In the past few weeks, we have been able to hear and read about Croatia in the media a lot since their football team almost won the World Cup. But how much do we truly know about it? I have spent the last two months guiding tourists around its cities while trying to teach them something new about this country. So here are just some of my favourite facts (I hope) you did not know about Croatia.
It lays on approximately 56.500 km2 and it has around 4.400.000 inhabitants. The ugly truth here is that life in Croatia is hard. Its main economic activity is tourism but the Mediterranean climate does not allow having a touristic season all year long. So it only lasts for three or four months while the weather is hot and sunny. This is the main reason why almost another 4.200.000 Croatians live outside their motherland – they went looking for better jobs and with that an easier life.
Other than that, Croatians are a very proud and united nation. Their national anthem’s title is “Our Beautiful Homeland” and they use this expression very often instead of just calling it “Croatia”. The anthem was written in the 19th century but the coat of arms (the checkerboard) that is still seen on their flag dates from the 16th century. According to a legend, Croatian king has played chess versus Italian king. By winning the match three times he has won the authority over today’s Croatian sea.
The sea coast is 5.800 kilometres long; the length of the continental part is 1.800 kilometres, other 4.000 kilometres surround the islands. There are 1.185 Croatian islands in the Adriatic Sea but only 67 of them are inhabited. The biggest and the longest one is Island Cres (and not Krk as it used to be until recent new studies). The highest mountain is called Dinara with its 1.830 metres but the longest mountains are Velebit with its 147 kilometres in length.
Here Come the Fun Facts!
It is believed that Croatians invented a tie. By the old habit from the 17th century, young women were giving ties to their boyfriends as a symbol of love and loyalty before their beloved ones went into the army. The French people started calling those guys’ ties “a la Croata” and to this very day the similar name for a tie is still used in the Croatian language, therefore “kravata”. In 2003 they tied 808 metres long red tie around that Roman Colosseum in Pula (often called the Arena) which is one of the six remained and least damaged in the whole world.
Not just a tie, the first rice chocolate was made in Croatia in 1963.
In Istria, there is the smallest village on Earth with a population of 17 people. It is a country with the highest number of UNESCO sites and the sunniest region in Europe.
Today its capital is Zagreb but in the 13th century that was Nin and in the 17th century it was Varaždin. Zagreb took this function over in the 18th century.
Around 10% of Croatian land is protected in eight different national parks. There are 23 airports and 30.000 kilometres of roads inside the border. It looks like almost every adult Croatian owns two mobile phones because there are more than 5.115.000 registered telephone numbers.
Top 10 touristic destinations are Dubrovnik, Split, Zagreb, Zadar, Pula, Hvar (the sunniest island of them all), Rovinj, Makarska, Trogir and Medulin.
Have you ever visited any of them? Do you plan to do it (again)? Tell me if you have found out something new and have a wonderful sunny day!
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