As I do for every country here on the blog, I’ve created a post full of fun facts about Croatia. Check it out!
99 fun facts about Croatia
This post is part of a series of fun facts posts I’m doing for every country I have articles about here on the blog. Given their nature, these posts are research-based and even though a lot of time has gone into them, it’s still possible a mistake has snuck in. If you see something that looks incorrect, please let me know at sofie [at] wonderfulwanderings.com and I’ll look into it. Thanks!
1. Croatia is located on the Balkan Peninsula, next to the Adriatic Sea. Croatia is at number 20 on the list of 20 countries with the longest coastlines. Croatia’s coastline is over 4,050 kilometers long, a figure that includes 1,246 islets and islands.
2. The Capital of Croatia is Zagreb. Located in the North Central part of the country, it is the most populated city. Roughly 1.2 million people live there, out of a total population of 4.5 million.
3. The Croatian Flag features three horizontal stripes of red, white, and blue, with the National Coat of Arms in the middle. Croatian Nationalists chose the three stripes on the flag to symbolize their 1848 attempt to revolt against Hungarian rule.
Although the Croatians were unsuccessful in their cause at that time, the three-striped flag remained an important symbol of hope. The National Coat of Arms was added in 1941, and other changes followed over the years. The current national flag was adopted on December 22, 1990, when Croatia successfully won its independence.
4. Croatia is one of a number of filming locations for the popular HBO program “Game of Thrones”. Filming locations include the beautiful walled medieval city of Dubrovnik, the island of Lokrum, St. Jacob Cathedral in Sibenik, and the Krka National Park.
5. The Guinness World Record for the longest line of strudels was achieved in Jaskovo, Croatia on September 6, 2015. The effort was organized in order to promote the Green Heart of Croatia region and was made with grapes and apples from the Ozalj region. The line of strudels measured 1,479.38m (4,853 ft 7 in) and consisted of 3,078 tasty strudels.
6. Nikola Tesla was born in the village of Smiljan, in Lika county Croatia, on June 28, 1856. The Tesla’s Birthplace Museum is located in Podostra, Croatia and includes renovated original buildings, a playground, and a multimedia center with hands-on science exhibits.
7. On April 16, 2011, the largest box of popcorn was filled at the Cineplexx (International) in Osijek, Croatia. Measuring 52.59 Cubic Meter box of popcorn took 1 hour and 57 minutes to fill.
8. Inhabited for over 8,000 years, the eastern Croation city of Vinkovci is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe. The city was made famous in the Agatha Christie novel “Murder on the Orient Express” and is an important archaeological and historical site. This charming city is also home to the slow-moving Bosut River and over 35,000 people, making it the largest town in Vukovar-Srijem County.
9. The Vucedol Culture Museum in Vukovar, Croatia offers a glimpse into the life of the regions first-known settlers – the Vucedol Culture. The amazing collection of items includes a pot that is over 5,000 years old, which was used to cook beer!
10. The oldest known calendar in Europe is based on the constellation Orion. It was found on a shattered pot in Vinkovci, Croatia in 1978, and is estimated to date back to 2600 BC. The pot is an artifact of the ancient Vucedol culture.
11. The beautiful spotted Dalmatian dog is famous for its relationship with firefighters. But over the years, Dalmatians have been faithful companions to humans in many ways – serving as war dogs, herders, hunters, entertainers, and coach dogs.
The lineage of this intelligent and noble dog is steeped in mystery, but the Dalmatian breed can be solidly traced to the Dalmatia region of Croatia.
12. Zadar, Croatia is the home of the architectural wonder, the Zadar sea organ. This incredible structure is the world’s first pipe organ played by the movement of the ocean waves and the wind. Seventy meters long, this musical art project was created in 2005 by architect Nikola Basic, with the help of expert stone carvers. There are thirty-five organ pipes producing music that is both beautiful and haunting.
13. The national flower of Croatia is the beautiful Iris Croatica. Famous for its beautiful violet blossoms, gardeners all over the world take pride in cultivating the exquisite flowers in their own gardens. But in Croatia, this extraordinary flower can be seen growing all over the country. It is illegal to pick this protected flower.
14. The largest and most extensive collection of remains from the Neanderthal people is located in Krapina, Croatia. The Krapina prehistoric man was first discovered in 1899, and since then, the collection has grown extensively. Visitors to the area can learn more about these amazing humans at the Krapina Neanderthal Museum.
