TOP-50 interesting facts about Croatia and Croats
Croatia is a country in south-eastern Europe on the western Balkan Peninsula that shares many similarities with its neighbours. But, at the same time, it is a unique country, with its own customs, history and culture. We’ve compiled 50 fascinating facts about the country and its people, allowing you to get a first impression of the country and plan your perfect holiday in Croatia.
50 most interesting facts about Croats and Croatia
Here’s a journey through the history, traditions and sights of this fascinating country.
The historical facts
1. The first people in this region appeared about 45 thousand years ago. Their settlements are found in Dalmatia.
2. The Illyrians and Dalmatians occupied this area during the Bronze Age, about 4 thousand years ago. The Celts also settled here.
3. Croatia was conquered by the Romans in the 2nd century B.C. Roman rule lasted for 7 centuries and left a deep mark on the country’s history.
4. In the 7th century, the land was settled by Croatian Slavic tribes. They founded several principalities, but the coastal lands were under Byzantine rule.
5. The first Slavic state was coastal Croatia, and its first prince was Porg.
6. In the Middle Ages these lands were in Byzantine, Hungarian and Venetian hands. And in the fifteenth century the Turks began to invade it regularly.
7. Glagolitic alphabet was used in Croatia for a long time, although many important documents were written in the Latin alphabet.
8. In modern times these areas were dependent on the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and remained so until 1918, when the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was proclaimed.
9. After World War II, Croatia became one of the republics within Yugoslavia.
10. In the early 1990s, large-scale hostilities erupted in the country. The war of independence from Serbia lasted until 1995.
11. Today, Croatia is an EU and NATO member state, a member of the OSCE and part of the Schengen area.
12. Until December 2022, the national currency, the Kuna, was in use in the country. But since 2023, the country has switched entirely to the Euro.
13. Croatian coins bear the portrait of Nikola Tesla, a Serbian born on the territory of Croatia.
14. The capital city of Croatia is Zagreb. The most populous city of Croatia, with a population of over 600 thousand people, is the political, cultural and historical centre of the country.
15. Approximately 90% of the country’s population is Croatian and almost all of them are Catholic. The second largest community in the republic is Serbian.
16. Tourism is the most important part of the economy of modern Croatia. It generates about 15% of the country’s GDP.
17. Croatian is the official language of the country. However, Serbian, Italian and Hungarian are also considered official languages in many places.
Legends and tales
18. According to ancient legend, Croatia’s islands came into being when God scattered rocks into the sea in handfuls, creating a fanciful outline of the coastline. He liked the result so much that he decided not to change anything else so that people too could admire the marvellous landscape.
19. Another legend claims that Zagreb was created at the very spot where, during the great drought, an old prince plunged his sword into the earth and the stream of water gushed forth from the hole cut through it. The prince ordered his men to draw the water with buckets, hence the name of the future capital.
20. One of the most famous Croatian inventions is the tie. It was worn here in the 17th century by soldiers of the elite royal regiments. That is why, in many European languages, the word «tie» sounds like «cravate».
21. According to one controversial version, the Venetian merchant Marco Polo, famous for his voyage to China, was actually born and lived on the island of Korcula, where you can still see his home.
22. Croats know for a fact that the famous White House in Washington, DC was built from marble that was quarried on the island of Brac.
23. A Christian and stonemason from the island of Rab, named Marinus, crossed the Adriatic to escape persecution for his faith. He founded the state of San Marino in Italy.
24. The country is home to 7 monuments protected by UNESCO. The most famous is Diocletian’s Palace in Split.
25. Another city listed by UNESCO is Trogir. It has been known since antiquity and has preserved Roman villas, thermae and stelae with inscriptions. A castle, palaces and a cathedral are the remains of the Middle Ages.
26. Pula has a well-preserved Roman amphitheatre. It is the sixth largest amphitheatre in the world.
27. The city of Hum is considered the smallest in the world. It consists of only two streets and twenty buildings. There are 17 people living there now.
28. The town of Ludberg, regarded by locals as the centre of the world, is also famous for an unusually cheerful tradition. Every 1st April, the city fountain spouts real grape wine instead of water.
29. The city of Zadar is home to the only marine organ in the world, created in 2006 by the architect Nikola Basic. It is a series of tubes of varying diameters embedded in the promenade. Seawater pushes air out of the tubes, making the unusual organ resound.
30. Croatia filmed many scenes of the popular TV series Game of Thrones. Thus, the famous Royal Harbour is Dubrovnik’s old fortress.
Character and customs of Croats
31. Croats are a sociable and good-natured people. Their men love to impress, to dress nicely, and to pay attention to the fairer sex.
32. Croatians love nature and environmental protection plays an important role in their lives. They’re proud of their beaches, which are among the cleanest in the world.
33. Croats are also great patriots of their homeland. There is no better way to make friends with a Croat than to say a few phrases in their native language in front of them.
34. A national trait could be called slowness. Croats believe there is always enough time in life and therefore there is no need to rush anywhere. It is customary to have a cup of coffee for at least half an hour.
35. Croatians are hospitable but reverent about private property. It’s considered rude to enter a place without the owner’s permission.
36. Croatians are proud of their national crafts. The most famous among them is lace weaving. Especially valuable are the works of craftsmen who live on the islands of Hvar and Pag.
37. The most colourful festival of the Republic is the Procession of the Ringers, a festival that takes place in Rijeka. It lasts for a few days and during this time the participants can not only have fun but also criticise everything they do not like.
38. Another interesting festival is the Korzo Night. On this evening, young boys and girls dress up in their best clothes and have a viewing party. The purpose of the party is to socialise and make friends.
39. Among the Croatian wedding traditions, a wish for the happiness of the young is made by the invited guests. The bride stands near a well, the guests go around her in a circle and throw apples into the well.
40. A bride is considered a wife when, after the wedding ceremony, she removes her veil and wears a scarf and apron.
41. Croatians love and know how to dance. Their most popular dance is the Kolo, a round dance that dates back centuries and was once associated with pagan worship of the sun.
42. The Moreska sword dance, on the other hand, is theatrical, reminding people of the times when the Croats fought against the Moors in the armies of the French kingdom.
43. The favourite folk instruments of the Croats are the strings, called in one word: tamburas. Among them, the psaltery is especially honoured.
44. The local cuisine is rich in seafood, meats and cheeses. The favourite dish of the locals is the meat pie burek, in which various types of cheese are sure to be added.
45. Croatia is a country of a thousand islands. Because of this, it has the second longest coastline in Europe: over 5.5 thousand kilometres.
46. The largest island in the country is Hvar. It’s a popular resort that’s considered the sunniest place on the Adriatic. The sun shines for 2718 hours a year and it’s no wonder.
47. One of the country’s symbols is the Dalmatian, a beautiful breed of hunting dog known for its spotted pattern. According to legend, these spots appeared on the dogs after an incident. A local shepherd and his dog had fallen asleep in a field surrounded by olive trees. When he woke up, he saw the black spots in the shape of olives on the dog’s back.
48. The national flower of the Republic is the iris, also called perunica. A special endemic species of iris grows in Croatia and is protected by the state.
49. Maraxino, a colourless cherry liqueur with the addition of bitter almonds, is another symbol of the country. It was first produced in 1821 in Zadar and quickly won the hearts of European gourmets.
50. Istria is home to white truffles, a rare and very expensive mushroom. They are a delicacy and a decoration of Croatian cuisine. The truffle capital is the town of Motovun.
Friends! If you know more interesting facts about Croatians and Croatia, please share them in the comments. This country is full of amazing stories, culture and traditions and many would love to learn something new. We would be very grateful!