My favorite things Croatian


1. Novelist: Help!  I do own a copy of Sarah Nović’s Girl at War, but haven’t yet read it.

2. Basketball player: Toni Kukoc, the “Croatian sensation.”

3. Painting: There was an active school of Naive painting in Croatia, from Hlebine near the Hungarian border.  Perhaps my favorite from the group was Ivan Generalic, but Mirko Virius was very good too.

4. Inventor: Nikola Tesla.  Before you go crazy in the comments section, however, here is a long Wikipedia page on to what extent we can justly claim that Tesla was Croatian.  Here are further debates, Croat or Serb?  Or both?

5. Pianist: How about Ivo Pogorelić?  Here is his Petrushka.

6. Economist: Branko Horvat, the market-oriented market socialist, is the only one I can think of, here is an overview of his contributions (pdf).  Am I forgetting someone?

7. City: Split, not Dubrovnik.  I am here for two days right now, then on to Belgrade for a conference/salon.

I cannot name a Croatian movie or composer or pop star.  I have the feeling they have many more famous athletes.  Don’t they have a lot of beautiful models?  Aren’t they the world’s most beautiful people?  Has anyone set a movie here?

The bottom line: It would be worse without Tesla.


Many famous footballers, especially of the 1980-90s. Football was important politically, there are no doubt more informed commentators than myself, but I've always thought of Zvonomir Boban's kick at a police officer ( an important moment in sport-politics crossover.

As for the world's most beautiful people, well I don't pay much attention to men but as far as Europe goes I'd take Moldovan women over Croatian. When I've been there they seemed a good few centimetres taller than most, which perhaps helps account for Blanka Vlasic, multi-gold winning high-jumper who, for clarity, is no relation to Blanka from Streetfighter 2.

Best ask Ray though for his experiences with their female youth, I'm sure he'd be glad to chime in.

" relation to Blanka from Streetfighter 2."

Too bad for her then, because Blanka had some really enviable hair.

@Deek - I got laid in Belgrade. I was amazed, first time in years that happened. We met in Greece and then hooked up again in Serbia. She had a tennis player's body, and was my age (late 30s/ 40s at the time) but looked younger. I'm sorry I cannot be more specific since it's a small world in Belgrade.

At that time the war was over and the famous Italian opera singer Bocelli gave one of the first concerts in the new concert hall in Belgrade. I met some local pop stars too, as well as the usual spooks and security types (ex-athletes) that are legion in former communist countries. Also of interest: Playboy came out with a Serbian and a Croatian issue, and 'hands down' the Croatian models won IMO. As for Moldova, I've had no luck with those girls. I tried twice to hookup with them. I guess they prefer rich Arabs to rich Greeks, or perhaps I did not push the right buttons. With girls from the primitive North (and Southeast Asia, and pretty much all beautiful girls all over the world) you have to appeal to their stereotypes. They are in many ways like chickens (I'm raising chickens now, hence the analogy). Perhaps sad but true and that's life. We all have our shortcuts in life and I'm sure I come across as one-dimensional to some people as well.

"As for the world’s most beautiful people, well I don’t pay much attention to men but as far as Europe goes I’d take Moldovan women over Croatian."

I agree, perhaps I'm biased because my wife is Moldavian (Moldovan?), maybe Romania+Moldova although is there really a difference in the people.

How about sculpture? Mestrovic has a great museum in Split

Footballer: Davor Suker, top scorer of the 1998 World Cup (Croatia finished in the 3rd place). Robert Prosinecki was a great footballer as well.

Prosinecki was phenomenal, one of my favourite players of all time. Croatia don't have the same depth of quality as in the 1990s, but Modric is still one of the best midfielders in the world.

Mario Mandžukić's pretty decent as well.

Serb from Croatia. There's no real debate.

Agree with Tom on this one. His father was an Orthodox priest, and he memorized epic Serbian poems when young, but his home was definitely in what is now Croatia.

You can make a better case for Ivo Andrić being Croatian than you can for Tesla.

How can you forget Best article of men's clothing: the neck tie. Which in many European languages is named after "croatian", i.e. cravate, Krawatte, γραβάτα, etc.

From a casual skimming of the main wiki page it seems Tom Warner is right.

But it is even clearer that Tesla was an American.

Goran Ivanisevic. Won Wimbledon in 2001 after being runner-up three times. (Headline from The Times: "Split Goes Bananas")

Also the first Croatian to win an Olympic medal.

Game of Thrones was filmed in Dubrovnik.

Also parts were filmed in Split and Sibenik - although Dubrovnik holds the lion's share...

There is a good local restaurant (for fish) just east of the touristy area that starts at the Matosica, if you are in that part of town.

The best thing Croatia is their video games, the small studio Croteam is located there, and has put out such classics as the Serious Sam series and the Talos Principle.

Central and Eastern Europe in general are very good for gaming, punching well above what their GDP would suggest.

They also punch well above their weight in hacking my online game accounts.

