near Italy on the Adriatic Sea, the tiny country has been an unsung source of
innovation, libation and historical intrigue for centuries.
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
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.
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)
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
The article 'Five curious facts about Croatia' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Traveller.