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Exchange of information about one’s illnesses is a favourite pastime in Croatia. It’s a kind of never-ending competition, something like “Who can claim poorer health?” A sturdy, healthy looking person will surprise you by detailing a long list of every type of physical ailment ruining his or her life, unless – as nearly always happens – he or she is interrupted by somebody who succumbed to or somehow miraculously escaped the same ailment or a risky operation.

Given the slightest opportunity, the locals will not fail to pour on you all the details of their personality, eating and drinking habits, preferences and inclinations. If health (or rather, illnesses) is the number one national sport in Croatia, then talking about oneself comes a close second. It is of precious little comfort to know that as you move eastwards, it gets much, much worse.

Young Croatian doctors from Zagreb easily pass the American competence tests, and a large number of dentists in Switzerland actually come from Croatia. Should you select a well-equipped health institution here, you can expect care which is equal to, if not better, than elsewhere and, as a foreigner, a more friendly attitude from the staff.

Incidentally, Croatia is at the world top in terms of kidney, liver and heart transplatations  in proportion to population.

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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