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Međimurje County
Međimurska županija
—  County  —
Welcome to Međimurje County

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Coordinates: 46°27′58″N 16°24′50″E / 46.466°N 16.414°E / 46.466; 16.414Coordinates: 46°27′58″N 16°24′50″E / 46.466°N 16.414°E / 46.466; 16.414
Country Croatia
Area
 - Total 730 km2 (281.9 sq mi)
Population (2001)
 - Total 118,426
 - Density 162.2/km2 (420.2/sq mi)
Area code(s) 040[1]
ISO 3166-2:HR HR-20
County seat Čakovec
Župan Ivica Perhoč (SDP)
Website medjimurska-zupanija.hr

Međimurje County (Croatian: Međimurska županija, Hungarian: Muraköz megye, Slovene: Medmurska županija, Prekmurian: Medmürska žüpanija) is a triangle-shaped county in the northernmost part of Croatia, corresponding to the region of Međimurje. It is the smallest Croatian county by size, but is the most densely populated one. The county seat is Čakovec.

The county borders Slovenia in the north-west and Hungary in the east, with about 30 kilometers of Slovenian territory separating it from Austria. The south-eastern corner of the county is near the town of Legrad and the confluence of the Mura into the Drava. The closest cities include Varaždin, Koprivnica and Bjelovar in Croatia, Murska Sobota and Maribor in Slovenia, as well as Nagykanizsa in Hungary and Graz in Austria. The Croatian capital of Zagreb is about 90 kilometers south-west of Čakovec.

There are slopes of the Alpine foothills in the north-western part of the county, the Upper Međimurje, making it suitable for vineyards. The south-eastern part of the county, the Lower Međimurje, touches the flat Pannonian Plain, with its agriculture focused on maize and potato fields, and apple orchards. There are two major hydroelectric power plants along the southern border of the county, on the Drava River.

Contents

Name and symbols

Međimurje is nicknamed Hortus Croatiae, which is Latin for "the flower garden of Croatia". Its unofficial symbols include the Eurasian Collared Dove (Croatian: grlica gugutka, but locally referred to just as grlica), which is one of the most common birds in the region, and the violet (ljubičica). The region is often called Međimurje malo, which is Croatian for "Little Međimurje".

Its Croatian name can be translated as "the land between the Mura" (Međi (between) + mor(j)e (sea)). In Hungarian, the region is known as Muraköz, which can be translated as "the space between the Mura", while its German name, Murinsel, means "the island on the Mura".

Geographical characteristics

Međimurje County covers the plains between the rivers of Mura and Drava. The Mura flows along the county's northern border with the Slovenian region of Prekmurje as well as its eastern border with Hungary's Zala County, while the Drava flows along the county's southern border with two other Croatian counties, Varaždin County and Koprivnica-Križevci County.

There are two reservoir lakes on the Drava, Lake Varaždin and Lake Dubrava, both built to serve the two hydroelectric power plants based in the county. Lake Dubrava, located near the city of Prelog, is the biggest artificial lake in Croatia and the second largest lake overall in the country. The power plant using Lake Varaždin is named after the county seat, Čakovec, while the one using Lake Dubrava is named Dubrava, taking its name from the village of Donja Dubrava.

The county's elevation ranges between 120 and 344 meters above sea level, the latter being the elevation of its highest hill, Mohokos. Čakovec has an elevation of between 160 and 165 meters above sea level. There are occasionally earthquakes here. One of significant strength hit the region in 1880, while another in 1738 devastated Čakovec and particularly the nearby Šenkovec.

The climate is continental. Summers are generally hot, with daily temperatures sometimes reaching as high as 40 °C in July and August. Early summer is usually also a very stormy period, with heavy thunderstorms often occurring on a daily basis from mid-June to mid-July. Spring and autumn are usually calm. Winters can be very severe, with temperatures sometimes reaching as low as -20 °C. Warm weather can occur as early as mid-February and as late as mid-November. However, February and November are generally cold months, often with subzero temperatures and occasionally heavy snow, while March and October are generally cool, with light snow occasionally occurring during the two months.

