Branches of the economy
Croatia does not have large quantities of mineral resources. Coal and other mines (bauxite) were closed in the 1970s and 1980s. There are significant sources of non-metal minerals, which are used as raw materials in construction (gravel, sand, marl, construction rocks). Croatia has its own natural energy resources, including oil and gas, and most of all renewable energy sources, such as wind, hydro energy and solar energy. It also extracts and processes large quantities of salt from the sea (salt works in Pag, Ston and Nin).
Agriculture and fisheries
In Croatia there is a total of 1.5 million hectares of usable agricultural land, around of which 0.9 million is arable land, while the remainder consists of meadows and pastures. The different types of climate, relief and soil make it possible to produce a wide range of agricultural products, from arable and industrial crops, to vineyards, and continental and Mediterranean fruits and vegetables. Arable farming covers domestic need for cereals and oil plants, and most of the demand for industrial crops. Croatia is a wine-growing country, and both continental and Mediterranean grapes are grown here, some of which are indigenous. Vineyards cover 21,000 hectares, and 765,000 hectolitres of wine were produced in 2021.
Istrian olive oils are some of the best and most awarded oils in the world. Croatia produced 45,000 hectolitres of olive oil in 2019.
Livestock is traditionally of lesser importance, but raising cattle, pigs, poultry and sheep is well developed. Slavonian kulen, Dalmatian and Istrian pršut (prosciutto) are world famous and their geographical origin is protected.
Fishing and fish processing are mostly linked to the coastal and island areas of the country. In 2021, 84,097 tons of sea fish and 3,970 tons of freshwater fish were caught or farmed. Blue fish (sardines, mackerel) are dominant in sea fishing, and about one- quarter are white fish and shellfish and molluscs. In freshwater fishing, the most common fish are carp, silver carp and trout.
Over 30 Croatian food and agricultural products are protected on the EU level with a designation of origin or geographical indication, including Slavonic kulen, Dalmatian and Istrian prosciutto, Dalmatian pancetta, Pag cheese, Zagorje mlinci, Poljice soparnik and Neretva mandarin.
Industry, energy and construction
Industrial production in Croatia has an important place in the country's total production. The most prominent forms are manufacturing, the petrochemical industry and shipbuilding. Some companies were closed down in the process of transition, or were damaged in the war, while others only partially adapted to world production trends. This mostly applies to the textile, leather, metal and timber industries as well as some large shipyards. There is also significant production in the construction and energy sectors. Some industries, however, continue to achieve positive results and are active in foreign trade. The value of the sales of industrial products in 2021 was HRK 153.35 billion (EUR 20.35 billion), of which HRK 64.13 billion was in exports (EUR 8.51 billion). According to their total revenues, the leading industrial branches are the production of food, drinks and tobacco, and these are followed by the chemical and oil industries. In terms of exports, the most prominent is the manufacturing industry, which accounts for around 81% of all exports.
In 2021, the largest export activities were related to food products (9.5%), electrical equipment (9.4%), machines and devices (6.9%), chemical products (6.9%), pharmaceutical products (6.6%), coke and oil products (6%), wood and wood products (5.9%), finished metal products (8%), metals (5.2%), clothing (4.6%), motor vehicles (4.1%), rubber and plastic products (4%), mineral products (3.9%), computers and computer equipment (3.7%),leather (2.8%), paper (2.3%), furniture (1.8%), textiles (1.2%), beverages (1.1%) and and tobacco products (1%).
The energy sector is mainly based on electricity, gas and oil. In 2021, a total of 15,040 GWh of electricity was produced. Almost half of this production came from hydro-electrical power stations, and the remainder from classical power stations. Some of the production is occasionally exported. Production of natural gas and oil is not sufficient for domestic needs. The oil fields in Slavonia and Podravina meet 20–25% of the country's needs, whilst the production of natural gas covers about 45% of what is required.
Until the 2009 recession, construction had been one of the most propulsive sectors, especially in road building, housing and commercial construction. The number of construction projects then decreased significantly, but began to increase again after the end of the recession.
Services, trade and transport
Croatia's road network consists of 26,960 km of categorised roads, of which 1,417 km are motorways and semi-motorways. In view of the area of the country and the size of the population, Croatia is first in Southeast Europe in terms of the length of its motorways. The first motorway, from Zagreb to Karlovac, was opened in 1972, but the motorway network was greatly expanded at the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s. The international system of so-called E-roads includes 2,225 km of Croatian roads. Most passenger and goods transport are carried by road.
