Croatian Currency: History & How to Guide
Learn Croatian culture and history through their money
Throughout History, the monetary traditions of European people can be tracked through different symbols on their currency. These symbols represented national pride and sovereignty. Croatia is no stranger to this tradition and has a rich history of different monetary systems.
Background, History, and a Cute Fluffy Animal
When picturing money most people would not envision a cute furry animal yet that is what was used as Croatian currency in the 13th and 15th century. The animal is called a Kuna and its luxurious fur was used for paying taxes.
In 1994 Croatia declared independence and gained diplomatic recognition. The Croatian Parliament decided that official Croatian currency would be the Kuna. Unlike the middle ages the Kuna is no longer an animal fur to be traded but rather a coin.
Lipa is Croatian word for linden tree, a very common tree in Slavonia region. To understand Croatian Currency it’s important to understand not only the history but also the coin system. Coins come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 lipa and 1, 2, 5 and 25 kuna. 1 Kuna = 100 Lipas. Coins of Kuna have the imprint of the most common Croatian animals; tuna fish, brown bear, and the nightingale on one side.
On the front of every coin is a picture of the Kuna. Coins of Lipa have imprints of most common Croatian plants: corn, vine, oak branch, tobacco plant, olive branch and Degenia Velebitica. Due to their low value, 1 and 2 lipa coins are rarely used.
Paper bills are printed in 10, 20,50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 Kuna bills. Each has imprints of the most important Croatian historical figures on the front: Bishop Juraj Dobrila, Viceroy Josip Jelačić, Ivan Gundulić Croatian Baroque poet, Viceroy Ivan Mažuranić, Politician Stjepan Radić, Croatian national poet and Christian humanist Marko Marulic and finally, on 1000 Kuna bill is the imprint of Ante Starcevic. The Croatian politician and writer’s works are considered to have laid the foundations for Croatian nationalism and he is often referred to as “Father of the Homeland” by Croats.
On the back side of each bills are popular Croatian landmarks and monuments – The Pula Arena and Motovun town layout, The Eltz Manor in Vukovar and the Vučedol Dove from Slavonia region; The Old City of Dubrovnik and its Rector’s Palace; St. Vitus Cathedral in Rijeka and its layout; The old General Command building in Osijek and layout of the City-fortress of Tvrđa; Diocletian’s Palace in Split and the motif of Croatian ruler from 11th century and Statue of King Tomislav and the Zagreb Cathedral. Regardless of the amount, each paper bill has the lyric of national anthem printed on the front, next to the historical figure.
Croatians love luxury and many of them live beyond their means. Croatian women splurge on famous brands clothes and house decorations. While Men’s item of choice is a nice German car. The average Croatian monthly salary is around 5000 Kuna which is less than 1000 USD.
If you want to buy a coffee in a bar, it will cost you from 7 – 15 Kuna or 1-2$, average meal in a fast food or diner is around 5-7$, A can of beer is 2-3$, and a scoop of ice-cream is 1$.
How Does This Help You?
When you are visiting Croatia it is important to understand how to use the currency so you don’t accidentally make mistakes. Understanding the symbols behind the currency is a great way to interact with Croatia’s unique history as a country. Having a handle on how to use Croatian Currency allows travelers to be independent as well as immerse themselves in a completely different culture.
written by Marcella Pappas
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