An urbanized area in Croatia can gain the status of grad (which can be translated as town or city as there is no distinction between the two terms in Croatian) if it meets one of the following requirements:
A city (town) represents an urban, historical, natural, economic and social whole. The suburbs comprising an economic and social whole with the city, connected with it by daily migration movements and daily needs of the population of local significance, may also be included into the composition of a city as unit of local self-government.
Grad (city/town) is the local administrative equivalent of općina (translated as "municipality"), with the only distinction being that the former usually comprise urban areas whereas the latter commonly consist of a group of villages. Note that both municipalities and city/towns often comprise more than one settlement, as the administrative territory of a grad may include suburban villages or hamlets near the city/town in question. Individual settlement (or naselje in Croatian) are the smallest statistical unit counted by the Croatian Bureau of Statistics but are not administrative entities, i.e. they are governed by the municipal or city/town council of the local administrative unit they belong to (they are similar to the United States census designated places).
Croatian cities are administratively subdivided into "city districts" (gradski kotari) and/or "local committee areas" (mjesni odbori) with elected councils. The City of Zagreb, as the capital, not being part of any county, is subdivided into "city districts"/"boroughs" (gradske četvrti) and "local committee areas" (mjesni odbori).
Cities (in English these would be called "towns"), within their self-governing scope of activities, perform the tasks of local significance, which directly fulfil the citizens’ needs, and which were not assigned to the state bodies by the Constitution or law, particularly the tasks referring to urban design of settlements and dwelling, zoning and urban planning, communal activities, child care, social welfare, primary health care, personality development and primary education, culture, physical culture and sports, consumers protection, protection and improvement of the natural environment, fire and civil defence, local transport.
"Big cities" ("big city" is a Croatian legal term, in English these would be just "cities"), i.e. cities with more than 35 000 inhabitants that are also economic, financial, cultural, public health, scientific or traffic centres and cities that are county seats, in addition to these tasks, are also responsible for tasks regarding public roads maintenance and issuing of building and location permits.
City council (Gradsko vijeće) is the representative body of citizens and the body of local self-government. The councillors are elected for a four-year term on the basis of universal suffrage in direct elections by secret ballot using proportional system with d'Hondt method. The executive head of the city is the mayor (gradonačelnik), also elected in direct elections by majoritarian vote (two-round system) for a four-year term (together with one or two deputy mayors). He/She (with the deputy mayor/s) can be recalled by a referendum. City administrative departments and services manage administrative procedures in their areas of jurisdiction. The mayor names heads (principals) of the departments and services, who are chosen on the basis of a public competition.
The following is a complete list of all officially designated 128 cities/towns in Croatia, sorted by population according to the 2011 population census. At the time of the previous census in 2001 there had been 123 cities/towns in the country and four former municipalities were administratively upgraded to towns prior to the 2011 census: Vodnjan/Dignano (in 2003), and Kutjevo, Otok, and Sveta Nedelja (in 2006). In addition, the table includes data for Popovača, also a former municipality which was re-designated as town in the latest administrative revision in April 2013.
The Municipal column in the table lists total population within the geographical boundary of the local administrative subdivision. This means that the figure often includes other smaller settlements such as villages or hamlets located on the outskirts or near the city/town proper. In contrast, the Town/City proper column lists only population of the city/town proper, without the smaller settlements which administratively belong to the city. Both numbers are given as in some cases the figures may vary dramatically (for example Velika Gorica with nearby settlements has a population of around 63,000 but the town proper has only 31,000 residents).
Note that the town of Kaštela is a unique exception in that it only exists as an administrative unit - it is legally treated as an agglomeration of seven separate settlements with populations ranging from 3,000 to 7,000, none of which is actually called "Kaštela". Its town council is located in Kaštel Sućurac.
Another set of exceptions arises from the special status of the City of Zagreb, which is considered both a county and a city, and is further subdivided into city districts, local committees and into settlements. Unlike its other districts, the district of Sesvete still has the status of a standalone settlement with a population of about 70,000. This would make it a large city in itself, but it does not have the administrative status of a city.
|City / town||County||Municipal||Town/City proper|
|2011 pop.||Rank||2011 pop.||Rank|
|Rijeka ¤||Primorje-Gorski Kotar||128,624||128,384|
|Zadar ¤||Zadar County||75,062||71,471|
|Velika Gorica||Zagreb County||63,517||31,553|
|Slavonski Brod ¤||Brod-Posavina||59,141||53,531|
|Karlovac ¤||Karlovac County||55,705||46,833|
|Varaždin ¤||Varaždin County||46,946||38,839|
|Virovitica ¤||Virovitica-Podravina County||21,291||14,688|
|Sveta Nedelja||Zagreb County||18,059||1,338|
|Dugo Selo||Zagreb County||17,466||10,453|
|Sveti Ivan Zelina||Zagreb County||15,959||2,764|
|Novi Marof||Varaždin County||13,246||1,956|
|Duga Resa||Karlovac County||11,180||6,011|
|Pazin/Pisino ¤||Istria County||8,638||4,386|
|Mali Lošinj||Primorje-Gorski Kotar||8,116||6,091|
|Varaždinske Toplice||Varaždin County||6,364||1,765|
|Biograd na Moru||Zadar County||5,569||5,569|
|Novi Vinodolski||Primorje-Gorski Kotar||5,113||4,005|