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The counties of Croatia (Croatian: županije) are the primary administrative subdivisions of the Republic of Croatia. Since they were re-established in 1992, Croatia has been divided into 20 counties and the capital city of Zagreb, which has the authority and legal status of both a county and a city (separate from the surrounding Zagreb County). The counties are subdivided into 127 cities and 429 (mostly rural) municipalities. Each county has an assembly (Croatian: skupština) with members elected by popular vote through closed lists in local elections. The executive branch of each county's government is headed by a county prefect (Croatian: župan), except that a mayor heads the city of Zagreb's executive branch. The counties are funded by the central government, as well as from county-owned businesses, county taxes and county fees. County taxes include a five percent inheritance and gift tax, a motor vehicle tax, a vessel tax and an arcade game machine tax. The counties are tasked with performing general public administration services, primary and secondary education, government funded healthcare, social welfare, administration pertaining to agriculture, forestry, hunting, fisheries, mining, industry and construction, as well as road transport infrastructure management and other services to the economy, at the county level; the central government and local (city and municipal) governments may also perform each of those tasks at their respective levels. The Croatian County Association was set up in 2003 as a framework for inter-county cooperation. The counties correspond to tier three of the European Union (EU) Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS) division of Croatia. The NUTS Local Administrative Unit (LAU) divisions are two-tiered; the LAU 1 divisions for Croatia also match the counties (in effect making these the same as the NUTS 3 units).
Croatia was first subdivided into counties in the Middle Ages. The divisions have changed over time, reflecting: territorial losses to Ottoman conquest and subsequent Croatian recapture of some territory; changes in the political status of Dalmatia, Dubrovnik and Istria; and political circumstances, including the personal union and settlement between Croatia and Hungary. The traditional division of Croatia into counties was abolished in 1922, when the oblasts of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes were introduced; these were later replaced by the banovinas of Yugoslavia. Communist-ruled Croatia, as a constituent part of post-World War II Yugoslavia, organised Croatia into approximately 100 municipalities. The counties were reintroduced in 1992, but with significant territorial alterations from the pre-1922 subdivisions; for instance, before 1922 Transleithanian Croatia was divided into eight counties, but the new legislation established fourteen counties in the same territory. Međimurje County was established in the eponymous region acquired through the 1920 Treaty of Trianon. The county borders have sometimes changed since their 1992 restoration (for reasons such as historical ties and requests by cities); the latest revision took place in 2006.
The Croatian (singular) term županija was originally applied to territory controlled by a župan, a title traced to an 8th-century Avar official called a jopan, supan or suppan. Since the 12th century, the counties have also been referred to by the Latin term comitatus.
|County||Seat||Area||Population (2011)||GDP per capita (2009)||Arms||Geographic coordinates|
|Bjelovar-Bilogora||Bjelovar||2,640 km2 (1,020 sq mi)||119,764||€7,677|
|Brod-Posavina||Slavonski Brod||2,030 km2 (780 sq mi)||158,575||5,606 €|
|Dubrovnik-Neretva||Dubrovnik||1,781 km2 (688 sq mi)||122,568||9,990 €|
|Istria||Pazin||2,813 km2 (1,086 sq mi)||208,055||12,810 €|
|Karlovac||Karlovac||3,626 km2 (1,400 sq mi)||128,899||7,634 €|
|Koprivnica-Križevci||Koprivnica||1,748 km2 (675 sq mi)||115,584||9,371 €|
|Krapina-Zagorje||Krapina||1,229 km2 (475 sq mi)||132,892||6,576 €|
|Lika-Senj||Gospić||5,353 km2 (2,067 sq mi)||50,927||8,707 €|
|Međimurje||Čakovec||729 km2 (281 sq mi)||113,804||8,349 €|
|Osijek-Baranja||Osijek||4,155 km2 (1,604 sq mi)||305,032||8,112 €|
