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.

 

Fash­ion trail­blaz­ers
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.

Sea­side escapes
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.

Dionysian offer­ings
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.

Roman influ­ence
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