Croatia went into the new millennium recovering from a decade of authoritarian nationalism under president Franjo Tudjman and bitter war. By early 2003 it had made enough progress to apply for EU membership, becoming the second former Yugoslav republic after Slovenia to do so.
Croatia's EU Accession talks were postponed because of its failure to detain General Ante Gotovina, wanted by the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague. Croatia later got the green light for talks to proceed in October 2005. The fugitive general was arrested in Spain shortly afterwards. Croatia joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) as a full member on 1 April 2009.
The constitution has been changed to shift power away from the president to the parliament. Croatia has joined the World Trade Organisation and has pledged to open up its economy. It has achieved growth and inflation is under control. However, organised crime and mafia-linked violence remain a major concern, prompting the EU to warn that more action is needed to combat them before membership can be possible.
It has unresolved disputes with Slovenia over sea and land borders dating back to the break-up of Yugoslavia and the construction of a controversial coastal bridge that will allow motorists to skirt Bosnian territory has drawn criticism from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
This overview is based on the BBC online country profile of Croatia.