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108 Fun Facts About Croatia That’ll Blow Your Mind
How much do you know about Croatia? What is a fact, and what is fiction?
Croatia lies in the western Balkans and borders Slovenia, Hungary, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro. Croatia’s most interesting border, however, is the Adriatic Sea.
It’s the Croatian beaches, islands, and historic towns on the Croatia coast, after all, that draw in the vast majority of tourists. But, how much else do you know about Croatia? Let’s see….
Fun Facts About Croatia
With 108 fun facts about Croatia, this list is just a drop in the ocean of how wonderful and interesting Croatia truly is.
1. Let’s start with an important historical fact about Croatia. King Tomislav was Croatia’s first king, crowned sometime before 925 A.D you’ll find his name all over the country
2. Croatians settled on the Adriatic coast around the seventh century on the ruins of the Roman Empire.
3. The hit HBO series Game of Thrones was filmed on the Dalmatian coast in Split and Dubrovnik.
4. The fortified walls of Dubrovnik (where Game of Thrones was filmed) are one of the most preserved fortification systems in Europe. (And the most visited)
5. Once the home of bloody Roman gladiator fights, the amphitheater in Pula, Istria is one of only three preserved in the world. It is also the 6th largest amphitheater in existence. How’s that for another interesting fact about Croatia.
6. The largest Croatian white truffle found weighed 1.31 kg (2 lb 8 oz) was discovered by Giancarlo Zigante of Pototoska on 2 November 1999 near Buje, a town in Istria, Croatia.
7. It was a Croatian named Rudjer Boskovic who suggested placing five concentric iron bands on the dome of St. Peter’s when a crack had been discovered. His suggestion was adopted and saved Michelangelo’s work from being ruined. This is prob my most fave fun fact about Croatia!
8. Both Spain and Croatia have the highest number of UNESCO Intangible Goods of any European country. Including lace-making, gingerbread baking, and wooden toy carvings.
10. Ivan Vucetic- criminologist and anthropologist, was born on the island of Hvar (later emigrated to Argentina and was known as Juan) was the pioneer of scientific dactyloscopy (identification by fingerprints), and his methods of identification are used worldwide. Oh wait, maybe this has to be my fave fact about Croatia – as I live on a street named after this guy!
12. The population of Croatia is 4.25 million (2013)
13. The population of Croatia is shrinking each census – 300k people have left the country since Croatia entered the European Union.
14. In Krapina, near Zagreb, professor Dragutin Gorjanovic Kramberger discovered the wealthiest collection of remains of Neanderthal people in the world.
15. Red Lake near the city of Imotski, Croatia, is the deepest sinkhole in Europe, 3rd the largest in the world.
16. The Krapina Neanderthal Museum covers a surface area of around 1,200 m² and is one of the most modern museums in Croatia and central Europe.
17. The longest word in Croatian is prijestolonasljednikovičičinima which means little heiress apparent to the throne.
18. There are names of two Croatian’s on the map of the Moon. Scientists J. R. Boskovic and A. Mohorovicic.
19. Croatian Slavoljub Penkala invented a mechanical pencil called the Penkala in 1906. The patent was registered in 35 countries, and his company TOZ – Penkala is still in operation today in Zagreb’s capital.
20. Zagreb Christmas Markets won the Best European Markets 3 years in a row!
21. Inhabited for over 8,000 years, the eastern Croatian city of Vinkovci is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe.
22. Constructed by Ivan Lupis Vukic in Rijeka in the 19th century was the world’s first torpedo.
25. Founded in 1963 in Makarska, in Southern Dalmatia is the world’s most comprehensive collection of shells and snails.
26. The majority of Croatians are Catholic.
27. The Catholic Cathedral in Zagreb is the tallest building in Croatia (108 meters).
28. Croatia has 1244 islands, isles, islets & reefs for you to sail through. Just 48 of them are inhabited.
29. The mainland covers 56,542 km², and the surface of the territorial sea is 31,067 km².
30. Croatia has an unknown number of dialects. Those dialects can make it difficult for Croatians to understand one another.
31. Zadar, the seaside town in Dalmatia, holds the title of the best sunset in the world, according to Alfred Hitchcock. Quoted as saying, ‘Zadar has the most beautiful sunset in the world, more beautiful than the one in Key West, Florida.’
32. The Croatian national flower is the iris. It is illegal to pick this protected flower.
33. Biševo island has just 13 residents.
34. The Griffon vultures on Cres are the only ones that roost by the sea anywhere in the world
35. Croatia has a leaning tower in Istria. The belfry in Završje is 22 meters high and is tilted 40cm to the north.
36. Wine is produced in Croatia thanks to the influence of Greeks from two and a half thousand years ago.
37. Croatia now has more than 300 geographically-defined wine-producing areas in Croatia.
38. Way back in 1960s, Paklenica National Park and Plitvice Lakes doubled as the American Wild West in 11 movies filmed about the fictional Native American hero Winnetou.
