Rijeka is the principal seaport and the third largest city in Croatia (after Zagreb and Split). It is located on Kvarner Bay, an inlet of the Adriatic Sea and has a population of 128,624 inhabitants (2011). The conurbation, which includes adjacent towns and municipalities of Opatija, Lovran, Mošćenička Draga, Matulji, Kastav, Viškovo, Klana, Kostrena, Čavle, Jelenje, Bakar and Kraljevica, has a population of 213,666 (2011).
Historically, because of its strategic position and its excellent deep-water Port of Rijeka, the city was fiercely contested, especially among Italy, Hungary, and Croatia, changing hands and demographics many times over centuries. According to the 2011 census data, the overwhelming majority of its citizens (82.52%) are Croats, with important Serb and Italian minorities. Apart from Croatian, the population also uses its own unique version of the Venetian language (Fiumano), with an estimated 20,000 speakers among the autochtone Croats and various minorities. Historically it served as a Lingua Franca for the many ethnicities inhabiting the multicultural port-town.
Rijeka is the center of Primorje-Gorski Kotar County in Croatia. The city’s economy largely depends on shipbuilding (shipyards “3. Maj” and “Viktor Lenac Shipyard”) and maritime transport. Rijeka hosts the Croatian National Theatre “Ivan pl. Zajc”, first built in 1765, as well as the University of Rijeka, founded in 1973 but with roots dating back to 1632.
The Port of Rijeka is the largest port in Croatia, with a cargo throughput in 2010 of 10.2 million tonnes, most of which is was oil, general cargo and bulk cargo and 137,048 TEUs. In 2008 the Port of Rijeka recorded 4376 ship arrivals. The port is managed by the Port of Rijeka Authority. The first record of a port in Rijeka date back to 1281, and in 1719, the Port of Rijeka was granted a charter as a free port. Good ferry connections with the surrounding islands and cities within Croatia exist in Rijeka, but no direct foreign passenger ship connections. There are coastal lines to Split and onwards to Dubrovnik operated twice a week, which has international connections. Pula offers more direct southward connections from northwestern Croatia.
Rijeka has efficient road connections to other parts of Croatia and neighbouring countries. The A6 motorway connects Rijeka to Zagreb via the A1, while the A7 motorway, completed in 2004, links Rijeka with Ljubljana, Slovenia via Ilirska Bistrica and Italy. The A7 acts as the Rijeka bypass motorway and facilitates access to the A8 motorway of the Istrian Y network starting with the Učka Tunnel, and linking Rijeka with Istria peninsula. As of August 2011, the bypass is being extended east towards the Krk Bridge area and new feeder roads are under construction.
The city is difficult to get to by air; there is Rijeka Airport, city’s own international airport, but the airport is located on the nearby island of Krk with the tolled Krk Bridge in between. Handling only 130,000 passengers in 2005, and projected to handle only 250,000 by 2008, the facility is more of a charter airport than a serious transport hub, although various scheduled airlines have begun to serve it.
Rijeka is well integrated into the Croatian railway network and critical international rail lines. A fully electrified railway connects Rijeka to Zagreb and beyond towards Koprivnica and the Hungarian border as part of the Pan-European corridor Vb. Rijeka is also connected to Trieste and Ljubljana by a separate electrified line that extends northwards from the city. Rijeka is well connected by direct train, with daily trains to Vienna, Munich, and Salzburg, and direct night trains running to Rijeka from these two cities. Construction of a new high performance railway between Rijeka and Zagreb, extending to Budapest is planned, as well as rail links connecting Rijeka to the island of Krk and between Rijeka and Pula.
Climate and geography
Rijeka’s position overlooking the Kvarner Bay with its islands (Cres, Krk) on the south, the Učka mountain on the west, the mountains of Gorski kotar to the north and the Velebit range to the east offers an impressive natural setting.
The terrain configuration, with mountains raising steeply just a few miles inland from the shores of the Adriatic, provides for some striking climatic and landscape contrasts within a small geographic area. Beaches can be enjoyed throughout summer in a typically Mediterranean environment along the coastal areas of the city to the east (Pećine, Kostrena) and west (Kantrida, Preluk). At the same time, the ski resort of Platak, located only about 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) from the city, offers alpine skiing and abundant snow during winter months (at times until early May). The Kvarner Bay and its islands can be observed from the ski slopes.
Rijeka has a Humid subtropical climate with warm summers and relatively mild and rainy winters. Snow is rare (usually 3 days per year, almost always occurring in patches). There are 22 days a year with a maximum of 30 °C (86 °F) or higher, while on one day a year the temperature does not exceed 0 °C (32 °F). Fog appears in about 4 days per year, mainly in winter. The climate is also characterized by frequent rainfall. Cold bura (bora) winds are common in winter time.
There are 1922.5 hours of sunshine per year. Maximum is in July with 297.6 hours, while minimum is in December with 97.8 hours of sunshine.