109 Fun Facts About Croatia That’ll Blow Your Mind

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Post author SJ

Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

109 fun facts about Croatia. How many of these weird, puzzling, intriguing lies, myths & facts about Croatia do you know (or think I got wrong)?

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 exciting border, however, is the Adriatic Sea.

After all, the Croatian beaches, islands, and historic towns on the Croatia coast draw in the vast majority of tourists. But, how much else do you know about Croatia? Let’s see…

Facts About Croatia

Balkan Flags_Croatia 2

With 109 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.

Croatia Travel Blog_Top Things to do in Croatia

4. The fortified walls of Dubrovnik (where Game of Thrones was filmed) are one of Europe’s most preserved fortification systems. (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 exciting fact about Croatia?

6. The largest Croatian white truffle found weighed 1.31 kg (2 lb 8 oz) and was discovered by Giancarlo Zigante of Pototoska on 2 November 1999 near Buje, a town in Istria, Croatia. 

Things To Do In Motovun - Miro Tartufi
The Truffles I Found In Istria!

7. A Croatian named Rudjer Boskovic 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. Spain and Croatia have the highest number of UNESCO Intangible Goods of any European country. Including lace-making, gingerbread baking, and wooden toy carvings.

Things to do in Croatia - Marija Bistrica

9. Located in southeastern Europe, Croatia borders the Adriatic Sea between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia. It also has borders with Hungry and Serbia.

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!

11. On the island of Susak, the women hold the title of having the only national costume that sits above the knee in Europe. I bet you didn’t know that fact about Croatia – huh?

facts about croatia Island of Susak womens costume - Chasing the Donkey
Island of Susak Women’s Costume

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.

Best Place to Visit in Croatia - Krapina - Chasing the Donkey

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.

Travel Tips First Time to Croatia - Zadar Croatia Travel Blog

18. There are two Croatians’ names on the Moon map. 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 in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital

Facts About Croatia Infographic - Croatia Travel Blog

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.

Vinkovci Visit Slavonia Croatia

22. Ivan Lupis Vukic constructed the world’s first torpedo in Rijeka in the 19th century.

23. DNA tests have proven that the yummy Zinfandel grape variety originates from Croatia. Wine lovers rejoice! 

24. The most famous beach in all of Croatia is Bol, on the island of Brac. Zlatni Rat Beach changes in shape and color depending on the wind.

Travel Products, Travel Reviews - Croatia Travel Blog

25. Founded in 1963 in Makarska, 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.

THINGS TO DO IN CROATIA - Adriatic Sea 000362

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

Zavrsje Istria Travel Blog

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 the Greeks from two and a half thousand years ago.

37. Croatia now has more than 300 geographically-defined wine-producing areas in Croatia.

Fun Facts About Croatia

38. Back in the 1960s, Paklenica National Park and Plitvice Lakes doubled as the American Wild West in 11 movies 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 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 its skin color.

42. The oldest person in Croatia was Nena Tolj, who sadly passed away in 2011, aged 110.

Kornati Isla Swimmingnds National Park Tour Swin Stop
Kornati National Park

44. Almost 10% of Croatia comprises 11 nature parks, eight national parks, and two nature reserves. 

44. Eight thousand 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.

Facts About Croatia - Krk Island Bridg

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 mighty. 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.

World Cravat Day | Bggest Tie | Travel Croatia
Photo: Goran Sebelic-desk-

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 (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. As of Jan 1, 2023, the new Croatian currency is the euro. Previously it was the Kuna. 

56. The Croatian euro coins feature Nikola Tesla

Croatian euro coin designs

57. The Vucedol Culture Museum in Vukovar offers an astonishing collection of items, including a pot over 5,000 years old.

Vucedolska golubica_Vukovar

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 hidden landmines that 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.

Things To Do In Zagreb Magnets

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, which still holds this name today.

Girls_beach_Sunny_Islands - Croatia Travel Blog

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 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.

Dinara Apls Croatia's highest peak - Chasing the Donkey Croatia
Photo Credit: Dalmatia Explorer

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 incredible 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, and 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. From then, the Homeland war began with Serbia, lasting four years.

