Zagreb (Agram) is the capital city of Croatia. The city's population was 973,667 in 2005. It is situated between the southern slopes of Medvednica mountain and the northern bank of the Sava river at an elevation of 120 m above sea level, located at 45°48'N 15°58'E.
The modern name Zagreb was recorded for the first time in the 11th century (1094). It is derived from Croatian in the ditch/depression, probably referring to its geographic location. Perhaps illuminatingly for Anglophones, the older German name (now less common) is Agram, from am Graben, likewise meaning in/on the ditch/depression, German Graben and Croatian grab both being related to English grave. See also: Names of European cities in different languages There exist different legends about how the name of Zagreb came about. One of them says that a Croatian ban (viceroy) was moving with his army through a deserted region and the soldiers were struck by thirst. In his anger, the ban thrust his sabre into the ground and suddenly water began pouring out. He ordered the soldiers to scrape the soil (zagreb in Croatian) in order to get to the water and that is how Zagreb got its name. The verb zagreb in the sense of digging is also believed to have something to do with the name of the city and this is supported by some scientists, as the city lay behind a water-filled hole (graba). There also exists a theory that Zagreb may mean a place behind a hill (za breg), i.e. behind the Sava river's bank, and then the name just changed into Zagreb. This theory is supported by the fact that Sava had once flowed nearer to the centre of the city. At today's Cvjetni trg in the very centre of Zagreb, pieces of what was once a wooden boat have been unearthed. Some scientists believe that the name Zagreb is not of Slavonic origin, just as the name Croat is believed to be not of that origin. However, if the name does derive from Slavonic origins, then possibly the most acceptable explanation is the city za grebom, i.e. "behind the tomb". The tomb could be the one in Drziceva Street or some other still not located tomb near Gric or Kaptol.
Much of Croatian industry is concentrated in Zagreb, including metal processing, electrical appliances, textiles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals (Pliva), printing and leather industries, wood processing, and paper.
The city also has a notable services sector, including finance, tourism, and trade.
It had a remarkable per capita GDP of 23,730 USD in 2004 (the EU average was 28,114 USD). However, average income and prices are still somewhat lower than in Western Europe.
Zagreb, being a relatively large city situated on the fastest route that connects Central with Southeastern Europe, has great potential for investment and development.
In 2005 the average unemployment rate in Zagreb was around 8%, half of the national average.
There are three main transit connections:
the western, towards Ljubljana, Slovenia and on to Western Europe;
the eastern, towards Slavonia and on to Southeastern Europe and the Near East; and
the southern, towards Rijeka, Croatia's biggest port in the Kvarner bay and Split in Dalmatia, the second largest Croatian city and also an important port.
A motorway tunnel going through the Medvednica Mountains is in the planning stages and will become Zagreb's main northern transit connection.
The railway running along the Sutla river and the Zagorje main road (Zagreb - Maribor - Vienna), as well as traffic connections with the Pannonian region and Hungary (the Zagorje railroad, the roads and railway to Varaždin - Čakovec and Koprivnica) are linked with truck routes.
The southern railway connection to Split operates on a line via the Lika region (renovated in 2004 to allow for a five-hour journey); a faster line along the Una river valley is currently in use only up to the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The railway and the motorway (A3) along the Sava river that runs to Slavonia and further to Belgrade are some of the busiest traffic corridors in the country.
The city has a well developed road network with several main arteries up to six lanes wide and a full-profile expressway encircling most of the city. There is some congestion in the city centre and parking is also a problem. This is somewhat alleviated by the construction of new underground multi-story car-parks (Importanne Centre, Importanne Gallery, Langov square).
Public transportation in the city is organized in two zones: the inner parts of the city are mostly covered by trams and the outer suburbs are linked with buses. The public transportation company, ZET (Zagrebački Električni Tramvaj, Zagreb Electric Tram), is subsidised by the city council. Currently there is an ambitious programme underway to replace old trams with the new and modern ones built mostly in Zagreb by companies Končar elektroindustrija and, to a lesser extent, by TŽV Gredelj. 70 trams have been purchased, with the final tram expected to be delivered by December 2007, and a deal securing an additional 100 trams is forthcoming.
The funicular Uspinjaca in the historic part of the city is a tourist attraction. Taxis are readily available, but are comparatively expensive. In recent years, the state rail operator HŽ (Hrvatske željeznice, Croatian Railways) has been developing a network of suburban trains in metropolitan Zagreb area. As of 2004, westbound railway connections have been updated.