Of the whole area (729.5 km²), 360 km² are used in agriculture. Due to the high population density, agricultural land is divided into 21,000 units averaging 17,500 m² each. 27.5 km² are covered with orchards; 11 km² is the hilly area, with small towns like Štrigova, and in the western part are vineyards. Pasturelands and forests are roughly 105 km². The biggest forest is Murščak, located between Domašinec and Donji Hrašćan.

Administrative division and demographics

There are three cities in the Međimurje County – Čakovec, Prelog and Mursko Središće. The county seat, Čakovec, has a population of around 20,000. There are also several villages located just outside the city, with approximately another 17,000 people living in them.

There are also several municipalities in the county, with their seats including Belica, Dekanovec, Domašinec, Donja Dubrava, Donji Kraljevec, Donji Vidovec, Goričan, Gornji Mihaljevec, Kotoriba, Miklavec, Mala Subotica, Nedelišće, Orehovica, Podturen, Pribislavec, Selnica, Strahoninec, Sveta Marija, Sveti Juraj na Bregu, Sveti Martin na Muri, Šenkovec, Štrigova and Vratišinec. Nedelišće, Pribislavec, Strahoninec and Šenkovec are all located on the outskirts of Čakovec, with Belica approximately 5 kilometers from the city's centre.

The county has approximately 119,500 residents in 126 settlements. It is populated mainly by ethnic Croats with Roman Catholic religious views. Notable ethnic minorities include the Hungarians, Germans, Albanians, Slovenes and Roma. Although Međimurje is the smallest county in Croatia, with an area of 729.5 km², it is also the most densely populated of all Croatian counties, with an average population of 164.2 people per square kilometer.

The demographics of the region changed swiftly in the period between 1950 and 1975, with a significant reduction in the size of the family. From the national perspective, the population is moving toward the Istria region, while the seasonal workforce moves toward Zagreb and the southern parts of Croatia. The natural population increase is minimal.

Language and education

The official language of Međimurje County, as in the whole of Croatia, is the Shtokavian dialect of Croatian language. However, the local dialect is Kajkavian, which is commonly spoken and understood among the people native to the region.

Each of the municipalities has an 8-year elementary school, with the first 4 years of elementary education also offered in many smaller villages. Čakovec currently has three 8-year elementary schools. There are also several high schools in Čakovec, including the Gymnasium and schools offering secondary education for jobs in technology, industry, transport, construction, economy and trade. The smaller city of Prelog also offers secondary education for jobs in catering, tourism and economy.

The city of Čakovec also has two universities – the Faculty of Teacher Education (Učiteljski fakultet) and the Polytechnic of Međimurje (Međimursko veleučilište). The Faculty of Teacher Education in Čakovec is part of the University of Zagreb.

Culture and cuisine

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Festivals

One notable traditional festival is the Fašnik, a carnival-like event held in February. The event's name is derived from the German word Fasching, describing similar events mostly held in Austria and Bavaria. The festival has been observed for centuries, with masked people participating in public parades and celebrations to drive off the demons of darkness and winter. The main festivities of the Fašnik period are usually held in the centre of Čakovec, with a parade of masked people from the entire region walking through the city's streets to reach its central square, where a hanged hay doll representing the Fašnik is traditionally burned down to signify victory over the demons of darkness and winter, as well as to mark the end of festivities.

Another notable and highly attended festival held in Čakovec is the Porcijunkulovo, an annual fair which takes place on the streets around the city's centre in the last week of July and early August. At the fair, many of the region's traditional products such as baskets can be purchased and people can also see how some of the products are made. Many of the region's traditional foods are served during the festivities and there is a daily entertainment program at a temporary stage set up at the city's central square.

Food

For many centuries, Međimurje was part of Hungary, whose influence is evident in its history and culture. Once, the only notable place where one could have experienced the local cuisine and culture was the Međimurska Hiža Restaurant near the village of Mačkovec, about 5 kilometers north of Čakovec. The restaurant was heavily damaged by fire in the late 1990s and never reopened. However, a number of new restaurants serving the region's traditional food have opened over the years.