|Požega-Slavonia||Požega||1,823 km2 (704 sq mi)||78,034||6,229 €|
|Primorje-Gorski Kotar||Rijeka||3,588 km2 (1,385 sq mi)||296,195||12,305 €|
|Šibenik-Knin||Šibenik||2,984 km2 (1,152 sq mi)||109,375||7,239 €|
|Sisak-Moslavina||Sisak||4,468 km2 (1,725 sq mi)||172,439||8,325 €|
|Split-Dalmatia||Split||4,540 km2 (1,750 sq mi)||454,798||7,952 €|
|Varaždin||Varaždin||1,262 km2 (487 sq mi)||175,951||8,834 €|
|Virovitica-Podravina||Virovitica||2,024 km2 (781 sq mi)||84,836||6,399 €|
|Vukovar-Syrmia||Vukovar||2,454 km2 (947 sq mi)||179,521||5,974 €|
|Zadar||Zadar||3,646 km2 (1,408 sq mi)||170,017||8,388 €|
|Zagreb County||Zagreb||3,060 km2 (1,180 sq mi)||317,606||7,803 €|
|City of Zagreb[a]||Zagreb||641 km2 (247 sq mi)||790,017||17,814 €|
Counties were first introduced in Croatia during the House of Trpimirović's rule. The exact number and borders of these early counties are difficult to determine accurately; they were considered to encompass areas subordinated to a single centre of local authority, but the possessions of significant nobles had a legal status separate from local authority. The following eleven are usually listed as the oldest counties of Croatia, dating back to the 10th century: Livno (encompassing the Livanjsko polje); Cetina (centered on the Cetina river, with its seat in Stolac); Imotski (south of Livno County and Biokovo); Pliva (around the Pliva and Vrbas rivers); Pset or Pesenta (between the Una and Sana rivers); Primorje or Klis (along the Adriatic's coast between Šibenik and Omiš, with its seat in the Klis Fortress); Bribir (to the west of Primorje County); Nona (around Nin and Zadar); Knin (with its seat in the Knin Fortress); Sidraga (in the area between Bribir County and Zadar); and Nina or Luka (between Knin, Nona, Sidraga and Bribir counties). In the same period, the counties in Pannonian Croatia (north of Gvozd Mountain) are poorly documented. It is generally thought that the Pannonian counties were directly subject to the Croatian monarchy, unlike the southern counties controlled by nobles.
The county number, extent and authority have varied significantly, reflecting: changes in the monarchial and noble relative influences; Ottoman conquest and Croatian recapture of various territories; and societal and political changes through several centuries. In the 13th and 14th century, the Croatian nobility grew stronger and the counties defined by the king were reduced to a legislative framework, while military and financial power was concentrated in the feudal lords. Other forms of administration that overlapped with county administration in this period included the Roman Catholic Church and the free royal cities, and separately the cities of Dalmatia. After Croatia became a crown land of the Habsburg Monarchy in 1527, the importance of counties faded even further, but was gradually restored after 1760.
In the 19th century, the Revolutions of 1848 in the Habsburg areas brought upon numerous political changes and introduced a civic government of the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia as part of Austria-Hungary, which in turn proceeded to absorb the Croatian and Slavonian Military Frontiers in 1881. The last major reorganisation of the counties was in 1886, when eight counties were established within the kingdom. This layout largely remained in effect until the Croatian counties were abolished in 1922, while some minor adjustments of county boundaries happened in 1913. The counties were set up as self-governmental units in contrast to earlier county incarnations since the Middle Ages. Each had an assembly with the wealthiest taxpayers comprising half the assembly members and elected members comprising the remaining half.
|Population (1910)||Arms||Geographic coordinates|
|Bjelovar-Križevci||Bjelovar||5,048 km2 (1,949 sq mi)||331,385|
|Lika-Krbava||Gospić||6,217 km2 (2,400 sq mi)||203,973|
|Modruš-Rijeka||Ogulin||4,874 km2 (1,882 sq mi)||231,354|
|Požega||Požega||4,938 km2 (1,907 sq mi)||263,690|
|Syrmia||Vukovar||6,848 km2 (2,644 sq mi)||410,007|
|Varaždin||Varaždin||2,521 km2 (973 sq mi)||305,558|
|Virovitica||Osijek||4,852 km2 (1,873 sq mi)||269,199|
|Zagreb||Zagreb||7,215 km2 (2,786 sq mi)||587,378|