I cannot name a Croatian movie or composer or pop star.

Krist Novoselic of "Nirvana".

Not Comptonian, eh?

Both parents are immigrants and he supposedly knows cousins in the old country. His father entered the United States on 21 March 1962, three years before he was born. His parents were married in Los Angeles on 6 July 1964, but his mother was not granted permanent residency until 15 February 1965, three months before he was born.

KN has also lived in Washington state for 35 years. His family lived in and around L.A. for 15 years; however, his father's petition for naturalization in March of 1967 listed their address as San Pedro, California, not Compton. His mother listed San Pedro as well on her petition for naturalization in 1974.

Art, what else do we know about him?

Yes, what else can Wikipedia reveal?

I do not quote Wikipedia, and Wikipedia would seldom if ever carry images of naturalization petitions or indices of marriages solemnized. Other databases do, and Krsto Novoselic and his wife are listed in them.

Croatia is one of the great wine regions. The grape that produces merlot originated there.

Military offensive: Operation Storm, 1995.

And favorite Croatian dog breed? Again, there is only one option.

Basketball: Drazen Petrovic. Died in his prime. Statue of him in Zagreb.

I second Drazen. Incredible player. Made the Nets relevant in the early '90's. That might be more incredible than a gold medal.

Thank you, I've never bothered to comment here but the selection of Toni Kukoc over Drazen as the best Croatian basketball player got me worked up enough to finally break the ice. One could probably make a reasonably decent case for him being the best European basketball player of all time, let alone Croatian.

Yup, it's a curious oversight by Tyler, who is old enough to have followed Petrovic first-hand and even (erroneously) picked the Nets as one of the teams to beat this season or last season. In Tyler's defense, Petrovic's career was much shorter due to his accidental death and Kukoc had some very good NBA seasons too.


When carefully reviewing the current situation in the Balkans, including Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia, one finds the absence of the rule of law and protection of property rights. Moreover, in the Balkans, over $111.6 billion in illicit financial outflows via crime and corruption - left the region for private bank accounts in Austria, Liechtenstein and beyond.

The more disconcerting note is that a number of groups purporting to promote free markets in the Balkans and within Central Europe are receiving funds and sponsorships from the very institutions and individuals (Austria and Liechtenstein) who have enabled the Balkan region's corrupt politicians and their private partners in crime to rob the region's citizens and taxpayers. Local media groups and journalists, especially a new generation of bloggers are aware of how criminal enterprises are funding projects on "free markets." Hence, there is significant challenge in advancing the ideas of liberty and free markets, when the rule of law is subverted, and, when those known as liberty lovers are receiving funds from criminal enterprises.

The writings of Bastiat are a reminder of the importance of the rule of law and protection of life, liberty and property. The Balkans transitioned from communism to criminal capitalism.

Tyler -- please find below relevant pieces for your reading as you travel through the Balkans, and we encourage you to visit with the locals and also reach out to journalists writing about corruption and the absence of the rule of law in the region. Furthermore, Dr. Marvin Olasky's excellent writings from the Balkan region, covering a number of countries, reminds us of all of the major task at hand, and how, principled leaders from the West and also the very few from the region can build a movement to advance the rule of law and economic liberty.

Balkan betrayal, again and again

The 7th betrayal

Croatia: 'Criminal Enterprise HDZ' Takes Over Presidency -- Organized Crime and the Rise of Nationalism

US Senate Briefing on America and Europe’s Economic, Financial and Security Risks: Crisis on The European Continent | Focus on Corruption in the Baltics and Balkans and The Balkan Route - Austria, Croatia, Liechtenstein and Montenegro

US and Europe's Economic and Security Threats: US Leadership is Vital to Investigate Prince Michael von Liechtenstein, Iran, Austria, Croatia, Montenegro and the Balkans

FATCA: Are Transnational Criminal Networks Influencing US Policy?

Video - Washington, DC events:
Natasha Srdoc - The Unfinished Work of the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Advancing the Rule of Law

Video - Croatia's HTV: Open Letter to Croatia's PM and Finance Minister on $15.2 Billion in Illicit Financial Outflows

Video - Natasha Srdoc - HTV: Croatia's $15.2 bn (25% GDP) illicit financial outflows via crime/corruption

"The Balkan Region’s $111.6 billion in illicit financial outflows via crime and corruption shown on the screen (Global Financial Integrity) should be a wake-up call for the West’s donor nations and their taxpayers. For nations like Croatia, the $17 billion in corruption, representing 30% of GDP, has hemorrhaged its economy and subjected its people to poverty.” - Natasha Srdoc, President, Adriatic Institute for Public Policy

It's Ivo Pogorelich, I think, not Igo. I guess his signature interpretation is Gaspard de la nuit, though: Ravel leaves enough liberty for an individualistic player like Pogorelich to become truly brilliant, in addition to the flabbergasting display of raw technique. Though the late Pogorelich, as in the above video, seems to have exchanged his technique for even more expressivity. This is interesting e.g. with his Chopin, though its somewhat annoying with Stravinsky: I prefer rhythmical machines like Pollini in this case whose rubato is not an excuse for more notes per time than they can currently manage.