The traditional food during the Fašnik period are a type of doughnuts known in Croatian as krafne, although the local people also use several similar names for the food. As well as being the traditional food of the Fašnik period, krafne are also a popular everyday food in the region and are sold in local stores and bakeries throughout the year. The traditional food of the Porcijunkulovo festivities is lángos, whose name is spelled langoš in Croatian.

Another notable sweet food is a type of nut roll called orehnjača, which is filled with walnut cream. Its name is derived from oreh, meaning "walnut" in the local Kajkavian dialect. A similar cake filled with poppy seed is called makovnjača, with its name derived from mak, the Croatian word for poppy.

There is also a type of corn mush called žganci, which is usually served with liquid sour cream, buttermilk or warm milk. Cottage cheese is also a popular food in the region. It can either be served with liquid sour cream to form a dish known in the local dialect as sir z vrhnjom, which translates as "cheese with cream", or used to make turoš, in which case it is cone-shaped and dried. Both cottage cheese dishes are often spiced with red paprika. Cottage cheese is also used as the filling in a pastry called štrukli.

Some of the other traditional foods of the region include a type of pasta called mlinci, white and black sausages known as čurke which is served with sour cabbage, as well as other dried or otherwise preserved meat such as meso z tiblice, which is stored in a small, usually wooden barrel called tiblica. There are also some vegetable dishes, while the production of wine is ubiquitous in the hilly parts of the region. The diet of the region is part of the Croatian cuisine, which is known for its diversity.

Recreation

There are spas used for recreation in Vučkovec and around Sveti Martin na Muri, both in the northern part of the county and near the Mura. There are also more than 200 clubs for various sporting and recreational activities such as mountaineering, fishing, bowling, CB radio, parachuting and flying small aircrafts, including unpowered gliders and powered hang gliders. Hunting also attracts numerous hunters in low game and birds.

Other cultural notes

The Škola Animiranog Filma is a school of animation based in Čakovec.

In Čakovec Castle, there is a museam and an art gallery. In Šenkovec, in the chapel of Sveta Jelena. and in the church of Sveti Jeronim in Štrigova, there are Baroque frescoes of Ivan Ranger dating between 1776 and 1786. Prelog is home to the beautiful church of Sveti Jakob, built in 1761.

More than 15,000 local songs have been collected here by ethnomusicologist Vinko Žganec. He was influenced in his work by Franjo Kuhač, and encouraged by Hungarian composer Béla Bartók.

The German national anthem, Das Lied der Deutschen, composed by Joseph Haydn, is thought by some scholars to be derived from the folk song known in Medjimurje under the name Stal Se Jesem; for details, see Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser. An Austrian national song was composed by Franz von Suppe, who was born in Split, and the lyrics of the Austrian national anthem were written by Paula von Preradovic, granddaughter of poet Petar Preradović, born near Pitomača.

The Hawaiian song Aloha 'Oe is based on the Croatian folk song Sidi Mara Na Kamen Studencu from the Srijem region. It was sung and spread around the world by Croats and other sailors serving in the Austro-Hungarian navy.

Transport

The region of Međimurje is a strong transport hub. The main roads and railroads going through the county connect several Central and Eastern European countries with the Croatian cities of Varaždin, Zagreb (the country's capital), Karlovac, and Rijeka (the country's principal seaport), as well as the rest of the Croatian part of the Adriatic coast, which is a popular summer destination for tourists.

The first railroad in the county was built in 1860, connecting Budapest with the Adriatic ports of Rijeka and Trieste, and was part of the first railroad ever built in the present-day Croatia. The second railroad connected Čakovec with Mursko Središće and Lendava (Lendva) in the present-day Slovenia in 1889. The village of Kotoriba, located near the Hungarian border in the south-eastern part of the county, was the site of the first railway station building in Croatia. The railroad going through Kotoriba now connects Čakovec with the Hungarian cities of Nagykanizsa, Székesfehérvár, and Budapest, as well as several towns along the southern shores of Lake Balaton.

