Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.
Almost 80 percent of Croatians hold and use a credit card and the number of payment cards used by the end of last year was 8.9 million, according to data released at an international congress on credit cards.
Contactless cards are on the rise in the country with almost 24 percent of all payments cards now the “wave and pay” option.
Around 3.38 million Croatians - or 79 percent of all citizens - have at least one payment card. Around 52 percent of card-holders only have debit cards, and on average there are 2.5 cards per user issued.
The value of transactions paid for by cards also continues to grow. In 2017 there were more than 430 million card payments registered in the country, worth in total 148.4 billion kuna (€20 billion). The number of transactions rose by 8.4 percent compared to 2016, while their value rose 6.8 percent.
There were also close to 5,000 ATMs installed in the country in 2017, and around 120,000 card payment machines.
An uncertain, difficult and dramatic night is waiting for more than 300 firefighters who have been fighting for the catastrophic fires in Orebić on Pelješac for the past 13 hours.
Fires are still burning on the hills above Orebić, around five kilometres from the town, although they are not threatening property or people at this moment. The gale force winds have subsided slightly although the mountainous terrain is making it difficult to fight the fires.
Most firefighters are located on the outskirts of the fires, providing protection for housing and residents.
"Nothing is over; the fire is active but for now it is not endangering settlements. All borders of the fires are under control. We are ready for a dramatic night, as things now stand, there is a possibility of more strong winds until tomorrow night, "explained the Chief of the Orebić Fire Brigade Nikša Nogalo.
Nogalo also pointed out that firefighting units of from all over Dalmatia, from Zadar, Sibenik, Split and Dubrovnik and almost all the units of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, as well as all volunteer fire fighters are involved in the action. As well as members of the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service, the Red Cross and numerous civilian volunteers.
"It's not time to look for causes, it's time to rescue the houses and the people. Several residential buildings have been damaged and fields have been damaged, we will know the full extent of the damages later,” Nogalo added.
"We have chosen Croatia because of the reputation that Zagreb has as a location with good software developers and the moderate cost of labour," commented Carl Lundstrom on announcing the opening of an office for Cenrabit in Zagreb.
Carl Lundstrom is best known as the co-founder of Pirate Bay as well as other tech companies.
Centrabit, a Swiss based company, is a Bitcoin Trader application, which Lundstrom claims is the fastest and most secure trader of Bitcoins in the world.
Four years after founding their company in Switzerland, the start-up is now expanding by opening an office in Zagreb, which is looking to hire several C++ programmers, who will be able to choose later on whether they want to be based in Zagreb or move to Centrabit's headquarters near Zurich in Switzerland.
The cause of the catastrophic fire on Pelješac is most likely to have started from a spark from an overhead power cable. It seems that the gale force northerly winds blew over an electrical pylon in the early morning hours of today and the sparks caused thee forest fire to ignite.
There are still more than 300 firefighters around the town of Orebić who have beeeen joined by 50 soldiers from the Croatian army. in the field that are holding fire. Because of the fires that burned on the end of the Pelješac Peninsular, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Defence Minister Damir Krstičević has urgently convened a meeting of the County Fire Department of the Dubrovnik Neretva County, which will take place tomorrow at 8.00 am in Orebic.
Croatians can travel to 169 different countries in the world without a visa making the passport the 16th strongest and the highest ranking since 2006. According to the 2018 Passport Index, which is published by Henley & Partners consultancy firm the Croatian passport is now listed in 16th position up from 21st position from last year.
The global passport ranking system uses various indicators to create this annual list with the most important being the number of countries a passport holder can travel to without needing a visa.
This year’s list was topped by Singapore and Japan whose citizens can travel to 189 countries without requiring a visa. In second spot was Germany with 188 visa-free destinations, whilst the third position was shared by seven countries, France, Finland, Sweden, Spain, Denmark, South Korea and Italy.
Croatia finished in healthy 16th position which is the highest ranking in the twelve years that the passport rankings have been complied.
“We are defending people and homes, the situation on the ground is very bad,” commented the Chief of the County Fire Brigade, Stjepan Simović, direct from Orebić.
The catastrophic forest fire that started at around 8 o’clock this morning is still burning in Orebić, and now the Croatian Army are on the scene to assist in the fire fight and the control of the evacuation of citizens.
A gale force northerly wind is making the situation extremely hazardous and simply controlling the fires is proving challenging. The front line of the fire is believed to be around 10 kilometres in length and as we understand the fire is spreading in two directions. The main road to Orebic is closed and campsites have been evacuated of tourists.
One ship, two helicopters, an airplane, and over fifty members of the Croatian army have joined in the fight, which has every fire fighting force in the county involved. The strong northerly wind is making it difficult for the planes to have any effect and the helicopters are fighting cross winds and the fire spreads quickly.
The road from Orebić to Dubrovnik is still closed for all traffic and as Simović pointed out the firefighters and the citizens of Orebić can expect a long and uncertain night.
A forest fire broke out this morning in the town of Orebic on the Peljesac Peninsular and due to strong northerly winds quickly covered a large area of woodland. The strong winds and the inaccessible terrain have made it difficult for the firefighters to extinguish.
- All firefighters from Peljesac came to assist as well as firefighters from the island of Korcula. The fire spread to houses but we stopped it in time, and now it is spreading up the hill, we should be careful because the situation is not simple at all – said the head of the Dubrovnik Fire Brigade, Stjepan Simović.
Two firefighting planes came to help but due to the high winds were forced to leave the area.
Guests from the campsite Nevio have had to be evacuated and the main road is closed due to fires on the roadside.
And the best football player in the world is…Luka Modrić. At a gala ceremony in London last night the Croatian captain and Real Madrid general Luka Modrić won the FIFA world’s best male player. Modrić (33) beat Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah to the award and this is the first time that a Croatian player has collected this prestigious FIFA award.
It has been incredible season for Modrić, he won the Champions League with Real Madrid and then took Croatia to the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia where they won the silver medal.
"This award is not just mine. It is my team-mates from Real Madrid and Croatia. Without my coaches, I would not have won this and without my family I would not be the player I am today," commented Modrić at the ceremony.