5 (More) Paradoxes About Life in Croatia

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life in croatia

March the 28th, 2024 – Yesterday, we looked at 10 paradoxes about life in Croatia. Goran Antonijevic brings us 5 more that will have you scratching your head.

A rich maritime heritage, famous fishing traditions – but exporting most of that fish

The Adriatic Sea is rich with fish, and Croatian fishermen exploit that fact. But at one point, more than 90% of that fish ended up on the plates of Italians and other Europeans. Croats eat around 8.5 kg of seafood per capita per year, and in other Mediterranean countries, that number riches a far higher 50-60 kg per year. As if that wasn’t insane enough, half of the seafood consumed by Croats on an annual basis is imported!

life in croatia is dominated by patriots who don’t want to pay tax

Croatian patriotism is sky high. Unfortunately, that patriotism often stops when it’s time to pay any debt to the country. At one point in the not so distant past, Croatia had over 1.5 billion euros in unpaid taxes. Despite the patriotism, this is yet another legacy from Yugoslavia. Back during those days, there was no need to worry much about fiscal responsibilities, as there weren’t as many private properties or businesses as there are now. Life in Croatia has changed enormously since independence 30 years ago, but the mentality of many remained the same – regardless of flag waving.

One of the countries with the highest tax burden in the world, without much to show for it

Some studies show that only Norway has a higher tax burden per capita in Europe than Croatia. And while the Norwegians enjoy quite a few benefits from it all, Croatia has poor infrastructure, the judiciary system is slow, healthcare is getting more expensive, and the free education is anything but free. Social security is lacking and life in Croatia is much more complicated than it needs to be – to the benefit of nobody.

the land of equality (but we’re not all equal)

Okay, we’ll be fair, this is far from a “Croatia only” issue. We’d be being very sheltered to claim that, but here – it is much more evident in day to day life in Croatia than it is in richer nations. You know the proverb – If one kills a man, he is a murderer, but if one kills millions, he’s a historical figure? Well, in Croatia, if one is caught up in a misdemeanor, there’s absolutely no way of getting out of it. Tax inspectors, sanitary inspectors, and the whole army of other inspectors cruise the country and punish small businesses for minor, petty, meaningless mistakes. At the same time, a lot of large investors reach costly pre-bankruptcy settlements with them with no issue. Many problems small businesses have to cope with are generated by the same prominent business people whose sizeable tax debts are pardoned by the state.

a country which is proud of its writers, but doesn’t read

There are so many streets and squares named after Croatian writers all over the country. Numerous monuments can be found dedicated to them across Croatia. Croatian writers are celebrated and talented. At the same time, according to one study, almost half the population hasn’t read a single book in half a decade.


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