Around 21 kilometers of the A4 highway, built in the 1990s, is located within the county's borders. The highway connects Hungary with Zagreb, and is also an important connection from Čakovec and Prelog to Zagreb, as it can be accessed near the village of Sveti Križ, located approximately halfway between the two cities. The Goričan Border Crossing is also located on the highway. Near Zagreb, the A4 highway is connected with the A1 highway, from which several cities along the Adriatic coast can be reached, as well as the A3 highway, which goes through the southern parts of Slavonia all the way to the Serbian border.

A small sports airfield with one grassy runway is located near the village of Pribislavec, just outside Čakovec. It is mainly used by light aircraft and unpowered gliders. Panoramic flights over the region are also organised from the airfield. Occasionally, the airfield is also used by powered hang gliders, although these aircraft more commonly use a smaller airfield on the shores of the Drava, just outside Prelog. The airfield in Pribislavec also hosts an air show in August.

There are plans in the works to build a bridge over the Mura River to connect the villages of Kerkaszentkirály in Hungary and Podturen in Međimurje County.

Business, economy and resources

An estimated 22,000 people are employed in the county, with around 60% of them in bigger companies. Since the late 1960s and early 1970s, more than 17,000 people from the region have been employed abroad, in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and beyond. The region is considered one of the nation's richest and most prosperous.

Agriculture and food production

Throughout its history, the region was heavily agricultural and even today many work in that sector. The total percentage of people involved in agriculture is 12.7%, which is above the national average.

Since the 4th century BC, there have been ship mills in use, particularly along the Mura River, some of which remained in use until the 20th century. The last surviving ship mill in the county is also located on the Mura River, between Sveti Martin na Muri and Mursko Središće. It is now a historic monument and a well-known regional tourist attraction. The famous Međimurski konj breed of horses was for many years harnessed to the streetcars of Vienna.

Some of the largest food companies in the region include Agromeđimurje, Čakovečki mlinovi and Vajda. METSS, formerly called Trgocentar, operates a large number of convenience stores in the region. In Čakovec, many people are also employed in a number of shopping malls run by local, national and international companies.

Manufacturing

Industry has mostly developed in and around Čakovec, as well as in the south-eastern parts of the county. Međimurska trikotaža Čakovec or MTČ is one of the most successful textile and clothing companies in northern Croatia. Some of the other well known clothing companies in the region include Čateks and the Mursko Središće-based Modeks. There are also some footwear companies based in the region, the most prominent of them being Jelen.

The Čakovec-based Zrinski is a printing and publishing company. Nedelišće was home to one of the first Croatian printing presses, operating there as early as 1570. The production of metal and PVC is significant in the region. There are several construction companies based in the region. Some of the largest local companies in these businesses include Ferro-Preis, TMT, Tehnix, Meplast, Muraplast, Tegra and Beton. Basket weaving is one of the oldest businesses in the region, with Međimurjeplet being the largest local company. Chairs, small items of furniture and other decorative items are also woven in addition to baskets. The most common weaving materials include twigs, rattan and bamboo.

Mining

There are deposits of coal around Mursko Središće, Peklenica and Lopatinec. Lopatinec got its name from lopata, the Croatian word for "shovel". Coal mining was part of the local economy between 1946 and 1972, but has eventually become unprofitable. The total output at that time was close to 4,600,000 tonnes. Estimated reserves are 200,000,000 tonnes, although new technologies and approaches would be needed to extract it profitably. The village of Križovec might be the only place in the world where people extract coal by pulling it by hand from the bottom of the river.

Gold can be found in the sands of both the Mura and Drava Rivers. In 1955, a geological survey calculated the concentration of gold in the Drava to be between 2.5 and 24.4 mg/m³, occasionally reaching 111 to 150 mg/m³. On the banks of Drava river near Donji Vidovec, one can still witness the process of gold prospecting as it used to be practiced during the gold rush. In historical times, Prelog was the center for distribution of rock salt for this part of the kingdom.

