Essay: Which differences and/or similarities between European countries exist on physical geographical and human geographical aspects?

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  • Which differences and/or similarities between European countries exist on physical geographical and human geographical aspects?
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To answer this question we looked at the differences between Croatia and other European countries. Croatia is a country in Europe, it’s located next to the Adriatic sea. When you compare Croatia with other countries in Europe you can find many differences, but also many similarities between them.

Here are some examples:

– The Netherlands and Croatia: when you compare the Netherlands and Croatia with each other you see many differences, Croatia is bigger and has fewer population. Croatia has also mountains, while the Netherlands doesn’t have that, the Netherlands consists mostly out of lowland. These are some of the differences, but of course also have similarities. For example, Croatia and the Netherlands both are located at the sea and they both have islands. They are also both divided into counties, and Croatia and the Netherlands are both in the same time zone.

– Italy and Croatia: Italy and Croatia have a lot in common, because they’re located almost next to each other. They’re both connected to the Adriatic sea, have both mostly a mediterranean climate and both have tourism as a major industry. They’re also both have famous lakes, even though Croatia has the Plitvice lakes and Italy has Lake Garda. They were a part of the Roman empire and in both countries you can still find ruins of amphitheatres the Romans built there a long time ago. One of the differences between those two countries is their language (Croatian and Italian), area (Italy is almost 6 times as big) and number of inhabitants (Italy = 61 million & Croatia = 4.28 million).

– Sweden and Croatia: Sweden is located in Northern Europe, it has an area of 449,964 km??, it has 25 counties, it has a oceanic, humid continental and Arctic climate, it has 9.7 million inhabitants, it has a population density of 21 inhabitats per km?? and it has agriculture as major industry. On the other hand, Croatia is located in South-Eastern Europe, it has an area of 56,594 km?? (which is 8 times smaller), it has 21 counties, it has a mediterranean, Alpine and a continental climate, it has 4.21 million inhabitants, it has a population density of 75.8 inhabitants per km?? and it has tourism as major industry. Some of the similarities are that Sweden and Croatia are both located on the coast and that they both have june untill august as tourist season.

As you can see above there are differences and similarities between Croatia and other European countries. Maybe with some countries there are more similarities and with other countries there are more differences, but we think that those differences between the landscapes of Croatia and other European countries are what makes Croatia so special.

Which physical elements can we find in Croatia?

Croatia is 56,594 km2 big, that’s approximately Belgium and The Netherlands together. It is located in Europe, next to Slovenia and Hungary in the north-east, Servia and Bosnia in the north-west and with Montenegro in the south. It lies between mostly between 42?? and 47?? NL and 13?? and 20?? EL.

Croatia has 3 climates:

1. A Mediterranean climate at the Adriatic sea: it has warm and dry summers, with an average temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. It has soft, wet winters with an average temperature of 10 degrees Celsius.
2. A continental climate in the north: it has dry and hot summers, with an average temperature of 24 degrees Celsius. And it has cold, wet winters with an average temperature of 0 degrees Celsius.
3. An Alpine climate in the centre, which consists of mountains: it has winters with a temperature between ‘ 5 and 0 degrees Celsius and a lot of snow. In the summer the maximum temperature is 18 degrees Celsius.

Croatia has precipitation all year, with an average of 1,113 millimeters a year.

There are a lot of different landscapes in Croatia, in the north you can find lowland. In the centre you can find mountains. The highest mountain in Croatia is the Dinara, which is 1831 meters and part of the Dinaric Alps near the city of Knin. The Dinaric Alps or Dinarides form a mountain range in Southern Europe, the size is approximately equal to four times the size of Croatia. It has also a lot of rivers, the longest is the Sava. The total length is 945 km, but only 562 km runs through Croatia. In the south you can find the Adriatic sea, the beach is the place where the most tourists go to. It is a touristic place because the water temperature is quite high in the summer and not very low in the winter.

