The average age of vehicles driving on Croatian roads is 13 years now, while in 2007 it was 9.95 years, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) says, adding that this is a direct consequence of the prolonged economic crisis.
The Vehicle Centre of Croatia (CVH), which is in charge of technical inspections of vehicles in the country, has stated that the median age of cars that underwent technical inspection in 2014 was 13.07, as against 9.95 in 2007 when it was close to the median age of cars in the European Union.
In 2014 the average age of cars used in the EU was 9.65, according to statistics provided by the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA).
The HGK says that Croatians are increasingly buying used cars, as evidenced in the fact that in 2014 as many as 39,124 second-hand cars were brought by their new owners for their first technical inspection as against 35,315 brand new cars.
The number of brand new cars undergoing first technical inspections is decreasing, while the number of second-hand cars undergoing technical inspection upon purchase is redoubling, according to the HGK.
Do you speak English? Govoriš engleski?
You're welcome Nema na čemu
Where are you from? Od kuda si?
Where are we going? Gdje idemo?
Happy birthday Sretan rođendan
I'm hungry (masculine) Gladan sam
I'm hungry (feminine) Gladna sam
What's your name? Kako se zoveš?
How old are you? Koliko imaš godina?
No problem Nema problema
See you Vidimo se
Call me Nazovi me
Some other time Neki drugi put
How much does that cost? Koliko to košta?
How are you? Kako si?
What time is it? Koliko je sati?
Where is that? Gdje je to?
The jewel in the crown of the Croatian Adriatic coastline is undoubtedly Dubrovnik. A city of stone seemingly floating on the turquoise blue sea, a city of stepped in culture, a walled city that has survived for centuries, a city of peace and one of the most romantic destinations in the world. Dubrovnik is situated in the far south of Croatia, the city was originally called Ragusa and was formed in the 7th century.
Over the next five centuries Ragusa expanded and by the 15th century was one of the most important cities in the Mediterranean. The walls that still surrounded the city today were built over centuries to protect the Republic of Dubrovnik. Through diplomacy and influence Dubrovnik remained a strong power and in the height of the Republic had embassies all over the world.
Dubrovnik today owes much to its past. The beauty of the old historic city and the wonder of the nature have drawn tourists for many years. On visiting Dubrovnik George Bernard Shaw famously commented “those seeking paradise on earth should visit Dubrovnik” and millions from all over the world have followed this advice. The city became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 and is described by UNESCO as - a remarkably well-preserved example of a late-medieval walled city. It is a city that you need to see to believe, a city that once you have visited you will never forget, a city that will leave you breathless.
Dubrovnik – simply unique, uniquely simple
Dubrovnik Fact file:
Population - 42,641 (census 2011)
Surface area – 21.35 km² (8.2 sq mi²)
County – Dubrovnik – Neretva County
Coordinates - 42°38′25″N 18°06′30″E
Climate – Mediterranean climate with hot, calm summers and mild, rainy winters. Average summer temperature - 26ºC (79ºF), average winter temperature - 11ºC (52ºF)
Hours of sunshine – average annual 2629 hours
Average annual rainy days – 109 days
Sea temperature – average summer temperature – 21.5ºC (70ºF)
Quick guide to Croatia
Croatia: Croatia is a country at the crossroad to Europe. Croatia is a country with a rich and turbulent history which has always been at the heart of Europe and connected with all things European. The population of Croatia is 4.3 million, with almost a million living in the capital city Zagreb.
Croatia is a country of contrasts. Snow covered mountains, idyllic beaches, rich farmland, an abundance of water, dense woodland, national parks, metropolitan centres and over a thousand islands. A country with strong links to its past and tradition as well as looking forward to a bright future.
Croatia has been a full member of the European Union since the 1st of July 2013.
