One of the stops on the epic road trip was Croatia. Getting there was a bit of an adventure since we drove straight from Brussels to Zagreb in one day. This involved sunrise in Belgium, the GPS being angry that we wanted to drive all the way to Croatia and sending us on these random, super fun back roads in Luxembourg, my blowing by die Polizei at 190kph on the Autobahn,* The Swede’s first ever speeding ticket (in Austria), a steady downpour through the Alps, Slovenia’s compulsive need to put churches on hills, and sunset in Zagreb.
Anyway, Croatia is gorgeous. But that’s not the lesson here.
The Croatian currency is called the Kuna, which I had just assumed was the word for crown.** It turns out, it’s the word for marten. Because back when the Romans ruled the world, tax was collected in the form of marten pelts. And as late as the 17th century, payments were made in marten pelts. In fact, in 1224, there was a monetary value of 10 dinars, then the unit of currency, to each pelt, making the marten an actual currency. Which is kind of awesome, really.
Following their secession from Yugoslavia in 1991 and the dissolution of the Yugoslav Republic in 1993, the Croats moved away from the dinar and chose the kuna as their currency. “It can safely be said that the kuna as the name of a monetary unit is justified in many ways in Croatian monetary and fiscal tradition during one thousand years. The kuna as a complex occurrence has nothing its equal in Croatian economic history while in recent centuries the kuna as a figure or name did not have any role outside Croatia with regard to money events. This then is something historically specific to Croatia and is worthy of respect. For this reason, the kuna as the name of Croatia’s currency is itself imposed upon us.”
*This is literally the most badass thing I have ever done
**The Croatian word for crown is kruna