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General facts

Population: 4.28 million

Capital: Zagreb

Official language: Croatian

Currency: Croatian Kuna

Religion: Roman Catholic

Key industries

Tourism

Accounting for approximately 18% of Croatia’s annual GDP, the tourism industry is a key contributor to the country’s economy. In 2018, Croatia welcomed around 18.4 million visitors to its popular tourist destinations which include Split, Dubrovnik and Zadar and the tourism industry employed over 130,000 people. With over 1200 islands to explore, Croatia is a leader in nautical tourism and welcomes many people visiting by boat or to hire a boat in order to explore the islands.

Agriculture

Croatia predominantly focusses on arable farming and there are approximately 1.3 million hectares of arable land in Croatia. One of the main products that is produced is olive oil and the oil produced in the Croatian region of Istria is said to be one of the best in the world. Although the agriculture industry only accounts for approximately 4% of Croatia’s GDP, it employs many people who live in the rural areas of Croatia, which is approximately half of the population.

Transport

Croatia has six major ports which are essential for transportation of both freight and passengers. The Adriatic Sea also has key transport routes for merchant ships and cruise ships, many of which travel to the port of Rijeka in the north of the country.  Croatia also has a well-developed road infrastructure and Croatian Motorways is the biggest company in the sector with a total revenue of 1.69 billion kunas. The transport sector accounts for approximately 8% of the country’s total GDP.

Approach to business (things to keep in mind)

  • If you’re speaking Croatian, always use Gospodin for Mister, Gospodja for Mrs and Gospodjica for Miss and their surname and only use first names when you’re told to do so.
  • Croatians generally prefer face-to-face communication to email communication.
  • Humour is quite common in Croatia with sarcasm being a preferred form of humour. This is not always the case in business and it would probably be best to gauge the situation before trying to be too humorous!
  • Business lunches are customary in Croatia and meetings will often take place over lunch.
  • August is generally when Croatian people take their holiday and some businesses may be closed so try to avoid booking meetings during this month.
  • Small talk is common before meetings and discussions or negotiations may be interrupted as there will likely be breaks for refreshments.

 

Dos and Don'ts in business

Do…

  • …use a firm handshake and maintain direct eye contact at all times.
  • … bring a small gift. You could bring something that represents your home country but nothing too expensive.
  • …be punctual to business meetings as punctuality is valued in Croatia.
  • …be prepared for several meetings. The initial meeting may be a way of the company getting to know you and the decision maker might not be present on the first occasion.

Don’t…

  • …discuss the history of Yugoslavia.
  • …sit down until you are asked to as you may have a seat reserved for you.
  • …be surprised if people appear to be quite direct, this communication is quite normal in Croatian business.
  • …discuss conflict between Croatia and Serbia as this is a sensitive topic particularly amongst the older generation.
  • …try to arrange meetings on Friday afternoons or weekends as they are for family time which is considered to be very important in Croatia.