Croatia counts 1,246 islands, the islands cover an area of about 3,300 km??. Some of the larger islands are Brac (395.44 km??), Krk (405.22 km??), Cres (405.7 km??), Hvar (297,38 km??), Korcula (271.47 km??) and Mljet (98.02 km??), but there are also smaller islands. The smallest island is Smokvica Vela, it has an area of 1,05 km?? and a population of 0. On these islands you can find forests, waterfalls, national parks, lakes etc.
There are also a lot of lakes, the most well-known lakes are the Plitvice lakes, which consists of 16 lakes. These are located in the Plitvice lakes National Park, which is the largest national park in Croatia. The Plitvice lakes consists of an area of 1.98 km??, it has a large area of forest around it. The Plitvice Lakes are the most famous because of their colours, and because of the large variety of birds and rare animals in the area around them.
There are a lot of earthquakes in Croatia, this year there were 14 so far. The most recent one was on the 5th of february, which was a small one. The largest earthquake in Croatia this year so far was rated 5.0 and took place in Lezh??. Earthquakes are common in Croatia, because Croatia lies in an earthquake region.

What can you say about the population structure (demography) of Croatia?

Croatia has approximately 4.5 million inhabitants, which consists of approximately 2.4 million women and approximately 2.1 million men. The gender ratio of the total population is approximately 0.93 males per 1 female.

The population density is 75.8 inhabitants per km??, this is different in the different cities, Croatia has128 cities. The netherlands has a population density of 406 inhabitants per km??, you can say that the Netherlands has 4 times as much people per km??. Croatia is divided in 21 counties, which all have a different number of inhabitants. The 21 counties and it’s inhabitants in 2011 and surface area are listed in the table below.

County: Inhabitants (2011) : Area in km??:

I. Zagreb 317,606 3,060 km??
II. Krapina-Zagorje 132,892 1,229 km??
III. Sisak-Moslavina 317,606 4,468 km??
IV. Karlovac 128,899 3,626 km??
V. Vara??din 175,951 1,262 km??
VI. Koprivnica-Kri??evci 115,584 1,748 km??
VII. Bjelovar-Bilogora 119,764 2,640 km??
VIII. Primorje-Gorski 296,195 3,588 km??
IX. Lika-Senj 50,927 5,353 km??
X. irovitica-Podravina 84,836 2,024 km??
XI. Po??ega-Slavonia 78,034 1,823 km??
XII. Brod-Posavina 158,575 2,030 km??
XIII. Zadar 170,017 3,646 km??
XIV. Osijek-Baranja 305,032 4,155 km??
XV. ??ibenik-Knin 109,375 2,984 km??
XVI. Vukovar-Srijem 179,521 2,454 km??
XVII. Split-Dalmatia 454,798 2,540 km??
XVIII. Istra 208,055 2,813 km??
XIX. Dubrovnik-Neretva 122,568 1,781 km??
XX. Me??imurje 113,804 729 km??
XXI. The City of Zagreb 790,017 641 km??

In 1857 Croatia had 2.1 million inhabitants, but after 1857 the population grew a lot. In 1991 Croatia counted 4.7 inhabitants, but after 1991 more people died than were born. The growth rate of Croatia became negative, this is why there are now approximately 4.5 million people in Croatia, this will become even less in a few years. Some proffessors from Zagreb predict that in 2030 the population has decreased by 350,000 people, but that this can be avoided in 2 ways. The first way is that there have to be 350,000 more people who immigrate than the number of people who emigrate, the second way is that the number of children born has to double, but the proffessors from Zagreb won’t see that happen…
The life expectancy at birth in Croatia is 78 years, which is quite high when you compare it to the life expectancy at birth of the entire world, which is approximately 68 years. In the Netherlands the life expectancy is 81.2, which is 3.2 years more than in Croatia.
The population in Croatia consists of many groups of people, for example Croats make up 90.4% of the entire population. The other people are Serbian, which is 4.4% of the population. But there are also Bosniacs, also known as Muslims (0.7%), Italians (0.4%), Albanians (0.4%), Slovenes (0.3%) and Hungarians (0.3%). There are also smaller groups like Roma’s (0.4%), Czechs (0.2%), Macedonians (0.1%), Montegrins (0.1%) and Slovaks (0.1%). These groups together make up 97.8% of the entire population, the 2.2% left are other groups.

How important in tourism for Croatia?

