Chances are that if you’ve ever heard of Croatia, it was in the context of atrocious warfare. Some of the bloodiest conflict since the end of World War II was waged in the Balkan region during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, and the scars, both physical and psychological, have yet to fully heal. But for anyone who’s actually visited Croatia, it’s a sun-drenched coastal paradise of exquisite medieval architecture, thousands of dreamy island getaways, and some of the best wine on the planet. Sadly, such magnificence does not often make the evening news.
So, though you may not have heard about it, Croatia is a far more fascinating and welcoming place than its torrential history would have you believe, and it has no shortage of fun activities or cultural wonders to appreciate. It’s a great place to visit, and, as we’ll see, it has a few quirky claims to fame, some of which you might even use, each and every day.
Great Croatian inventions include the first tested parachute and the necktie. Originally worn by Croat soldiers, they were adopted by the French army in the 17th Century and soon became fashionable. Croatians mark Cravat Day on 18 October.
There are more than 1,000 islands and islets in Croatia, and only 50 are inhabited. The country has more than 3,500 miles of coastline – though it is broken north of Dubrovnik by Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 15-mile stretch, the shortest coastline in the world.
The wine has been made in Croatia since it was introduced by Greek settlers 2,500 years ago – original vineyards are still intact on Stari Grad Plain on Hvar island. Today, Croatia has more than 300 wine regions, 17,000 producers, and 2,500 (mostly white) wines.
The country’s currency is the Kuna, which is Croatian for marten, a forest mammal whose highly prized skin was used to pay taxes in the Roman provinces of eastern Croatia. The marten appeared on medieval coins before giving its name to the new currency in 1994.
A sovereign port
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. Despite its small size, it was a trading power and became a center of learning and culture during the Renaissance.
The article is written by Lonely Planet Traveller