Oil and Gas

The region was the first in Croatia where deposits of gas and crude oil were found, in 1856, around the villages of Selnica and Peklenica. The latter even got its name from pekel, the word for "hell" in the local Kajkavian dialect, since the people quickly noticed the peculiar properties of the dark, greasy liquid in small ponds appearing spontaneously on the ground. The reserves were initially calculated to be around 170,000 tonnes. There was exploitation from 1886 to 1889 and into the 20th century.

The first crude oil pipeline built in this part of Europe was between Mursko Središće and the nearby town of Selnica in 1901. At that time the annual production was less than 7,000 tons. Today, a modern pipeline stretches from Omišalj on the Adriatic island of Krk and Sisak toward the oil refinery in the Slovenian city of Lendava, not far from Mursko Središće. There are also gas deposits in Mihovljan, a suburban village just over a kilometer north of the centre of Čakovec.

Hydroelectric and geothermal resources

There are two hydroelectric power plants with dams and two reservoir lakes built on the Drava. The Čakovec Hydroelectric Power Plant is fed from the smaller Lake Varaždin and opened in 1982, while the Dubrava Hydroelectric Power Plant is fed from the larger Lake Dubrava and opened in 1989. The two hydroelectric power plants provide 161.6 MW of electric power. Their dams, levees, canals and reservoirs are also used for flood control and irrigation. The extraction of gravel is also significant to the region and there is currently around 10 gravel pits, mostly in the southern and eastern parts of the region. Some of the gravel pits, most notably Totomore near the village of Totovec, are also popular for bathing and entertainment during the summer.

Geothermal resources also exist in the region, although they cannot be considered a profitable energy source. Instead, they are used for leisure and recreation.

History

Early history to 1500

The first organized human habitations here can be traced back to the Stone Age. There is a Neolithic site called Ferenčica near Prelog. There are archaeological sites that date from the Bronze Age, and 3rd century sites called Ciglišće and Varaščine .

During the Iron Age, the tribes identified in the area were Celts, Serets and Pannons, and the region became part of the Roman empire. In the 1st century, the Romans knew the area as Insula intra Dravam et Muram ("island between the Drava and Mura rivers") according to the geographer Strabo.

Čakovec was originally called Aquama ("the wet city"), because the area was marshland. Many different tribes, such as Huns, Visigoths, and Ostrogoths, passed through the region. The Hungarians occupied the region in 896, up to the river Sava, and it officially became part of the Kingdom of Hungary in 1102. Hungarian king Andrew II designated the border of Hungary as the Drava River in 1213. During that century, tradesmen and merchants (mostly ethnic Germans) started to arrive and began to develop the urban localities that are present today. Prelog was founded in 1264, shortly after the invasion by Mongols in 1242.

Čakovec got its name from Count Dimitry Csáky, who at the beginning of the 13th century erected the timber fortification that eventually was "Csáky's tower", mentioned for the first time in 1328. Charles I of Hungary named Čakovec as the capitol in 1333. In 1350, King Louis I of Hungary gave the land to viceroy (Ban) Stjepan I Lacković, a member of the ruling Lackovic family of Transylvania. It remained Lacković property until 1397, when King Sigismund executed Stjepan II Lacković, and took back the area to the Crown.

In 1405, the Celje family received Medjimurje as a gift from the Crown, and the land was mortgaged. King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary bought the mortgage and donated the land to Johann Ernušt and his son, who were Jewish merchants from Sweden, living in Buda. It remained in the hands of Ernušts until 1526, when the family died out without heir. In 1546 the Diet in Bratislava approved the transfer of Čakovec and Međimurje to Nikola Šubić Zrinski.

1500 to 1848

Čakovec Castle

Rapid development began in 1547 under the ruling Zrinski family. In 1579 the craftsmen and merchants outside the walls of Čakovec Castle were granted the right to trade; this was the beginning of the formal and legal city structure. The area was of importance as a trade center with Hungary positioned nearby on the main roads, facilitating the exchange of goods, crafts and ideas. The region was also also a military buffer zone against the expanding Ottoman Empire.

