[ IMAGE: Nerezisce on the Island of Brac ] Every island - a botanical garden

Tourists will find a thousand reasons to visit Croatia. Some because they simply want to spend a pleasant holiday; others to explore its cultural and historical monuments; still more to relax, sail, and enjoy nature at its most pristine. The wealth of Croatian vegetation will be important to each of them for different reasons. But one thing is for sure: their visit will be momentous.

Exploration of the country's rich flora is a rewarding experience. The ageless tradition of Croatian seafaring has forged links with far off countries which has added plants from other climates of the world to the native species. Together, they form a unique botanical garden without fences or boundaries. They are yours for the duration.

About 4,300 plant species grow in Croatia. Due to the indented island coastline, there are numerous endemic species, of which 703 of them are restricted to the Karst region of the Dinaric mountains, while 130 endemic species live only in Croatia. The Northern Adriatic island of Krk has 1,430 plant species of which 43 are exclusive to the island. Vegetation is less abundant on other islands, but they can still each boast about 1,000, thinning out to less than 600 on the drier, outermost islets. The depths of the Adriatic sea contain 764 kinds of red, brown and green algae. But this is simply the jargon of the botanist. For the rest of us, the Croatian islands are beautiful because of their rich vegetation. It is as if nature has ignored the open surrounding sea and exposure to the hot Mediterranean sun, so green and wooded are the island archipelagos. It is a micro-climate trapped in time, producing evergreen cypresses and laurel, ancient olive groves, the of lavender of Hvar and the blossoming myrtle. Few will forget the first tangerine or lemon picked from heavy branches, or the vineyards that stretch to the horizon and herald a rich harvest.

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Mimosa: it's spring on the Adriatic while the cities of continental Europe are still in the grip of winter

[ Croatia - the country of a thousand islands ]