This expansive social and economic development also increased the number of inhabitants. Today, Rijeka and its surroundings have approximately 200.000 inhabitants. Simultaneously with its industrial development, Rijeka became the centre of western Croatia (Istria, Hrvatsko primorje and Gorski kotar). Since early 1960s new neighbourhoods have been built, and suburban settlements gained momentum.
Briefly, in late 20th century, Rijeka was a developed urban and industrial centre, as well as a centre for numerous developmental initiatives that played an important role in the total development of the Republic of Croatia. It became the centre of the newly founded Rijeka and Senj archdiocese as well as the centre of the metropolis and a university centre.
The Croatian ambitions for a rapid approach to the democratic and liberal western world views brought about some radical changes in the state and social systems. In 1991 Croatia became an independent and sovereign country and the Yugoslav and Serbian aggression could be directly felt in the city day in and day out, although there were no armed conflicts in Rijeka during the Croatian War for Independence. The war brought about economic stagnation and the redirecting of production into the war effort and the provision of assistance with supplying the battle areas throughout Croatia.
Many Rijeka volunteers fought on the Croatian battle fields. Rijeka accommodated and took care of numerous exiles from other parts of Croatia. Democratic changes and a turn towards the market economy led to significant changes – political party life blossomed, the investment of private capital into economic development began, the transition of public property was in progress, causing increasing unemployment and Rijeka became the centre of the Primorje-Gorski kotar County.
The war fostered spiritual resistance to violence; numerous valuable scientific and cultural goods have been created and a number of sporting achievements realized. Of course, the dead can never be replaced, but life goes on as it has been doing for hundreds of years.