Sunday, 1 August 2021

Coronavirus Antibody Count: How to Check Zagreb Vaccine Results?

August 2, 2021 - With one in ten vaccinated people not developing immunity, how can we know our coronavirus antibody count? TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac found an option in Zagreb and learned whether or not his vaccination was a shot in the dark.

Given that a smaller part of vaccinated people (every 10th vaccinated person) fails to develop proper protection, it's necessary to adhere to the basic measures to prevent infection (maintaining social distancing, mask-wearing, maintaining respiratory and hand hygiene, and going into isolation in the event of the development of COVID-19 symptoms - says the paper containing some basic information about the COVID-19 vaccine I received when taking both doses. 

The paper also contains info on how to report side effects and lists some common ones (headaches, developing the shakes, sore muscles, a fever that lasts for a day or two). It also assures that people allergic to food, pollen, insect bites, animal hair, and similar issues can take the vaccine, while those who had a severe reaction to the first dose should either not take the second one or approach it with caution.

With all vaccines having their alleged ups and downs, I opted for Pfizer. Why team Pfizer? Well, the more unserious reasons would be that almost everyone I know at TCN took Pfizer, and I wanted to be cool like them, and also, if it was so good that Croatian elites pushed through to take it earlier in the year, then it is probably good enough for me. 


Post-vaccine information paper © Ivor Kruljac / Total Croatia News

Check the data, check yourself

But, on a serious note, as with every vaccine you choose, reading the information from the right sources (such as the WHO that started explaining the different technologies and the types of COVID-19 vaccine back in January as well as updating people about the latest info) is the best way to make the choice you feel most comfortable with.

While we witness many people refusing vaccines as they fall victim to fake news, conspiracy theories, and misinformation, some people refuse it for legitimate reasons. Those who suffer from blood clots have more than fair issues and questions about taking the vaccine.

It's worth noting that before you take the vaccine, a staff member will ask you a series of questions about your overall health (do you take any regular medications, have you already had COVID-19, do you have any chronic conditions, did you take antibiotics a month before, etc). Based on your answers, they will determine whether or not you should wait in the presence of medical staff for fifteen minutes, half an hour, or even longer following vaccination, and whether you should even take the vaccine in the first place.

Consulting with your trusty general practitioner and maybe even undergoing a physical examination ahead of vaccination is the best way to be as informed as possible to answer this series of pre-vaccine questions. Paired with general trustworthy vaccine info, your vaccine experience will likely be trouble-free.   

Whether your reason for refusing the vaccine is because of a reasonable concern based on the available information and perhaps your current state of health, or because of some rather absurd misinformation, the recently developed situation in the US best presents the efficiency of the vaccine for your personal safety.

As Bloomberg reports, American president Joe Biden warned Americans that COVID-19 is now a pandemic that strikes only those who aren't vaccinated (49% of Americans have been fully vaccinated at the time of writing this article).

''We've still got a pandemic for those who haven’t gotten the vaccination. It’s that basic, it’s that simple, if you’re vaccinated, you’re not going to die,'' Biden said in late July in Cincinnati.

Choose the (un)lucky number

But, let's leave Biden for a second and get back to the issue at hand, one in ten vaccinated people, unfortunately, fails to develop protection against COVID-19. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't really find any solid medical reason as to why that is, but I'll leave that to the scientists and the doctors.

When it comes to the Pfizer vaccine, after my first dose, I felt sleepy, and the moment I came home, I took a really good nap. Was it due to the vaccine or the fact that I had an early morning appointment and I didn't get much sleep the night before? I'm not sure. As for the second dose, I was prepared for a headache and fever. It seems that these side-effects are practically unavoidable when it comes to Pfizer.

The second dose was received on July the 15th, a couple of days went by, and nothing happened. On one hand, that's great, but why am I not experiencing what the majority seem to experience following their second dose? Could it mean it isn't working? Am I number 10? If I was a medical professional I'd have been able to get the vaccine more quickly, and I would get an antibody test to get a better idea of where things stand.


Bloodstream © Pixabay

Public vaccine, private tests

The public healthcare system is one of the values Croats do like, despite their complaints. Pay your taxes and keep healthcare widely accessible. That said, sadly waiting lists can become quite long, and the overall debt left the public unsure whether the required medicines would perhaps be unavailable earlier in 2021. When it comes to non-emergency healthcare services, it may not be the worst idea to go see a private health professional (if you can afford it of course).

One such service is provided by Laboratory Breyer, founded in 1997 by a clinical chemistry specialist, Dr. Darija Breyer.

''Our motivation lies in never-ending research to better our service with the aim of increasing the care provided to our customers. Our best advertisement is the customer experience that serves as a starting point for all future appointments and is a foundation for long-lasting trust in our service. We justify the trust of our customers by expressing the highest concern for their health,'' says their official website.

The accessibility to the service is evident in Breyer now has two locations in Zagreb: Ilica 191 and Ede Murtića 9.

''Polyclinic Breyer is aimed at the customer: quality comes first with both customer and laboratory staff spaces combining maximum efficiency and modern design. Our complete service, starting from the reception to the test result is constantly re-evaluated and monitored. All personnel in both locations are included in all activities regarding quality compliance according to the written procedures and working instructions,'' they explain.

Open for communication; you can learn more and get in touch with the polyclinic here.


