Is Croatia a safe country?

It is sad that we have to ask ourselves questions like this. Many countries in the world are struggling with war, crime, violence, terrorism, and other similar problems so it is natural to wonder how safe a country is before visiting. Croatia did suffer through a war in recent history, which is why some people still think it may be unsafe.

That being said, the Croatian War of Independence ended 24 years ago. Aside from the last war having ended more than two decades ago, there are many other reasons why Croatia is a safe country.

Croatia is a safe country
Image by Michael Gwyther-Jones

How safe is Croatia?

Croatia is actually one of the safest countries in the world. According to The Global Peace Index, Croatia is 27th on the list of the safest countries in the world as of 2019, out of 163 countries evaluated. Twenty-three different indicators are used to determine the safety of an individual country.

These factors include:

  • Number of internal and external violent conflicts
  • Level of distrust
  • Political instability
  • Potential for terrorist acts
  • Number of homicides
  • Military expenditures as a percentage of GDP
  • Domestic conflicts
  • Societal safety

According to the World Economic Forum, The Global Institute For Peace, Croatia is the 22nd safest country in the world out of 128 countries.

The factors used in their research include:

  • War and peace
  • Personal security
  • The danger of natural disasters

Croatian War for Independence

The last war in this region was Domovinski rat (Croatian War of Independence), which ended in 1995. There have been no conflicts since and there are non on the horizon.

Terrorism

The country is also safe from terrorist attacks. Croatia is a pretty small European country, which luckily isn’t an interesting target for terrorists. The country’s role in global politics isn’t impactful or important enough.

Furthermore, Croatia isn’t involved in conflicts with other countries nor does Croatia seek them out. Attackers primarily gravitate to larger, more developed Western countries that tend to engage in war beyond their own borders, lead global initiatives, and dictate policy to other countries.

Croatia safety
Image by Marco Verch

Gun Violence

There is very low risk of gun violence in Croatia. This is primarily because it is not part of the culture and because it is so hard to get a gun. There are multiple steps a person must go through to acquire a weapon including:

  • Acquiring a permit before purchase
  • Submitting to a health evaluation, which includes a psychiatric evaluation
  • Proving that you have the technical knowledge and skills to operate the weapon
  • Proving what the purpose of the weapon is, which must be an approved reason

Those charged with violent crimes, involved in any proceedings related to violent crimes, or have been accused of violence are automatically barred from acquiring a permit. If you wish to purchase a gun for personal protection, you must prove to a committee at the police station that your life is in enough risk to justify owning a weapon.

You can read more about the gun and weapon laws in Croatia here.

Mutual Trust

Croats have a high level of trust in each other This is especially obvious in smaller towns and villages where people often don’t lock their doors, cars, or bikes. This isn’t so strange since people in smaller communities mostly all know each other.

On the other hand, there are some signs that this confidence has started to change during the last few years. Poverty has increased, leading to people stealing to survive. They will steal food, firewood from the woods, and steel gutters, which they then sell.

Here are some theft statistics for 2018:

  • 615 aggravated (grand) theft reported
  • 675 stolen cars and motor vehicles stolen (8,7% more than in 2017)
  • 906 reported burglary (9,2% less than in 2017)
  • 647 robbery (banditry) reported (6,2% less than in 2017)
  • Pocket theft rose by 20,3%

The situation is a bit different in the cities where people can’t leave their homes and bikes unlocked. Too many people live in the cities and they usually don’t know each other personally.

The most popular “trend” in the past few years is bike theft.  These thefts are not very serious, but since the Croatian living standard is so low, people take any theft serious no matter the size because they often don’t have money to afford a replacement.

Daily Life

Croatia has a pretty low level of crime when compared with the rest of the world.

People can walk through the neighborhoods at night without any stress, panic, or fear for their safety. No one ever thinks that taking a walk could be dangerous and everyone walks freely.

Children can often be seen playing outside the house without any parental supervision and are able to go to and from school unaccompanied. Teens can go out at night without the fear of danger and can return home by public transport on their own.

It is important to note one safety risk and that is walking in crosswalks. These can often be ignored by drivers, so make sure you are fully aware of your surroundings when walking across the street.

Violent Crime

When we compare Croatia to other European countries, the crime rates committed with knives and firearms are insignificant. Murders in Croatia are very rare.

It’s the same when talking about reported cases of sexual assaults and rape. However, it is important to mention that many sexual assaults and domestic abuse go unreported because they are scared and the state apparatus doesn’t do enough to protect them.

Here are some additional crime statistics for 2018:

  • 33 hate crimes reported (32% more than in 2017)
  • 33 war crimes reported (16 less than in 2017)
  • 26 reported criminal acts from the field of terrorism and extreme violence (14 less than in 2017)
  • 937 reported acts from the field of organized crimes (32,8% more than in 2017)
  • 429 suicide attempts
  • 657 suicides (32 more than in 2017) – 76,3% were men
  • 22 murders reported (48,8% less than in 2017)
  • 90 attempted murders reported
  • 215 offenses against the law and order
  • 864 sexual offenses reported
  • 67 rapes reported
  • 734 violent attacks reported

More detailed statistics from MUP can be found here.

Natural Disasters

Croatia is lucky to have an ideal geographical location that has no indications for serious or devastating natural disasters. Wildfires occur in summer along the Adriatic coast, mostly in Dalmatia. They are often caused by arsonists but sometimes they are a natural occurrence due to high heat and lack of rain.

Floods, droughts, and earthquakes are very rare. Storms occur occasionally but they are rarely dangerous.

Croatia is a safe country

Overall, Croatia is very safe for living and traveling. The war was over a long time ago and walking on the street is safe even at night. Murder, terrorism, and serious natural disasters are practically non-existent in relation to their population. The number of criminal acts is negligible when compared to other countries.

Much of Croatia’s high level of personal safety is attributed to the Croatian culture and the people’s strong sense of community. Even in cities, each individual neighborhood is its own community where everyone knows each other.

Baba neighborhood watch
Image by Arnie Papp

And aside from Sara: I’ve lived in Texas, California, Florida, New York City, Amsterdam, and Budapest and traveled to many other places. I have always felt safest in Croatia. I can walk home on my own at 2:00 in the morning and feel completely secure. There is no reason to worry about being pick-pocketed when in the city centers. I have immense confidence in the baka neighborhood watch and know they will raise the alarm if needed. 🙂

Do you feel safe in Croatia? How does it compare to where you are from?

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