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Lika is a mountainous region in central Croatiamarker, roughly bound by the Velebitmarker mountain from the southwest and the Plješevicamarker mountain from the northeast. On the north-west end Lika is bounded by Ogulin-Plaški basin, and on the south-east by the Malovan pass. Today most of the territory of Lika is part of Lika-Senj countymarker and some parts part of Karlovac countymarker and Zadar countymarker.

Major towns include Gospić, Otočacmarker, and Gračacmarker, most of which are located in the karst fields of the Gacka river along with others.

The Plitvice Lakesmarker National Park is also in Lika.

Famous people born in Lika include the world-renowned physicist and entrepreneur Nikola Tesla, Croatian politician Ante Starčević and the painter Miroslav Kraljević.



Byelohravati (or White Croats) originally migrated from White Croatia to Lika in the first half of the 7th century. After the settlement of Croats (according to migrations theories), Lika became part of the Duchy of Littoral Croatia.

Lika then became a part of the Kingdom of Croatia in 925, when Duke Tomislav of the Croats received the crown and became King of Croatia.

In 1102, after numerous intrusions of Hungarians into Croatia, the Croatian nobility recognized King Coloman of Hungary as their King.

Among 12 noble Croat tribes that had a right to choose the Croat king, the tribe Gusići was from Lika.

From the 15th century

The end of the 15th century brought some migrations of Vlachs and Serbs, particularly from Dalmatia and Bosnia which fell to the Ottomans.

Lika, together with whole of Croatia became a part of the Habsburg Monarchy when the Croatian Parliamentmarker recognized Ferdinand I of the House of Habsburg as their King in 1527. The Ottomans conquered parts of the region in 1528 and it became Sandžak Lika, a part of Viyalet Bosnia; causing migrations of the region's Serbs, Croats and Vlachs into the Croatian Frontier, Carinthia and Styriamarker; the Serbs from there inhabited Žumberak in the 1630s. After the Second Great Migration of Serbs in 1690, the migrations of Serbs to Lika increased. Shortly after Treaty of Karlowitz was signed in 1699 which ended the War of the Holy League (1683-1699), the region was incorporated into the Karlovacmarker generalat of the Austrian Military Frontier.

Lika housed many Croatian uskoks, who would invade the Ottoman border territories and then return to Austria. They were citizens who wanted to help liberate their fellow men from Ottoman domination. Some of the more important were in Ravni Kotari; and the most famous were from Senjmarker. The uskoks had an important role in the War of the Holy League in which most of the Ottoman-held Habsburg lands were re-conquered.

The Croatian Ban and nobility wanted that the control over the regions of the Military Frontier be restored to the Croatian Parliament and the Roman Catholic Church worked hard to turn the local Serbian Orthodox populace into Uniates but without success. The region went through a process of de-militarization from 1869 after numerous pleas by the Croatian Parliament, and it was officially demilitarized on August 8, 1873. On July 15, 1881 the Military Frontier was abolished, and Lika restored to Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, an autonomous part of Transleithania (the Hungarian part of the Dual Monarchy of Austro-Hungary).

In 18th century and in the middle of the 19th century the Orthodox Christians, mostly adherents of Serbian Orthodox Licko-Krbavska and Zrinopoljska Eparchy comprised the majority in Lika. This Eparchy, established in 1695 by metropolitan Atanasije Ljubojevic and certified by Emperor Joseph I in 1707, is known (from the 19th century) as the Eparchy of Upper Karlovac. According to the 1910 Austro-Hungarian census, the Lika-Krbava county had some 204,710 inhabitants, of those, 104,041 Orthodox (51%), 100,620 Roman Catholics (49%), 14 Greek Catholics, 12 Jews, 6 Lutherans and 2 Calvinists. The Orthodox Christian population lived predominantly in the eastern and central parts of the region.

