[ IMAGE: A peninsula resembling a fish, near Primosten ] Introduction

You don't have to be a millionaire to have an island all to yourself. Thousands of them have been breaking away from the coastline of middle Europe into the Adriatic for millions of years. There's bound to be one to suit you. Perhaps with your own lighthouse. A refuge from everyday life. A real opportunity for a week or two of pure escapism where you can get to examine yourself without strangers examining you. Swim in a bay of your own, without neighbours, without witnesses. Just you and those you choose to be with. It won't cost you a fortune and, for one brief moment of your life, you will have something nobody else has.

All this can be yours when you make the right choice and come to Croatia.

There are more than one thousand islands scattered along the Croatian coast, each unique, the vast majority uninhabited. Each has its own exceptional story and place in history. Battles were waged for them. Great rulers surrendered to them. Powerful potentates were seduced by them. They have left poets speechless and artists agog. You too, will be stunned by their beauty, intoxicated by their tranquillity, and left yearning to return over and over again. They say we all have one weakness. Those who have tasted the Croatian islands have a thousand. The first journey to the Adriatic is always an adventure, a trip into the unknown. Subsequently, familiarity distils the hidden depths of beauty, personal recognition enhances sights and sounds. Don't rush it. Like good wine or a first love affair, true fulfilment comes only after anticipation, cultivation and dedication. You will know it when you feel it. It is like an emotional longing which has suddenly been satisfied. A place where the search for yourself comes to an end and you love what you have found. Somewhere you will return to gladly and will be as gladly welcomed back.

Those who are used to saying good-bye truly rejoice in the arrival of every friend. Whatever you expect on your arrival, you will be unprepared for the warmth of the welcome in Croatia. Whatever you expect from a holiday, you will be unable to forget Croatia. Whether you sail, swim, walk, ride or simply observe, you will do them differently in Croatia. If you are not prepared to be changed forever, keep away.

[ IMAGE: A Korcula woman dressed 
in traditional costume ]

For those who love exploring monuments, wandering on solitary beaches, or jostling amid the liveliness of a Mediterranean town, then Croatia will delight you. It is a land of discoveries, of pristine nature, of a brilliant new dawn and of a lifestyle so often imagined, so rarely attained.

Here, the tensions of life seem to fade into insignificance. In the rays of the setting sun as your lighthouse throws its lengthening shadow across the beach towards the sea, you will look towards the coastline and wish for nowhere else.

Croatia has 1,777 km of mainland Adriatic shoreline and no fewer than 1,185 islands, islets and reefs. Only 66 of them are inhabited. Any of the others could be yours.

[ Croatia - the country of a thousand islands ]