Capital – Zagreb
Population – 4.3 million
Language – Croatian
Currency – Kuna (100 Lipa = 1 Kuna)
Surface area – 56,590 km² (21,849 mi²)
Time zone – GMT plus one hour
Electricity - 230 volts
Telephone Country Code - +385
Religion - Roman Catholic (87.8%)
Climate - Mediterranean and continental; continental climate predominant with hot summers and cold winters; mild winters, dry summers along coast
Internet domain - .hr
Life expectancy - 73 years (men), 80 years (women) (UN)
Interesting Croatia facts:
The total length of Croatia’s mainland coastline is 1,777 kilometres
The official flower of Croatia is the Iris
Croatia has 1,185 islands along its coastline
Croatia invented the necktie
Even though Dubrovnik was gripped in a wet and windy day it didn’t stop tourists from enjoying the attractions of the Old City today.
After a relatively calm and mild Christmas and New Year period the heavens opened in Dubrovnik with rain falling from the early morning. However despite the wet weather the tourists in the city were determined to historic city centre and browse the stands of the Dubrovnik Winter Festival.
Check out our photo gallery from Niksa Duper
Demographer Stjepan Sterc warned on Friday that the decline in births is Croatia's number one problem alongside young people leaving the country, saying the government must realise that the future of the entire people was in danger because of the decline in births.
Speaking on Croatian Television, he said demographers were continually "raising their voice... radically warning," but to no avail. He said it would be very difficult to "pull out" of "our harsh reality... unless we adopt some strategic decisions" and "realise that, objectively, this is the number one issue in our country."
Sterc said this year would probably see 32,000 births, a drop of 20 percent from 2015. "It's an unbelievable fall in the birth rate in Croatia. It must worry absolutely everyone thinking about Croatia's future. Together with the young people leaving, about 15,000 according to official statistics and very likely tens of thousands a year according to unofficial ones, the depopulation of Croatia could be over 50,000 people annually. That's absolutely horrible."
Sterc wondered how it was possible to define Croatia's economic development with such intensive depopulation. He said it was imperative to adopt key decisions this year already and that this must be a strategic decision for the new government.
He said the financing of "parasitic systems" must be eliminated from the state budget, "over 100 institutions which don't contribute to the development of Croatian society at all." He estimated that those systems cost several billion kuna which could be directed into the demographic revival and scientific development of Croatia.
The tourism figures for the New Year period for Dubrovnik are in and they are encouraging. According to the Dubrovnik Tourist Board a total of 4,472 tourists welcomed in the New Year in Dubrovnik which is a 17 percent increase over New Year's Eve 2015.
Due to the lack of winter flights into Dubrovnik the vast majority of guests came from countries within driving distance of the city. The most numerous tourists were from Croatia followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Albania, Portugal, Germany, USA, Montenegro, Spain and Italy.
Overall 2015 was another record breaking year for Dubrovnik tourism. Last year the city saw 932,621 tourist arrivals, which when added to the number of cruise ship passengers brings the number of tourists in Dubrovnik in 2015 close to 2 million. The number of tourists in Dubrovnik rose by 8 percent in 2015 compared to 2014 and the city achieved 3.3 million overnight stays, an increase of 6 percent on 2014. Once again tourists from Great Britain were the most numerous, followed by guests from the US with German tourists in third place. Breaking down the tourism statistics for Dubrovnik for 2015 even further it is clear that the city is a hit with middle-aged travellers. The majority of tourists fell into the age group of between 41 and 60, whilst in second place were tourists over 60 years old.
The Dubrovnik Tourist Board has released figures that of the total number of guests in Dubrovnik last year 589,597 stayed in hotels and 235,709 in private accommodation. Over the past few years the number of tourists choosing to stay in private apartments, villas and rooms has been booming. In 2015 the number increased by an impressive 24 percent compared to 2014.
The Dubrovnik Times caught up with a photographer and travel writer who has recently spent some time in the city. The images of Dubrovnik that Crispin Zeeman captured were, to say the least, stunning. He managed to capture the heart and soul of Dubrovnik and his passion for his profession shone through like the August sun. He has brought the colours and contrasts of four continents and over thirty countries to life, and now it was the turn of the Dubrovnik region. We found out what makes Zeeman tick when he picks up his camera, how Dubrovnik mesmerised him and why he compares Dubrovnik to a well-dressed man.
