Croatia is divided into twenty-one counties (županija) and the capital Zagreb's city district (in italics below):

Zagreb (pronounced: ) is the capital and largest city of Croatia. Zagreb is the cultural, scientific, economic, political and administrative center of the Republic of Croatia with the houses of Parliament, President and Government of the country. The city's population in 2001 was 779,145 [1]. (1,088,841 in the metro area).[2]. It is situated between the southern slopes of the Medvednica mountains and the northern bank of the Sava river at an elevation of 120 m above sea level, located at 45°48′N 15°58′E.

Its favourable geographic position in the southwestern part of the Pannonian Basin, which extends to the Alpine, Dinaric, Adriatic and Pannonic regions, provides an excellent connection for traffic between Central Europe and the Adriatic Sea.

The transport connections, concentration of industry, scientific and research institutions and industrial tradition underlie its leading economic position in Croatia. Zagreb is the seat of the central government, administrative bodies and almost all government ministries.


Međimurje (Međimurska županija) is a triangle-shaped county in the northernmost part of Croatia. In the western part of the county, there are slopes of Alpine foothills, while toward the east it touches the flat Pannonian plains. It shares borders with Slovenia and Hungary, with Austria just over the corner. The eastern limits of the county are near the town of Legrad. The closest cities are Varaždin, Koprivnica, Nagykanizsa, Murska Sobota, Bjelovar, Maribor, and Graz, in all three states.

Dubrovnik-Neretva county - Dubrovačko-neretvanska županija is the southernmost Croatian and Dalmatian county. Its center is Dubrovnik; the other larger towns are Metković and Ploče in the Neretva river delta (hence the mention in the county name). It includes the larger islands of Korčula, Lastovo, Mljet, Šipan, Lopud and Koločep.

Technically, the Neum municipality of Bosnia and Herzegovina makes the southern part of this county an exclave, but they're still connected with the mainland via Croatian territorial waters. Also, all traffic going to/from Dubrovnik through Neum is usually less subjected to customs inspections to reduce the amount of traffic jams. The road (one of the main ones in Croatia) has one lane per direction. Buses joining both parts of Croatia usually stop at Neum, so that passengers can buy tobacco and alcoholic beverages with the lower Bosnia-Hercegovina taxes.

The northern part of the Mljet island is a national park, while the Baćina lakes north of Ploče are a nature park. The southernmost tip of the county includes the disputed Prevlaka peninsula.


Istria county (Croatian: Istarska županija; Italian: Regione istriana) is the westernmost county of Croatia which includes the biggest part of the Istrian peninsula (2820 out of 3160 km²). Area is called Istra in Croatian and Slovenian, and Istria in Italian. Because of important ethnical minorities, especially Italians, the region adopts a bilingual form. Its administrative center is Pazin/Pisino.

Split-Dalmatia County (Splitsko-dalmatinska županija) is the central-southern Dalmatian county in Croatia. Its center is Split. Population of the county is 463,676 (2001). Land area is 4534 sq km.



Physically, county is divided into three main parts: elevated hinterland (Dalmatinska zagora) with numerous karst fields; narrow coastal strip with high population density; and the islands. Parts of the Dinaric Alps, including Dinara itself form the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina while Kozjak, Mosor and Biokovo mountains separate the coastal strip from the hinterland.The most important economic activity is tourism. Manufacturing and agriculture are in decline.

The county is linked to the rest of Croatia by the newly built four-lane Split-Zadar-Karlovac-Zagreb highway and the Lika railway. Split-Kaštela international airport is used mostly by tourist charter flights in the summer. There is also a smaller paved airfield on the island of Brač.

In the hinterland, larger towns are Sinj (pop. 11,500 town, 25,373 with villages), Imotski (4,350) and Vrgorac (2,200).
Besides the largest city, Split (189,000 city proper, 240,000 including Kaštela and Solin), towns on the coast are Trogir (11,000), Omiš (6,500) and Makarska (13,400).
On the islands, settlements are smaller due to high emigration, but mostly urban in character. Among them are Supetar (3,000) on the island of Brač, Hvar (3,700) and Stari Grad (1,900) on Hvar and Vis (1,800) and Komiža (1,500) on Vis.


Vukovar-Syrmia county (Croatian: Vukovarsko-srijemska županija) is the easternmost Croatian county. It includes the eastern parts of Slavonia and western parts of Srijem regions; but also the lower Sava river basin (Posavina).

County seat is Vukovar, on Danube river; and the biggest town is Vinkovci with 33,328 inhabitans. The whole county has 204,768 inhabitans. Other towns include Ilok and Županja.


Šibenik-Knin county - Šibensko-kninska županija is a county in Croatia, located in north-central Dalmatia. Its center is Šibenik; other notable towns are Knin, Drniš and Skradin.