Blood analysis © pixabay

(Anti)body count

The informative piece of paper I received says it takes a week after the second dose to reach immunisation, and that our covid certificates for crossing borders will not allow their holders to avoid testing before two weeks from the second dose have passed. So, the plan is simple, wait two weeks and check your antibody levels.

Additionally, sometime during the late evening hours of the eleventh day after the vaccine, the side effects kicked in. I got a bit of a headache, a low-grade fever, and I experienced a bit of shaking. it was of course not all that pleasant but I welcomed it anyway. My body was reacting, and something was happening. So, should I get my antibody levels tested?

Fortunately, with a private clinic being an option, I had time to make a decision, as no appointment in advance was needed.

''How long has it been since you took the second dose?'' the Laboratory Breyer receptionist asked me when I arrived and I said I wanted coronavirus antibody count.

''Two weeks and one day,'' I replied.

''Hm, it might be a bit too early, the time period needed for immunisation can stretch for a whole month after the second dose, that's usually the best time to do the test,'' the expert kindly explained.

An expert, which I'm not, and you should always accept that you can't be good at everything and that someone always knows better than you about something. Still, I kindly asked if I could take the test anyway. Due to the journey, I'm about to take (which TCN readers will have a chance to learn a bit more about in the following weeks), I wanted to see if something had started happening in my body or not. Alright, the immunisation isn't complete, but if they find at least one little antibody in my bloodstream after two weeks, at least we'll know something had started, right?

My turn came quickly, and the nice lady asked me to take a seat and a vile of my blood was quickly taken. The needle was a bit more painful than a mosquito bite typically is, but at least there was no annoying itching afterward. They said the results would arrive in a couple of hours via email.  

They carefully sealed the pierced point and suggested I take a seat in a waiting room. Careful examination of the vein a few minutes later confirmed that all was well. The test took a 220 kuna hit to my paycheck, which isn't that bad, maybe more like a slap.

The sample was taken at 11:09 AM, and results were issued at 15:03, so it was all pretty fast. Despite two weeks not being a long time, I already have 7,236 antibodies. So, the taxpayers didn't waste money on vaccinating me. Hip hip, hooray!


Vaccine efficiency confirmation, screenshot: Ivor Kruljac/TCN

Of course, vaccines don't mean you can't get sick, but the chances of death or developing a severe clinical picture are unlikely. It's nice to know that the one act that has been saving humanity from diseases for centuries works like a charm, and hopefully, more and more people will follow this positive scientific tradition and take the vaccine—both for themselves and for others.

Learn more about health in Croatia, including insurance, what to do in an emergency, and how to find dentists and doctors on our TC page.

For more about COVID-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page and choose your preferred language.

Saturday, 10 July 2021

World Health Organization: Obesity Affects 1 in 3 Children in Croatia

July 10, 2021 - The result of the new survey conducted by the World Health Organization shows that 1 in 3 children in Croatia is overweight or obese. 

The new research conducted by Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative, Croatia (CroCOSI) showed that 35% of children aged 8-9 are overweight or obese and 17.7%  of boys and 11.9% of girls in Croatia are affected. According to WHO Europe, the fact that 1 in 3 children in Croatia suffers from overweight or obesity poses a significant public health concern for Croatia.

Childhood obesity affects both the physical and mental health of children. Overweight and obese children are at a greater risk of developing many diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, asthma, musculoskeletal disorders, high blood pressure, and others. Unfortunately, studies also show that children with obesity often suffer from social disadvantages and therefore, tend to develop lower self-esteem and feel socially isolated. Obesity also plays a great factor in developing chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which was recorded to affect and cause over 90% of deaths in Croatia. 

The children obesity survey was conducted throughout Europe and Croatia ranked 7 among the Meditteranean European countries. The Adriatic region also showed the highest percentage of overweight or obese children in Europe with a record of 36.9%. The head of the Health Promotion Division of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Professor Sanja Musić Milanović, MD, MPH, Ph.D., said that there was an increase of 6% in overweight and obesity among girls in the Adriatic region compared to previous studies. Prof. Sanja Milanović warns that this trend is very concerning and needs to be addressed by the public health policy in Croatia.

Nutrition and lifestyle survey by CroCOSI

The results of the survey will be used to further promote the health activities in Croatian schools. Although regular physical exams for school children is mandatory in Croatia, their nutritional status, physical activity, dietary habits, and lifestyle are not collected in a standardized way. To improve the situation, Croatia joined the Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) of WHO Europe and named it CroCOSI ( Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative, Croatia) in 2015-2016. 

COSI is a European movement to continuously monitor the nutritional status of children through a regular collection of comparable data of school children in Croatia aged 8-8.9 years old and their families including lifestyle habits and the environment of the schools they attend. The collective data allow inter-comparison of the health and nutritional trend in Europe and are used in raising awareness of the growing rates of obesity and health problems in Croatia and all the states involved.

For more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

One Croatian County Among Worst on WHO European Epidemiological Map

April the 20th, 2021 - The coronavirus pandemic is continuing to hold the entire world in its iron grip despite the advent of numerous vaccines which have a high degree of effectiveness against the novel virus, SARS-CoV-2. Unfortunately, one Croatian county is currently listed among the ten worst regions according to the World Health Organisation's European epidemiological map.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Primorje-Gorski Kotar County currently has the worst epidemiological picture in Europe according to the World Health Organisation and their European epidemiological map. Yesterday, there were only eight newly infected people registered in that particular county, which is currently under a local lockdown due to their alarming figures, however, it remains on the list of regions with the worst situation related to the spread of the virus, according to a report from RTL.

