What do Ukraine and Croatia have in common? More than you think!

This year’s World Cup, as controversial as it may have been, sparked a mutual respect and beautiful love between two Eastern European nations: Ukraine and Croatia.


The iconic moment was brought by Croatian player, Domagoj Vida, who yelled ‘Slava Ukraini’ or ‘Glory to Ukraine,’ after his team won against Russia, eliminating the host nation out of the tournament. FIFA issued an unnecessary, uneducated formal warning to Vida… anger was expressed…

Long story short, Ukrainians everywhere bought Croatian flags and supported the team wholeheartedly as they advanced to the final against France.

As it turns out, there are more things that these two countries share than just the support of each other’s sports teams.

 Here’s 10 things that these they have in common:

1.Slavic origins
Both trace their roots back into ancient history where the original Slavic peoples begin north of the Carpathian mountains between Ukraine, Poland, and Belarus. For reasons unknown (probably because they heard about the great beaches!), the Croatians migrated southward.

2.Linguistic similarities
With Slavic roots, it’s no wonder these two groups share some vocabulary:

Word Ukrainian | Ukrainian cyrillic Croatian
To you health/cheers! Na zdorovia | На здоров’я Nazdravlje
Good Dobre | Добре Dobra
Good Day Dobriy Den’ | Добрий День Dobar Dan
We understand Rozumiyem | Розумієм Razumijem
Green Zelenij | Зелений Zelena

3.Great Food
Slavic culinary tradition has been exploding lately with culinary tours popping up in both Ukraine and Croatia. And for good reason!
Most have heard of the Slavic favorites: Borscht, Perogies/Varenyky, Holubtsi, Pork products… These are Ukraine’s staples, and that flavor palate can be found in Croatia’s food as well. However, there is so much more to both cuisines than these favorites. Ukraine has dishes for the adventurous: salo (raw pig fat) and kvass (fermented bread juice), dishes made of rabbit, boar and a quality of freshness and taste that you cannot recreate back home. Both countries have quite a few recognizable culinary influences from other nations in the area:  eggplant and pilaf from Turkey, Hungarian goulash, Russian pelmeni… Croatia also has a huge coastline for a small country and shares the Adriatic sea with Italy. Thus, this small Balkan nation has many varieties of seafood, and will even boast some fresh pasta on its restaurant menus.

4.Natural Hosts
If you are a guest of a Croatian or Ukrainian host, they will practically push a spoon into your hands the minute you walk through the door and keep you eating until you leave for the night. Besides the multitude of dishes, we often hear from our travelers that they are overwhelmed by the genuine nature and welcome they receive from both Ukrainian and Croatian households.

5.Rich Tradition of Folk Dress and Embroidery
How can you not be enchanted by the intricate tapestries of Ukrainian or Croatian embroidery? These millennia-old traditions have seen a recent revival thanks to the fashion world’s recent inspiration from the patterns seen during Ukraine’s Maidan revolution of 2014.
While buying folk-inspired pieces from malls supports this trend, we strongly encourage people to buy pieces from the original creators of this art form as well. You’re buying something truly unique for your wardrobe!

6.Diverse Geography
Carpathians/Dinarides, Black Sea/Adriatic Sea, Red Forest/Plitvice Lakes National Park…
Eastern Europe has a plethora of topography and even climates! As little of the region that both countries account for, the variation is astounding!

7.Similar political struggles
Both Ukraine and Croatia have struggled and fought for their freedom from the oppression of a larger, more powerful neighbor after the respective breakups of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.Ukraine gained independence in 1991, however after the Revolution of Dignity in 2014, which ousted Russian-backed president, Viktor Yanukovych, Russian troops invaded the Donbas region and annexed Crimea.Croatia formally declared independence after the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991. However, they soon after fought a war with Serbia for territory and independence, which lasted until 1995. Croatian independence is formally recognized by the international community.

8.Both have cultures rooted in agriculture and fishing
In 2013, Ukraine and Croatia were listed as countries with the largest percentages of arable land in the world. The immensely fertile Ukrainian ‘chornozem’ or ‘black earth,’ is world-famous for creating a big crop yield of rich-tasting fruits and vegetables. Only the size of Texas, Ukraine has about 4,000 lakes, providing locals with lots of freshwaters to fish in. Although the salt waters of the Black Sea are in need of urgent cleaning, the long coastline Ukraine enjoys brought about the traditional delicacies of anchovies, caviar, and mackerel.
On the other hand, Croatia has enjoyed the notoriously clean saltwater of the Adriatic for centuries. Nowadays, almost half of all Croatian saltwater fish are sold for export around the world. Any traveler will tell you that here, the fish just tastes… better!

9.New popularity as travel destinations!
Both of these Eastern European nations are hot, up-and-coming tourist destinations, known for their beautiful people, amazing food, fascinating scenery and cheap prices (for now)!

10.Love of soccer (football)!
True… this is something that both countries have in common with most of the world. Still, let us celebrate the oasis of unity and fun that sports instill in a chaotic world!

written by Cobblestone Staff