The county covers 1860 km² and has 110 000 inhabitants. It also includes 242 islands and national parks Krka and Kornat


Osijek-Baranja county (Croatian: Osječko-baranjska županija) is a county in Croatia, located in northeastern Slavonia and Baranja. Its center is Osijek; other cities include Đakovo, Našice, Valpovo, Belišće, Beli Manastir.


Zadar county - Zadarska županija is a county in Croatia, it encompasses northern Dalmatia and southeastern Lika. Its center is the city of Zadar.


Brod-Posavina county (Brodsko-posavska županija) is the southern Slavonian county in Croatia. Its center is the city of Slavonski Brod and it spreads along the left bank of the Sava river, hence the name Posavina. Other notable towns include Nova Gradiška, Vrpolje, Slavonski Šamac.


Požega-Slavonia county (Požeško-slavonska županija) is a Croatian county in central Slavonia. Its capital is Požega. Population: 85,831 (2001 census).


Virovitica-Podravina county - Virovitičko-podravska županija is a northern Slavonian county in Croatia. Its center is Virovitica and it includes the area around the Drava river, hence the name Podravina. Another notable city is Slatina.


Lika-Senj county - Ličko-senjska županija is a county in Croatia that includes the Lika region and some northern coastline of the Adriatic near the town of Senj, including the northern part of the Pag island. Its center is Gospić.

The county is the least populated and almost the least prosperous one, but on the other hand it includes the Plitvice Lakes and Velebit.


Primorje-Gorski Kotar county - Primorsko-goranska županija is a county in western Croatia that includes the Bay of Kvarner and the surrounding Northern Croatian seacoast, and the mountainous region of Gorski Kotar. Its center is Rijeka. The population of the county in 2001 was 257,667.

The county includes the islands of Krk, Cres, Lošinj and Rab.

Bjelovar-Bilogora county - Bjelovarsko-bilogorska županija is a county in central Croatia.

The central town of Bjelovar was first mentioned in 1413, and it only gained importance when a new fort was built in 1756 to defend against the Ottoman invasions. The town was pronounced a free royal town in 1874.

The other part of the county name is for the picturesque hill of Bilogora that stretches along the northern edge of the county.

Other towns in the county are Daruvar, Garešnica, Čazma and Grubišno Polje.

The Bjelovar-Bilogora county borders on the Koprivnica-Križevci county in the north, Virovitica-Podravina county in the northeast, Požega-Slavonija county in the southeast, Sisak-Moslavina county in the southwest and Zagreb county in the west.

Koprivnica-Križevci county - Koprivničko-križevačka županija is a county in northern Croatia. This hyphenated name comes from two entities, the two of its largest cities, Koprivnica and Križevci.

Koprivnica is the official capital of the county. It was first mentioned in 1272 in a document by prince Ladislav IV and declared a free royal town by king Ludovic I in 1356, and flourished as a trading place and a military fortress since.

The military aspect set it back some when it was included in the Military Frontier in the 16th century during the wars with the Ottoman Turks, but after Maria Theresa's decree of 1765 it resumed life as a peaceful little merchant town.

Koprivnica developed significantly in the 20th century with the advent of the Podravka food industry, known worldwide for its Vegeta spice.

Križevci, on the other hand, as a smaller city and second mentioned in the county name may seem like an underdog to its neighbour Koprivnica. Its first mention was from 1193 by Bela III but it was divided in two parts which didn't develop equally fast.

After centuries of division, empress Maria Theresa united the Lower and Upper Križevac into Križevci in 1752. The town was also hit by the wars with the Turks, but it regained importance in 1871 when the railway was built through it on the way from Budapest to Rijeka.

The modern Križevci is oriented towards entrepreneurship, while preserving its eight beautiful churches (one is cathedral), built mostly in the Middle Ages.

The county also includes a third town, Đurđevac, but its population is much smaller than the main two (8,862 in 2001).

The Koprivnica-Križevci county borders on the Međimurje county in the north, Varaždin county in the northwest, Zagreb county in the southwest, Bjelovar-Bilogora county in the south and Virovitica-Podravina county in the southeast.

The Varaždin county of Croatia - Varaždinska županija is a county in northern Croatia, near the border with Slovenia and Hungary. It is named after its centre, the city of Varaždin.

Geography

The towns in Varaždin county are: Varaždin, Ivanec, Ludbreg, Lepoglava, Novi Marof and Varaždinske Toplice, there are additionally 22 communities. The county encompasses 1261 km2 of land and has 183,730 inhabitants (2001).

The Varaždin county borders with Međimurje on the north, Krapina-Zagorje county on the southwest, Zagreb county on the south, and Koprivnica-Križevci county on the southeast.

Karlovac county - Karlovačka županija is a county in central Croatia, with the administrative center in Karlovac.