Primorje-Gorski Kotar County is the worst in two categories - according to the seven-day incidence (the number of newly infected people per 100,000 inhabitants) and according to the absolute number of newly infected people over the past seven days. What will happen in terms of the strict anti-epidemic measures in that county is not yet known, and as previously mentioned, a local lockdown is currently in force there.

This Croatian county therefore unfortunately leads with a seven-day incidence of 689 per 100,000 inhabitants, but some other Croatian counties are also performing poorly, in fifth place is Varazdin with an incidence of 530, while the sixth is Sibenik-Knin County in Dalmatia with an incidence of 527.

The seventh place is occupied by the continental Croatian Medjimurje County, whose seven-day incidence currently stands at 521. According to the two-week incidence, no other Croatian county has been listed among the ten worst regions in Europe. Sibenik-Knin County is currently in 11th place with an incidence of 1017.

For more on coronavirus specific to Croatia, including updates on travel, quarantine and border rules, as well as the locations of various testing sites up and down the country, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section.

Friday, 19 February 2021

People also ask Google: What is Croatia Famous For?

February 19, 2021 – What is Croatia Famous For?

People outside of the country really want to know more about Croatia. They search for answers online.

Here, we'll try to answer the popular search terms “What is Croatia famous for?” and “What is Croatia known for?”

Most of the people looking for answers to these questions have never been to Croatia. They may have been prompted to ask because they're planning to visit Croatia, they want to come to Croatia, or because they heard about Croatia on the news or from a friend.

What Croatia is known for depends on your perspective. People who live in the country sometimes have a very different view of what Croatia is famous for than the rest of the world. And, after visiting Croatia, people very often leave with a very different opinion of what Croatia is known for than before they came. That's because Croatia is a wonderful country, full of surprises and secrets to discover. And, it's because internet searches don't reveal everything. Luckily, you have Total Croatia News to do that for you.

What is Croatia known for?

1) Holidays


Croatia is best known globally as a tourist destination. Catching sight of pictures of the country online is enough to make almost anyone want to come. If you've heard about it from a friend, seen the country used in a TV show like Game of Thrones or Succession, or watched a travel show, your mind will be made up. Following such prompts, it's common for Croatia to move to first place on your bucket list. If it's not already, it should be, There are lots of reasons why Croatia is best known for holidays (vacations).

a) Islands


What is Croatia famous for? Islands © Mljet National Park

Within Croatia's tourist offer, its most famous aspect is its islands. Croatia has over a thousand islands - 1246 when you include islets. 48 Croatian islands are inhabited year-round, but many more come to life over the warmer months. Sailing in Croatia is one of the best ways to see the islands, and if you're looking for a place for sailing in the Mediterranean, Croatia is the best choice because of its wealth of islands. These days, existing images of Croatia's islands have been joined by a lot more aerial photography and, when people see these, they instantly fall in love.

b) Beaches

What is Croatia famous for? Its holidays are famous for their beaches © Szabolcs Emich

Croatia has 5835 kilometres of coastline on the Adriatic Sea - 1,777.3 kilometres of coast on the mainland, and a further 4,058 kilometres of coast around its islands and islets. The Croatian coast is the most indented of the entire Mediterranean. This repeated advance and retreat into the Adriatic forms a landscape littered with exciting, spectacular peninsulas, quiet, hidden bays, and some of the best beaches in the world. There are so many beaches in Croatia, you can find a spot to suit everyone. On the island of Pag and in the Zadar region, you'll find beaches full of young people where the party never stops. Elsewhere, romantic and elegant seafood restaurants hug the shoreline. Beach bars can range from ultra-luxurious to basic and cheap. The beaches themselves can be popular and full of people, facilities, excitement and water sports, or they can be remote, idyllic, and near-deserted, accessible only by boat. Sand, pebble, and stone all line the perfectly crystal-clear seas which are the common feature shared by all.

c) Dubrovnik

What is Croatia famous for? Dubrovnik © Ivan Ivanković

As a backdrop to Game Of Thrones and movies from franchises like Star Wars and James Bond, Dubrovnik is known all over the world. Everybody wants to see it in person, and that's why it's an essential stop-off for so many huge cruise ships in warmer months. But, Dubrovnik's fame did not begin with the invention of film and television. The city was an autonomous city-state for long periods of time in history, and Dubrovnik was known all over Europe – the famous walls which surround the city of Dubrovnik are a testament to a desire to maintain its independent standing for centuries while living in the shadow of expanding, ambitious empires.

d) Heritage

What is Croatia famous for? Heritage. Pula amphitheatre is one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world

The walled city of Dubrovnik is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Croatia's rich architectural and ancient heritage. Diocletian's Palace in Split is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and still the living, breathing centre of life in the city (that people still live within it and it is not preserved in aspic is one of its most charming features and no small reason for its excellent preservation).

Having existed on the line of European defence against the Ottoman empire, Croatia also has many incredible fortresses and castles. The fortresses of Sibenik are well worth seeing if you're visiting Sibenik-Knin County and its excellent coast. A small number of Croatia's best castles exist on the coast, Rijeka's Trsat and Nova Kraljevica Castle is nearby Bakar being two of them. Most of Croatia's best and prettiest castles are actually located in its continental regions which, compared to the coast, remain largely undiscovered by most international tourists.

