Croatia before Croats
The area known as Croatia today was inhabited throughout the prehistoric period. Fossils of Neanderthals dating to the middle Paleolithic have been unearthed in the area of Krapina and Vindija. The Iron Age left traces of the Hallstatt culture and the La Tène culture.
Much later the region was settled by Liburnians and Illyrians, and Greek colonies were established on the islands of Vis (by Dionysius I of Syracuse) and Hvar. In 9 AD the territory of today's Croatia became part of the Roman Empire.
The early history of Croatia ends with the Avar invasion in the first half of the 7th century and the destruction of almost all Roman towns.
Ethnogenesis of Croatian people (called White Croats before the migration) started with their emigration from the territory of White Croatia, located in central Europe, to the area of the present day Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Kingdom of Croatia
The Croats arrived in what is today Croatia probably in the early 7th century. They organized into two dukedoms; the duchy of Pannonia in the north and the duchy of Littoral Croatia in the south. The Christianization of the Croats was mostly complete by the 9th century. Both duchies became Frankish vassals in late 8th century, and eventually became independent in the following century.
The first native Croatian ruler recognized by the Pope was duke Branimir, whom Pope John VIII called "duke of Croats" in 879. Duke Tomislav of Littoral Croatia was one of the most prominent members of the House of Trpimirovic. He united the Croats of Dalmatia and Pannonia into a single Kingdom in 925. Under his rule, Croatia became one of the most powerful kingdoms in Medieval Europe.
The Kingdom of Croatia existed from its foundation in 925 until the end of World War I, initially as an independent kingdom and later as a crown in multiethnic empires such as the High Kingdom of Hungary, the Habsburg monarchy and Austria-Hungary.
Personal Union with Hungary
Following the extinction of the Croatian ruling dynasty in 1091, Ladislaus I of Hungary, the brother of Jelena Lijepa, the last Croatian queen, became the king of Croatia. Croatian nobility of the Littoral opposed this crowning, which led to 10 years of war and the recognition of the Hungarian ruler Coloman as the king of Croatia and Hungary in the treaty of 1102. In return, Coloman promised to maintain Croatia as a separate kingdom, not to settle Croatia with Hungarians, to guarantee Croatia's self-governance under a Ban, and to respect all the rights, laws and privileges of the Croatian Kingdom. During this union, the Kingdom of Croatia never lost the right to elect its own king, had the ruling dynasty become extinct. In 1293 and 1403 Croatia chose its own king, but in both cases the Kingdom of Hungary declared war and the union was reestablished.
Republic of Ragusa
The city of Dubrovnik was founded in 7th century after Avar and Slavic raiders destroyed the Roman city of Epidaurum. The surviving Roman population escaped to a small island near the coast where they founded a new settlement. During the Fourth Crusade the city fell under control of the Republic of Venice until the 1358 Zadar treaty when Venice, defeated by the Hungarian kingdom, lost control of Dalmatia and the Republic of Ragusa became a tributary of that kingdom.
The republic became the most important publisher of Croatian literature during the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The republic would survive until 1808 when it was annexed by Napoleon. Today the city of Dubrovnik features on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list and is a famous tourist destination.
In 1529, the Ottoman army swept through the area and captured Buda and besieged Vienna; an event which brought violence and turmoil to the Croatian border areas. After the failure of the first military operations, the Kingdom of Croatia was split into civilian and military units in 1553.
During more than two centuries of Ottoman wars, Croatia underwent great demographic changes. The Croats left the riverland areas of Gacka, Lika and Krbava, Moslavina in Slavonia, and an area in present day north-western Bosnia to move towards Austria where they remained and the present day Burgenland Croats are direct descendants of these settlers.
On January 1, 1527, Croatian noblemen gathered in the Cetin fortress in the city of Cetingrad for the Parliament on Cetin and elected Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria as the new king of the Croatian kingdom. Croatia of that time was named a triune kingdom: the Kingdom of Croatia, the Kingdom of Dalmatia, and the Kingdom of Slavonia. The kingdoms of Croatia and Slavonia united in 1868, creating the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia.
The Croatian answer to the Hungarian revolution of 1848 was a declaration of war. Austrian, Croatian and Russian forces together defeated the Hungarian army in 1849 and the following 17 years were remembered in Croatia and Hungary for the policy of Germanization. The eventual failure of this policy resulted in the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 and the creation of a monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary. The treaty left unanswered the question of the status of Croatia. The following year the Croatian and Hungarian parliaments created a constitution for union of the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia and the Kingdom of Hungary.
National revival in Croatia started in 1813 when the bishop of Zagreb Maksimilijan Vrhovac issued a plea for the collection of "national treasures". At the beginning of the 1830s, a group of young Croatian writers gathered in Zagreb and established the Illyrian movement for national renewal and unity of all South Slavs within the Habsburg Monarchy. The most important focus of the Illyrians was the establishment of a standard language as a counter-weight to Hungarian, and the promotion of Croatian literature and official culture.
Kingdom of Yugoslavia
After the defeat of the Central Powers in World War I, issues of Yugoslav unity became a major international issue.
On 29 October 1918, the Croatian Sabor (parliament) declared independence, creating the new State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. Pressured by the Italian army, which was entering its territory from south and west, the National Council started expedient negotiations with the Kingdom of Serbia and on November 23, 1918, a delegation was sent to Belgrade with the aim of a proclamation of union.
The formation of the constitution of 1921 sparked tensions between the different Yugoslav nationalities. Trumbić opposed the 1921 constitution and over time grew increasingly hostile towards the Yugoslav government that he saw as being centralized in the favour of Serb hegemony over Yugoslavia.
The ensuing chaotic period ended the next year when King Alexander abolished the Constitution.
World War II
The German and Italian invasion of April 6, 1941 achieved victory over the Royal Yugoslav Army in little more than ten days, ending with the unconditional surrender of the Royal Yugoslav Army on April 17. The territory of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region of Syrmia became a puppet state of Nazi Germany called the Independent State of Croatia.
The leadership of the Yugoslav partisan movement was in the hands of Croat Josip Broz Tito, whose policy of brotherhood and unity would in the end defeat not only the Axis occupiers, but also their various collaborators in the armed forces of the Independent State of Croatia and other quislings (which could be found in every Yugoslav social and national group). The victory of Tito's partisans against the Nazi occupiers and their allies resulted in the massacres of those Croatian Domobran (Home Guard) and Ustashe who were repatriated from Austria by the British 8th Army.
Modern Croatia was founded on AVNOJ anti-fascist partisans' principles during World War II, and it became a constitutional federal republic of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. From the 1950s, the Socialist Republic of Croatia enjoyed an autonomy under the rule of the local Communist elite, but in 1967 a group of influential Croatian poets and linguists published a Declaration on the Status and Name of the Croatian Standard Language.
In 1974, a new Yugoslav federal constitution was ratified that gave more autonomy to the individual republics, thereby basically fulfilling the main goals of the Croatian Spring.
Croatia declared independence from socialist Yugoslavia in 1991. War broke out in 1991 with Yugoslav National Army attacks on Croatia. Croatia was internationally recognized on 15 January 1992 by the European Union and subsequently the United Nations. During that time, Croatia controlled less than two thirds of its legal territory. The first country to recognize Croatia was Iceland on 19 December 1991.