Facts about Croatia
Land of a thousand islands
Croatia is a small country on the Adriatic Sea, on the border between Central and Southern Europe. Once part of Yugoslavia, it has been an independent country since 1991. It is a country with a rich history, the traces of which can be found at every turn, especially in the historical cities, which are full of objects inscribed on the UNESCO list and attract numerous tourists.
Croatia's biggest attraction, however, is its Adriatic coast, whose waters are clean, highly saline and warm, and whose beaches, although mostly pebbly, rocky and stony, are often and happily visited by tourists from all over Europe.
1In ancient times, the area of what is now Croatia area was inhabited by Illyrian tribes.
They were an ancient Indo-European people who inhabited the Western Balkans during the Halstatt period (late Bronze Age and early Iron Age).
2Since the first century BC, these territories belonged to the Roman Empire.
The Romans divided Croatia into two provinces: Dalmatia and Pannonia, and in the early 7th century, Croats (a South Slavic people) settled in these territories. With the Romans' conquest, Christianity began to spread in this part of Europe.
3In the 10th century, the two provinces united and formed the Kingdom of Croatia.
The first king of Croatia was Tomislav.
4In 1102, Croatia was annexed by Hungary.
Later Croatia was ruled by the Habsburgs, and some lands fell to the Ottoman Turks.
5In the 19th century, Croatia came under the Austrian Empire and later under the Hungarian sphere of influence.
Dalmatia remained in the Austrian part and enjoyed autonomy with its own parliament.
6After World War I, Croatia became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and in 1929 part of Yugoslavia.
During World War II, the fascist Ustasha faction seized power in the country, declared independence, and established Croatia. Croatia was then allied with Germany.
7After World War II, Croatia was incorporated into Josip Broz Tito's Yugoslavia.
Broz-Tito was of Croatian descent.
8Croatia proclaimed its independence in 1991.
Then the war began with Yugoslavia, more specifically with Serbia, which was supported by Montenegrin troops. UN Peacekeepers moved into Croatia and three years later the conflict was ended by the Dayton Agreement.
9In 2009 Croatia joined NATO and, in July 2013, became a member of the European Union.
Croatia joined the EU as the 28th member of the community.
10Croatia is a multi-party parliamentary republic.
It was an authoritarian country until 2000 but is now a parliamentary democracy based on separation of powers. The state is headed by a president, elected by popular vote for five years.
11The capital of the country and the largest city in Croatia is Zagreb.
Historically, the city derives from the settlements of Gradec and Kaptol, which were located on the adjacent hills being the origin of the present capital.
12Croatia's biggest tourist attraction is the Adriatic coast with a length of 5835 km.
The coastline of the islands is 4058 km long.
13Croatia has 1185 islands, most of which are fragments of land. The only exceptions are Brusnik and Jabuka, which are of volcanic origin.
These two islands are small and uninhabited, have powerful winds and no drinking water. Compasses do not work near either island because the rocks that make up the islands contain large amounts of metal ores.
14The salinity of the Adriatic Sea averages 38.30 per thousand.
Thanks to this high salt content, it is possible to obtain sea salt by evaporation of water in salt pans. Salt has been extracted in the Gulf of Ston since the 13th century. The brewery there was one of the pillars of Dubrovnik's economy.
15Croatia lies in two climatic zones: Mediterranean and Continental.
16Along the coast, there are Dinaric Mountains, which include mountain ranges: Gorski Kotar, Kapela, Dinara, with the highest Croatian peak - Dinara (1831 m) and Velebit, which is the most extensive mountain range in Croatia.
UNESCO has recognized Velebit as a World Biosphere Reserve.
17The Dinaric Mountains are a karst area, rich in thousands of caves, springs, lakes, polja (hollow with a flat bottom) and underground rivers.
18There are 8 National Parks, 10 Nature Parks and 32 forest, 9 botanical and 16 ornithological reserves in Croatia.
In Lun on the island of Pag, there is a wild olives site.
19Croatia has two vegetation zones.
Islands with vegetation called woodlands are green only in spring, using moisture reserves from the soil and air. In summer, this vegetation dies as if burnt out. Along the coast and on the islands also grow palm trees, cypresses, cacti, chestnuts, figs, almonds, olives, pomegranates, lemons, oranges and grapes.
20The island of Hvar is a well-known center of lavender cultivation.
21The island of Cres's attraction are carrion-eating griffon vultures, which can spot a carcass even from a distance of several kilometers.
Their weight can reach up to 7 kg, and the wingspan can exceed 2.5 m.
22Small sharks occasionally venture into Croatian waters, and whales also stray there every few years.
The permanent inhabitants of Croatian waters are bottlenose dolphins, which can be found around Losinij and Cres's islands.
23The surface of Croatia is 56 542 km2, which is roughly equal to the area of West Virginia.
