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Split (see names in other languages) is the largest Dalmatian city, the second-largest urban centre in Croatiamarker, and the seat of Split-Dalmatia Countymarker. The city is situated on the shores of the Mediterraneanmarker, more specifically the eastern Adriatic Seamarker, spreading over a central peninsula and its surroundings, with its metropolitan area including the many surrounding littoral towns as well. An important regional transit center, the city is a vital link to the numerous surrounding Adriatic islands and the Italian peninsula, as well as a popular tourist destination.

Split is also one of the oldest cities in the area, and is traditionally considered just over 1,700 years old. However, recent archaeological research relating to the ancient Greek colony of Aspálathos (6th century BC) establishes the city as being several hundred years older.



Although the beginnings of Split are usually linked to the building of Diocletian's Palace, the city was founded much earlier as a Greek colony named Aspálathos. [The Greek settlement lived off trade with the surrounding Illyrian tribes, mostly the Delmatae, who inhabited the (much larger) nearby city of Salona. In time, the Roman Republic became the dominant power in the region, and conquered the Illyrians in the Illyrian Wars of 229 and 219 BC. Upon establishing permanent control, the Romans founded the province of Dalmatia with Salona as the capital, and at that time the name of the nearby Greek colony Aspálathos was changed to "Spalatum".

After he nearly died of an illness, the Roman Emperor Diocletian (ruled AD 284 to 305), great reformer of the late Roman Empire, decided to retire from politics in AD 305. The Emperor ordered work to begin on a retirement palace near his hometown, and since he was from the town of Dioclea he chose the harbor near Salona for the location. Work on the palace began in AD 293 in readiness for his retirement from politics. The palace was built as a massive structure, much like a Roman military fortress. It faces the sea on its south side, with its walls 170 to 200 meters (570 to 700 feet) long, and 15 to 20 meters (50 to 70 feet) high, enclosing an area of 38,000 m² (9½ acres). The palace water supply was substantial, fed by an aqueduct from Jadro Spring. This opulent palace and its surroundings were at times inhabited by a population as large as 8,000 to 10,000 people, who required parks and recreation space; therefore, Diocletian established such outdoor areas at Marjanmarker hill. The palace was finished in AD 305, right on time to receive its owner, who retired exactly according to schedule, becoming the first Roman Emperor to voluntarily remove himself from office. After a few years, a group of Roman Senators came to Diocletian's palace, asking the former emperor to return to Rome and help the Empire to overcome growing political problems. Diocletian refused, and while he was showing them his garden, he told them that he could not leave his beautiful garden which he had created by his own hands. This gesture showed that he remained bound by his word to leave political life after 21 years of ruling the Roman Empire.

Following the fall of the Western Roman Empire in AD 476, Spalatum became a part of the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as Byzantium. It grew very slowly as a satellite town of the much larger Salona. However, around AD 639 Salona fell to the invasion of Avars and Slavs, and was razed to the ground , with the majority of the displaced citizens fleeing to the nearby Adriatic islands. Following the return of Byzantine rule to the area, the Romanic citizens returned to the mainland under the leadership of the nobleman known as Severus the Great. They chose to inhabit Diocletian's Palace in Spalatum, because of its strong (more "medieval") fortifications. The palace was long deserted by this time, and the interior was converted into a city by the Salona refugees, making Spalatum much larger as the successor to the capital city of the province. Today the palace constitutes the inner core of the city, still inhabited, full of shops, markets, squares, with an ancient Cathedral of St. Dujemarker (formerly Diocletian's mausoleum) inserted in the corridors and floors of the former palace. As a part of the Byzantine Empire, the city had varying but significant political autonomy.

Middle Ages

The Medieval period in Split's Dalmatia province is marked by the waning power of the Byzantine Empire, and by the struggle of the neighboring powers, namely the Venetian Republicmarker, the Kingdom of Croatia, and (later) the Kingdom of Hungary, to fill the power vacuum. The arrival of the South Slavs (mostly Croats) in the 7th century AD profoundly influenced the area. The hinterland and the islands were predominantly populated by the Croats, who began influencing the city itself. The early Medieval Croatian state (later the Kingdom of Croatia) founded neighboring littoral cities (such as Šibenikmarker), and encompassed the vast majority of the hinterland. In the following centuries Split developed an increasingly Croatian character, which can be seen in the architecture (particularly of churches) in the city and its surroundings. The city's Romanic population increasingly mingled with the surrounding populace.