Many spectacular castles in the country's continental regions are, for these parts, what is Croatia famous for

Pula amphitheatre (sometimes referred to as Pula Arena) is one of the largest and best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world. A spectacular sight year-round, like Diocletian's Palace, it remains a living part of the city's life, famously hosting an international film festival, concerts by orchestras, opera stars, and famous rock and pop musicians. Over recent years, it has also played a part in the city's music festivals.

e) Music Festivals

What is Croatia famous for? Music festivals © Khris Cowley

There is a very good reason why the city of Pula leapt massively up the list of most-researched online Croatian destinations over the last decade. It played host to two of the country's most famous international music festivals. Though the music at some of these can be quite niche, the global attention they have brought to the country is simply massive. Clever modern branding and marketing by the experienced international operators who host their festivals in Croatia mean that millions of young people all over the world have seen videos, photos and reviews of Croatia music festivals, each of them set within a spectacular backdrop of seaside Croatia.

f) Plitvice Lakes and natural heritage

What is Croatia Famous For? Plitvice Lakes, national parks and natural heritage

Known for its chain of 16 terraced lakes and gushing waterfalls, Plitvice Lakes is the oldest, biggest and most famous National Park in Croatia. Everybody wants to see it. And many do. But that's not the be-all and end-all of Croatia's stunning natural beauty. Within the country's diverse topography, you'll find 7 further National Parks and 12 Nature Parks which can be mountain terrain, an archipelago of islands, or vibrant wetlands.

2) Football

What is Croatia famous for? Football. Seen here, Luka Modric at the 2018 World Cup © Светлана Бекетова

The glittering international careers of Croatian footballers Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić, Ivan Perišić, Mario Mandžukić, and others have in recent years advertised Croatia as a factory of top-flight footballing talent. They helped put Croatia football on the map with fans of European football. Football fans in Croatia have a very different perception of just how famous Croatian football is to everyone else in the world. If you talk to a Croatian fan about football, it's almost guaranteed that they will remind you of a time (perhaps before either of you were born) when their local or national team beat your local or national team in football. 99% of people will have no idea what they are talking about. The past occasions which prompt this parochial pride pale into insignificance against the Croatian National Football Team's achievement in reaching the World Cup Final of 2018. This monumental occasion brought the eyes of the world on Croatia, extending way beyond the vision of regular football fans. Subsequently, the internet exploded with people asking “Where is Croatia?”

Sports in general are what is Croatia known for


Croatians are enthusiastic about sports and engage in a wide number of them. The difference in perception between how Croats view the fame this gets them and the reality within the rest of the world is simply huge. Rowing, basketball, wrestling, mixed martial arts, tennis, handball, boxing, waterpolo, ice hockey, skiing and volleyball are just some of the sports in which Croatia has enthusiastically supported individuals and local and national teams. Some of these are regarded as minority sports even in other countries that also pursue them. Croatians don't understand this part. If you say to a Croatian “What is handball? I never heard of that,” they will look at you like you are crazy or of below-average intelligence.

3) Zagreb

What is Croatia famous for? Its capital city Zagreb is becoming increasingly better known

Over relatively recent years, the Croatian capital has skyrocketed in terms of fame and visitor numbers. Tens of thousands of people from all over the world now come to visit Zagreb each year. Its massive new success can be partly attributed to the rising popularity of international tourism in some areas of Asia (and Zagreb being used as a setting for some television programmes made in some Asian countries) and the massive success of Zagreb's Advent which, after consecutively attaining the title of Best European Christmas Market three times in a row, has become famous throughout the continent and further still. Zagreb's fame is not however restricted to tourism. Zagreb is known for its incredible Austro-Hungarian architecture, its Upper Town (Gornji Grad) and the buildings there, an array of museums and city centre parks and as home to world-famous education and scientific institutions, like to Ruder Boskovic Institute and the Faculty of Economics, University of Zagreb.

4) Olive oil

What is Croatia famous for? Olive oil

Croatian olive oil is the best in the world. Don't just take out word for it! Even the experts say so. In 2020, leading guide Flos Olei voted Istria in northwest Croatia as the world's best olive oil growing region for a sixth consecutive year. Olive oil production is an ancient endeavour in Croatia, and over hundreds of years, the trees have matured, and the growers learned everything there is to know. Olive oil is made throughout a much wider area of Croatia than just Istria, and local differences in climate, variety, and soil all impact the flavour of the oils produced. Croatian has no less than five different olive oils protected at a European level under the designation of their place of origin. These and many other Croatian olive oils are distinct and are among the best you're ever likely to try.

5) There was a war here

What is Croatia famous for? A relatively recent war left its mark on the country © Modzzak

Under rights granted to the republics of the former Yugoslavia and with a strong mandate from the Croatian people, gained across two national referendums, Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Yugoslavia was a multi-ethnic country, with each republic containing a mixture of different ethnicities and indeed many families which themselves were the product of mixed ethnicities. Ethnic tensions and the rise of strong nationalist political voices in each of the former republics and within certain regions of these countries lead to a situation where war became inevitable. The worst of the fighting was suffered within Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina and the part of southern Serbia which is now Kosovo. The Croatian War of Independence (known locally as the Homeland War) lasted from 1991 – 1995. The Yugoslav wars of which it was a major part is regarded as the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War II. In many cases, this war pitted neighbouring houses or neighbouring villages against each other and sometimes members of the same family could be found on opposing sides. The war left huge damage on the country and its infrastructure, some of which is still visible. Worse still, it had a much greater physical and psychological impact on the population. Some people in Croatia today would rather not talk about the war and would prefer to instead talk about the country's present and future. For other people in Croatia, the war remains something of an obsession. If you are curious about the Croatian War of Independence, it is not advisable to bring it up in conversation when you visit the country unless you know the person you are speaking with extremely well. It is a sensitive subject for many and can unnecessarily provoke strong emotions and painful memories. There are many resources online where you can instead read all about the war, there are good documentary series about it on Youtube and there are several museums in Croatia where you can go and learn more, in Vukovar, Karlovac and in Zagreb.

