Turbulent and complex, Croatia’s history is well documented. Numerous wars, rulers and civilisations have shaped the country and the lives of the people who inhabited the land since ancient times. The first evidence of habitation was in the Paleolithic period, after which followed, in the first century BC, the Illyrians, the Celts and the Greeks. The Romans arrived in the second century to conquer the Illyrians and set up colonies, with harbours and economic and trade centres. One of the most important monuments of that era is Diocletian's Palace in Split, an impressive reminder of this once-powerful civilisation.
Sometime during the 7th century, Croats came to inhabit the area from the east to the Adriatic coast. Some principalities were founded between the 9th and 12th centuries, and several rulers alternated on the throne. A large area of today’s Republic of Croatia was part of the national community with Hungary, which existed from the 12th to the 16th century, and Dalmatia was under Venetian rule from the 15th to the 18th century. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Turkish raids took place on Croatian territory.
A significant area of today’s Republic of Croatia was under Habsburg rule from the 16th to 19th century, followed by the Croatian National Revival and the Illyrian movement against the Germanisation, Hungarisation and Italianisation of Croatia, which was supported by many prominent individuals. In 1990, Croatia declared its independence, and in 1991 the Croatian War of Independence began, following the attack and occupation of almost a third of the Republic of Croatia by the Yugoslav People’s Army. The territory was returned to the Republic of Croatia in 1995.
Many years under foreign rule have left their mark on the cultures and traditions of Croatia. Numerous nations have passed through, fighting for the country and its natural wealth, but the persistent people of Croatia managed to maintain their cultural identity and establish the peaceful country you see today.