Tourism is very important for Croatia, it is a major industry. Croatia is most famous because of it’s incredible lakes, national parks and of course the Adriatic sea. Croatia has a lot of tourists every year, in 2012 Croatia had 11.8 million visitors. In 2013 Croatia had 14 million visitors, which was a new record. Croatia thinks this even doubles in 2020, because Croatia became more and more attractive for tourists every year. They think they will get approximately 17.5 million visitors in 2020, with an income of 17 billion dollars.

There are many attractive places in Croatia, for example the Adriatic sea. A lot of people rent yachts and boat trips, this sells very good. But also the national parks, lakes, Dinaric Alps, cathedrals, Diocletian’s palace, islands, castles and cities are attractive tourist spots. This is why Lonely planet (the largest travel guide book publisher) named Croatia as the top pick destination for 2005 and also why National Geographic Adventure Magazine named Croatia as Destination of the Year in 2006.

Why became Croatia so popular?
A lot of countries didn’t know a lot about Croatia at first, but because a lot of magazines over the world started writing articles about the ‘discovery’ of Croatia and also other media started viewing the beautiful nature Croatia became in a short period very popular and this resulted in more tourists every year. In the graph below you can see the increase of tourists from 2010 untill 2013 by looking at the total tourist arrivals and the total tourist nights.

The tourist season is in the summer, from the begin of June untill the end of August.

Where do the tourists come from?
The tourists who visit Croatia every year come from several countries. In 2012 there were approximately 12,300,000 tourists, most of the tourists, 24.2%, came from Germany. But there were also tourists from Slovenia (10.8%), Austria (8.9%), Czech Republic (7.9%), Italy (7.9%), Poland (5.9%), Slovakia (4%), the Netherlands (4.5%), Russia (2.7%) and France (2.7%). The 20.5% left came from other countries. Of course this is not every year the same, but I think it’s similar to this. Also, I think that in 2013 and 2014 there were more countries they came from.

History Croatia
The people who lived in nowadays called Croatia, were used to be called Illyrians. The Illyrians were a group of Indo-European tribes which had the same language, the Illyrian language. But than there were three wars, in 229 BC, 219 BC and 168 BC in which Rome captured the Illyrian settlements. Untill the 5th century AD the Romans ruled nowadays called Croatia, they had split up nowadays Croatia into 2 parts. The south, the coastal area was called Dalmatia and the North was called Pannonia. The Romans built a network of roads, but also buildings which are very famous in Croatia, such as Diocletian’s palace in Split and the Amphitheatre in Pula.

In 800 AD Charles the Great conquered Dalmatia and enforced Christianity. In 814 AD Charles the Great died, Dalmatia was controlled by the Byzantine Empire (also known as the Eastern Roman Empire or the continuation of the Roman Empire), while Pannonia was controlled by the Franks. Because Charles the Great enforced Christianity about 90% of the Croats are still Catholic.
In 925 King Tomislav was crowned, he united Dalmatia and Pannonia into one Kingdom, this was the beginning of Croatia the Kingdom. In 1091 King Ladislaus of Hungary became ruler of Croatia, in 1400 Croatia was stuck in battles between Turkey and Hungary. After years of battles Croatia joined the Hapsburgs and eventually Croatia became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1981, after World War lI and the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire the country Yugoslavia was established. That area consisted of 6 countries:
1. Slovenia
2. Croatia
3. Bosnia and Herzegovina
4. Montenegro
5. Serbia and Kosovo
6. Macedonia

After the 2nd world war the Croate Tito became ruler of Yugoslavia and he wanted everyone to become a communist. He was ruler for 35 years. After his death Yugoslavia’s economy became weak, Croatia didn’t want to join Yugoslavia anymore. On June 25 in 1991 Croatia became independant, that day is now celebrated as ‘Statehood Day.’ Yugoslavia didn’t want Croatia to became independant and this led to a war. In 1995 Croatia won the last ‘battle’, on December 14 in 1995 the Dayton Peace Accords were signed, offically ending the war, making Croatia independant. On the 1st of Juli in 2013 Croatia joined the European Union, Croatia is the last country to join yet.

