Friday, 11 May 2012 18:42 | By Tom Phillips

Ten things you never knew about Croatia

Croatia (© Reuters)

1) Croatia started one major fashion trend that continues to this day: the modern necktie was first worn by Croatian soldiers during the Thirty Years War in the 17th century, from where it spread around Europe. The Croat origins are still reflected in the word "cravat".

2) There are over a thousand islands on Croatia's Adriatic Sea coast - although only around 60 of them are inhabited.

3) Croatia has existed as a country on its own since 1991, when it declared independence following the bloody Yugoslav wars.

4) Croatian pop group Riva won the Eurovision song contest (representing Yugoslavia) in 1989.

5) Croatian mythology features Vila (fairies who appear in the shape of beautiful women) and Domaci (a good house spirit who lives in cupboards and under the stairs) - both of which supposedly influenced characters in JK Rowling's Harry Potter books.

6) Nikola Tesla, the genius scientist and inventor who was a pioneer in the field of electromagnetism, was born in what is now modern-day Croatia.

7) Croat engineer Slavoljub Eduard Penkala is known for his many inventions - notably including the mechanical pencil and the modern hot water bottle.

8) Other inventions of Croatian origin: the first working parachute, criminal pathology, the airship and double entry bookkeeping.

9) The world record for the largest truffle ever found is held by Croatia - a truffle that weighed 1.31kg (2lb 8oz), found by Giancarlo Zigante near the town of Buje in 1999.

10) Due to the large number of Croatian migrants to Australia, when the two countries met in the 2006 World Cup, the Australian squad contained seven players who had been eligible to play for Croatia - and the Croat squad had three who could have played for Australia instead. One of the players, Anthony Seric, was once named in both countries' squads at the same time.