Historically part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Croat people joined the Serbs in creating the eastern European nation of Yugoslavia in the post–World War I period. At the end of World War II, Yugoslavia became a Communist state, but ethnic and religious differences continued to haunt the federation. After the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the Croats battled for complete independence from the Serbs. Although Croatia declared independence in 1991, the country did not achieve complete sovereignty until 1998 when the United Nations (U.N.) stepped in to mediate the conflict. Geographically, Croatia is a land of alternating plains and low mountains. The mainland section of the Adriatic coastland stretches for 1,102 miles (1,777 kilometers). Another 2,516 miles (4,058 kilometers) of the coast surrounds the Croatian islands. With ...

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