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Nestled near Italy on the Adriatic Sea, the tiny country has been an unsung source of innovation, libation and historical intrigue for centuries.

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
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 centre of a city-state known as the Republic of Ragusa. Despite its small size, it was a trading power and became a centre of learning and culture during the Renaissance.

The article ‘Five curious facts about Croatia’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Traveller.

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