Croatia: The Kockasti (The “Checkered Ones”)

By: Guadalupe Muñoa Ocampo

After Yugoslavia’s division in 1991, Croatia was reborn as an independent country. No time was wasted in the creation of a new soccer team that debuted in the World Cup in France 1998. Croatia currently claims 37-year-old star Luka Modric, who won the Ballon d’Or in 2018. As finalists four years ago, they arrived in Qatar with an obligation to defend the prestige achieved in Russia with the best performance of their history yet. Although it was a challenge to classify, they’ve made it to this year’s tournament with their usual impression: that of a team that may not look like a contender but with more than enough quality to compete at the highest level. This is their sixth World Cup so far, and they look forward to writing their names in the annals of the world’s most important soccer championship.

With specially preserved nature including endemic species of flora and fauna, Croatia is the third-ranked European country in terms of water resources. Its relief is varied, as plateaus, plains, hills, mountains, rivers, springs, grottoes, and caves beautify its territory. In fact, the cave of Lukina Jama is located in the North Velebit National Park. With a depth of 1,431 m (4,864 ft), Lukina Jama is one of the 20 deepest caves in the world.

Although tourism is its most important economic income, the country’s main activities are determined by its natural resources, technology, as well as food, petrochemical, and metallurgical industries. The flag of the country has a checkered coat of arms crowned with the symbols of five historically important regions: Croatia, Dubrovnik, Dalmatia, Istria, and Slavonia. The official language is Croatian, and its gastronomy is greatly varied according to specific zones: its olive oil is of the highest quality and its autochthonous wine strains are world renowned. Istria is home to the white truffle — not chocolate, but a type of mushroom! Given its rarity, it’s highly prized by chefs from all over the world. Among the monumental attractions is the palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, located at the center of ancient Split. The Rijeka Carnival is one of the most important festivals in the nation.

The Church enjoys a respected position in both the cultural and political life of the country. Forming 87.8% of the population, most Croatians are Roman Catholics. 4.4% are Orthodox Christians, 1.3% are Muslim, 0.3% identify as Protestant (especially Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists). Another 6.2% conform to other religions and 5.65% call themselves non-believers.  Let’s pray that our missionaries will reach the hearts of people who do not yet know about God and that the Orthodox Christian Church will continue to grow in Croatia.

Resources consulted:

Team photo:

Credit: Felipe Nuñez

Culture photo:

Credit: Roberta F.

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