A light rail system is in the planning stages. Currently, the system is envisioned with five lines; three running west-east, and two running north-south. All lines would go underground in the city centre. The first line is expected to be operational by 2012.
Zagreb Airport currently handles 1.6 million passengers a year. A new terminal is planned for 2011, with construction beginning in 2008.
Zagreb is an important tourist centre, not only in terms of passengers travelling from Western and Central Europe to the Adriatic Sea, but also as a tourist destination. Since the end of the war, it attracts around half a million visitors annually, mainly from Austria, Germany and Italy. However, the city has greater potential as many tourists that visit Croatia skip Zagreb in order to visit the beaches along the Croatian Adriatic coast and old historic Renaissance cities such as Dubrovnik, Split, and Zadar.
Zagreb celebrated its 900th birthday in 1994 not only as a city with numerous cultural and historical monuments, museums and galleries, but also as a vibrant destination with a variety of modern shops, quality restaurants and sports/recreational facilities. It is a major centre of congress tourism, hosting a number of business events and trade fairs that are amongst those of the longest tradition in Europe. Being an important junction point, Zagreb has road, air, railway and bus connections with other European metropolises and all bigger cities and tourist resorts in Croatia.
The historical part of the city to the north of Ban Jelačić Square is comprised of the Upper Town and Kaptol, a medieval urban complex of churches, palaces, museums, galleries and government buildings that are exceptionally popular with tourists on sightseeing tours. The old town's streets and squares can be reached on foot, starting from Jelačić Square, the central part and the heart of Zagreb, or by a funicular on nearby Tomićeva Street.
There are several sports and recreational centres in Zagreb. Recreational Sports Centre Jarun, situated on Lake Jarun to the southwest of the city, has fine shingle beaches, a world-class regatta course, a jogging lane around the lake, several restaurants, many night clubs and a discotheque. Its sports and recreation opportunities include swimming, sunbathing, waterskiing, angling and other water sports, but also beach volleyball, football, basketball, handball, table tennis, and miniature golf.
Dom Sportova (Home of sports) features six halls. The largest two can accommodate 4,000 and 12,000 people. This center is used for basketball, handball, volleyball, hockey, gymanstics, tennis, and many others. It is also used for concerts.
The Dražen Petrović Basketball Hall seats 5,400. Alongside it is the 104 m glass Cibona Tower.
Sports Park Mladost, situated along the embankment of the Sava river, has an Olympic-size swimming pool, smaller indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a sunbathing terrace, 16 tennis courts as well as basketball, volleyball, handball, football and field hockey courts. A volleyball sports hall is within the park.
Maksimir stadium, Sports and Recreational Centre Šalata, only a couple hundred metres from the city centre, is most attractive for tennis players. It comprises a big tennis court and eight smaller ones, two of which are covered by the so-called "balloon", and another two equipped with lights. The Centre also has swimming pools, basketball courts, football fields, a gym and fitness centre, and a four-lane bowling alley. Outdoor ice skating is a popular winter recreation at Šalata. There are also several fine restaurants within and near the Centre.
Tennis Centre Maksimir, in the part of the city called Ravnice to the east of the centre, consists of two sports blocks. The first comprises a tennis centre situated in a large tennis hall with four courts. There are 22 outdoor tennis courts with lights. The other block offers multipurpose sports facilities: apart from tennis courts, there are handball, basketball, indoor football grounds, as well as track and field facilities, a bocci ball alley and table tennis opportunities.
Recreational swimmers can enjoy a smaller-size indoor swimming pool in Daničićeva Street, and a newly opened indoor olympic-sized pool at Utrine sports centre in Novi Zagreb. Skaters can skate in the skating rink on Trg Sportova (Sports Square) and on the lake Jarun Skaters' park. Hippodrome Zagreb offers recreational horseback riding opportunities, while horse races are held every weekend during the warmer part of the year.
The unfinished 40,000 seat Maksimir Stadium is located in the eastern part of the city. When completed, it will hold 60,000 spectators, and finally serve Zagreb somewhat more approrpiately. The stadium is part of the immense Svetice recreational and sports complex, south of the heavily wooded Maksimir Park. The complex covers an area of 276,440 m2 just outside the built-up urban space that forms the city's eastern boundary. It is part of a significant Green Zone, which passes from Medvednica Mountains in the north towards the south. SRC Svetice, together with Maksimir Park, creates an ideal connection of areas which are assigned to sport, recreation and leisure.