Less than 4.5 million people live there, more than half of them in cities. 2.5-3.5 million Croats are living outside the country.
24Catholicism is the dominant religion in Croatia (76.8% of the population are Catholics).
Croatian territories were Christianized earlier than Polish lands. The official date of adoption of Christianity by the Croats is considered to be 800 when Croatian Prince Viseslav was baptized. Apart from Catholics, the majority of Croats are Orthodox Christians.
25An integral part of the Dalmatian landscape are olive groves and fig trees.
Every reputable family has olive trees on their property and produces their own olive oil. For many years, the olive oil from the Dalmatian coast, especially from the southern part, was considered the best. Recently it has been equaled by the oil from Istria. Some even say it is better.
26Dalmatia is also known for its numerous vineyards.
On the larger islands, such as Brac, Hvar, Lastovo, Pasman, Ugljan and Pag, the tradition of grape growing and wine production dates back to antiquity. Grapes are also used to make rakija, the Croatian national vodka.
The tradition of wine production in Croatia is very old. The inhabitants of this country owe the presence of grapevines to the Romans, who established vineyards, taking advantage of the climate favorable for grapes' growth. Most of the country's territory is covered with vineyards.
27Since the declaration of independence in 1991, the official language of Croatia is Croatian.
Slovenian, Macedonian and Serbo-Croatian languages were spoken on the territory of Yugoslavia. In reality, it was an entirely artificial creation, formed from two separate languages: Croatian and Serbian (these languages differ, for example, in phonetics, morphology, lexis and vocabulary).
28Apart from the coast, Croatia's most exciting place is the Plitvice Lakes National Park.
It is a series of small turquoise lakes divided by limestone barriers, forming numerous small waterfalls. The park is 19.5 ha in size, and the lakes cover only 1% of the area. The rest is forested ravines, pastures and meadows, where a bear can be spotted. Twenty caves have been discovered here. Plitvice is home to 16 lakes and 92 waterfalls.
29Croatia's best viewpoint is Mount Srd, which rises to a height of 412 m above sea level.
From here, you can see Stari Grad, Lokrum Island, Elaphite Islands, Korcula, the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, the mountains of Montenegro to the border with Albania, and on a clear day the outline of Italy.
30You can listen to a concert played by the waves on the sea organ here.
They are located near the new port in Zadar. The coast here has the shape of a wide staircase, seventy meters long, sloping down to the sea, in which holes are carved. Thanks to them, you can hear sounds resembling melodies played on bottles filled with water. Under the stairs are hidden 35 pipes of different diameters and lengths. They have been selected and arranged so that the waves hitting them create sounds of different tones. This sea music is unique because the organ sounds depend on whether the sea is calm or rough and how the wind blows.
31On the promenade of Zadar, there is a monument Pozdrav Suncu, a circle with a diameter of 22 meters, embedded between the promenade's stones with 300 special plates that absorb the Sun's rays.
Underneath the glass plates, solar panels are located. After dark, the solar energy stored in the batteries is emitted in light, which illuminates the entire boardwalk. Zadar saint's names were integrated into the circle of light, along with information about their festival's date, the length of the day, and Sun's position.
32Undoubted attraction of the Istrian peninsula is the smallest town in the world, Hum.
It was surrounded by walls, an important strategic point on the border of the lands belonging to the Habsburgs and Venice. Today about 20 people live here in houses built of stone. The village is famous for its Glagolitic monuments (the oldest known Slavic script). The town is listed in the Guinness Book of Records.
33The oldest public theater in Europe is located in Hvar.
It was founded in 1612, performances were held here until 1796, and after the restoration in 1800, they are still held today. Among others, Hanibal Lucic, the author of the drama Robinja - the first in the Croatian language - was associated with the building.
34One of the most characteristic sights of Dalmatia is the tiny church of St. Nicholas, which stands on a hill near Nin.
On a grassy hill, with a single pine tree, stands a tiny pre-Romanesque church from the 11th century. An unusual octagonal tower with battlements attracts attention. There was probably once a prehistoric fortress on the hill.
35On the island of Brac, near the settlement of Murvica, is the Dragon's Cave.
It is a cave with bizarre reliefs (including animals, angels and a dragon with its mouth open), probably made by a 15th-century monk.
36On the island of Dugi Otok, the furthest out to sea element of the triple island ring, west of Zadar, is the famous salt lake Mir.
Its surface area is 0.23 km2, and its maximum depth is 5.8 m. The lake is connected with the sea by underwater channels. The lake's bottom is covered with mud with medicinal properties, and the water is much warmer than in the sea.
37Near Dubrovnik is an excellent attraction for experienced divers who can see a merchant ship's wreck.
The ship ran into a mine in 1943 and sank. Remains of the cargo can still be seen around the ship, which rests at a depth of 23-55 meters.