39. Built in 1296, Dubrovnik still has in use today one of the first medieval sewage systems
40. In the Dinaric Alps in Croatia, Olm (Proteus anguinus); is the only cave-dwelling chordate species found in Europe. This creature can survive ten years without food and lives blind and in the dark.
41. The Olm is known to locals as čovječja ribica, which translates to human fish. Called so because of the color of its skin.
42.The oldest person in Croatia was Nena Tolj, who sadly passed away in 2011, aged 110.
44. Almost 10% of Croatia comprises 11 nature parks, eight national parks, and two nature reserves.
44. 8000 books, many of which are written in Glagolitic script, reside in a cave monastery on the Island of Brač known as Blaca.
45. Croatian writer Marko Marulić is credited with the first known use of the word psychology (in the title deeds Psichiologia de ratione animaeHumanae), meaning the science of the soul. Here is proof.
46. The largest island in Croatia is Krk (near Rijeka), with a 405 sq km land area.
47. You know the movie 101 Dalmatians? Well, here’s a fun fact about Croatia, that breed of dog is from the region of Dalmatia in Croatia.
48. But that’s not the only Croatian dog breed. There is also Croatian Sheep Dog, which is just as cute.
49. Croatia’s Bura wind – the northern to the north-eastern wind is so powerful. It was once recorded blowing on the Maslenički most at 248.4 kmph (21 December 1990).
50. The Rijeka Carnival is the biggest in Croatia and one of the most popular carnivals in Europe.
51. The necktie, worn by business people around the world, is from Croatia. As it was named, the cravat originated from Croatian soldiers who served as mercenaries for the King of France.
52. The last specimen of the Mediterranean seal lives in the Croatian aquarium.
53. Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night was staged in Illyria, an ancient region of the Western Balkans whose coast covered modern-day Croatia (and also Slovenia, Montenegro, and Albania).
54. From 1358 until its capture by Napoleon in 1808, the walled city of Dubrovnik was the center of a city-state known as the Republic of Ragusa.
55. Croatian currency is known as the Kuna, which is the Croatian word for marten. A marten is a forest rodent whose highly prized skin was used to pay taxes in eastern Croatia’s Roman provinces. The marten appeared on medieval coins before giving its name to the new currency in 1994.
56. Croatian coins are named after a lime tree. The Kuna is divided into 100 lipa, which is the Croatian name for the linden lime tree.
57. The Vucedol Culture Museum in Vukovar offers an astonishing collection of items includes a pot that is over 5,000 years old.
58. On the mountain Vidova Gora, located on the island of Brac, is the peak Sutvid, which is the highest peak in the Adriatic Islands
59. Although most of Croatia is very safe, some areas have some hidden landmines, which have yet to be removed.
60. The oldest Croatian text was written in 1100, and it is called the Baska tablet, which is about time under the reign of King Zvonimir.
61. Zagreb is Croatia’s capital city, but its first capital was Nin, close to Zadar in Dalmatia.
62. One-third of Croatia is covered in forest.
63. If you give birth on a Jadrolinija ferry from Hvar, your child will get free travel on the ferry for life.
64. The Sphinx in Split was brought over from Egypt for Diocletian and is over 4,000 years old.
65. The English poet Lord Byron called Dubrovnik the pearl of the Adriatic, and it still holds this name today.
66. Croatia enjoys 2,715 hours of sunshine a year. That’s more than Sydney, Australia.
67. Irishman James Joyce was considered one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century. He was a teacher of English in Pula, Istria, in the early 20th century.
68. Croatian citizens can start voting at the age of 16, provided they are employed. If not, they have to wait until they are 18.
69.Two winners of the Nobel Prize in chemistry came from Croatia – Lavoslav Ruzicka (1939) and Vladimir Prelog (1975)
70. The highest peak in Croatia is 1,831 m above sea level.
71 . The highest peak in Croatia is called Dinara
72. The oldest known European calendar is based on the constellation of Orion. It was found on a shattered pot in Vinkovci in 1978 (dates back to 2600 BC)
73. FORBES magazine ranked Croatia in the top 12 world’s best retirement havens. Describing Croatia as sitting across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, Croatia offers great beauty, a mild Mediterranean climate, ancient culture, tax breaks for retirees, and a low living cost. The Institute for Economics & Peace ·ranks it higher than the U.S. for safety and security.
74. The oldest university in Croatia is the University of Zagreb, established in 1669.
75. The Mag Light was invented by a Croatian named Maglica
76. Croatia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the end of World War I in 1918; Croatia then joined Serbia, Slovenia formed a kingdom known as Yugoslavia.