6) Wine

What is Croatia famous for? Its wine is some of the best you'll ever try © Plenković

Croatia is not really that famous for wine. Well, not as famous as it should be because Croatia makes some of the greatest wine on the planet. Croatian wine is only really famous to those who have tried it after visiting – you'll never forget it! A growing cabal of Croatian wine enthusiasts are trying their best internationally to spread the word about Croatian wine. However, there isn't really that much space in Croatia to make all the wine it needs to supply its homegrown demands and a greatly increased export market. Therefore, export prices of Croatian wine are quite high and even when it does reach foreign shores, these prices ensure its appreciation only by a select few. There's a popular saying locally that goes something like this “We have enough for ourselves and our guests”. Nevertheless, Croatian wine is frequently awarded at the most prestigious international competitions and expos. White wine, red wine, sparkling wine, cuvee (mixed) and rose wine are all made here and Croatia truly excels at making each. You can find different kinds of grape grown and wine produced in the different regions of Croatia. The best way to learn about Croatian wine is to ask someone who really knows about wine or simply come to Croatia to try it. Or, perhaps better still, don't do that and then there will be more for those of us who live here. Cheers!

7) Croatian produce

Drniš prsut
is protected at a European level, one of 32 products currently protected in this way and therefore what is Croatia famous for © Tourist Board of Drniš

To date, 32 agricultural and food products from Croatia have attained protection at a European level. These range from different prosciuttos, olive oils and Dalmatian bacon, to pastries and pastas, honey, cheese, turkeys, lamb, cabbages, mandarins, salt, sausages, potatoes and something called Meso 'z tiblice (which took a friend from the region where it's made three days to fully research so he could explain it to me at the levels necessary to write an informed article about it – so, you can research that one online). While some prosciutto, bacon, sausages, olive oil and wine do make it out of Croatia, much of these are snaffled up by a discerning few of those-in-the-know. The rest, you will only really be able to try if you visit. And, there are many other items of Croatian produce which are known which you can also try while here


What is Croatia known for? Truffles © Donatella Paukovic

By weight, one of the most expensive delicacies in the world, truffles are a famous part of the cuisine within some regions of Croatia. They feature heavily in the menu of Istria, which is well known as a region in which both white and black truffles are found and then added to food, oils or other products. Truth be told, this isn't a black and white issue - there are a great number of different types of truffle and they can be found over many different regions in Croatia, including around Zagreb and in Zagreb County. But, you'll need to see a man about a dog if you want to find them yourself.


What is Croatia known for? Vegeta

Having celebrated its 60th birthday in 2019, the cooking condiment Vegeta is exported and known in many other countries, particularly Croatia's close neighbours. It is popularly put into soups and stews to give them more flavour. Among its ingredients are small pieces of dehydrated vegetables like carrot, parsnip, onion, celery, plus spices, salt and herbs like parsley.


What is Croatia known for? Chocolate is a big export© Alexander Stein

Though making chocolate is only around a century old in Croatia, Croatian chocolate has grown to become one of its leading manufactured food exports. Some of the most popular bars may be a little heavy on sugar and low on cocoa for more discerning tastes. But, lots of others really like it.


What is Croatia famous for? Its beer is becoming more famous internationally © The Garden Brewery

The exploding growth of the Croatian craft ale scene over the last 10 years is something that is likely to have passed you by, unless you're a regular visitor to the country, a beer buff or both. Most of the producers are quite small and production not great enough to make a big splash on international markets. However, even within a craft-flooded current market, Croatian beer is becoming more widely known – in one poll, the Zagreb-based Garden Brewery was in 2020 voted Europe's Best Brewery for the second consecutive year

8) Innovation

What is Croatia famous for? Pioneers, inventors and innovation. Nikola Tesla was born here

From the parachute, fingerprinting, the retractable pen and the tungsten filament electric light-bulb to the torpedo, modern seismology, the World Health Oganisation and the cravat (a necktie, and the precursor to the tie worn by many today), Croatia has gifted many innovations to the world. The list of pioneers - scientists, artists, researchers and inventors - who were born here throughout history is long. And, although innovation is not currently regarded as experiencing a golden period in Croatia, there are still some Croatian innovators whose impact is felt globally, such as electric hypercar maker Mate Rimac.

9) Being poor

What is Croatia famous for? Being poor. Yikes!