15. Wine is serious business in Croatia. There are over 41,000 vineyards and winemakers in the country. And although Croatia is ranked at 130 on the list of largest countries by population, it is ranked 4th in the world for alcohol consumption (per capita).
16. Whether you love neckties – or find them stifling – you can thank Croatia for them. During the 30 year war with France, in the 17th century, the Croatian mercenaries hired by King Louis X111 wore a piece of cloth tied around their necks.
These colorful pieces of cloth were how the top of their jacket was tied, but they were also very decorative. King Louis X111 was very taken by them. He named them “La Cravate” in honor of the Croation soldiers, and made them a mandatory accessory for all Royal gatherings after that. In France, neckties are still referred to by that name.
17. The Guinness World Record for largest necktie rightfully belongs to Croatia – the inventor of the necktie. On October 18, 2003, the 808-meter-long tie (2,650 ft) was created by the Academia Cravatica organization. It was tied around the Pula arena, in Pula, Croatia, making the arena look quite dapper in the process.
18. Visiting the ancient city of Dubrovnik is like taking a step back in time. This magical city is filled with medieval splendor. The walled-off Old City was one of the wealthiest cities in Europe and is still remarkably intact. Home of the oldest pharmacy in Europe, cobblestone streets, and a Gothic church that is around 800 years old, it is no wonder that Lord Byron coined Dubrovnik as the “Pearl of the Adriatic.”
19. Croatia has a population of over 4 million people. However, people believe that there are more people of Croatian descent living outside of the country – over half of them in the United States.
20. Out of 47 European countries, the country of Croatia is the 26th largest. Interestingly, it is the 26th largest in regards to both population and land area of 56,542 square kilometers.
21. Croatia is one of the world’s youngest countries. Previously a part of the Republic of Yugoslavia, Croatia became an independent country in 1991.
22. Mount Dinara is the highest mountain in Croatia, with a peak standing 1,831 meters high. The mountain is part of the Dinaric Alps, a mountain range that extends across Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Serbia, and three other countries.
23. Veliki Tabor Castle in Hum Košnicki, Croatia, is rich with architectural style and history. The main building – an inner pentagonal structure – dates back to the 12th century. The four side towers surrounding it were added in the 15th century. A popular tourist attraction, the castle now houses a museum which offers guided tours and workshops.
24. The Danube River is the second longest river in Europe. It flows through more countries than any other river in the world – ten in all – and Croatia is one of them. The Danube originates in Germany and flows southeast for 2,860 km before emptying into the Black Sea. It is well known for its beauty – so well known that Austrian composer Johann Strauss wrote “The Blue Danube Waltz” in its honor.
25. Zagreb is the capital of Croatia. The architecture of this beautiful city is a reminder of the country’s turbulent history, showing a mixture of classic designs mixed with the stark structures popular in the socialist regimes of the past.
26. The Croation form of currency is called a Kuna. It is named for the small mammal – the marten – a member of the weasel family. The skin and fur of martens (Kuna) were once used as currency. The word “kuna” used in regards to Croation money dates back to at least 1256.
27. The Diocletian Palace in Split features a genuine Egyptian sphinx. A total of twelve Sphinxes were brought to Split by Emperor Diocletian around the year 297. But the one at Diocletian Palace, made of black granite, is the only one of the twelve to survive. However, although this is the only Genuine Egyptian sphinx in Croatia, it is not the only sphinx in Croatia.
28. In Zadar, there is another Sphinx that is not only larger than the one at Diocletian Palace, it is actually the largest Sphinx in Europe. Commissioned in 1918 by historian and artist Giovanni Smirich as a memorial to his wife, the concrete Sphinx sits in the gardens of Villa Attilia.
29. Zrinski Castle is Cakovec’s best-known landmark. Construction on this stunning Italian-Renaissance castle began in 1550 and continued for the better part of a century. Now home to a wonderful museum where visitors can learn what life was like for peasant families, as well as the history of the region – beginning with the Stone Age.
30. The medieval Croatian city of Dubrovnik was dubbed the “Adriatic Pearl” by Lord Byron, the English poet. The filming location of both “Game of Thrones” and “Star Wars”, Dubrovnik was also one of the first locations in Europe to have a sewage system.