Susak Island, Croatia, aerial view
Susak Island

79. In Croatian, the country’s 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.

85. Picigin is a traditional ball game played on the beach in Croatia. An amateur sport played in shallow water consists of players keeping a small ball from touching the water.

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 and gained professional experience in Prague, Budapest, and Paris before moving to New York and becoming a U.S. citizen. Therefore by some accounts, people claim him to be Serbian, not Croatian) Extra fun fact: Tesla’s birthplace of Smiljan is present-day Croatia. He once said I am equally proud of my Serbian origin and my Croatian fatherland. You might want to check out the annual Nikola Tesla Electric Vehicle Rally when in Croatia at the right time.

Things To Do In Zagreb Tesla

91. In April 2011, the largest popcorn box 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. Fausto Veranzio invented the parachute 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.

Photo Credit Dugi Otok Tourist Board
Facts about Croatia, Lighthouse of Veli Rat- Photo Credit Dugi Otok T.Z.

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Facts About Croatia – That Are Big Fat Lies

95. Near Zadar is the Holy Cross’s Church, the world’s smallest cathedral in Nin. 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.

Krka_How to get from Split to Krka

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 to have 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 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 widely accepted that part of the columns of the White House is made 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.

Things To Do In Korcula

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 sure, that Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin purchased the plans from his widow and constructed the airship that bore his 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, which 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.

Sail ship_Pirate_Dubrovnik - Croatia Travel Blog

109. The popular film Mamma Mia 2 was filmed on the Croatian Island, Vis – even though the movie is set in Greece

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.


More Fun Country Facts

Comments (161)

  1. You weren’t wrong initially about Tesla; he was born and has roots in modern-day Croatia and his mother was Croatian. They were self proclaimed ‘Yugoslavians’, starting initially with his grandfather who converted to Orthodox. The Serbs simply jumped the gun to claim him as their own even though his public journal entries state that he considers himself belonging to both people, and that he’s glad to be considered a Croat by Croatians. Meanwhile the Serbs have made every effort possible to hide any further information contained in his journal entries.
    Nikola is more of a Croatian name anyway.
    The biggest lie about Croatia though is that it’s not the most beautiful country with the best people in the world. People often try to claim this but deep down they know it’s true.

    1. While the nature is definitely striking and beautiful, the nation is ridden with many very negative traits such as racism, nationalism, homophobia, violence and so forth. There’s much ‘backwards’ mentality that is preventing the croats from moving forward, and I could go on and on and on about it. I really love the kind croats, but unfortunately most have left or are seriously considering leaving the country for a plethora of reasons. Let’s not hide the truth under the covers, Croatia is at a worse place right now than it has ever been, and no Game of Thrones or UK-organised festivals can save it, but croats themselves which are, to say the least, not willing to do so.

      1. What a bizarre rant. Croatia has many many flaws, but nothing as alarming or unusual as what you’re describing. It’s a pretty normal country in transition.

      2. Oh my god you could call youself Russian with your dreary and negative thinking. Dont nay say get off your ass and do something. Sitting around all day with your kava and complaining wont fix a problem. Talk about racism and homophobia have you been to the US lately?

    2. Actually, Nikola is derived from greek name Nikolaos, and it’s more popular among orthodox nations (Bulgaria, Serbia, Monterengro, Russia, Macedonia).

      1. Hi, everyone,

        In the Museum of Smiljan, where is Nikola Tesla’s birth place, is written that his origin was Vlachian ortodox…

  2. C an you verify the following:

    of all, Tesla’s journal, that is kept in Belgrade and which was uncovered by
    Ljubica Štefan, the Israeli award
    winner of “just among the peoples:”

    “I am very
    happy that the Croats consider me their own because my ancestors are Croats Koljenović
    Draganić from Zadar. They
    came to Lika in the 16th century as Croatian noblemen and they settled there.

    My ancestors came to Lika by way of Novi Vinodol. The
    ancestors of my mother are neoblemen from Novi Vinodol as well. My grand
    father, due to circumstances had to go to the Bosnian Krajina, („Turkish
    Croatia“). There he married an Orthodox lady and took on the Orthodox
    religion. He had buck teeth so the
    people called him „Tesla“ similar to the tool used for wood (carving) forming
    and that is where my last name Tesla
    comes from and which in reality is a nickname. My grand father was an officer
    in the regiment of Lika and my father was an Orthodox priest!“ (Nikola Tesla)

    the end, we can make a conclusion that Tesla’s father was not a Serbian priest
    but a priest of the Orthodox Church and not a priest of the Serbian Orthodox
    Church. Testla never proclaimed himself to be Serbian.

