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Dalmatia (Croatian Dalmacija, Italian Dalmazia, Serbian: Далмација) is a region on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, (mostly) in modern Croatia, spreading between the island of Rab in the northwest and the Gulf of Kotor (Boka Kotorska) in the southeast. Inner Dalmatia (Dalmatinska Zagora) is fifty kilometers inland in the north but narrows to just a few kilometers wide in the south.

Croatian Dalmatia is currently composed of four counties, the capital cities of which are Zadar, Šibenik, Split and Dubrovnik. Other larger cities in Dalmatia include Biograd, Kaštela, Sinj, Solin, Omiš, Knin, Metković, Makarska, Trogir, Ploče, Trilj and Imotski.

The larger Dalmatian islands are Dugi Otok, Ugljan, Pašman, Brač, Hvar, Korčula, Vis, Lastovo and Mljet. The larger Dalmatian mountains are Dinara, Mosor, Svilaja, Biokovo, Moseć and Kozjak. The rivers are Zrmanja, Krka, Cetina and Neretva.

Because of the way sea currents and winds flow, the sea water of the Adriatic is much cleaner and much warmer on the Croatian side than it is on the Italian side. The Dalmatian concordant coastline also includes an immense number of coves, islands and channels. This makes it a really attractive place for nautical races, and nautical tourism in general. There's a fair number of marinas as well.

Dalmatia also includes several national parks, that are tourist attractions in their own right: Paklenica karst river, Kornati archipelago, Krka river rapids and Mljet island within island.


Coat of arms.

The historical region of Dalmatia was much larger than the present-day Dalmatia. Dalmatia signified not only a geographical unit, but it was an entity based on common culture and settlement types, a common narrow eastern Adriatic coastal belt, Mediterranean climate, sclereophyllus vegetation of the Illyrian vegetation province, Adriatic carbonate platform, and karst morphology.

Among other things, the ecclestiastical primatical territory today continues to be larger because of the history: it includes part of modern Montenegro (another former republic of Tito's Yugoslavia), notably around Antivari, the (honorary) Roman Catholic primas of Dalmatia, but an exempt archbishopric without suffragans while the archbishoprics of Split (also a historical primas of Dalmatia) has provincial authority over all Croatian dioceses except he exempt archbishopric of Zadar.

The most southern transitional part of Dalmatia, the Bay of Kotor is not part of Croatian Dalmatia, but part of Montenegro. The regional coherent geographical unit of Dalmatia, the coastal region between Istria and the Gulf of Kotor, includes the Orjen mountain whose peak at 1894 m is the highest point, even if it is part of Montenegro. If we take Dalmatia only as a political unit, the highest peak would be Dinara (1913 m) which is not a coastal mountain. On the other hand, Biokovo (Sv. Jure 1762 m) and Velebit (Vaganjski vrh 1758 m) are coastal Dinaric mountains but not as high as Orjen. In the tectonical sense, Orjen is the highest mountain of Dalmatia, while Biokovo is the highest mountain of the administrative unit of Dalmatia.


Dalmatia is a region with a long history. Its name is probably derived from the name of an Illyrian tribe called the Dalmatae which lived in the area of the eastern Adriatic coast in the 1st millennium BC. It was part of the Illyrian kingdom between the 4th century BC until the Illyrian Wars in the 220s BC when it was conquered by the Roman Republic. The Dalmatians rebelled once again in 180 BC, but were again subdued in 168 BC.

Dalmatia then became part of the Roman province of Illyricum. In 9 AD, the Dalmatians raised the last in a series of revolts together with the Pannonians, but it was finally crushed and in 10 AD Illyricum was split into two provinces, Pannonia and Dalmatia. The province of Dalmatia spread inland to cover all of the Dinaric Alps and most of the eastern Adriatic coast.

After the Western Roman Empire collapsed in 476, the region was ruled by the Goths up to 535, when Justinian I added it to the Eastern (Byzantine) Empire. Soon afterwards, the Migration Period brought on a major settlement of Slavs in the first half of the 7th century. Dalmatia became distinctly divided between two different communities, the Slavs and Romanised Illyrians in the hinterland, and the Romans and Romanised Illyrians in the coastal city-states.