The political changes and movements of Croatia

Romans ruled the roots of Croatia since about 11 B.C. until the 5th century A.D. during this time period, nowadays called Croatia was divided into two parts: Dalmatia, the coastal area, and Pannonia, the northern area.
Meanwhile, Croats and other Slavic tribes made a living in the marshlands of modern day Ukraine. They formed communities and were having conflicts with each other. In the middle of the 7th century, Croat tribes moved into both Pannonia and Dalmatia, and this way, powerful people of Croat tribes became rulers.
The Frankish emperor Charles the Great conquered Dalmatia in 800 AD. He was the ruler of Western Europe and first real super power since the fall of rome. He forced Christianity among the Croat’s.
When Charles died in 814 AD, the Byzantine empire gained power and controlled most of Dalmatia, while Pannonian Croats remained under Frankish rule.
Croatia became a kingdom when king Tomislav was crowned in 925 A.D. Tomislav united Dalmatia and Pannonia into a single kingdom, and under his rule Croatia became one of the most powerful forces in the Balkans. Until the later part of the 11th century, king Tomislav’s royal successors continued to rule the kingdom.
King Ladislaus of Hungary became the new ruler of Croatia after the death of the last Croatian king in 1091. However, there was still some sort of system of Croatian leadership held up.
The Ottoman empire was attempting to take over the Balkans in the 1400’s. Croatia was stuck in battles between the Turks and the Hungarians. But after years, Croatia succeeded in resisting them and joined the Hapsburgs. Croatia would eventually be included in the Austro-Hungarian empire.
In 1918, when the Austro-Hungarian Empire had fallen and after the end of the First World War, a Croatian group of people decided to align forces with the Serbs, forming the ‘Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes.’ This ‘kingdom of Yugoslavia’ was a quick failure. There were civil wars, with a few rebel Croat group, the Utase, the Chetniks, and the partisans. The Utase were waging a brutal terrorist campaign to exterminate all Serbs and Jews. The Chetniks, an opposition group, fought back, but they too resorted to terrorism and massacred Croats. However, the partisans, led by Josip Broz, or Tito, gained wide support, and after the Second World War, tito became the leader of Yugoslavia.
Tito ruled over Yugoslavia, which included Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Mentenegro, Slovenia and Serbia. He transformed Yugoslavia from a largely agricultural nation into a an industrialized one. After Tito’s death in 1980, however, cracks in the Yugoslavian system grew wider because the economy was weak.
On June 25, 1991, Croatia declared independence from Yugoslav. This day is now called ‘Statehood Day.’ At the same time, Serbs living in the Croatian territory in Krajina proclaimed their independence from Croatia. There threatened to be a civil war.
There was a Bosnian War, from 1992 to 1995, was a territorial battle among Serbs, Croats and Bosnians that is characterized as the bloodiest event in Europe since World War II. Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and his soldiers attempted to kill Croats, Bosnians and Muslims in parts of the former Yugoslavia, with the aim of creating what Milosevic called ‘The Greater Serbia.’ In 1995, NATO intervened with airstrikes, and opposing parties were forced to come to the table. On 14-12-1995 The Dayton Peace Accords were signed and the war was officially ended.

Now, Croatia is a safe, independent and tourist-friendly country. There is a strong economy and a stable government. Croatia has also joined the European Union in the middle of 2013.

Religion Croatia

In Croatia, people are free to believe in any religion they want, but it hasn’t always been this way. In 800 AD Charles the Great enforced Christianity because he thought that Christianity was the only right religion. That’s the reason why 91.06% of the population of Croatia still are Christians, the most of them are Catholic.
This contributes to the fact that Croatia and poland are the two most Catholic Slavic countries. The other part of the population in Croatia are muslims, jews, buddhists, protestants or atheists. But since such a large amount of people are Christians, these other religions are greatly outnumbered.

Judaism
Jewish people in Croatia date back to the 3rd century. There are very little jewish people left in Croatia because of the second world war. In that time, the community was almost completely destroyed and after the war, half of the survivors settled in Israel.

Islam
The Islam came to Croatia together with the Ottoman Empire. In that era, some people converted to the Islam after being held as a prisoner of war and some by the Dev??irme system (a system in which military abducted boys to convert them to the Islam). There are not much people Islamic in Croatia though, only about 1.47% of the population.

Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion that recently came in Croatia. The first Buddhist group was found in the 80’s in Zagreb. Because of this, only a small amount of people in Croatia believe in Buddhism.