    1. Nikola Tesla was born an ethnic Serb in the village of Smiljan, within the Military Frontier, in the Austrian Empire (present day Croatia), on 10 July [O.S. 28 June] 1856.[14][15] His father, Milutin Tesla (1819–1879),[16] was a priest of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

      Croatia was not a its own country then. This is a fact!!!!! It was the Austro-Hungarian empire.

      Tesla’s mother, Đuka Mandić (1822–1892), whose father was also an Eastern Orthodox Church priest,[21] had a talent for making home craft tools and mechanical appliances and the ability to memorize Serbian epic poems. Đuka had never received a formal education. Tesla credited his eidetic memory and creative abilities to his mother’s genetics and influence.[22][23] Tesla’s ancestors
      were from western Serbia, near Montenegro.

      Memorize Serbian epic poems. Not Croat poems. If he was a Croat why would he memorize Serbian Poems.

      Croats have their own ideas of What was Croatian due to misleading stories told over generations by peasants who had no education. They then left their country to live in more prosperous countries and took their stories with them.

  3. Great list!
    I would, however, contest point 29 – Griffon Vultures are found all over Europe.

    1. Good point, its badly worded. Thats should be found in Croatia. I’ll edit that shortly. Thanks Sue. Nice to know someone read the whole thing :)

  4. Thanks to point 67 now its clear to me when I moved here many expats were asking: “So young? What are you doing in Dalmatia? :) :) :) “

  5. Some amazing facts and stats here. Thanks for sharing.

    About point 11, I am not sure what consitutes a national costume, but the Irish one is usually above the knee as well.

  6. Btw, great post, I’m Croatian and there’s so much stuff I didn’t know here, great read. I’m skeptical about the Marulić one, though.

    1. Thanks – it’s hard to know for sure really. But I have read it on some good Croatian pages (which I had translated)…. we can ask him when we meet him in heaven :)

      1. Actually, it’s true, confirmed beyond Croatian media which might be considered biased. Here is the article from the New World Encyclopedia

  7. Great post. :)

    I’ve heard a claim that The Statue of Liberty is made of Brač stone. True or false?

    (A little side note, we spell hrvatski (the name of the language) without capitalisation. All adjectives ending with -ski, -čki and -ški go without capitalisation.)

    1. That’s false!! Thanks for the tip re capitalisation. Because we do capitalise in English I always forget that rule :) Gahhhh so many language rules. Ajme – thanks for stopping by :)

  8. I’m always happy with all the ideas that you have for posts Mrs CTD. I hope I can contribute with some stuff from my own webpage:

    Croatia has a very indented coastline: 1246 islands , islets and reefs! 48 islands are now inhabited, and long ago that number was 66.

    First Croatian ruler was not the King, but Prince Trpimir, who was enthroned in the year 852.

    …and a bit of politics: Croatians love politics, but the politics still prefer Croats more. Croats have about 150 registered political parties.

    1. Okay, thanks Ratko. Seems I need to take a look at my facts and do some editing. Thanks so much for sharing :)

  9. King Arthur is from Podstrana, they even put a massive sword in the beach. Also a gravestone that is said to bear his name. Myth or Fact?

    1. Ohhh I have never heard of that one before. I’ll ask the Split Tourist Board…. let’s see what they say.

      1. So… I asked and this is what they said.

        A gravestone with name of Lucius Artorius Castus was found there, and that pushed the theory that Arthur was buried there. I don’t know about sword in the beach, but maybe in Tourist Board Podstrana they will know if there is any event planned. Their website is
        There were lot of news stories about this findings, it seems like authorities removed gravestone for protection, and planned to replace it with replica. I really don’t know if they did it by now. Here is an article from the Daily Mail…


        So… really no one knows. Intriguing!

    2. I think some indications, sometimes turn into myths .. and could never be verified, but neither denied.

  10. Is there any info how many have managed to achieve no. 58? Good job, a very interesting collection!!

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