The minimum wage in Croatia is among the lowest in Europe. Croatian language media is constantly filled with stories about corruption. There is a huge state apparatus in which key (if not most) positions are regarded to be politically or personally-motivated appointments. This leads to a lack of opportunity for Croatia's highly educated young people. Many emigrate for better pay and better opportunities. This leads to a brain drain and affects the country's demographics considerably (if it usually the best educated, the ablest and the youngest Croatian adults who emigrate). Many of those who stay are influenced by the stories of widespread corruption and lack of opportunity and are therefore lethargic in their work, leading to a lack of productivity. A considerable part of the Croatian economy is based on tourism which remains largely seasonal.

10) People want to live in Croatia

What is Croatia famous for? People want to come and live here. No, really.

Yes, despite many younger Croatians leaving or dreaming of leaving and despite the low wages, many people who are not from Croatia dream about living here. Of course, it's an all too familiar scenario that you go on holiday somewhere and while sitting at a seafood restaurant in sight of a glorious sunset, having had a few too many glasses of the local wine, you fall in love with Miguel or however the waiter is called who served it and Miguel's homeland. But, with Croatia, this is actually no passing fancy, no idle holiday dream. People do decide to move here. And not just for the sunset and Miguel (nobody in Croatia is called Miguel - Ed).

Croatia may be known for being poor, but it also has one of the best lifestyles in Europe. That it's cafe terraces are usually full to capacity tells you something about the work to living ratio. Croatians are not just spectators of sport, many enjoy a healthy lifestyle. This informs everything from their pastimes to their diet. There are great facilities for exercise and sport, wonderful nature close by whichever part of the country you're in. You can escape into somewhere wonderful and unknown at a moment's notice. The country is well connected internally by brilliant roads and motorways, reliable intercity buses and an international train network. The tourism industry ensures that multiple airports across Croatia can connect you to almost anywhere you want to go, and major international airports in Belgrade and Budapest, just a couple of hours away, fly to some extremely exotic locations. There are a wealth of fascinating neighbour countries on your doorstep to explore on a day trip or weekend and superfast broadband is being rolled out over the entire country. This is perhaps one of the reasons Croatia has been heralded as one of the world's best options for Digital Nomads. In a few years, when we ask what is Croatia famous far, they could be one of the answers.

What is Croatia famous for, but only after you've visited

Some things you experience when you visit Croatia come as a complete surprise. Most would simply never be aware of them until they visit. They are usually top of the list of things you want to do when you come back to Croatia.


fritaja_sparoge_1-maja-danica-pecanic_1600x900ntbbbbb.jpgGastronomy is only one of the things what is Croatia known for only after you've visited © Maja Danica Pecanic / Croatian National Tourist Board

Despite a few famous TV chefs having visited and filmed in Croatia over the years, Croatian gastronomy remains largely unknown to almost everyone who's never been to Croatia. That's a shame because you can find some fine food here. Croatia has increased its Michelin-starred and Michelin-recommended restaurants tenfold over recent years. But, perhaps the bigger story is the traditional cuisine which varies greatly within the countries different regions. From the gut-busting barbecue grills and the classic Mediterranean fare of Dalmatia to the pasta, asparagus and truffles of Istria to the sausages and paprika-rich stews of Slavonia and the best smoked and preserved meats of the region, there's an untold amount of secret Croatian gastronomy to discover.


restaurant-3815076_1280.jpgWhat is Croatia known for? Well, to locals, it's famous for coffee - not just a drink, it's a ritual

Croatians are passionate about coffee and about going for coffee. It's a beloved ritual here. Going for coffee in Croatia is often about much more than having coffee. It's an integral part of socialising, catching up and sometimes being seen. It doesn't always involve coffee either. Sometimes, you'll be invited for coffee, only to end up ordering beer. It's not about the coffee. Although, the standard of coffee in Croatia, and the places where you drink it, is usually really good.

The misapprehension: What is Croatia known for (if you are a Croatian living in Croatia)

Handball, music

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Wednesday, 4 November 2020

MP Says Remdesivir Purchase Should be Reconsidered due to Questionable Efficiency

ZAGREB, Nov 4, 2020 - Social Democrat MP Pedja Grbin on Tuesday asked whether Croatia would reconsider its HRK 40 million intended for the remdesivir purchase since a World Health Organisation report questioned its efficiency in treating COVID-19.

Grbin raised the issue during a parliamentary debate on the report by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on the meetings of the European Council in October.

Grbin also wondered whether there was a plan for vaccination against coronavirus since the vaccine will not be available to all Croatian citizens.

He welcomed the EU-wide agreement on lockdown, wondering how it would affect the freedom of movement and the functioning of the Schengen border regime.

PM Plenkovic said that he was satisfied with the EU's joint action and the European Commission's support to efforts to strengthen the economy and protect jobs in the coronavirus pandemic as well as resilience to possible future crises.

MP Stephen Bartulica of the Homeland Movement said that Croatia was facing an 8% GDP drop and a budget deficit of more than HRK 30 billion.

"The economic reality is grim and difficult, and green policies cost and require big investments. Our industry should stay competitive and transition should be equal and balanced," he said.

He also asked what was being done to prevent Islamist fundamentalism or would European leaders continue to just express condolences to innocent victims' families.

Regarding the latest terrorist attack in Vienna, PM Plenkovic said that work was underway on joint activities to prevent such incidents.

MP: Croatia should be represented by the president, PM

MP Dalija Oreskovic (SSIP, Pametno, GLAS) warned that the law was not being respected because Croatia should be represented in the European Council by the president of the republic and the prime minister, which is now not the case.

The rule of law cannot be based on what leaders of big parties agree because if the law and the Constitution stipulate that the president of the republic and the prime minister create foreign policy together, that should then be so, said Oreskovic.