Could you give me some more information about yourself?
I never knew my grandfather. He disappeared in mysterious circumstances in 1929, long before I was born. Christian left his native Denmark when he was 22 years old. Joining a crew of fishermen, he set off to explore the world, travelling through Eastern Europe, Russia, Siberia, Kamchatka and was “last seen” leaving Japan on a ship bound for Hawaii. When I came to live in Oxford (UK) in my 20s, I was captivated by the majestic city that towered up around me. I felt compelled to photograph it – in case it changed. I wanted to preserve and share that sense of awe and wonder that I felt whilst living in the historic city. From here, there was no turning back, and I fixed my gaze (and viewfinder) on the distant horizon, travelling and photographing the world beyond. I feel I was destined to travel; to follow in the footsteps of my grandfather. My photographs always tell a story. They are a celebration of life, of the diversity of the world around us; the beauty of land, the richness of each culture, the human spirit, the pure emotion. Many of the people I have met have impressed me with their strong, proud sense of cultural identity. I am compelled by my encounters with people and their cultures to capture their essence – in an effort to preserve, in part, the unique beauty and elegance of our world, before it changes or disappears altogether. I am lucky to have had the freedom and opportunity to use my photographs for the benefit of charity and education – especially for promoting the ethics of protection and preservation of peoples and places under threat from poverty and climate change.
Why did you decide to visit Dubrovnik and was this your first visit?
I had never been to Croatia before but had seen many beautiful photographs and read some interesting travel articles over the years, especially the about the Dalmatian coast. I was looking for a fresh destination for a short summer break this year – somewhere culturally interesting, steeped in history, good weather, inexpensive, relatively close by – and after watching Game of Thrones, it all clicked into place. I wanted to visit Kings Landing!
How would you compare Dubrovnik to other tourist destinations that you have visited?
George Bernard Shaw once said, “If you want see Heaven on Earth, come to Dubrovnik.” He was not wrong. The old city is majestic. A quintessential historic World Heritage ‘city-state’ ringed with wonderful solid and powerful walls, offering fantastic views across tightly packed houses stacked up on each other, defiantly ancient walls and vibrant terracotta rooftops. I love destinations like Dubrovnik where the traffic is kept out leaving exploration only on foot, allowing the curious traveller to walk back in time through corridors of sunlight and shade. Dubrovnik reminded me of pockets of Europe I’ve wandered through in Italy, France, Spain and Greece – old fortified towns, landmark churches and horizon-crossing towers – but this city and it’s culture still felt unique and in touch with it’s own sense of identity. Considering the huge numbers of tourists visiting the old city, it was very easy to get off the beaten track into the quiet ‘nooks and crannies’, hidden squares and silent architectural character. One minute you’re on a busy street, then you climb some stairs or divert through a tunnel and suddenly the crowds feel distant, with some curious cats, or locals hanging out the washing on one of the thousands of clothes lines that criss-cross above you in the old streets and stairwells. Ever-increasing numbers of visitors swell the Stradun of Dubrovnik almost to bursting point, but behind the scenes a quieter traditional life continues to thrive. Sure, it’s clearly European, but very much its own character.
Were you happy with the service, price and general tourist offer?
I liken the Dubrovnik ‘tourist offer’ to a well-dressed, educated man, who knows he is popular, who cares about his reputation, and feels a need to uphold the promise of this to everyone. Indeed, he’s quite in demand, having to handle many people at any one time. So if on first impression, he seems a little brusque and offhand, don’t despair. If you’re polite, patient and inquisitive in your approach to Dubrovnik, the city will embrace you and treat you like a VIP! We stayed at a two-story flat in the old town nestled high up on the north side of the old city with terrific views over the rooftops. The owner, a local woman called Lydia, was very hospitable and charming; a pleasure to meet and talk to. We enjoyed many pleasant meals – best of which were at Horizont, Taj Mahal, Azur, Nishta, Glam Café and Bugenvila in nearby Cavtat (also worth a visit).
