Back in July 2018, one of the most-searched terms on the Internet was ‘Where is Croatia?’ The heroics of the national team at the 2018 World Cup, all the way to the final in Moscow, where Croatia eventually lost 4-2 to France, captured the hearts of hundreds of millions all over the globe.
But just exactly where was Croatia?
Westerners seem to have a particular blind spot when it comes to the geography of Central and Eastern Europe, or so it seems to me. Slovenia, Slavonia, or Slovakia, for instance. Before the war in the 1990s, Croatia was the second-most visited place after Spain for British tourists, but they knew it better as Yugoslavia. Independence gave Croatia back its identity, but foreigners still struggle to place it on a map. It is often lumped together with other countries in Eastern Europe.
And so when war comes to eastern Europe, tourists planning on a vacation to Croatia without knowing exactly where it is understandably get a little nervous and ask the same question – is Croatia near Ukraine?
My two fun facts about the location of Croatia which surprise a lot of foreigners should help to place the geographical position of Croatia:
Croatia is just 25km by car from Italy (a short drive through Slovenia)
Vienna is further east than Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. So much for lying in Eastern Europe.
As one can see from the map above, there are several countries – all of which are NATO members – who are between Ukraine and Croatia. In the unlikely event that Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland were drawn into the conflict, then perhaps there would be cause for alarm in Croatia. But at that point, few would be thinking of taking a vacation.
Croatia is a member of NATO and is not a major importer of Russian oil, and Russian gas accounts for about 5% of its needs. The distance (through NATO-country Hungary) from the westernmost point of Ukraine to the easternmost point of Croatia is about 500 kilometres. Munich, Venice and Milan are much closer.
So Is Croatia near Ukraine, and should this affect your holiday planning to Croatia? Not at all. Croatia is near Ukraine in only one thing – its unwavering support against the current aggression. But if you are planning your holiday to Croatia, proximity to Ukraine and the likelihood of the conflict spilling over is no more likely than in any other NATO country.
For more on tourism in Croatia, follow the dedicated travel section.