31. Croatia has two major climatic zones. The Pannonian and Para-Pannonian plains and mountainous regions have a continental climate with warm summers and cold winters. As you would expect, the central mountain regions have cooler summers and colder winters. The Dalmatian Coast, Istria, and the islands of Croatia have a Mediterranean climate with summers that are sunny, warm, and dry and winters that are rainy.
32. Like many European countries, Croatians really make the most of Christmas. Their celebrations begin on December 5, the eve of St. Nicholas – and continue through to January 6th, when trees and decorations are taken down. And for those of Eastern Orthodox faith, Christmas is celebrated on January 7th.
33. Because of the emphasis on education, Croatians over the age of 14 have a 99% literacy rate. Three major universities were created in the 1970s as a part of the push for more and better schools.
34. If you’ve ever enjoyed a performance by the Lipizzaner horses, you can thank their place of origin, the Croatian State Stud Farm, Dakovo, established in 1506.
35. Built on the foundations of a prehistoric fort, the medieval Trsat Castle looks out over the city of Rijeka, Croatia. It is one of the oldest fortifications on the Croatian coast and it is a wonder of medieval architecture. A popular tourist stop, the ancient castle is host to a number of activities – from concerts and theater performances to an onsite visual arts gallery.
36. Like the word “Aloha” in the Hawaiian Islands, the word “Bog” is used in Croatia as both “hello” and “goodbye”.
37. Croatia puts a premium on its rich natural beauty and protects it to the point that 10% of the entire country is part of either one of 2 nature reserves, one of 8 national parks(one of which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site), or one of 11 nature parks.
38. Dalmatia in Croatia was the setting for the comedic play “Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare.
39. Since more tourists are discovering all that Croatia has to offer, their tourism industry now accounts for 15% of the country’s GDP.
40. The women on the Croatian island of Susak hold the honor of having the only traditional costume in Europe which is above the knee.
41. Kamerlengo Castle, in Trogir, was built around 1420 by the Venetians. It was originally surrounded by a ditch filled with sand and was accessed by a drawbridge as part of its defense system. The castle had a number of buildings within its walls and a well, to help the occupants withstand a long siege. Today the courtyard is used as a Summer stage and an open-air movie theater.
42. The literary tradition of Croatia dates back to 1100 when a stone monument inscribed with the Glagolitic script was dedicated. The first book printed in the Croatian language was a liturgical text which was printed in 1483.
43. The Zinfandel grape, one of the most sought-after and appreciated in the world, originated in Croatia. This has been scientifically proven through its DNA.
44. Founded in 1963, the world’s most complete collection of shells and snails is located in Makarska.
45. One of the last three preserved amphitheaters in the world is located in Pula, on the Istrian coast of Croatia. It is still used for various concerts and festivals.
46. Race car driver and winner of the “Indianapolis 500” (multiple times) Mario Andretti, and pop singer Severina are just some of the famous individuals who come from Croatia.
47. Morosini-Grimani Castle, actually considered a fortified palace, has been very well preserved over the centuries, thanks in part, to several renovations and refurbishments. Located in historic Svetvinčenat, Istria, Croatia, this beautiful medieval structure was built in 1485 and exemplifies several different architectural styles.
48. The town of Hum holds the record for Smallest Town, with a population that fluctuates between 17 and 23.
49. The oldest Catholic cathedral in the world was built over 1700 years ago in the city of Split. The Cathedral of St. Duje was originally constructed as a mausoleum for the Roman emperor Diocletian.
50. Michelangelo’s beautiful work in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome was saved from destruction by a Croatian scientist named Ruder Baskovic. He came up with a plan to use concentric metal bands to stabilize the dome and prevent its collapse.
51. In 1999 the world’s largest truffle was discovered in Istria. It was a white truffle and made the Guinness Book of World Records.
52. Although cuisine varies from region to region in Croatia, one dish that is enjoyed everywhere is Peka. The dish can include a variety of meats such as lamb, chicken, veal, and even octopus. The meat is usually marinated, then cooked over burning embers, covered by a lid of either terracotta or iron. Vegetables are sometimes included in the dish but are optional.
53. Nehaj Castle, located in Senj, on the upper Adriatic coast of Croatia, was erected in 1558. It was built at a time when both the Turks and Venice were powerful, threatening forces in the region. Senj was attacked several times prior to the building of the castle.
Located on a hilltop, the castle provided not only fortification against attack, but also the perfect place from which to spot any approaching enemy forces. Today this beautiful fortification provides a breath-taking panoramic view of the area.
