As an Adriatic, Central European country, and part of the Danube valley, Croatia enjoys a favourable geo-communication position. Thus several pan-European transport corridors and their branches pass through Croatia, as defined at a ministerial conference in 1997 in Helsinki: Corridor X links Central Europe and the Near East, while branches of Corridor V link northern and southern Europe with final destinations in Croatian ports.
Croatian sea ports have traditionally been points of exit for several Central European land-locked countries (Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic) and for neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Due to the shape and indentation of its territory, good transport communications are important for Croatia too, particularly in linking the interior with the coast, and the Pannonian region with the Adriatic front. In terms of transport communications, optimum solutions direct Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina and vice versa. In addition, the narrow B&H exit to the sea near Neum divides the territory of Croatia into two sections. A suitable solution is still being sought in order to fully link the Dubrovnik coastal region with the rest of Croatia, and this has become a subject of international interest as Croatia enters the European Union.
One possibility is a highway, which would form one section of the Adriatic-Ionian highway project, along the Croatian coast from Italy to Greece. Otherwise, about 1,000 km of modern highways have been built in the last 15 years in international corridors.
There is a long tradition of building transport communications in Croatia. The first modern roads were built as early as the 18th century, leading from the interior to the northern Adriatic ports, while the first railway line was built in 1862, linking Zagreb by a branch line to the main Vienna–Trieste line.
Road transport is the most developed, most important form of land communication, and transports the greatest amount of passenger and goods traffic. The existing highway network is well developed and enables good connections within the country. Croatia has seven international airports and three smaller airfields for small commercial aeroplanes. Sea ports are of particular significance in the transport network. The largest, most important Croatian port is Rijeka, followed by Ploče, which handles all the traffic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The other Croatian ports are primarily important as passenger terminals and provide communication between the mainland and islands. The total length of inland waterways is 804 km, and international traffic primarily uses the Danube (for which the main port is Vukovar) and, to a lesser extent, the Drava and Sava. The Danube waterway, in which Croatia participates, is one of the pan-European transport corridors (VII). Plans have been drawn up for a Danube–Sava canal to link the waterways.
The current state of transport communications is satisfactory in terms of road traffic, particularly the extent of highway connections. Particular deficiencies exist in the renovation and modernisation of the railway infrastructure and inland waterways.