Kingdom of Yugoslavia to SFRY

After the collapse of Austria-Hungary Croatia and Slavonia of which Lika was part became part of the self-proclaimed State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbsmarker on October 29, 1918. The newly-created state then joined the Kingdom of Serbia on December 1, 1918 to form Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenesmarker which was in 1929 re-named into Yugoslavia. Lika remained inside Croatia, which became one of the constituent provinces of the Kingdom. The majority of Lika belonged to the Županija Lika-Krbavamarker with the capital in Senjmarker (instead of in Gospić previously). The new constitution abolished any previous borders and Lika became a part of the Primorsko-krajiška Oblast with the capital in Karlovacmarker. In 1929, the region became a part of the Sava Banate (Savska banovina) of the newly formed Kingdom of Yugoslaviamarker, and the in 1939 of the Croatian Banate (Hrvatska banovina).

Yugoslavia was invaded and split by the Axis forces in 1941 and Lika became a part of the fascist German-Italian controlled puppet state Independent State of Croatiamarker. During World War II the region's Serbs, Croatian communists and other ethnic minorities were decimated by the Ustasha regime.


In 1991, what is today the Lika-Senj countymarker had a population of 85,135. Due to recent civil unrest and after the Croatian declaration of independence, the Serb majority settlements of eastern Lika joined with fellow Serbian populous in nowadays Bosniamarker and Croatiamarker in the creation and declaration of independence of the Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK). Some areas rebelled immediately, while others didn't rebel at first, and although with big reluctance, remained loyal. But the influence from Serbia and neighboring rebelled areas was strong and heavy. Croats at government-controlled areas became heavy suspicious toward the local Serbs. The fear of betrayal from the side of local Serbs rose dramatically, because of the actions of Serbs in other Croatian municipalities. Most of the Croatian inhabitants in the rebelled areas were expelled as a result of ethnic cleansing and severe damage was inflicted on the neighboring areas by the joint forces of the Yugoslav National Army (JNA) and the Serb paramilitary forces from Serbia, Croatia and B&H.

Unrest in the region had started in 1989, and continued in 1990 and 1991. Between 6 June and 27 June 1990, the SO Kninmarker founded the Community of North Dalmatia and Lika. On 25 July 1990 a Council was headed in Srbmarker, to which 200,000 Serbs travelled from all over Croatia to. It was organised by the President of the Serbian Democratic Party, Jovan Rašković. The subject was the future of Croatian Serbs. The Council proclaimed the Declaration of Independence and Autonomy of the Serbian people, calling for the right of self-determination and Serbian autonomous region within Croatiamarker should Croatia remain within the socialist Yugoslavia. In the event of Croatia's independence, the Serbs would threaten to secede from the Croatian territories they viewed as belonging to them. After the unconstitutional referendum about the Serbian autonomy within Croatia (19 august - 2 September 1990), which was declared illegal by Croatian authorities, Lika became a part of the self-proclaimed Serbian Autonomous Area of Frontier together with parts of Northern Dalmatia on 21 December 1990 when the Serbian National Assembly and the Transitional Presidency of the Community of North Dalmatia and Lika proclaimed the Constitution of SAO Krajina in Kninmarker.

Subsequently, the Serbian paramilitary units were created with the backing of the Yugoslav National Army and Serbian paramilitary forces from B&H. Clashes with the Croatian police that followed later in 1991 quickly erupted in a full-scale war which resulted in the capital of the province Gospić being heavily damaged by the Serbian forces. By the end of 1991 the eastern parts of Lika were under Serbian control.

Later Lika came again to international prominence in 1993, after a September 9 offensive by the Croatian Army on a Serb-held "Medak pocket" in the south of the region. According to Canadian sources, Canadian UN forces were caught up in the fighting, which lasted - on and off - for about a week. The ICTYmarker raised war crime indictments against several Croatian officers afterwards.

In 1995, the Croatian Army liberated the region in Operation Storm, ending the existence of the internationally unrecognized Republic of Serbian Krajina. Some 30,000 Serbs fled Lika, although some have since returned. Most of the Croats previously expelled have now returned.A great deal of damage was done during the fighting, prompting a major post-war reconstruction programme in the region.


The 2001 census data for the Lika-Senj countymarker shows 53,677 inhabitants (almost 37% less than ten years before), which are 86.15% Croat and 11.54% Serb.Population 2001.:[53556]The historical population of Lika was a mix of Croats and Serbs (see History above). After Croatian Military operation "Storm" during war in former Yugoslavia most Serbs fled from Lika and now live in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker, Serbiamarker, Montenegromarker, USAmarker, Australia, Canadamarker and the United Kingdommarker.

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