54. For you crime-fighting fans, it was a Croatian, Ivan Vucetic, who invented the science of using fingerprints as a means of identification. It was called dactylography.
55. Zlatni Rat beach is very unique in that it actually changes shape and color, depending on the strength and direction of the wind.
56. In the year 925, Tomislav was named the first King of Croatia. This act elevated Croatia from a country to a Kingdom.
57. The Glagolitic alphabet (the oldest Slavic script), is unique to Croatia. It was used from the 12th to the 20th century. It was used primarily in liturgical writings.
58. The last 700 or so Mediterranean Monk seals in the world live in the waters off Croatia.
59. Approximately 78% of the entire Croatian population are fluent in at least one foreign language.
60. The structure which holds the record for the tallest building in Croatia is the Zagreb Cathedral. It is 108 meters (354 feet) high.
61. Perhaps the most widely-used flashlight in the world, the “Maglite”, was designed by Anthony Maglica, of Croatia.
62. Two of our moon’s geographic features are named for Croatian scientists; J.R. Boskovic and A. Mohorovicic.
63. Croatia has its very own “leaning tower”. Twenty-two meters high and tilting 40 centimeters to the north, the belfry of Zavrsje in Istria is a popular tourist curiosity.
64. The only cave-dwelling chordate in Europe, the Olm salamander is found only in the Dinaric Alps of Croatia. It is completely blind and can survive for up to ten years without food and can live up to 100 years. Unlike most amphibians, the Olm is entirely aquatic.
65. If you’re a serious lover of coffee, Saturdays in Zagreb should not be missed. The weekly Spica is a time for enjoying coffee and doing some people-watching in the beautiful city center.
66. Because of its scattered history and its geography, the Croatian language has a number of different dialects. This sometimes causes communications difficulties between regions.
67. Croatians enjoy 2715 hours of sunshine per year, eclipsing even sunny Sydney, Australia.
68. In recognition of the fact that Croatian Duke Branimir was able to separate his country from Byzantium and form a closer relationship with Rome, Pope John VIII officially recognized the Croatian state, giving it international legitimacy for the first time.
69. The parachute, which was theorized by Leonardo da Vinci, was actually invented and publicly demonstrated in Venice by Croatian Faust Vrancic.
70. Third largest of all of Croatia’s islands, Brac offers a unique combination of beautiful pine forests and white sand beaches. There are several resorts on the island as well as incredible hiking trails. The view from Vidova Gora, the highest spot on the island is something you won’t forget.
71. A staple of modern naval warfare, the torpedo was invented in the middle of the 18th century by Croatian Lupis Vukic, from Rijeka.
72. Of Croatia’s main islands, Vis is the most remote and one of the most interesting. There are two towns of historic interest on the western and northern coasts, while some of the most perfect little coves and inlets are tucked away in the southern and eastern sections of the island. There are some quaint and idyllic little traditional eateries around the countryside and one of the best-known contemporary restaurants is located in Vis Town.
73. Because of their great pride in hand-made goods, Croatian lacemakers have created designs and patterns that are so unique that UNESCO has recognized them as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”.
74. On the national level, Croatia is governed by a unicameral parliament known as the Sabor. Every four years members are elected from party lists. Although there is a President, the Prime Minister is considered the head of the government.
75. Constructed in the 9th century, Pazin Kastel in Istria, Croatia is a remarkably well-preserved structure. It includes an ethnographic museum as well as a spectacular view of the breath-taking Pazin Chasm, which attracts tourists from all over the region.
76. Since the Middle Ages, the Croatian island of Hvar has observed Easter with a famous Passion procession which includes stops at seven churches. The songs which are sung during this procession are thought to be the oldest Passion songs in Europe.
77. The town of Ploce holds the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded in Croatia. On August 4, 1981, the mercury hit 42.8 degrees centigrade (109 degrees Fahrenheit).
78. Reachable by catamaran from either Split or Dubrovnik, Korcula Town on the island of Korcula is full of incredible buildings constructed during the Venetian rule. Visitors can enjoy a traditional sword dance or a visit to the Marco Polo House, among other historic sites.
79. The largest owls in Europe call Croatia “home”. The famous Eagle Owls commonly have wingspans up to 2 meters. There are currently around 1200 pairs of these impressive owls.