Roman Catholism
Catholism came (as mentioned before) in 800 A.D. when Charles the great enforced Christianity upon the population. Round and about 3,800,000 people in Croatia are Catholic. The patron in Croatia is saint Joseph. He’s been the patron since he was declared by the Croatian Parliament in 1687.

In Croatia, religious festivals like Epiphany, Easter, Corpus Christi Day, All Saints’ Day, Christmas and St. Stephen’s Day (Boxing Day) are held. These are all Christian holidays we all know, but people of other religions are allowed to celebrate their own holidays since people in Croatia are free the believe in any religion. Croatian people also celebrate their own holidays and festivals but these aren’t related to religion.

Croats are superstitious people, 60% of the population believes in old superstition. They believe for example that when you light a cigaret from a candle you kill a sailor, or when you brush your hair while in bed someone will become ill. They also think that you can’t cut your nails on Sunday or that being left-handed is a sign of the devil. A lot of Croats read tea or coffee leaves and they believe in witches and curses and those kinds of things. They also believe in bad luck like we know, like breaking a mirror, or walking underneath a ladder, and most everyone in Croatia who sees a black cat crossing their path will spit three times to prevent that something bad happens to them.

Economy:
Hypothesis
We think that Croatia is a country that has many similarities when you compare it with other countries in Europe. We think that one of Croatia’s strengths is the tourism, because that’s it’s major industry. We also think that one of Croatia’s weaknesses of Croatia is the education sector.

The pros and cons about the education sector in Croatia

The beginning of education in Croatia started in the 10th century, but that was mainly about religion. The real beginning of education was in 1774, when some people had the idea to teach people several things so that they would learn basic things, just like elemantary school. From then on, every church had to open a school for children from 7 to 12 years old.

Today the children in Croatia begin in preschool, when they are 6 and a half or older have to go to elementary school for 8 years. There is also an adult education system for when you are 15 or older and you fail to complete elementary school. When you succeed to complete elementary school you continue secondary education. This can be in an industrial school, a technical school, a craft based school, a music school, a dance school or an art school. Programmes in art, music or dance schools last from 1 to 5 years. Elementary education and secondary education is free in state schools, because most is sponsered by the ministry of education of the Croatian government. After secondary education you can go to university, just like in the Netherlands. The rest of the education is just like in the Netherlands, with Bachelor, Master etc. Going to university is a tradition in Croatia, in 1396 the 1st university was built in Zadar.

Besides regular education on schools, you also have home education. This became legal in Cratioa in 1874. But, to have home school, the child has to pass an official exam at the end of every school year. When the kid doesn’t pass this exam, the kid has to do the same year again at a normal school.

Now there are 90 public education institutions and 33 private higher education institutions in Croatia. In 2011 approximately 152,900 students were in higher education institutions, but only approximately 36,500 of them graduated’ this is not much, but it has improved a little. In 2014 the number of people who graduated in higher education institutions was 60,000, which is quite a lot more than first, but still not much.

Another problem in the education sector of Croatia is that there is a huge shortage of teachers. In Croatia teachers have low salaries, this is why almost no people want to be a teacher. In Croatia there are more education institutions than teachers, this is a serious problem.

In Croatia the literacy rate of adults, people with an age higher than 15, in 2011 was 99.1%. this had developed over the past 20 years, because in 1991 the literacy rate was 96.7% and in 2001 the literacy rate was 98.1%. the development of the literacy rate in Croatia is presented in the graph below.

The industries or sectors that Croatia is good at:

These are a few industries/sectors that Croatia is good at:

– Tourism ‘ Croatia is well-known for its landscapes, it has a variation of rivers, mountains, lakes, beaches, forests, islands, national parks and its historic buildings such as palaces, amphitheaters etc. This is why tourism is Croatia’s major industry. The tourist season is in the summer, from the begin of June untill the end of August. In 2012 Croatia had 11,800,000 visitors, in 2013 it had 14,000,000 visitors, which was a new record. They think that in 2020 there will be approximately 17,500,000 visitors with an income of 17,000,000,000 dollars. Most of the people go to Croatia because it is located next to the Adriatic sea, a lot of the people who live at the coast of Croatia earn a lot of money by renting yachts and boat trips to tourists. So, Croatia is a very attractive country, this is why Lonely planet (the largest travel guide book publisher) named Croatia as the top pick destination for 2005 and also why National Geographic Adventure Magazine named Croatia as Destination of the Year in 2006.