Were there any surprises, pleasant or bad, during your time in the country?
Just after we’d arrived, we wanted some no-fuss lunch somewhere nearby the flat and Lydia recommend a small place just up the steps and round a corner; a discreet place on a quiet back street, facing the city walls. She called it Lady Pi Pi. I thought nothing of it … until we discovered the statue sitting on the wall of this small restaurant. Not seen decor quite like that before! The panorama from the Srđ Mountain is amazing. I timed my visit to the latter part of the day, to get the best of late afternoon light, (and avoid crowds at the cable car terminal). That light, that view – a gift to photographers. Many of the first photos in my gallery are from this view point. The War Photo exhibitions are outstanding – everyone should make time to visit this place. Important moments in history – both locally and globally – captured through the enduring power of photography. Lokrum Island is lovely. More recent tourist development (i.e. metallic restaurant blocks) on the island felt a little soulless, which is a bit of a shame considering how much the authorities seem to want to protect the natural capital value of the island. But we sat on some ancient-looking steps ‘hidden’ behind the new blocks, sharing our packed lunches with a peacock and it’s chick.
Would you recommend Dubrovnik to other friends and family, and if so why and if not why not?
Absolutely; I’ve been recommending it to everyone ever since I got back:
What would you have liked to have done in Dubrovnik but were unable to?
Circuit the walls more than once on the same ticket. Once I’d completed my first periplus around the walls, I knew I still had maybe another hour of evening left before sunset and I’d like to have re-visited certain views from the walls to get different angles and perspectives in the golden light. But when I tried to go round again the ticket inspector denied me access, pointing to the ‘small print’ on the ticket, explaining that he was “just doing his job”. A little disappointing; I would’ve let me through!
As a freelance travel photographer, how photogenic is Dubrovnik?
Dubrovnik is a paradise for photographers. I think my gallery speaks for itself in answer to this question. I strive to create images that communicate the essence of a place, and actively look for angles and views that I’ve not seen, or at least feel fresh to me at the time. I do a lot of image research before I visit a destination and I like to walk around a place as much as possible to get feel for the light and shadow and the rhythm of life. If I’d had more time, I’d have talked more with the locals to get a better insight into their daily lives and hopefully capture some of that in my pictures. Then there those ‘unique’ moments where being in the right place at that time (and with the right lens!) can reward the fast-thinking photographer with some really nice, quirky or unusual shots. I sometimes grab candid shots of other tourists taking photos. I find this can help communicate a sense of enthusiasm felt by others visiting the destination; I like to think people looking at these images will picture themselves enjoying the place too.
Can you give our readers a few tips of taking the perfect holiday snap?
I’m always happy to offer advice on how to take photographs. I was in Dubrovnik in mid-summer, with long hot days of almost cloudless skies. So my tips are based on that time of year for this city: - Plan your day round the sun: First thing in the morning or late afternoon are the best times of the day to take photos – especially for capturing the warm hues on buildings and vistas. In the middle of the day when the harsh light flattens the contours, visit a church or a museum – or go for a long lunch. Harsh sunlight of the middle of the day is useful however for using reflected light off walls and floors to gently illuminate otherwise shaded areas. - Don’t always go for the obvious angle: look up, down, back … walk around a site to get every perspective. - Sit still for while. Find a shady spot, take a cool drink and just watch life pass you by. You can guarantee something interesting will happen before long. - Look for details as well as the bigger picture. - Get your selfies and souvenir photos out of the way, then concentrate on the scene, the people, the action. - If you’re looking for memorable moments, be ready to shoot at a moments notice; you never know what you’ll come across. - I used two camera bodies, using a 12-28mm wide-angle lens and a longer 70-300 zoom respectively. I shoot most of the time using aperture priority in order to control depth of field, saturation and sharpness, or I switch to manual to take light readings through the camera and get sample shots, assessing composition and lighting for trickier shots. My goal is to achieve as much as possible in-camera to minimise optimisation afterwards.