Hrvoje Zekanovic of the Croatian Sovereignists asked the PM how much Croatia's contribution to the EU budget would increase, noting that Croatians should be aware that the country would have to pay a billion kuna more.

He believes Croatia should therefore be entitled to greater EU assistance, warning that it would have to borrow money.

Plenkovic said that Croatia's annual contribution to the EU budget was €400 million and that the amount would increase by around €100 million a year.

He explained that HRK 28.5 billion (€3.8 billion) had already been taken and that in the next ten years Croatia would get HRK 173 billion (€23.06 billion) from the EU budget.

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Thursday, 1 October 2020

City of Zagreb Unveils Strategy for Improving the Quality of Life for Older Persons

ZAGREB, Oct 1, 2020  - Officials of Zagreb's city administration on Thursday presented the 2020-2024 Strategy for Improving the Quality of Life for Older Persons.

The 30-measure strategy, which was presented on the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons, observed on 1 October,  will be implemented in six fields: social protection, healthcare, lifelong learning, various aspects of free time, human rights, and civil society, said Romana Galic, the head of the city department for social protection and persons with disabilities.

Galic said that the implementation of the strategy would create preconditions for adding Zagreb to the World Health Organisation's Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities. 

Every tenth resident in Zagreb aged above 85, 1 in 5 residents older than 65

Zagreb boasts that the life expectancy of its residents has risen, which is evident in the data that one in ten citizens is in the age cohort above 85.

In 2019, as many as 220 people living in this city were older than 100.

Also, a share of the elderly in the total population of the city has risen. For instance in 2014, 14% of the city's residents were in the age cohort above 65, and this share rose to 17% in 2011, while in 2018,  1 in every 5 residents were older than 65.

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Monday, 26 October 2020

Andrija Štampar Croatia's Genius Of Public Health And His Gift To The World

March 5, 2021 – An appreciation of Croatia's most influential doctor, Andrija Štampar, pioneer of public health and the man we have to thank for the World Health Organisation

A pandemic is an infectious disease that spreads over a wide area. It does not respect natural boundaries nor national borders. Indeed, to such a disease, the flags that mark your territory are irrelevant.

Nobody was more aware of this than Croatian doctor, Andrija Štampar, who helped found the World Health Organisation. His work still informs how the global response to such health crises are managed. And in the era of Coronavirus, we never needed more to thank him.

As COVID-19 flew around the globe in 2020, facilitated by a speed of travel Andrija Štampar could only have guessed of, never had the world required such a joined-up, international response. It was the World Health Organisation who were largely responsible for coordinating the response. Its work, and the health of millions prioritised over appeasing individual nations, their leaders, their laws and their petty, fleeting politics.

In doing so, the World Health Organisation drew the ire of American president Donald Trump. His decision to stop American contributions to WHO funding at the height of a global pandemic beggared belief, even judged against the rest of his monstrous stupidity.

But, this was nothing new. Andrija Štampar himself was removed from office by authorities in Belgrade loyal to the Serbian monarchy. And, later, he was even imprisoned by the Ustaša in Croatia for prioritising public health over towing the political line. In doing so, he set the laudable precedent which the WHO still follows. Subsequently, millions of people (rather than the minuscule number of power holders) reap the benefit.

Andrija Štampar, a genius of public health, born in Croatia

Andrija Štampar was born in Brodski Drenovac, halfway between Nova Gradiška and Slavonski Brod, in 1888. Even while attending high school in Vinkovci he was noted for his dedication and intellect. After completing his studies there, he was accepted at the prestigious University of Vienna Medical School and graduated in 1911. His first appointment was at Karlovac city hospital, but within the year he returned to Slavonia to take up the position of district health officer for Nova Gradiška.

That year was 1913 and in this small Slavonian town, Andrija Štampar would start a revolution in medicine that would travel around the world. Prior to this time, medical knowledge was a precious and, admittedly hard-earned commodity. Doctors were the gatekeepers of this knowledge and for their services, they insisted on payment. At this time, the Hippocratic Oath was a seemingly optional code, open to personal interpretation. It would take until 1948 for the World Medical Association (WMA) to modify this code and set it, within the Declaration of Geneva, as a standard of ethics to be observed worldwide. But, in Štampar's view, the public health of those under his jurisdiction could not wait that long, and people's ability to pay was an irrelevance to him in comparison to the wider good.

Alongside the documents for peers he published at the time in the Croatian Medical Association, Štampar presented his knowledge and research directly to the people. He made pamphlets guiding the local population on best practices for maintaining health and avoiding disease. These were posted in public places and distributed to whoever could read them. These series of leaflets he titled 'Public Health Library' and they passed on, free of charge, the latest discoveries in hygiene, health awareness, and illness prevention.

Andrija Stampar © Croatian State Archives

Andrija Štampar, Belgrade, Zagreb, Yugoslavia

This remarkable and effective work was not embraced positively by all within the medical profession, but it certainly got him noticed, thankfully by the many more-enlightened sections of the industry. In 1918, Štampar was made health adviser to the Croatian Commission for Social Welfare. In 1919 he became the head of the Department of Public Health in Belgrade. There, he began constructing Yugoslavia's first network of more than 250 hygienic institutions. Prior to these efforts, such a health system had never been envisaged. Previously, each of the institutions acted completely independently. By affiliating them, he sought to standardise healthcare. And, in particular, he wanted to change the role of the physicians who worked within them.