38In the Cathedral of the Assumption in Dubrovnik, in the main altar, you can admire the work of Titian "Assumption of the Virgin."
Several paintings by painters associated with Raphael can also be seen there. In the church is buried the mathematician and astronomer Rudjer Boskovic.
In the cathedral treasury, the most valuable collection of sacred art in Europe was kept until probably 1667. Some of the treasures were lost in the earthquake.
39The cathedral and the whole of Dubrovnik served as a backdrop in the TV series "Game of Thrones."
40A stonemason from the island of Rab, Marin Biza (St. Marin) was the founder of San Marino.
He emigrated to Apennine Peninsula at the turn of the 3rd and 4th centuries, where he helped design and build the city walls of Arminum (Rimini).
Persecuted for professing the Christian faith, he hid in a cave at the foot of Mount Titano. Soon other fugitives joined the hermit and built a church around which the city-state San Marino was founded in the early 4th century.
41On the Krk island is the Bashkian Glagolitic Trail - thirty-four stone monuments with Glagolitic inscriptions.
In the church of St. Lucia from the 11th/12th century, near the village of Jurandvor, the famous Baška tablet was found. It is one of the most valuable monuments of the script Croatian Glagolitic writing, a stone foundation slab.
42In Istria, the Mirna River, which flows near Buzet, is the axis of land called "the kingdom of truffles."
Truffles are hard to find as they grow underground. Therefore, they are sought out with the help of dogs (in France and Italy - trained pigs). The largest truffle in the world so far, registered in the Guinness Book of Records, weighed 1.31 kg and was found in November 1999 near Buzet by Giancarlo Zigante and his dog Diana.
43The Pazincica River, which flows through the Istrian capital Pazan, ends its course in the Fojba Cave, also known as the Pazinska Cave, 120 m deep.
Further on, it flows about 100 m below the city, forming two underground lakes connected by a siphon. During heavy rains, the siphon cannot hold all the incoming water, in which case a lake up to 2 km long forms in the Fojba Cave. The lake forms extremely rarely; it was observed in 1883, 1896, 1930, 1935, 1961, 1964, 1974, 1993, and most recently in 2002.
44The tie is thought to have originated in Croatia.
Although the earliest traces of early forms of the tie were found in the tomb of the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang and soldiers of his Terracotta Army tied a neckerchief around their necks.
King Louis XIV of France gave the tie its name in 1660. Inspecting his troops, including a regiment of Croatian mercenaries, he noticed the brightly colored silk scarves of a cavalry regiment worn by Croatian officers. He named this formation the Royal-Cravattes. Later, the tie also became an integral part of the royal dress, and the so-called cravatier took care of the royal ties.
45In central Dalmatia, in Krka National Park, there are the ruins of a hydroelectric power plant built in 1895.
The Krka hydroelectric power plant is the second of its kind in the world, the only one older than it was the hydroelectric power plant on the Niagara River, which was built on Nikola Tesla's initiative. Today, Croatia's first hydroelectric power plant is no longer in operation. Still, because of its importance in the history of technology, restoration work is being carried out.
Not far from the first hydroelectric power plant, the hydroelectric power plant "Jaruga," constructed soon after the first one, is still in operation today. It is quite a rarity in modern times.
46Dubrovnik, which was an independent state at the time, was the first to formally recognize the United States as a nation when it declared its independence.
47Carnival is celebrated extensively in Rijeka every year and is one of the five most popular in the world, making Rijeka the most fancied carnival center in Croatia.
On the last Sunday of the carnival, a famous masquerade procession occurs. The so-called scary masks chase away the forces of evil in a merry hustle and bustle.
48The Croatian islands furthest from the mainland form the Palagruza archipelago, which includes Vela Palagruza and Mala Palagruza.
On the rocky Vela Palagruza, which is about 1400 m long and 300 m wide, stands a lighthouse built in 1875, one of the largest of its kind in the Adriatic. The island's only inhabitants are the lighthouse keepers and the local meteorological station employees. The island and its surroundings are a nature reserve. There are more than 200 plant species and over a hundred animals, most of them endemic.
According to the legend, one of the heroes of the Odyssey, the Greek soldier Diomedes, who sailed to the Adriatic Sea after the Trojan War and fought with the Llirians, was buried on Palagruza. After the hero's death, Zeus turned his enemies into birds, which still guard his grave.
49The 45th parallel, the so-called Suncanik, runs through the town of Senj.
It has the same latitude as New York. The city has the coldest climate on the Adriatic coast.
50The national flower of Croatia is the iris.
51The inhabitants of the town of Ludbreg consider it to be the center of the world.
They indicate it by a colorful mosaic in the market square, in the middle of which there is a metal plate with the inscription Ludbreg - Centrum Mundi.