The people of Croatia are sociable, optimistic, proud of their heritage, and hospitable to strangers. They value their families, education, and good careers. As independence took centuries to achieve, Croats are extremely proud of their internationally recognized sovereign country and anxious for others to accept them and learn of Croatian history and culture. Their historical ties to Western Europe also bring Croatians much pride, and they have worked to again integrate with European organizations, such as NATO and the EU. Most Croatians hope for the establishment of democratic principles and rights for all citizens.
Croatia is located on the Balkan peninsula, and with its temperate Mediterranean coasts, vast forests, and mountainous regions, is quickly become on off-the-radar tourist destination.
Families are moving away from multigenerational homes, but young married couples usually live with one set of parents or a grandparent because of a shortage of housing. There is also a preference for keeping small children in the care of resident grandparents and for caring for the elderly at home.
Children are raised to obey their parents and other adults, show respect for elders and property, play quietly, eat what adults prepare for them, and go to sleep at a regular bedtime. Children are less likely to act out physically than verbally. They do not bring other children home to play because homes are small and for the family and adult guests. Parents take responsibility for the behavior of children
Croatians love sports, especially soccer and basketball. Swimming, skiing, fishing, and many other activities are also popular. Teens like to watch TV, play video games and spend time with their friends. Most Croatian teens spend a few hours a week in music classes after school as well.
The main meal of the day is a late lunch. In the north and inland, the majority of the foods have an Austrian or Hungarian flavor. A typical lunch includes chicken or beef soup, cooked meat (often pork), potatoes, and bread. Greens with vinegar and oil are served in the spring and summer, and pickled vegetables in the winter. Along the coast, a meal usually includes fish and pasta, risotto, or polenta. Lamb is common in the Dalmatian highland region. Breakfast is simple, usually consisting of strong coffee and bread with jam. The traditional dinner typically consists of leftovers from lunch, cold meats, and cheese with bread. Restaurants are normally formal and expensive, but having coffee at cafes is popular.
The official language is Croatian, though there are a number of regional dialects. The majority of the population is Catholic.