80. There are over 800 beaches in Croatia and they are known for their cleanliness as well as incredibly clean water. In regular tests, the water at these beaches came back as 99.26% clean to earn them an “Excellent” rating using the European Union standards. Just be prepared as most beaches in Croatia are made up of rock or pebbles.
81. In the town of Omis, in Dalmatia, Croatia you’ll find the Mirabella Fortress. Erected in the 13th century, high above Omis, this fortress served as an effective hideout for the infamous Omis pirate forces.
In 1537 the defenders of Omis were fighting off an attack from Turks by creating loud noises with yelling and shooting. So loud was the noise that the Turks retreated, convinced that there were far more defenders than they had expected.
82. On Veli Brijun, an island that is part of the Brijuni National Park there are over 200 dinosaur footprints that have been preserved.
83. A popular amateur sport in Croatia, Picigin is played in the shallow water of a beach. The object is to keep a small ball from ever touching the water.
84. Croatia has been ranked as one of the most desirable locations in which to retire, according to Forbes Magazine. This is not only due to its fascinating culture and mild Mediterranean climate but also because of its low cost of living and the tax breaks provided for retirees.
85. Thirsty in Croatia? No problem! The drinking water in Croatia is listed as having one of the highest quality standards in Europe.
86. If you want to observe the last of the Griffon Vultures, you must travel to the island of Cres, in Croatia. It is the last known colony of these Old World birds of prey.
87. Looking for some exciting nightlife? Hvar is the place. During the summer Hvar Town is alive after dark with a variety of clubs and restaurants that cater to any budget. It may seem that this atmosphere is in direct opposition to all of the old-world art and culture of Croatia, but it is embraced as just another facet of a wonderfully diverse country.
88. Swimming pools at seaside hotels are almost exclusively filled with salt water, even though they are still chlorinated and filtered. In addition to the health benefits of salt water, it is easier to keep pools maintained this way.
89. Croatia’s ancient churches and cathedrals are some of the most impressive in Europe. Old Town in Zadar offers a number of Romanesque and pre-Romanesque structures built between the 9th and 12th centuries.
90. Croatia has a somewhat unique suffrage law. Citizens may vote at the age of 18, but if you are 16 and employed, you may also cast your ballot.
91. When it comes to carnivals, the Croatians do it right! The Rijeka carnival is not only the biggest in the entire country, it is also one of the most popular carnivals in Europe.
92. Among the many islands of Croatia, the Kornati National Park offers a one-of-a-kind experience as visitors sail around and between more than 80 islets scattered throughout the park. Although most of the islets are uninhabited, there are a few preserved stone cottages which serve as seasonal seafood restaurants.
Visitors to the park can either charter a sailboat in Biograd-na-Moru or hop an excursion boat in Zadar or Sibenik.
93. Tvrdalj Castle is located in Stari Grad, on Hvar Island. It was the summer home of 16th-century poet Petar Hektorovic. The stunning castle home is not open to visitors, but people do visit the gardens, which are known for their beauty and for the collection of ancient agricultural equipment.
94. After The Great Wall of China, the longest fortification system in the world is The Walls of Ston in Croatia. It is recognized as the longest fortress system in Europe.
95. It was Croatian lexicographer and inventor Faust Vrancic who originally came up with the concept of the wind turbine.
96. Plitvice National Park is one of the most visited sites of inland Croatia. This beautifully preserved piece of nature includes 16 lakes, numerous waterfalls, easily-accessible footpaths and bridges, and an opportunity to see some spectacular wildlife such as eagles, bears, owls, and wolves. The price of admission includes boat rides to get you across the lakes.
97. The city of Zagreb has one of the most unique museums in all the world. The Museum of Broken Relationships offers the lovelorn a place to deposit their tokens of lost loves. Despite how sad it sounds, the museum has actually helped many individuals to deal with their losses by reminding them that they are not alone in their heartbreak.
The museum has been so successful that a second one has been opened in Los Angeles, California, USA.
98. Marko Marulic, a Croatian writer is credited as the first to use the word “psychology”. He used it to mean the science of the soul.
99. Dvor Trakoscan in Trakoscan is Croatia’s most visited castle. Dating back to the 13th Century, the castle acquired its current neo-Gothic appearance in the mid-19th century. The castle is as breathtaking on the inside as it is out – with gorgeous wood-paneled rooms, period furnishings, and family portraits.
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