To the north, the Venetian Republicmarker began to influence the Dalmatian region from the 10th century, using its growing economic influence to gain control over the islands and the coastal cities. It gained control over the city during several periods, due mostly to the temporary weakness of the Croatian or Hungarian state. With the decline of the Byzantine Empire, the Kingdom of Croatia held de-facto suzerainty over the city, granting it significant autonomy due to the state's feudal character. In the year 1102, Croatia was forced into a personal union with the Kingdom of Hungary (see Croatian pacta conventa) by its King, Coloman. The city however maintained its significant degree of independence, and in 1312, it issued statues as well as currency of its own.

Early modern period

During the 20-year Hungarian civil war between King Sigismund and the Capetian House of Anjou of the Kingdom of Naples, the losing contender, Ladislaus of Naples, sold his "rights" on Dalmatia to the Venetian Republic for a mere 100,000 ducats. The much more centralized Republic took over the city by the year 1420, it was to remain under Venetian rule for 377 years (1420 - 1797).

The population was by that time largely Croatian, but besides Slavic, the common language was also Italian (a mixture of Tuscan and Venetian dialects). The autonomy of the city was reduced: the highest authority was a prince-captain, always of Venetian birth.

Despite this, Split eventually developed into a significant port-city, with important trade routes to the Ottoman-held interior through the nearby Klismarker pass. Culture flourished as well, Split being the hometown of Marko Marulić, a classic Croatian author. Marko Marulić's most acclaimed work, Judita (1501), was an epic poem about Judith and Holfernes and written in Split, it was printed in Venice in 1521. It is widely held to be the first modern work of Croatian literature. Still, it should be noted the advances and achievements were reserved mostly for the aristocracy: the illiteracy rate was extremely high, mostly because Venetian rule showed little interest in educational and medical facilities. Split was ruled by the Venetian Republic up to its downfall in 1797. After a brief period of Napoleonic rule (1806–1813), the city was allocated to the Empire of Austriamarker by the Congress of Vienna. Large investments were undertaken in the city during that period, new streets were built and parts of the ancient fortifications were removed.

During the period of the Austrian Empiremarker Split's region, the Kingdom of Dalmatia, was a separate administrative unit. After the revolutions of 1848 as a result of the romantic nationalism, two factions appeared. One was the pro-Croatian Unionist faction (later called the "Puntari", "Pointers"), led by the People's Party and, to a lesser extent, the Party of Rights, both of which advocated the union of Dalmatia with Croatia-Slavonia which was under Hungarian administration. This faction was strongest in Split, and used it as its headquarters. The other faction was the pro-Italian Autonomist faction (also known as the "Irredentist" faction), whose political goals varied from autonomy within the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to a political union with the Kingdom of Italy.

The political alliances in Split shifted over time. At first, the Unionists and Autonomists were allied against the centralism of Viennamarker. After a while, when the national question came to prominence, they separated. Under Austria, however, Split can generally be said to have stagnated. The great upheavals in Europe in 1848 gained no ground in Split, and the city did not rebel.

Antonio Bajamonti of the Autonomist Party became Mayor of Split in 1860 for and - except for a brief interruption during the period 1864-65 - held the post for over two decades until 1880. Bajamonti was also a member of the Dalmatian Sabor (1861-91) and the Austrian Chamber of Deputies (1867-70 and 1873-79). In 1882 the Bajamonti's party lost the elections and Dujam Rendić-Miočević, a prominent city lawyer, was elected to the post.

20th century

Kingdom of Yugoslavia

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 Slovenesmarker (which in 1929 changed its name to Kingdom of Yugoslavia). Since both Rijekamarker and Zadarmarker, the two other large cities on the eastern Adriatic coast, were annexed by Italymarker, Split became the most important port in Yugoslavia. In the new country, Split became the seat of new administrative unit, Littoral Banovina. The Lika railway, connecting Split to the rest of the country, was completed in 1925. After the Cvetković-Maček agreement, Split became the part of new administrative unit (merging of Sava and Littoral Banovina plus some Croat populated areas), Banovina of Croatia in Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

World War II

In April 1941, following the invasion of Yugoslavia by Nazi Germany, Split was occupied by Italy and formally annexed one month later. Italian rule met heavy opposition from the Croat majority and almost a third of the total population joined Josip Broz Tito's Partisans. The local football clubs refused to compete in the Italian championship; HNK Hajduk and RNK Split suspended their activities and later both joined the Partisans along with their entire staff. Soon after Hajduk became the official football club of the Partisan movement.

