Croatia is situated close to densely populated and industrially developed European countries. Many internationally important transport routes cross Croatia. The importance of the geographical position of the Republic of Croatia is also enhanced by the Adriatic Sea, the northernmost gulf of the Mediterranean which is the closest to the central part of the European continent.
The most important routes are centered along the Sava river, the Adriatic and the Drava river; there are also several important transversal routes from the Austrian and Hungarian border to the Adriatic coast (to Rijeka and Split).
Natural and geographic parts
The area of Croatia can be divided into three major natural and geographic parts:
- The Pannonian and Peri-Pannonian area comprises the lowland and hilly parts of eastern and northwestern Croatia; mountains higher than 500 m are rare and of an insular character. Most of this area is being used for farming and livestock breading. Slavonija and Baranja in the east are the most suiotable for growing cereals; the humid valleys and the hills are richly afforested while the northwestern part, which gravitates to Zagreb, is industrially the most developed.
- The hilly and mountainous area, which separates Pannonian Croatia from its coastal part, is less developed. Its future development will be based on its transit importance, the growth of the already existing wood and timber industry, and the still underexploited potential for the production of healthy food, and winter and rural tourism.
- The Adriatic Area includes the narrow coastal belt separated from the hinterland by high mountains. This is predominantly a karst area with very dry summers. The few streams mainly follow narrow gorges in breaking their way through to the sea. The Croatian coastal area may further be divided into the northern (Istria nad Kvarner) and southern part (Dalmatia). It also lends itself to a longitudinal division into the islands, the coast proper and the immediate hinterland.
- The Croatian Adriatic coast is one of the most indented in the world: it has 1246 islands and islets with a total coastline of 4058 km, the total length of the mainland coast being 1777 km. The largest island is Cres; other large islands include Krk, Brac, Hvar, Pag and Korcula. The largest peninsulas are Istria and Peljesac, and the largest bay is Kvarner Bay.