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A brief history of Croatia

Croatia is situated between central and southeast Europe, with a population of around 4 million.

There is lots of evidence of Croatia being populated during the prehistoric period, fossils of Neanderthals have been found in the north of the country and the most famous place is in Krapina, where over eight hundred fossils were found.

In 9 AD Croatia became a part of the Roman Empire, until the 7th century when the Avar and Croat peoples invaded and destroyed most of the Roman towns. The Roman survivors fled to the coast, islands and mountains. Dubrovnik, a city on the southern coast of the country, was established by these survivors.

Duke Branimir, who received recognition from the Pope John VIII, was the first native Croatian ruler. The first king of Croatia, Tomislav, defeated Hungarian and Bulgarian invasions and spread the influence of the country. In the late 11th century, Ladislaus I of Hungary claimed the crown of Croatia. There was a war and eventually a union between Croatia and Hungary.

Skipping to the 1700’s, Croatia was ruled by Austria. However, Croatian nationalism was on the rise and its culture and literature thrived. In 1847 they made their language, Croatian, the official language of the country. The following year revolutions were sweeping Europe and the Hungarians and Croats went to war, eventually Croatia was split into two halves, the Austrian half and the Hungarian half.

Croatia declared its independence in October 1918, but then agreed to join with Slovenes and Serbs to form a new state. They very quickly wanted to be autonomous from this state. In 1929 King Alexander suspended parliament and introduced a royal dictatorship. The state was renamed Yugoslavia. They were conquered by the Germans during the Second World War but eventually liberated and a communist regime was imposed.

Communism collapsed in most of Eastern Europe in 1989. In May 1991 the Croatians voted for independence. However, to protect Serbs living within Croatian borders, the Yugoslav army invaded and a long war began.

Meanwhile the EU nations recognised Croatian independence on 15 January 1992. The war ended in 1995 with the Erdut Agreement. Eastern Slavonia was eventually given to Croatia by the UN in 1998.

Today, Croatia is a booming tourist destination, especially along the Adriatic coast.

Text written in July 2019.

Short bio of the volunteer:

Lorna Murphy is an Erasmus+ volunteer from Scotland, UK, graduated in tourism management and loves traveling.


Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth, and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing to a diverse and rich Europe.

Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.

In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3 (KA3) which is for the support of reformation policies.

European Voluntary Service

Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.

We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.

Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.