Croatia stretches from the foothills of the Julian Alps in the north-west and the Pannonian Plain in the east, over the Dinara mountain range in its central region, to the Adriatic coast in the south. The capital, Zagreb, is a typical central European metropolis, combining elegant nineteenth-century architecture with plenty of cultural distractions and a vibrant café scene.
For visitors to Croatia it is a memorable experience to see the country reopen its attractions to the world. Croatia's hard-won independence from Yugoslavia and its triumph over communism still seem fresh, and naturally wounds are still healing. However, the conflict in Croatia ended years ago, and the war damage to Dubrovnik and other cities has largely been repaired. The friendly people and picturesque Adriatic coast are attracting more and more visitors every year. Tourists to the country will enjoy good food and wine; clean, scenic beaches; historic cities and charming villages; striking modern architecture; Roman ruins; and well-preserved antiquities. Within the Croatian countryside are mountains dotted with vineyards, castles, lakes and waterfalls.
The emphatic Dalmatia coast is simply stunning, with soaring mountains forming a backdrop for the long, narrow strip of land and rock that is washed by the clear waters of the Adriatic. Dalmatia's main towns are Zadar, an Italianate peninsula town, and Split, an ancient Roman settlement and modern port which provide a jumping-off point to a series of enchanting islands. There are more than a thousand islands, some uninhabited and others home to ancient villages. Travelers can choose their favorites for swimming, sailing or exploring. Istria is the triangular peninsula that forms the northwestern part of the Croatian coast. Its closeness to the Italian border has long made it a popular resort area for European aristocracy. The coast is undoubtedly the shining star of Croatia's tourism industry, cruising around the most spectacular coastline in Europe; visitors can sail to tiny islands and secluded coves hidden in the sparkling blue of the Adriatic.