Nikola Šubić Zrinski ruled as Nicholas IV (1508-1566). He was a hero of the Battle of Szigetvár of the Habsburg-Ottoman wars. Then followed his son, Juraj IV Zrinski (George IV), until 1603, and his grandson Nikola VI. Zrinski (Nicholas VI) until 1624. Next was another grandson, a brother of Nicholas VI, Juraj V Zrinski (George V). He was poisoned in 1626 by the general Albrecht Wallenstein in Bratislava and was buried in Pauline monastery of Sveta Jelena (St. Helen in English) near Čakovec, next to the graves of his ancestors. He was followed by his son Nikola VII Zrinski (Nicholas VII), (1620-1664), a famous Croatian Ban. At the coronation of Ferdinand IV of Hungary, he carried the sword of state and was made Captain General of Croatia. He was killed while hunting in the forest near Kuršanec, apparently by a wounded wild boar, but there were rumors that he had been murdered by the order of the Habsburg court. His brother, Petar Zrinski (Peter IV), was noted for his role in the attempted Croatian-Hungarian rebellion of 1664-1670 which ultimately led to his execution for treason. His wife, Katarina Zrinska, died imprisoned for the same offence on November 16, 1673 in Graz. On August 19, 1691, the son of Nicholas VII, Adam Zrinski, fell at Battle of Slankamen while fighting against the Ottoman Empire. Parts of Medjimurje remained in the hands of the Zrinski family until the end of the 17th century. The last male member of the family, Ivan Antun Zrinski (John IV), died in prison in 1703.

In 1715, during the period of Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, Count Michael Althan became the owner of Medjimurje; he received the land for his loyal services.

In 1738, Čakovec Castle was hit by an earthquake, which caused tremendous damage. The owners of the city made some repairs, but in 1741, fire caused additional damage. The castle started to decay. Ignacije Szentmartony, a Jesuit from Kotoriba, was a royal mathematician and astronomer in Lisbon and in 1754 an explorer of Brazil on behalf of the Portuguese government. In 1786, 1048 people resided in the town.

For a short time, bewtween 1786 and 1790, Međimurje was part of Zala County in Hungary. In 1791 Count Juraj I Feštetić (George I) bought Medjimurje, including Čakovec Castle and Feštetić Castle in the neighbouring village of Pribislavec, which remained in the property of Feštetić family until 1923.

1848 to World War II

On 19 April 1848 Josip Jelačić proclaimed a union of Croatian provinces, and separation from Kingdom of Hungary. By 1860, Croatia was once again part of Hungary. Within the years 1860 to 1889 the railroad was introduced, while in 1893 electric power started illuminating most of the city streets. According to the 1910 census, the population of Međimurje numbered 90,387 people, including 82,829 Croats and 6,766 Hungarians.

Požega native Dragutin Lerman was a member of the Henry Morton Stanley expedition to Africa in 1882. He discovered waterfalls on the Kouilou River in the Congo, and named them the Zrinski chutes.

In 1918, after the collapse of the monarchic union of Austria-Hungary, and after the disarmament of the local police, the Medjimurje region fell into civil disorder. The Croatian National Council sent hastily assembled troops, which crossed the river Mura and fought all the way to Dolni Lendava, where they met resistance. Troops commanded by Slavko Kvaternik finally forced the Hungarian troops to abandon Medjimurje. On 9 January 1919, Međimurje seceded from Hungary, and it soon became part of the newly created Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia)[2].

Upon signing the Tripartite Pact on March 25, 1941, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia became a member of the Axis powers. In spite of this, Yugoslavia was invaded on April 6, 1941. Between 1941 and 1945, most of Medjimurje was under Hungarian occupation, with some parts held by the Germans. At this time some re-settlement of ethnic Croatians who left after 1918 occurred.

Local notable people

References

  1. ^ Međimurje | Međimurska županija | Županijske službe i ustanove | Međimurska županija | službe i ustanove
  2. ^ [1]

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