In September 1943, following the capitulation of Italy, the city was temporarily liberated by Tito's brigades with thousands of people volunteering to join the Partisans. A few weeks later, however, the Partisans were forced into retreat as the Wehrmacht placed the city under the occupation of the Nazi puppet NDHmarker a few weeks later. During the occupation, some of the port facilities as well as parts of the old city were damaged by NDH and German bombing. In a tragic turn of events, besides being bombed by axis forces, the heavily pro-Partisan city was also bombed by the Allies, causing hundreds of deaths. Partisans finally liberated the city on October 26, 1944 and instituted it as the provisional capital of Croatia. On February 12, 1945 the Kriegsmarine conducted a daring raid on the Split harbor, damaging the British cruiser Delhi.

SFR Yugoslavia

After World War II, Split became a part of the Socialist Republic of Croatia, itself a constituent sovereign republic of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslaviamarker. During the period the city experienced its largest economical and demographic boom. Dozens of new factories and other companies were founded with the cities population increasing three times during the period. The city became the economic center of an area far exceeding the borders of Croatia and was flooded by waves of rural migrants from the undeveloped hinterland who found employment in the newly built factories, a part of large-scale industrialization and investment by the Yugoslav Federal government.

The shipbuilding industry was particularly successful, with Yugoslavia becoming one of the world's top nations in the field. Many recreational facilities were also constructed with federal funding, especially for the 1979 Mediterranean Games, such as the Poljud Stadiummarker, an architectural marvel. The city also became the largest passenger and military port in Yugoslavia and the center of the Yugoslav People's Army's (Serbo-Croatian: Jugoslavenska narodna armija, JNA) Coastal Military District (equivalent of a field army) along with the headquarters of the Yugoslav War Navy (Jugoslavenska ratna mornarica, JRM). In the period between 1945 and 1990, the city was totally transformed and expanded, taking up the whole of the peninsula. In the same period (considered its golden age) it achieved an as yet unsurpassed GDP and employment level, far above the present day's, and became one of the largest cities in the whole of Yugoslavia.

Republic of Croatia

When Croatia declared its independence again in 1991, Split had a large garrison of JNA troops (drafted from all over Yugoslavia), as well as facilities and the headquarters of the Yugoslav War Navy (JRM). This led to a months-long tense stand-off between the JNA and Croatian National Guard and police forces, occasionally flaring up with various incidents.

The most tragic such incident occurred in November 15, 1991, when the JRM light frigate Split fired a small number of shells at the city and surroundings. The damage was insignificant, but there were a few casualties. In this attack three general locations were bombarded: old city core, city airport and uninhabited part of hills above Kastela between airport and Split. This is thought to be the only time in history that a city was shelled by a military vessel bearing its name. Sailors of the JRM who had refused to attack Croat civilians, most of them Croats themselves, were left in the vessel's brig.

The JNA and JRM evacuated all of its facilities in Split during January 1992. The economic recession soon began.


Split is situated on a peninsula between the eastern part of the Gulf of Kaštela and the Split Channel. The Marjanmarker hill (178 m), rises in the western part of the peninsula. The ridges Kozjakmarker (779m) and his brother Mosormarker (1339 m) protect the city from the north and northeast, and separate it from the hinterland.


Split has a Mediterranean climate: hot, dry summers (maximum air temperature in July reaches 42 °C) and warm, wet winters. Average annual rainfall is 806.2 mm. Vegetation is of the evergreen Mediterranean type, and subtropical flora (palm-trees, agaves, cacti) grow in the city and its surroundings. The Marjanmarker hill is covered with a large cultivated forest.


According to the 2001 census, the city of Split had 188,694 citizens. In 2007. Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP) made an estimate that Split had 221,456 inhabitants. There are approximately 410,000 people in the Split metropolitan area. Split has one of the largest demographic growths in Croatia. The entire Split-Dalmatia Countymarker has around 470,000 residents, with Croats making up 95.15% of the population. 88.37% of the residents of the city are Roman Catholics.


The Dalmatian Coastline near Split, as seen from high altitude.

Split's economy has slowly begun to emerge from the recession caused by the transfer to a market economy and privatization.

However, in the Yugoslav era the city had been a highly significant economic center with a modern and diverse industrial and economic base including shipbuilding, food, chemical, plastics, textile, paper industry. In 1981 Split's GDP per capita was 137% of the Yugoslav average. Today, most of the factories are out of business (or are far below pre-war production and employment capacity) and the city has been trying to concentrate on commerce and services, consequently leaving an alarmingly large number of factory workers unemployed.

The new A1 motorway, integrating Split with the rest of the Croatian freeway network, has helped stimulate economic production and investment, with new businesses being built in the city center and its wildly sprawling suburbs. The entire route was opened in July 2005. Today, the city's economy relies mostly on trade and tourism with some old industries undergoing partial revival, such as food (fishing, olive, wine production), paper, concrete and chemicals.

