Our stop this month is Croatia. Croatia is in both Central and Southeast Europe. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. It has a unitary democratic parliamentary government and declared independence in 1991 and successively gained it four years later after fighting a war. Croatia has a population of 4.28 million. Most of its citizens are Croats and the most common religion is Roman Catholic. The official language is Croatian.
Croatia consists of 56,414 square kilometers (21,782 square miles) of land and 128 square kilometers (49 square miles) of water. It borders the Adriatic Sea and includes thousands of islands and islets of which 48 are permanently inhabited. Most of Croatia has a moderately warm and rainy continental climate. Croatia is ranked 18th most popular tourism destination in the world. The most popular time to visit is in the summer months. The country has free primary and secondary education and free healthcare. The Croats arrived in present day Croatia in 7th century AD. Later they became a kingdom upon choosing a king in 925. In 1102, Croatia entered a personal union with Hungary. After World War I, Croatia seceded from Austria-Hungary and emerged into Yugoslavia. During World War II a fascist puppet state Croatia existed and after the war became a founding member of the socialist state of Yugoslavia. Then declared its independence in 1991. Croatia is a member of the European Union, NATO, United Nations and the World Trade Organization. It is a founding member of the Union for the Mediterranean.
With its new independence I found it hard to find good books for resources to read with children. I always like to read some stories from the country to my five-year-old daughter as well as some of the resource books I find at our local library. Croatia is not the topic in many children’s books. I did manage to find two fictional books.
Nonna’s Birthday Surprise by Lidia Bastianich is a picture book where a grandmother describes growing up in Istria. Istria is a place that is shared by three countries, Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy. Since the grandmother names are Italian, I am assuming the author’s experiences in Istria was more Italian than Croat, but it is the closest I could find. The book also includes recipes at the end since the book is about a group of grandchildren who want to make a special dinner for a grandmother. They go to their other grandmother for help. Trophy Kid or How I Was Adopted by the Rich and Famous by Steve Atinsky is a novel for older children. It is about a Croatian war orphan who is adopted by a Hollywood couple. I did not read it, so I can not tell much about it.
Our library network also had four books with the title Croatia in their Children’s Departments. Each goes into the details about the country and culture. The suggested ages of these books start at eight-years-old and up.Croatian traditional cuisine varies by region. Those closest to Italy and other Mediterranean countries have similar foods such as seafood, pasta, garlic and oil. Then the continental cuisine is highly influenced by Hungarian, Austrian and Turkish cuisine. An interesting fact about Croatia is that the forerunner of the necktie, a cravat, originated in Croatia. They were part of the military uniform and some mercenaries enlisted in French Service. The Parisians were intrigued by the fashion. King Louis XIV began wearing a lace carvat in 1646 at age 7 and set the fashion for French nobility. The cravat became the fashion craze throughout Europe.
We also have the wonderful Croatia placemat and passport (and of course our passport cover) available to download for free to help teach your children about Croatia. Also please visit the various blogs who link their posts with crafts, recipes and more about Croatia and feel free to link any you have.
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