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Croatia's geography

Covering 56,500 sq km, the boomerang-shaped Croatia consists of three parts with completely different features: the area of flat to rolling planes between the Drava and Sava rivers, the range of Dinaric Alps streching from the north to the south and the rugged Adriatic coastline.

The region between the Drava and Sava rivers is the southern part of the Pannonian Basin. This is composed of Croatia's 'pantry', Slavonia, the area between the Drava and Mura rivers called Međimurje and the hilly Zagorje north of Zagreb. Cornfields alternating with poplar and acacia forests present the character of the landscape. The region is rich in thermal water and the most popular spas are Varaždinske Toplice and Daruvar.

The dramatic Dinaric Alps extend along the coast of the Adriatic Sea and comprise a very rugged surface, striking peaks and picturesque crests. The highest summits of its northern range are Učka (1369 m) and Snežnik (1796 m) above Rijeka. The range of Gorski Kotar including Risnjak National Park and Velika Kapela are followed by the mecca of alpinists, Velebit. The best view over Velebit's bare peaks some of which reach even 1700 m opens from Pag island.

In Dalmatia the chains of Kozjak, Mosor and Biokovo rise. The bare limestone range is cleft by passes and steep-sided gorges, as the river Krka, Cetina and Neretva drain into the Adriatic Sea. One of the most exceptional phenomena of the Dinar karst are Plitvice Lakes which consists of 16 lakes.

In the bowels of the mountain sinkholes and grottoes have formed by the water percolated down through the cracks in the limestone. On the wild slopes chamoises and mouflons live, the dense forests are stocked with brown bears, wild boars and deers.

The 1788 km long coastline is edged by 1185 islands. The largest ones are Cres, Lošinj, Krk, Pag, Rab, Brač, Hvar and Korčula. Most of their surfaces are covered with hills. The islands of the Kvarner Bay including Rab are rocky and bare. The ones to the south of Split are greener. The wind-shelted inlets have been the scenes of lively fishing traditions for centuries. In Istria and Dalmatia fig, olive and bay trees grow. On the rocky pastures covered with thinly scattered vegetation sheep are grazed.

The blueness of the Adriatic Sea is due to the high salt content and the transparency of the sea water. There is ebb and flow once a day and the level difference reaches 40 cm in the south and 60 cm in the north.

The largest city of Croatia is the capital, Zagreb with 779,000 inhabitants. Other important towns are Split, Osijek, Rijeka, Zadar, Varaždin, Pula and Dubrovnik.

National parks

Brijuni National Park
Fažana, Brijunska 10.
www.brijuni.hr

Kornati National Park

Murter, Betina 2.
www.kornati.hr

Krka National Park

Šibenik, Trg Ivana Pavla II. 5.
www.npkrka.hr

Mljet island

Goveđari, Pristanište 2.
www.np-mljet.hr

Paklenica National Park

Starigrad, Franje Tuđmana 14a.
www.paklenica.hr

Plitvice lakes – Plitvička jezera 

www.np-plitvicka-jezera.hr

Risnjak

Crni Lug, Bijela voda 48.
www.risnjak.hr

North-Velebit National Park

Senj, Obala kralja Zvonimira 6.
www.np-sjeverni-velebit.hr

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