77. Post World War II, Yugoslavia became a federal independent Communist state
78. Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. It was from then the Homeland war began with Serbia lasting four years.
79. In Croatian, the country name is Hrvatska, and the language is called Hrvatski.
80. Croatia is the 127th largest country in the world.
81. In Ston, southern Croatia, you find over 5kms of the longest fortification walls in Europe.
82. Croatia is raked4th in the world for alcohol consumption per capita.
83. Each Easter, the island of Hvar holds a Passion procession through seven churches. This tradition began in the Middle Ages and the songs sung are considered to be the oldest Passion songs in Europe
84. Croatia’s drinking water has one of the highest quality standards in Europe.
86. Croatia has 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
87. The most frequent Croatian family name in Croatia is Horvat (followed by Kovačević, Babić, Marić, Jurić, Novak, Kovačić, and then Knežević).
88. Agatha Christie spent her second honeymoon in Dubrovnik and Split.
89. Fiddler on the roof was filmed in Zagreb
90. Croatian-born Nikola Tesla invented the alternating current. (FYI, Tesla was born to one Serbian parent and one Croatian parent and was a citizen of Austria and then Austro-Hungary. He was educated in Graz, gained professional experience in Prague and Budapest, and Paris before moving to New York and becoming a US citizen. Therefore by some accounts, people claim him to Serbian not Croatian) Extra fun fact: Tesla’s birthplace of Smiljan is present-day Croatia. He was once quoted as saying I am equally proud of my Serbian origin and my Croatian fatherland. When in Croatia at the right time, you might want to check out the annual Nikola Tesla Electric Vehicle Rally.
91. In April 2011, the largest box of popcorn was filled at the Cineplexx in Osijek. Measuring 52.59 cubic meters – the box of popcorn took almost 2 hours to fill
92. Hum, in Istria, is the world’s smallest town
93. The parachute was invented by Fausto Veranzio in 1617. Born in Šibenik, veranzio was said to be the first person to build and test a parachute. However, sketches of the parachute are also said to have existed prior, including one by Leonardo da Vinci.
94. On the island of Dugi Otok stands the lighthouse of Veli Rat. At 42 meters high, it’s the highest in the Adriatic & locals will tell you that the bright yellow color painted on the lighthouse is due to the 100,000 egg yolks mixed into the paint. Fact or fiction… you decide.
Facts About Croatia – That Are Big Fat Lies
95. In Nin, close to Zadar is the Holy Cross’s Church, which is the world’s smallest cathedral. Nope, untrue that Guinness World Record belongs to a cathedral in Missouri, USA.
96. The first hydropower plant was the Jaruga power plant, made in Šibenik and put on the river Krka in 1895. False. Niagara Falls started producing electricity all the way back in 1875.
97. Dubrovnik was once a country, and some people say it was the first country to recognize the independence of the United States. Wrong again. However, Morocco claims having done so first.
98. The first pharmacy in Europe was opened in 1271 in the UNESCO list town of Trogir. As far as I can see, the first one was actually opened in 1241 in Trier, Germany
Facts About Croatia That Are Still Mysteries To Me
99. The stone that built the White House in Washington D.C. comes from the island of Brac. Weeeeeeeeell, it’s not all true. It’s now just widely accepted that part of the columns of the White House is from Brac stone. But nobody knows for sure.
100. Croatia is said to be the homeland of the world-renowned traveler Marco Polo. It’s claimed he was born in Korčula in the 13th century. Korčula was then part of the Republic of Venice, but the actual location of his birth is a mystery and without any evidence to confirm or deny. So you decide if this is fact or fiction.
101. David Schwartz was a Hungarian-Croatian aviation pioneer of Jewish descent. He designed and constructed the first dirigible airship. Shortly after, David Schwartz died of a heart attack, and it’s claimed, but not known for certain, that Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin purchased the plans from his widow and constructed the airship that bore his own name.
102. The first public theatre in Europe was opened in 1612 on the island of Hvar. But I can see a few other places which lay claim to such history, including London who claims to have had one open in 1576 by James Burbage
103. Dubrovnik has the oldest law of insurance in Europe. Supposedly starting in 1395, that would make it three centuries older than Lloyd’s. Shame I can’t find any proof either way.
104. From the 9th century on, Croatians used their Glagolitic script. It was used in parallel with Latin script until the 18th century.
105. The last remaining European Griffon vultures in Croatia are located on the island of Cres.
106. Croatian Faust Vrančić designed the first wind turbine.
107. The world’s first pipe organ played by the sea’s rhythmic waves is in Zadar, on the Dalmatian Coast.
108. The eighth deepest cave in the world is in Croatia. Lukina cave is 1,392 m deep and lies in the Sjeverni Velebit National Park, 1,475 m above sea level.
Which facts about Croatia did I miss or get wrong? If you have any Croatia facts, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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