In 2005 and 2006, 4,000 new jobs were created in Split's rather large province. Foreign investment in the first six months of 2006 grew by 76%, and for the first time export levels were greater than import levels. Also, Split's economy in the first half of 2006 grew at a 6% rate. Additionally, 2006 brought to Split many shipbuilding jobs, which signify the beginning of revitalization for the once-massive shipbuilding industry in Split.


The current Mayor of Split is Željko Kerum while the City Council currently has the following makeup:
Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) 6 seats
Social Democratic Party (SDP) 5 seats
Velo Misto List 3 seats
Croatian Party of Pensioners (HSU) 2 seats
Croatian People's Party (HNS) 2 seats
Independent City List 2 seats
Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS) 1 seat
Croatian Democratic Republican Party (HDRS) 1 seat
Croatian Party of Rights (HSP) 1 seat
Croatian Bloc (HB) 1 seat
Croatian Pure Party of Rights (HČSP) 1 seat


There are 24 primary schools and 23 secondary schools including 5 gymnasiums.


The University of Split (Croatian: Sveučilište u Splitu) was founded in 1974. In the last few years it has grown to a big extent. Now it has 28,000 students and is organized in 12 faculties. Currently the new campus is being built, and it will be finished somewhere in 2012. It will house all of the faculties, a large student center with a sports hall, sporting grounds and a university library.


Since 1979, the historic center of Split has been included in the UNESCOmarker list of World Heritage Sites. Split is also known as one of the centers of Croatian culture. Its literary tradition can be traced to medieval times, and includes names like Marko Marulić, while in more modern times Split excelled by authors famous for their sense of humor. Among them the most notable is Miljenko Smoje, famous for his TV series Malo misto and Velo misto, with the latter dealing with the development of Split into a modern city.

Despite colorful settings and characters, as well as a cinema tradition that could be traced to early 20th century works of Josip Karaman, there were relatively few films shot in or around Split. However, the city did produce several famous actors, most notably Boris Dvornik.

Also well known is Ivo Tijardović, and his famous operetta "Little Floramye" (Mala Floramye). Both Smoje and Tijardović are famous artists thought to represent the old Split traditions that are slowly dying out due to the city being overwhelmed by large numbers of rural migrants from the undeveloped hinterland. The old Split families still cling to the littoral Dalmatian way of life and values, often publicly stating their disgust at the ruralization of the ancient city.

Split also houses two important archaeological museums - one dedicated to antiquity, another to the early medieval period. The most recognisable aspect of Split culture is popular music. Notable composers include Ivo Tijardović, Zdenko Runjić - some of the most influential musicians in former Yugoslavia. There is great cultural activity during summers, when the prestigious Split Music Festival is held, followed by the Split Summer (Splitsko ljeto) theater festival.


Sportsmen are traditionally held in high regard in Split, and the city is famous for producing many champions. The most popular sports in Split are football , tennis, basketball, swimming, rowing, sailing, waterpolo, athletics, and handball.

The main football club is HNK Hajduk, the second most popular club in Croatia, while RNK Split is the city's second club. The largest football stadium is the Poljud Stadiummarker (HNK Hajduk's ground), with 35,000 capacity (55,000 prior to the renovation to an all-seater). Basketball is also popular, and the city basketball club, KK Split (Jugoplastika Split), holds the record of winning the Euroleague three consecutive times (1989-1991), with notable players like Toni Kukoč and Dino Rađa both of whom are Split natives.

Split's most famous tennis stars are the retired Wimbledonmarker champion Goran Ivanišević, and Mario Ančić ("Super Mario").Members of the local rowing club HVK Gusar won numerous Olympic and World Championship medals.

Swimming also has a long tradition in Split, with Đurđica Bjedov (1968 Olympic Gold Medal and Olympic record in the 100 m breaststroke), Duje Draganja and Vanja Rogulj as the most famous swimmers from the city. As a member of the ASK Split athletics club, the champion Blanka Vlašić also originates from the city. The biggest sports events to be held in Split were the 1979 Mediterranean Games, and the 1990 European Athletics Championships.

Split is one of the host cities of the 2009 World Men's Handball Championship. The city constructed a new sporting arena for the event, the Spaladium Arenamarker. Its capacity is 12,000 spectators (in basketball events). The cost of the arena was evenly divided between the city and the government. The athletics champion Blanka Vlašić also hails from Split.