How would you describe Dubrovnik in three words?
Stunning. Sun kissed. Stepped.
The most popular attraction in Dubrovnik, the ancient city walls, is having a bumper year. More visitors than ever before are choosing to walk around the 1.9 kilometre long walls and enjoy the spectacular views over the terracotta roofs of the Old City. In August 199,000 people visited the walls, which is a massive 12.5 percent more than in August 2014 when 177,000 tickets were sold. And from the beginning of this year until the end of August the visitor numbers have increased by 10 percent on the same period from last year. “After last year's record figures such an increase this year is surprising,” commented the secretary of the Society of Friends of Dubrovnik Antiquities, Niko Kapetanic. The society controls and cares for the upkeep of the historic walls.
In the first eight months 712,000 tickets have been sold for the walls, of which 84 percent were individual visitors, 8 percent through travel agencies and 8 percent with the Dubrovnik City Card. “In the first eight months of the year the increase was slightly higher than 10 percent, overall the walls have been visited by 712,000 people, and if the rate of ticket sales in the next following months is the same as last year then we will reach 980,000 visitors by the end of the year. However as the increase in visits is on the rise, it is reasonable to expect a million visitors on the Dubrovnik City Walls this year,” concluded Kapetanic. The Dubrovnik City Walls are the most visited tourist attraction in Dubrovnik, followed by the cable car and the island of Lokrum.
The largest island in the Elaphite archipelago, with its quiet bays, beaches, cypress trees, groves of orange and lemon trees, full of old structures (churches, summer residences of the landowners and plebeians) dispersed throughout the forested slopes, with a long history interwoven with many stories and legends, is one of the pearls of the Dubrovnik region. Two settlements, Sudurad on the eastern and the Port of Sipan on the western part of the island receive numerous tourists in their beautiful homes. There are good regular and excursion connections to Dubrovnik.
Sipan is situated 17 km north-west from Dubrovnik. It is one of the Elaphite islands and the largest among them. Sipan was inhabited as early as the Roman Empire. In the middle ages the famous vineyards of Sipan were mentioned in many European courts. Sipan got its name from Latin word "gypana" meaning "The Island of eagles". In the 15th and 16th century many noble families from Dubrovnik built their summer residences on Sipan. Unfortunately these residences today mostly stand empty. Today on Sipan people grow olives, figs, almonds, tomatoes, citrus fruits and off course there are large vineyards with finest grapes. There are a few small villages in the inland of the island. Apart from the natural beauties of the island, Sipan Island can offers many other interesting sights. For example, in Sipan harbour there are ruins of building dating from ancient Rome. On Velji Vrh there are ruins of the St. Peter's church from 11th century, in Pakljeno there is church of St. Mihovil dating from the 11th century an there is small church of St. Ivan in Silovo selo. Between Sudurad and Sipan harbour there are ruins of summer residence of Dubrovnik's Archbishops. Sipan also has many nice beaches where one can enjoy the sun and clean blue sea. Sipan also has a great number of nudist beaches for tourists who prefer the clothes off option.
Crown jewel of the Elaphite
It is beautiful island for spending vacations or relaxing in the beauty of the nature and walking. The island is well worth a day visit and I would recommend getting off the ferry at one end of the island and then walking through the centre of the valley and catching the boat from the other port. Most of the nature and villages have been untouched by time in the centre of the island. Sipan is connected with Dubrovnik with many boat lines, both state run ferries and privately speed boats. You can go with the boat in the morning and spend your day on the beach on Sipan, or go sightseeing the island, or you can do both and go back in Dubrovnik in the late afternoon or in the evening. For those looking to stay longer on this island paradise there are a number of hotels including the recently renovated Hotel Sipan in Sipan harbour and Hotel Božica in Sudurad. Both of these hotels are four star if you are looking for a cheaper option then the island also offers a range of private accommodation. For those arriving to the island by ship the port of Sudurad has a brand new 40m long breakwater to protect boats from the strong winds and currents.