The Slavs started organizing their domain into increasingly powerful states. According to the Frankish historian Einhardt in his Royal Frankish Annals, Serbs controlled the greater part of Dalmatia in 822. The first mentioning of Croats in Dalmatia is 30 years later. The Croats controlled the northern half of Dalmatia at the time, and by the 10th century became an independent kingdom which persisted until the turn of the 12th century. The southern sections of inland Dalmatia were more fragmented, with the dukedoms of Pagania (Narenta), Zahumlje(Hum), Travunia and Doclea/Zeta being occasionally prominent, especially in the later periods.

The Republic of Venice made several attempts to ascertain control the Dalmatian islands and city-states, while Byzantium also preserved an influence on them, although one which faded towards the end of the eleventh century, by which time the Kingdom of Hungary also expanded southwards by having Croatia enter into a personal union with the King of Hungary.

During the early medieval period, the East-West Schism of Christianity also divided Dalmatia, into the larger western part which had allegiance to the Holy See in Rome, and the smaller eastern part which became Eastern Orthodox. The rise of the Serbian state in the late 12th century helped introduce the Orthodoxy to much of southern Dalmatia.

The 13th, 14th and 15th centuries were marked by a rivalry of Venice and Hungary, as the Byzantine influence had fully faded. The once rival Slavonic-speaking and Romance-speaking populations of Dalmatia started contributing to a common civilization, and achieved a remarkable development of art, science and literature. The cities would accept foreign sovereignty, mainly of Venice, but strived to preserve local autonomy.

In 1346, Dalmatia was struck by the Black Death. The economic situation was also poor, and the cities became more and more dependent on Venice. During this period Dalmatia was briefly ruled by Croatian magnates Šubić, the first Bosnian king Stephen Tvrtko, and contested by the Angevins and Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor in the early 15th century, but the end result of this conflict was that the Venetians took control of most of Dalmatia by 1420.

The southern city of Ragusa (Dubrovnik) had managed to achieve complete independence as the Republic of Ragusa, and preserved it despite the numerous foreign invasions. The Ottoman wars in Europe had started affecting the area in the mid-15th century, and when the Venetian and Ottoman frontiers met, border wars became incessant. The Turks took control of much of the hinterland, and helped the Republic of Dubrovnik maintain its independency, but under their suzerainty. The Ottoman invasion further contributed to the inclusion of the Croats and other Slavs in the cities.

After the expansion of the Ottoman Empire was finally contained in the Great Turkish War at the turn of the 18th century, Dalmatia experienced a period of intense economic and cultural growth in the 18th century, as the trade routes with the hinterland were reestablished in peace. Christians also noticeably migrated from the Ottoman-held territory into the Dalmatian cities, sometimes converting from Orthodoxy to Catholicism as well.

This period was abruptly interrupted with the fall of the Republic of Venice in 1797. Napoleon's troops stormed the region and ended the independence of the Republic of Ragusa as well. By 1815, Dalmatia was taken by the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy. After the Revolutions of 1848, the Croatian population of Dalmatia increasingly urged for unification with Croatia which was controlled by the Hungarian part of the then Austro-Hungarian Empire.

In the First World War, the Austrian Empire disintegrated, and Dalmatia was again split between the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) which controlled most of it, and the Kingdom of Italy which had notable portions of northern Dalmatia. During World War II, Fascist Italy occupied the entire region together with Nazi Germany, but after the end of the war Dalmatia was restored to the Second Yugoslavia.

Dalmatia was divided between three federal republics of Communist Yugoslavia - almost all of the territory went to Croatia, leaving the Gulf of Kotor to Montenegro and a small strip of coast at Neum to Bosnia and Herzegovina. When Yugoslavia dissolved in 1991 and after the Yugoslav wars that ensued, the republic borders became country borders as they are now.

Postage stamps

Italy issued special postage stamps for the part of northern Dalmatia it had occupied during World War I, necessitated by the locals' use of Austrian currency. The stamps were produced as surcharges of Italian stamps; the first appeared 1 May 1919, and consisted of the Italian 1-lira overprinted "una / corona".

5c and 10c overprints were issued in 1921, reading "5[10] / centesimi / di corona", followed by an additional five values in 1922. Similar overprints were made for special delivery and postage due stamps.

Soon after the annexed territories switched to Italian currency and stamps. As a result, usage was uncommon and validly-used stamps are today worth about 50-100% more than unused. They are easily confused with the Italian issues used in occupied Austria; the Dalmatian overprints are distinguished by their use of a sans serif typeface.

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