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Unlike Norway or Great Britain, for example, Croatia has no single state religion, but the fact that over 80 % of the population is of the Roman Catholic faith has certainly left its imprint on society. Also, Catholicism has remained an important part of the national identity, helping to resist the sometimes brutal, sometimes more subtle attempts by the Communist Party to suppress the religion.

Also, unlike in Poland, any indication of religious affiliation (including celebrating religious holidays such as Christmas) was not only forbidden for Party members but often not tolerated for anybody holding public office, including school teachers.

Understandably, after the fall of communism, there was a kind of revival, but the number of regular churchgoers remains rather modest.

Of course, one could only speculate what direction history would have taken if the split between the Eastern, Orthodox and the Roman Church in the 11th century had not run along the very middle of this region, or – as some optimists believe – if the local orthodox church had adopted the Gregorian calendar, like many others had done.

The achievements of Croatian theologian M. Vlačić Ilirik, whose teaching was somewhat similar to that of Martin Luther, were successfully counteracted. However, several reformed churches have been established here for quite some time, primarily due to the presence of German, Hungarian and Slovakian minorities. A certain enthusiasm for oriental sects such as Sri Sai Baba, or, for example, Mormons is more recent.

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How to survive in and even enjoy Croatia - a guide for smart foreigners © Jakov Buljan, 2006
Illustrations: Dubravko Mataković     Language editor: Francesca Brizi