2Cellos for music. Two young phenom cellists, Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser (one of Mstislav Rostropovich's last students). Breakout hit was their adaptation of "Smooth Criminal" in 2011; since then they've toured with Elton John and released enough great music, often with entertaining video accompaniments, to occupy several hours of listening.

Croatian rock star: Darko Rundek. His album Ruke, has some very good songs on it. I bought the CD without hearing any of it, on a whim, and it's become a favorite.

Branko Horvat the market socialist seems neat. I scanned Section 1 of the PDF, seems like the paper doesn't really go much into how Yugoslavian and Cold War politics played into Horvat's political and economic studies at all? The Wiki makes it seem like he was some sort of democratic-socialist reformist, I'd like to read up more on that and related political engagement.

Also, I wonder if Horvat and Zizek ever crossed paths, hehe

Tito was a Croat. The Hungarian National Epic, "The Peril at Sziget", is about the actions of a Hungarian general who was ethnically Croatian. Since Croatia was part of Hungary for almost a thousand years, many "Hungarians" throughout history were actually Croats.

one of the single best footballers of the present, Ibrahimovic, has a croatian mother

The Balkan Peninsula is endlessly facsimating. The more I read about it, the less I feel like I know.

Wimbledon winner Goran Ivanisevic. Ivanisevic and Ivo Karlovic (Dr. Ivo) are 1 and 2 in lifetime aces on the ATP tennis tour. Croats are good at tennis because they tend to have long, thin bodies.

Miodrag Bulatović sets his best novel IMHO in Croatia, but he lived in Montenegro and was a Serb culturally. The only Croatian novelist I know of whose work is in translation is Miroslav Krleža. I found him unreadable, but then I found A Man without Qualities unreadable as well and for much the same reasons.

Honestly, if you are going to count Tesla as a Croat, then Marco Polo should make the cut as well.

Eck? Why? Because you think Tesla was born in Venice?

Marco Polo was not born in Venice, he was born in Korcula (Corzula), which is now a Croatian posession. At least that is the story they tell you in Korcula.

Tesla as a Croat is like Rutherford being Maori.

"Has anyone set a movie here?"

Huh? WTF? No one's answered this one yet? What's the matter with you people?

Famously, _Kelly's Heroes_. Surely not the only one of that era that went there, but I believe the best known. Rickles! Margolin! Et al.

I had always imagined that Force 10 from Navarone was set in Croatia, but quick interweb research only mentions Yugoslavia. I am probably just croat-fixated becuase Australian soccer teams are never named after Yugoslavia.

Antonija Mišura should count as both a basketball player and beautiful Croatian. Do an image search for her. You're welcome, in advance.

Hop on a boat and go to Hvar. It's far more beautiful and interesting that Split which is about as bland as Croatia gets.

The islands of Hvar and Brac are the place of origin of most Coratian immigrants to Argentina and Chile.

Ivo Karlovic gets a mention but not the reigning US Open champion Marin Cilic. Come on people.

People like freaks

Ivan Mestrovic was a great Croatian sculptor that lived for some time in Split. He was a friend of Nikola Tesla and Rodin said of him "the greatest phenomenon among sculptors" and "greater than I am." There is Ivan Mestrovic Gallery in Split you can visit.

Ivo Andric, who won Nobel Prize in Literature, was opposite of Nikola Tesla. He was Croat by ethnicity but he mainly lived in Belgrade, Serbia. He is claimed as part of Croatian, Serbian and Bosnian literature.

Novelist: Dubravka Ugresic. Endlessly fascinating. Many English translations.

The late former CEO of AIG, Robert Benmosche, had a villa in Croatia.

He had planned to spend his retirement in Croatia but sadly died from cancer.

Best symphonic use of a Croatian folk song:the last symphony of Haydn. The main theme of his Symphony no. 104's finale apparently quotes an old Croatian folk song, which translates "Helena, Helena, my little green apple," but in the original has wordplay that even a non-speaker can recognize: "Jelena, Jelena, jabuka zelena"
Haydn, a German speaker born in what is now Austria, just across the river from what is now Hungary, was not himself Croatian and never set foot in what is now Croatia. I take with a grain of salt the assertion that his Kaiser Hymn (which eventually became the tune of "Deutschland uber Alles") was based on a Croatian folk tune, "Stal se jesem" - but I would like it to be true, and if it turns out that it is, it will be my No. 1 Croatian allusion in music.

Before my recent trip to Croatia I read Zoran Feric (The Death of the little match girl) and Robert Perisic (Our man in Irak). Both were really good, portraying Croatian reality with a good dose of humor. They talk about very serious contemporary topics in a very entertaining and easy-to-read way.

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