Welcoming Croatia into the EU

This week Croatia becomes the 28thmember state of the European Union; only the second former Yugoslav state to join the union (after Slovenia). Croatian becomes the 24th official language of the union.

Knowing almost nothing about the country – other than they seem to have a pretty decent national football team and some checks on their flag – I thought it would be interesting to compare the newest member of the European club with some of its other members.

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On a scraggy bit of Mediterranean coast, Croatia’s outline on maps reminds me of that of Guinea-Bissau: the land almost melting into a series of islands that stretch from the Italian-Slovenia border in the north to the Bosnian-Serbian border to the country’s south. With 3800 miles (6300 km) of coastline, Croatia has one of the longest coastlines in the EU, beaten into sixth by Greece’s 8300 mile (13,600 km) coast in first and Denmark’s 4500 mile (7300 km) coastline in fifth. The UK lies second, its coast extending 7600 miles (12,500 km). Croatia is one of 23 member states with coastline: only five (Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Luxembourg, and Slovakia) are landlocked. Croatia is the eighth member to share the Mediterranean Sea.

When it comes to land area Croatia is one of the smaller states within the European Union. It ranks as the tenth smallest, closest in size to Latvia and Lithuania; roughly seven times smaller than Germany, and 177 times larger than Malta, the EU’s smallest state at 190 square miles (316 km2). It has a coast/land area ratio equivalent to Greece.

Croatia is the eighth smallest in population when compared to other EU states, recording a population of 4.2 million people, a number comparable to that of Ireland, and ten times less than the population of Spain. Germany holds the record for the largest population of the union, with 80 million people. Malta, unsurprisingly, has the smallest population, at 400,000 people.

These numbers mean that Croatia has one of the lowest population densities – the number of people per square mile or kilometre of land – of any of the 28 nation states. Only 7 countries – the likes of Sweden, Finland, and Latvia – have less dense populations. Malta, in comparison, has one of the highest population densities of any country on earth, let alone of the EU.

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