. During 1992 and 1993, Croatia also handled hundreds of thousands of refugees from Bosnia. Armed conflict in Croatia remained intermittent and mostly on a small scale until 1995. In early August, Croatia started the Operation Storm and quickly reconquered most of its territory. A few months later, as a result, the war ended upon the negotiation of the Dayton Agreement. A peaceful integration of the remaining Serbian-controlled territories in Eastern Slavonia was completed in 1998 under UN supervision. The country underwent many liberal reforms beginning in 2000. An economic recovery ensued and the country proceeded to become a member of several regional and international organizations. Finaly, the country has started the process of joining the European Union.