Picigin is a traditional local sport (originating in 1908), played on the famous sandy beach Bačvice. It is played in very shallow water (just ankle deep) with a small ball. Picigin is played by five players. The ball is the peeled tennis ball. There is a tradition of playing picigin in Split on New Year's Day, regardless of the weather conditions, in spite of the sea temperature rarely exceeding 10 °C.

Hockey player Goran Bezina is also from Split. Bezina, a defenceman, is the only native of Croatia ever to play in the National Hockey League. He was selected by the Phoenix Coyotes in the eighth round, 234th overall, in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. He played three games for the Coyotes in the 2003-04 season and currently plays for Servette Geneve in Switzerlandmarker.


Split is an important transport center for Dalmatia and the wider region. In addition to the Zagrebmarker-Split freeway (A1), all the road traffic along the Adriatic coast on the route ZadarmarkerDubrovnikmarker flows through the city. The city also has a series of expressways and avenues, enabling efficient, fast transit by car around the city and its suburbs.

City public transport is conducted by bus, the city being inadequate for trams due to its hilly geography. The local public transport company Promet Split has recently renovated its fleet with the latest models. Split is also the southernmost integrated point of the Croatian Railway network. Within Split's city centre, railway traffic passes two tunnels before reaching the Central Station. The line to Split is unremarkable; a journey from Split to Zagreb or Rijeka takes around 5 hours, as the line is unelectrified and consists of only one track. Currently, there are no definite plans to upgrade the line, but with the start of work on the new Zagreb-Rijeka railway line in October 2007. The Split Suburban Railway network opened in early December 2006. It currently has one line, running from the Split city harbour to Kaštel Starimarker. The line is expected to get a second track and be fully electrified by 2010. New, low-floor trains are expected to be implemented as well. This line will also be lengthened, to encompass the aforementioned Split International Airport, and continue on to the towns of Trogirmarker and Seget Donji. Split also plans to construct a mini-metro that is to be operational by 2012.

The Split Airportmarker in Kaštelamarker is the second largest in Croatia in terms of passenger numbers (1,203,778 in 2008), with year-round services to Zagreb, Londonmarker, Frankfurtmarker and the Cologne Bonn Airportmarker in Germanymarker, as well as heavy tourist traffic in the summer. The expansion of the terminal is scheduled to commence in 2009. The passenger seaport in Split is the third busiest port in the Mediterraneanmarker, with daily coastal routes to Rijekamarker, Dubrovnikmarker and Anconamarker in Italy. During the summer season Split is connected with other Italian cities as well, such as Pescaramarker. Most of the central Dalmatian islands are only reachable via the Split harbor (with Jadrolinija and Split Tours ferries). This includes the islands of Bračmarker, Hvarmarker and Šoltamarker, as well as the more distant Vismarker, Korčulamarker and Lastovomarker.


File:Split 2004.jpg|A view of modern Split with Marjanmarker hill in the background.File:Croatia.Split.Riva.jpg|Decorations of the new controversial Riva.File:Grgur ninski statue.jpg|Statue of Gregory of Nin by Ivan Meštrović, 1929.File:Croatia - Split - Riva under night.JPG|Riva at night.File:Narodni Trg (Pjaca).JPG|Main city square, the Pjaca (Narodni Trg, People's Square).File:Split riva photo.jpg|Split City Harbor (Gradska luka) and the Riva.File:Split riva.jpg|Split's Riva, after its recent controversial renovation.File:Cathedral of Split 2.jpg|The City's trademark bell tower of the ancient Split cathedral.File:Bacvice.jpg|Split's favorite beach, Bačvice bay, located near the city center.File:Split bypass road.jpg|Split bypass road.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Split is twinned with:

Recently, the city has received and charter of sisterhood from Rosario, Argentinamarker

Names in other languages

See also


  1. Wilkes, J., Diocletian's Palace, Split : Residence of a Retired Roman Emperor, 17. The name Aspálathos had referred to a white thorn common in the area. Thus, contrary to popular belief, the name "Spalatum" has nothing to do with the Latin word for palace, palatium. According to Wilkes, the erroneous etymology was notably due to Constantine Porphyrogenitus.
  2. Gibbon, Edward. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Modern Library, New York, page 335
  3. C. Michael Hogan, "Diocletian's Palace", The Megalithic Portal, A. Burnham Ed, October 6, 2007
  4. Frederick Hamilton Jackson, (1908) The Shores of the Adriatic, J. Murray, 420 pages
  5. Gibbon, page 336
  6. History of Dalmatia: 614 to 802 AD
  7. History: 1301 to 1526 AD
  8. The Illyrian Provinces, 1809-1813
  9. Split City Council
  10. Cabinet And Split Participate In Financing Hall

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