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Croatia facts and history in brief


Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Split (Italian: Spalato) is the largest and most important city in Dalmatia, the administrative center of Croatia's Split-Dalmatia county.
It is situated on a small peninsula on the eastern shores of the Adriatic Sea, in the foothills of Kozjak and Mosor mountains.
With a population of 188,694 (2001) it is the second largest city in Croatia.
Absolute majority of its citizens are Croats with 95.15% (2001 census).

Although the beginnings of Split are usually linked to the building of Diocletian's Palace, there is evidence that this area was inhabited as a Greek colony even earlier.
Diocletian was a Roman emperor who ruled between A.D. 284 and 305 and was known for his reforms and persecution of Christians.
He ordered the work on the palace to begin in 293 in readiness for his retirement from politics in 305.
The palace faces the sea on its south side and its walls are 570 to 700 feet (170 to 200 m) long and 50 to 70 feet (15 to 20 m) high, and it encloses an area of 9 acres (38,000 m).
This massive structure was long deserted when the first citizens of Split settled inside its walls.
In 639, the interior was converted into a town by the citizens of Salona who escaped the destruction of their town by the Avars.
Over the centuries, the city has spread out over the surrounding landscape, but even today the palace constitutes the inner core of the city, still inhabited, full of shops, markets, squares, with even a Christian cathedral (formerly Diocletian's mausoleum) inserted in the corridors and floors of the former palace.
During its history, Split was ruled by Rome, the Byzantine Empire, and intermittently by Croatian and Hungarian nobility, until the Venetian Republic took control in 1420 and held it until its own downfall in 1797, when it fell to Austria-Hungary with a brief period of Napoleonic rule (1806-1813).
During this time, Split developed into an important port city with trade routes to the interior through the nearby Klis pass.
Culture flourished as well, Split being the hometown of Marko Marulic, one of the classics of Croatian literature, and a place where he wrote Judita (1501, published in 1521), widely held to be the first modern work of literature in Croatian.

Split in the 20th century
After the end of World War I and the dissolution of Austria-Hungary, the province of Dalmatia along with Split became a part of The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (which in 1929 changed its name to Yugoslavia).
After both Rijeka and Zadar, the two other large cities on the eastern Adriatic coast, went to Italy, Split became the most important port in Yugoslavia.
The Lika railway, connecting it to the rest of the country, was completed in 1925.
In April 1941, following Axis invasion of Yugoslavia, Split was occupied by Italy and formally annexed one month later.
In September 1943, following capitulation of Italy, city was liberated by Partisans only to be occupied by Wehrmacht few weeks later.
During the occupation, some of the port facilities as well as parts of the old city were damaged by Allied bombing.
Partisans finally liberated the city on October 26th 1944.
On February 12th 1945 Kriegsmarine conducted a daring raid on Split harbour, using explosive boats and damaging British cruiser Delhi in the process.
Until the end of war Split was provisional capital of Partisans-controlled Croatia.
After WWII, Split became a part of Croatia, itself a constituent republic of the socialist federal Yugoslavia.
It continued to grow and develop as an important commercial and cultural center.
The city drew a large number of rural migrants who found employment in the newly built factories, a part of a large-scale industrialisation effort.
In the period between 1945 and 1990, the population tripled and the city expanded, taking up the whole peninsula.
When Croatia declared independence in 1991, Split had large garrison of Yugoslav People's Army, guarding the facilities and headquarters of JRM - Yugoslav Navy.
This led to months of tense stand-off between JNA and Croatian military and police forces, occasionally interrupted by various incidents.
The most spectacular such incident occurred in November 1991, when JRM, including destroyer Split conducted naval bombardment of the city.
This was the only time in history that the military vessel bombarded a city that it was named after.
JNA finally evacuated all of its facilities in January 1992.
Split is now second largest city in Croatia.
Split is sometimes credited as Dalmatia's capital, but there is no such governmental unit as Dalmatia today.

The city is still feeling the effects of the difficult transition to market economy, worsened by the depression caused by Croatia's war of independence.
In the Yugoslav era, it was an important economic centre with a diverse industrial base including shipbuilding, food, chemical, plastics, clothing, paper industry etc.
Today most of the socialist factories are closed down and the city has been concentrating on commerce and services, consequently leaving many factory workers unemployed.
Despite everything, it has managed to maintain its position as an important transportation, commercial, and administrative center of Dalmatia, ensuring stable, though rather slow economic growth.
The prospects for the future look brighter.
The city is expected to benefit from the completion of the first modern four-lane highway connecting it with the capital Zagreb and northern Croatia.
The entire route was opened in July 2005.
Today, city's economy relies mostly on trade and tourism with some old industries undergoing revival, such as food (fishing, olive, wine production), paper, concrete, and chemicals.

Split is an important transportation centre for Dalmatia and the wider region.
In addition to the Zagreb-Split highway (A1), all the road traffic along the Adriatic coast on the route Zadar-Dubrovnik flows by the city.
The airport in Kastela is the third largest in Croatia in terms of passenger numbers (788,000 in 2004), with year-round services to Zagreb and Frankfurt in Germany and heavy tourist traffic in the summer.
Split passenger seaport is one of the largest on the eastern Adriatic coast with daily coastal routes to Rijeka, Dubrovnik and Ancona in Italy.
During summer season Split is connected with other Italian cities as well (like Pescara).
Most of the middle Dalmatian islands are only reachable through the Split harbour (usually with Jadrolinija ferries).
This includes both the closer islands of Brac, Hvar and Solta, and the more distant Vis, Korcula and Lastovo.

The above details were retrieved and condensed from (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Split) August 2005
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (see Copyrights for details).

Hui Chin and I visited Croatia during our European travels in 2005.

We have enjoyed our stay in the country, but were very disappointed with the train services.

Before our departure from new Zealand, we purchased a rather expensive Regional Eurail Pass with added days to cover any delays or staying longer in any place than we have planned for.

Croatia, - at least between places we intended to visit - have very poor train services.

We arrived from Austria, through Slovenia to Rijeka, and although Rijeka connected by rail to Pula, our next stop, the train service is very slow and sporadic.

To go from Pula to Zadar or Split, or Dubrovnik, we either had to go through Zagreb with the consequent delay or use the bus services, which we did have to use throughout.

The roads are very good, so are the bus services, but it meant extra expenses for us, with already paid for rail passes.

With the good roads Croatia is catering for the neighbouring countries drivers, not for the like of us, with limited budgets, who can't afford a car or hired car in every country we like to visit.

Split looked like the filthiest place on earth on our arrival at the waterfront bus terminal, but it scrubbed up very nice, clean and tidy very quickly.

Obviously the 'Splitians' must have had a 'one helluva good' party the night before (Saturday).

Lots of Roman relics and ruins.

Friendly people.

You can click on these photos for an enlargement.


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