The total length of the railway lines is 2,617 km (37% electrified and 11% with double tracks). The most important railway hubs are Zagreb and Vinkovci.
Croatia has a long tradition of shipbuilding. In the 1960s and 1970s, the large shipyards in Split, Rijeka and Pula were among the leading ones in the world in terms of tonnage of exported ships. In recent times, small shipyards on the Adriatic (such as, for instance, those in Betina on the island of Murter, in Vela Luka on the island of Korčula, in Solin, Kaštel Sućurac, Rab and Šibenik) and inland (such as those in Čakovec and Zagreb) – where vessels for nautical tourism and coastal navigation are built – have achieved comparatively better results.
Along the Croatian coast there are about 350 ports and docks, and the ports of Pula, Rijeka, Zadar, Šibenik, Split, Ploče and Dubrovnik are involved in international trade. In terms of strategic position and harbour traffic, the Port of Rijeka stands out. Links between the islands and the coast are maintained by ferries and shipping lines, which also partially link the Croatian coast with Italy. The most important port in the internal waterways is Vukovar on the River Danube.
The airports included in international traffic are those in Zagreb, Pula, Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik, Osijek, and those on the islands of Brač and Krk (Rijeka).
The Adriatic Oil Line system (JANAF) was built to transport oil and it links the oil terminal in Omišalj on the island of Krk with the Croatian refineries in Rijeka and Sisak, and also has branches towards neighbouring countries. The total length of the oil pipelines is 780 km, of which 631 km is in Croatia.
The telecommunications network is completely digital and the most modern in Southeast Europe. The telecommunications market is liberalised, with several operators in landline and mobile telephony. A total of 86% of households had internet access in 2021, which is below the EU average, but above the level of some members.
In foreign trade, Croatia imports more products than it exports, but the gap between exports and imports has recently been gradually shrinking. In 2021, products valued at EUR 18.4 billion were exported, whilst EUR 28.4 billion worth of products were imported. Croatia exports the most products to Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the USA and Serbia, and imports the most from Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Hungary and Austria.
The greatest share in the service industries is held by tourism and related services. In this sector, the highest turnover is achieved by small and medium sized enterprises, but large enterprises still have the most employees.
Upon becoming a member of the European Union, Croatia became a user of European Structural and Investment Funds funding, which has greatly contributed to sustainable economic development and continued social development. Of the 10.7 billion euros allocated for the 2014–2020 budget period, Croatia has signed contracts to the amount of 12.51 billion euros (117%) through the European Regional Development Fund, the European Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Regional Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.
The starting point for the optimal distribution and efficient use of EU funds for the 2021–2027 period are the 2030 National Development Strategy of the Republic of Croatia (NRS 2030) and the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS 2). The Strategy recommends four development directions for the upcoming decade (sustainable economy and society, strengthening resilience to crisis, green and digital transition and balanced regional development), while the new division of Croatia according to NUTS 2 (Pannonian Croatia, Adriatic Croatia, the City of Zagreb and Northern Croatia) reflects the actual development needs of Croatian regions and allows harmonised development.
In the long-term budget of the European Union for 2021–2027, which together with the instrument 'Next Generation EU' for recovering from the consequences of COVID-19 totals 1.85 trillion euros, Croatia has secured 24.2 billion euros, of which 9.6 billion will be allotted to economic recovery and resilience (6.3 billion in grants and 3.6 billion in soft loans). The financial envelope of the Multiannual Financial Framework makes 9.6 billion euros available to Croatia for the implementation of cohesion policy and 4.7 billion euros for a common agricultural policy. Through the 2021–2023 National Recovery and Resilience Plan, as a precondition for the funds from the European Recovery and Resilience Mechanism, Croatia shall focus its available financial support, through reforms and investments, into public administration and the justice system, the healthcare system, the labour market, and social protection. Investments will also be made in strengthening competitiveness, green transition, traffic infrastructure, agriculture and tourism as well as earthquake recovery and improving energy efficiency. In the upcoming ten years, EU funds will serve as a driver of development and the strengthening of the economy, which will include accelerated digitalisation, ecological transition and the adoption of new technologies.