Croatian culture is the result of a fourteen century-long history which has seen the development of many cities and monuments and also includes many adoptions from ancient Greek, Roman and Illyrian cultures. The culture of Croatia can be divided into two cultural circles: Central European and Mediterranean. The country includes seven World Heritage sites and eight national parks. Croatia is also the birthplace of a number of historical figures. Included among the notable people are three Nobel prize winners and numerous inventors. The country is also rich with Intangible culture and holds the largest number of UNESCO's World's intangible culture masterpieces in Europe.
Regional cultures are considered variations on the larger category of "Croatian", including the cultures of Dalmatia, Istria, Slavonia, and Zagorje. These regions are characterized by differences in geography, traditional economy, food, folkloric tradition, and dialect. Despite that, Croats share an overall sense of national culture but at the same time often feel strong about regional identities and about local cultural variations. Cultural variations, particularly regional cuisine, are related to geographic variations within the country. Traditional economies are also linked to geography. The capital, Zagreb, is centrally located but was not chosen for that reason. It is the largest city, but also historically the political, commercial, and intellectual center.
Some of the world's first fountain pens came from Croatia. Croatia also has a place in the history of clothing as the origin of the necktie (kravata). The country has a long artistic, literary and musical tradition. Also of interest is the diverse nature of Croatian cuisine and the famous Croatian Traditional gift Licitar.
Croatians are protective of the their Croatian language from foreign influences as the language was under constant change and threats imposed by previous rulers (i.e. Austrian German, Hungarian, Italian and Turkish words were changed and altered to "Slavic" looking/sounding ones).
The Croatian language has three major dialects, identified by three different words for "what" ća, kaj and što. From 1961 to 1991, the official language was Serbo-Croatian. Even under socialism, Croats often referred to their language as Croato-Serbian (instead of Serbo-Croatian) or as Croatian. Croatian and Serbian variants of the language were never recognized as different, but referred as the west and east version, and had different alphabets; Latin alphabet and Serbian Cyrillic.
In the late 19th and 20th century, Serbian and Yugoslav nationalist scholars began to impose policies to change or alter Croatian words into "Serbian" or "South Slavic" ones, which have infuriated Croats over the purity and preservation of their native language (See Croatian linguistic purism). Under the Habsburgs, Latin was the official language of the Croatian government and Sabor. At the same time, besides Croatian, many Croats used German and Italian in everyday life. A national reawakening in the 19th century focused on the establishment of a national language as the official one.
During socialist Yugoslavia, a Yugoslav identity was promoted and symbols and expressions of national identity were suppressed and punishable by jail terms. The Croatian Spring, the most notable and only large-scale nationalist movement during Tito's regime, was put down in 1971 with most of its leadership imprisoned. It was led by important Croatian communists and was based on economic disagreement with the Serb elite in Belgrade.
The newly independent state has had to recreate a national culture by drawing from history and folk culture. The modern national identity draws on its medieval roots, association with Viennese "high culture," culturally diverse rural traditions, and Roman Catholicism.
Cravat or Necktie is a symbol of Croatian culture.
A cravat (in modern English renamed to Necktie), symbol of culture and elegance, originates from the 17th century Croatia where it was part of the uniform worn by Croatian soldiers. It was disseminated across Europe during Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) by Croatian regiments serving under Austria. From 1635 Croatian soldiers also served in France and in 1667 a special regiment named Royal Cravates was formed. Common soldiers wore scarves made of coarse materials and officers wore scarves made of fine cotton or silk. French King Louis XIV fell in love with the Croatian attire and soon replaced the starched high-lace collar the French used to wear with the cravat, much more practical and beautiful piece of clothing. When the most powerful European king put on the cravat, a new fashion was born. Later on, cravat was accepted in all corners of the world as a standard and still carries the Croatian name in its name in majority of modern languages.