[ IMAGE: Island of Hvar ] What do the islands mean to Croatia

It is difficult to define the significance of a group of islands to a country and its inhabitants. You will certainly agree that there is something special about that moment when you set off from the mainland into the unknown. All your worries become unimportant and the everyday routine is left further and further behind.

Statistics will hardly tell you anything about the island villages and the isolated places enlivened by the local people and tourists who wish to get closer to nature. While separation from the mainland can sometimes be a handicap, it also provides some protection from the factory chimneys and other misfortunes which come with civilisation. Instead, there are vast fields of lavender, ancient olive trees and vineyards, in immaculate harmony between man and nature. There are wine and olives, so a guest wishing to get closer to nature will stop at a small inn rather than a top quality restaurant. He will taste real home-made wine instead of some famous sparkling wine, he will sing the old island songs and forget the monotony of the everyday routine. Through the centuries and life's sufferings, an oasis of culture has remained here, a testimony to the identity, despite the many attempts, some temporarily successful, to destroy it.

The islands undoubtedly build their present and their future mainly on tourism. Statistics on growth in production and dry indices on increases or decreases in numbers of guests are not important.

Every guest is really The Guest here and his every wish is a command. Hard-working hosts are well aware of this. They will offer home-made bread and smoked ham or freshly picked mandarins or fish garnished with home-pressed olive oil. Without additives or preservatives but with that natural taste that you sense when you feel a togetherness with unspoiled nature during your visit to the island.

Each island has something unique of its own. Everyone expects something different. Today, when the islands are well connected to the mainland by sea and air links, they take a special place in the life of Croatia. Although Croatia has become famous for its untouched nature and the harmony between development and environmental protection, its islands are something special. The harmony between the best of man's and nature's creations reaches its culmination on the islands, leaving its testimony to the traditional and dynamic lifestyle.

Every person in this country will speak about the islands with special pride and longing. If life is prose, then a visit to the islands is poetry.

[ Croatia - the country of a thousand islands ]