– Agriculture and fishing ‘ 2 out of the 3.15 million hectares of agricultural land is arable land. Croatia has a lots of different landscapes, climates and soil, this is why Croatia is able to produce a lot of different agricultural products such as continental fruits, arable crops, Industrial crops, vineyards, Mediterranean fruits and vegetables. Croatia is a wine growing country, Mediterranean and continental grapes are both grown here, in 2011 approximately 1.4 million hectolitres wine was made. Besides agriculture there is also a lot of fishing because of the Adriatic sea, in 2011 about 78 thousand tons of sea fish and about 6,3 thousand tons of freshwater fish were caught or farmed.

– Trade ‘ Croatia is very good at trading with other countries, this is also because Croatia is located next to the Adriatic sea and that’s an extra way to transport goods and products. Croatia mostly exports wood, ships and boats, textiles, industrial and electrical machinery, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, transport equipment, aluminum and oil & mineral fuels. More about the trade, transport and the trading partners of Croatia you can find in the next paragraph.

Which countries are the main trading partners of Croatia?

One of the sectors that Croatia is good at is trade. Goods can be transported to other countries in different ways. One of the ways is by sea, the Adriatic sea is perfect for that. Along the Croatian coast there are about 350 ports, and between the islands and the coast are also shipping lines and ferries. But they can also transport goods by road, Croatia’s roadnetwork is approximately 29,333 km long. You can also transport goods by railway, the Croatian railways have a total length of 2,726 km.

Croatia has a lot of import, it imports almost 2 times as many products as it exports. The exported products and goods were valued at 9.6 billion Euros in 2011, while the imported products were worth 16.2 billion Euros. Croatia exports most goods and products to Italy, Austria, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, Slovenia, Hungary, Russia and the United Kingdom. The products they export to those countries are machinery, fuels, textiles, transport equipment, chemicals and food. Croatia imports most goods and products from Russia, Azerbaijan, Italy, China, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Germany. The products they import are mainly transport and electrical equipment, machinery, food and fuels.

Croatia’s main trading partner (exports) is Italy, with 39.65%. Some other trading partners are Germany (14.51%), Slovenia (9.42%), Austria (7.53%), United States (3.4%), United Kingdom (3.12%), Hungary (3%), France (2.66%), Malta (2.22%), Marshall Islands (2.12%), the Netherlands (1.51%) and Cyprus (1.49%). The continent Croatia mainly trades with is Europe.

Croatia has an open economy, its freedom score is 61.5, Croatia is the 81st freest country of the whole world in 2015 (so far, because 2015 isn’t over yet). In 2014 Croatia’s freedom score was 60.4, so now it has 1.1 more. Some professors from the city Zagreb (capital city) say this will even improve more in a few years. But, even though Croatia joined the European Union in 2013 Croatia still has some problems when you look at the economy. For example, there is still a lot of corruption in business, basic government services and education. Politics from Croatia say they are doing what they can to solve these problems and that the problems will mostly be solved within the next 5 years, but of course we don’t know for sure if this is going to happen or not.

Conclusion
Geography:
With answering the subquestions and the main question learned a lot of things about Croatia which we didn’t know before, this is what we found out and how we linked it with each other:
Croatia is a country with a lot of different geographical elements, such as beaches, mountains, lowland, rivers, forests, islands and lakes (subquestion 1). It also has 3 different climates, a mediterranean climate, an Alpine climate and a continental climate. Croatia has approximately 4.5 million inhabitants, the population density is 75.8 inhabitants per squared kilometre (subquestion 2). For Croatia is tourism very important, it is the main industry of Croatia. We thought that when you compare Croatia to other European countries there wouldn’t be a lot of differences at all, because the distances between the countries in Europe are pretty small. But as it turns out, Europe is well-known for its different landscapes even though it’s very small. So, when you compare Croatia to other countries in Europe you can see a lot of differences in population, landscapes, climates etc. because of this (main question). Because Croatia has other landscapes than other European countries Croatia is very attractive for tourists, this is the reason why tourism is the major industry (subquestion 3).

 

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