The city of Karlovac is another fort from the times of the Military Frontier. It was built as a six-side star fort in the 16th century at the point of confluence of four rivers.

The town blossomed in the 18th and the 19th century after being made a free town, with the development of roads between Pannonian plains to the seaside, and waterways along the Kupa river. The 20th century wasn't so favourably inclined, but the city's recovering, once again making use of its crucial geostrategic point in Croatia.

The county itself extends towards the north to the water springs of Jamnica (the logos of which everyone must have seen on Janica Kostelić's winter caps, but which is equally award-winning on its own), and towards the south all the way down to the mountainous regions of Gorski kotar and Lika, in particular to the Bjelolasica mountain which features the largest winter sport recreation center in the country.

Sisak-Moslavina county - Sisačko-moslavačka županija is a county in central Croatia. It is named after the city of Sisak and the region Moslavina just across the river Sava. According to 2001 census it is inhabited by 185 thousand people.

This county features the ancient Roman city of Siscia -- today's Sisak. Siscia was the largest city of the whole region back then, a Pannonian capital, probably due to its position on the confluence of the Kupa and Sava rivers. The city's patron saint is its first Christian bishop, St. Kvirin, who was tortured and almost killed during Diocletian's persecution of Christians. Legend has it that they tied him to a millstone and threw him into a river, but he freed himself from the weight, escaped and continued to preach his faith.

The town may have lost importance with the fall of one empire, but it recovered it soon enough with the rise of another: Sisak became famous for crucial battles between European armies and the Ottoman Turks. In particular, the battle of 1593 when the Turkish army first ever suffered a large defeat. The ban Toma Bakač Erdedi who led the defense in this battle became famous throughout Europe.

Today, Sisak features the largest Croatian metallurgic factory (supported by the University of Zagreb's Faculty of Metallurgy also in the city) and the largest oil refinery. These are coupled with the petrochemical facilities in the nearby town of Kutina, the first recorded mention of which was in 1256 by king Bela IV. Moslavina is probably the most picturesque part of this county, with the natural park Lonjsko polje near the rivers Lonja, Ilova and Pakra.

This county also extends far to the south to the border with Bosnia, and in this southern part of the county one can find a small town of Topusko, which has another one of those spas typical for Central Croatia, although this one stands out with seniority: it dates back to the neolithic age.

The Sisak-Moslavina county borders on the Karlovac county in the west, Zagreb county in the north, Bjelovar-Bilogora county and Požega-Slavonia county in the northwest, and finally Brod-Posavina county in the east.

Krapina-Zagorje county - Krapinsko-zagorska županija is a county in northern Croatia. It encompasses most of the historic region called Hrvatsko Zagorje (Croatian Zagorje).

The Krapina-Zagorje county is a candidate for being the most idyllic county in Croatia: the many villages and small towns spread out across the hillsides are perfect for agriculture (vineyards in particular) and summer houses. Although beautiful, the many hills rivers, creeks and lakes through many valleys cause a peculiar effect throughout Zagorje: 15% of the year, fog significantly lowers visibility in the area.

Bordering with Slovenia this region was a part of the Austrian Empire. From those times originates the majority of many castles spread around the county.

Perhaps the most astonishing landmark of the area is the excavation site of a 100,000 year old Neanderthal man in caves near the central town of Krapina. Existence of "modern"-day Krapina itself has been verified since 1193, and was always a favorite site for castles and other country houses of Croatian and Hungarian rulers.

Other towns of the county are Zabok, Pregrada, Zlatar, Oroslavje, Donja Stubica, Klanjec. The town of Stubica features another thermal spring, the Stubičke toplice ("toplice" means spa). Also in the area are the medieval castles Veliki Tabor, Miljana, Bežanec, Hellenbach, Januševac etc.

The Krapina-Zagorje county boders on the Varaždin county in the northwest, Zagreb county in the southwest and southeast, and the city of Zagreb in the south.


Zagreb county
- Zagrebačka županija is a county in central Croatia.

Named after the city of Zagreb, this county is very historic: its center, the city of Samobor has existed since 1242, and was one of the first tourist resorts in the region. Its population is 309,696 inhabitants (2001), and it's mostly considered as a metropolitan area of Zagreb.

Today the county is developing along with the nation's capital. Several towns, once villages, such as Zaprešić, Velika Gorica or Sesvete (which is administratively part of the city now), are latching onto Zagreb's nearby industrial zones and becoming larger than some of the centers of other counties. The outer rim contains recreational facilities for the residents of Zagreb.

The Zagreb county borders on the Krapina-Zagorje county, the city of Zagreb and Varaždin county in the north, Bjelovar-Bilogora county in the east, Sisak-Moslavina county in the south and Karlovac county in the southwest.