Štampar's work had convinced him that the best way doctors could address public health issues was to make them assume extra responsibilities. Such responsibilities were more akin to those in the role of a social worker or public educator. And these interventions were to be undertaken completely independent of a patient's ability to pay. Štampar's view was that, ultimately, the health of the entire population would benefit as a result. Such an outlook prioritised preventive medicine rather than curative medicine. This then-revolutionary thinking has today been proved as the cost-effective method of battling illness. So much so, that in the modern era we view it as simple common sense. It is observed and employed by medical practitioners and governments across the globe.

With such a clear mission and passion, the charismatic Štampar was a difficult man to dissuade. And, it wasn't long before his high ideals for public health lead him into conflict. The regime of the Serbian royalty were the first to make life difficult for him. They asked him to join their government. He responded by demanding free elections. That didn't go down well at all and in 1930 he was forced to leave the Yugoslavian Ministry of Public Health. But, by that time, his revolutionary work in public health had been noted internationally. He was almost immediately taken on by the Health Organization of the League of Nations, the precursor to the WHO.

Andrija Stampar in China © Croatian State Archives

Croatia's Dr. Andrija Štampar helps form the World Health Organisation

His work at this League Of Nations body entailed writing a constitution for global public health guidelines and parameters. These would eventually be adopted by the World Health Organisation. It is the basis for the way the WHO operates to this day. He also began educating and lecturing on public health internationally.

He lived in China for a time, where he introduced public health as a matter of urgency. Specifically, he did so in response to the mass of infectious diseases which occurred there following devastating floods in 1931. At first, his radical proposals were too revolutionary for Chinese rulers. But, by the time he left, he was championed as a hero. Subsequently, he educated and gave his lectures across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and at American Ivy League universities like Yale, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, Cincinnati, Vanderbilt, McHarry, Tulane, Texas, Los Angeles, Berkley, Portland, Minnesota, Toronto, McGill, Columbia, Galvestone and Harvard. Indeed, at the latter, he became a professor. So influential was his altruistic and selfless distribution of public health information to the international community that he is still commemorated around the world. Statues dedicated to Štampar exist in China and Morocco, the latter is attributable to his assistance in fighting malaria in the country.

Andrija Štampar's return to Zagreb, the university, the Ustaša and the Second World War

Although his attentions and ambitions had taken on a global view, Štampar never forgot his home. He had already founded the School of Public Health in Zagreb in 1927 and in 1940 he was elected as the Dean of the Medical School in Zagreb. Indeed, there he introduced the directives he'd started in Belgrade and in doing so reformed the training of physicians.

His efforts were halted suddenly by the mindless actions of the fascist Ustaša regime. The public health of Croatians was of no concern to them. The Ustaša shut down all of his innovative schemes and arrested Štampar. Subsequently, he was imprisoned right until the end of the Second World War. He was rescued and freed by Communists and was begged to return to his work in Zagreb. He reattained his position as a professor at Zagreb's Medical School and became head of the city's School of Public Health.

Andrija Stampar in Russia © Croatian State Archives

At the International Health Conference in New York in 1946, Štampar's proposals for the formation and constitution of the WHO were finally accepted. Thereafter, Andrija Stampar was unanimously elected as the first President of the Assembly. In 1955 he was awarded the Leon Bernard medal, the most prestigious international acknowledgment within the field of social medicine. He died on 26 June 1958 aged 69. But, not before he played a part in setting up the now prestigious Medical Faculty of the University of Rijeka.

Croatia has a lot to thank Andrija Štampar for. But, the world owes him even more. More so than ever before, in today's global response to Coronavirus, epidemics, pandemics and disease, we can clearly see this. So many street names and squares in Croatia are named after those with blinkered perspectives, who rarely looked beyond the country's borders. Meanwhile, it is left for the international community to appropriately celebrate Andrija Štampar. While this must be the cause of bewilderment to anyone who rightly values his considerable worth, perhaps one day things will change? If a Croatian child ever asks their parents who was the man that Andrija Štampar street or Andrija Štampar square was named after, they will be embarking on the tale of arguably the greatest Croat to have ever lived.

Dr. Andrija Štampar’s principles for public health and social medicine:

1. It is more important to inform the people than to follow the law of the land.

2. It is most important to prepare the ground in a certain sphere and to develop the right understanding for hygiene issues.

3. Public health and its improvement must not be monopolized by medical authorities. It has to be cared for by everybody, for only by working together can progress in health be obtained.

4. The physician must primarily be a social worker; using treatment alone, they cannot attain much. Social therapy is the means of success.

5. A physician must not be financially dependent on his patient; this hinders them in the accomplishment of their principal tasks.

6. In matters of national health, no difference is to be made between the rich and the poor.

7. It is necessary to form organized public health in which the physician seeks out the patient, not the patient the physician; this is the only way to gather an ever-increasing number of those whose health we have to care for.

8. The physician must be a teacher to the people.

9. The issue of national health is of greater economic than humanitarian importance.

10. The principal places of action for a physician are communities, not laboratories or consulting rooms.

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Friday, 4 November 2016

Croatia in the World's Top 5 for Alcohol Consumption

The Portal Daily Viz, with the help of data from the World Health Organization, created a map which is solely based on the data of alcohol consumption throughout the countries of world.