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There is a total of 21 counties, counting in the City of Zagreb which has status equal to that of a county.
Croatia has had counties since the Middle Ages. However, their sizes, names and positions changed with time.
The Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia was subdivided in 1867 into eight counties or comitatus. The Kingdom of Dalmatia was similarly divided into districts. The Parliament of Croatia was officially called Sabor Kraljevine Hrvatske, Dalmacije i Slavonije (Latin: Congregatio generalis Regnorum Croatiae, Dalmatiae et Slavoniae). Other institutions also bore that title.
The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes retained the territorial subdivisions of its historical provinces up to 1922. Between 1922 and 1929 the Kingdom continued to be divided with some respect to the borders of historical provinces, but previous units of territorial subdivisions (like the counties) were replaced by the greater units called oblast in Serbo-Croato-Slovene language (the then official language of the Kingdom). In the territory of Croatia-Slavonia and Dalmatia there were six units: Dubrovačka oblast, Osječka oblast, Primorsko-krajiška oblast (Karlovac), Splitska oblast, Srijemska oblast (Vukovar) and Zagrebačka oblast. The following territorial changes were made: Kastavština was attached to Ljubljanska oblast, Međimurje to Mariborska oblast and Bay of Kotor to Montenegrin oblast in Cetinje.
With the formation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929, most of the territory of the former Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia became part of the Sava Banovina and some of the territory of the former Kingdom of Dalmatia became part of the Littoral Banovina, but the borders of historical provinces were not respected.
In socialist Yugoslavia, Socialist Republic of Croatia was divided into općine (sing. općina) which were smaller than the present counties. The designation općina has been retained for municipalities which are one level smaller than the županije and also smaller than the old općine.
Present-day counties were introduced in the 1990 Constitution of Croatia, and have only slightly changed since.
Each county has an assembly (županijska skupština) which is composed of representatives elected by popular vote, using party-list proportional representation, for four-year terms. The county assembly elects the executive county leadership, decides on the yearly budget, the county properties etc.
The leader of a county is a župan (sometimes translated as "prefect"), who has one or two deputies each called a dožupan. The župan presides over the county's executive government (županijsko poglavarstvo), and represents the county in external affairs.
The list of counties, grouped into historic and geographic larger regions:
|Zagreb County||Zagrebačka županija|
|City of Zagreb||Grad Zagreb|
|Littoral (Adriatic coast)|
|Primorje-Gorski Kotar||Primorsko-goranska županija|
The county names ending in the suffixes -čka and -ska are adjectives, with the noun županija implied, so e.g. Karlovačka's full name is Karlovačka županija. Some counties prefer to swap the order of those two words but they are in the minority (since February 7, 1997 when the order was officially changed).
Zagreb itself is grad, a city, due to its importance it has a county status and jurisdiction. Any town with population over 35,000 can take over a part of jurisdiction of its county.