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History of the island of Lošinj

Undiscovered until the 13th century, Losinj has been a sea-faring island state, at times ruled by the French, and had its own industrialist-capitalist infrastructure. Modern day Losinj has now developed into a tourist health resort due to its healing climate.

It all started with 12 Croatian families …

Unlike Cres, the island of Lošinj was predominantly used for cattle grazing, mostly sheep, until the 13th century and no one lived on it. The first residents of Lošinj are mentioned in 1280 when 12 Croatian families arrived in the area of the present Veli Lošinj. This was Velo Selo, which was allegedly followed by Malo Selo in Sv. Martin Bay because the other settlements on the island were also on the east side of the island.

Cattle farming was the prevailing occupation for residents at the time because the region they moved into was not suitable for agricultural development. The first residents of Lošinj only spoke Croatian and communicated with people from Osor, resident of the capital town at the time, by using interpreters. As Osor was the main center, Lošinj developed slowly and more intensive development began in the 18th century when the local population turned to fishing and maritime activities.

A maritime island state

Venice began to lose its power in the area at the time, while Austria developed and pronounced free navigation in the Adriatic in 1717. Mali Lošinj and Veli Lošinj already had 105 commercial ships at the time, while Cres, Mali Lošinj and Veli Lošinj had 101 long-distance sail ships at the end of the Venetian rule in 1796.

After the end of the Bratislava War in 1805, the island once again fell under the French rule. The economic situation on the islands improved: the Osor – Cres and Osor – Veli Lošinj roads were built, planned forestation of rocky regions began, cattle farming was developing, houses were reconstructed, crops were planted, etc.

Industrialisation and ship-building

In the mid-19th century, Lošinj was an established industrial-capitalist unit – in 1844, the town of Mali Lošinj had a population of 5300 (same as Belgrade at the time). The town had 6 shipyards and was number two in the number of long-distance sail ships (21 ships) built in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in 1868, after Trieste.

The rapid rise of Lošinj’s maritime activities and shipbuilding industry was without a doubt one of the most significant occurrences in the history of maritime affairs in East Adriatic. Despite this, further progress was stopped because stronger and faster steel steamships appeared and Lošinj lost its position.

Tourism prevails

However, this did not put an end to Lošinj’s development. With its beneficial climate, Lošinj was recognized as a place suitable for treatment of respiratory diseases and turned to tourism. One of the people that take most credit for this was Ambroz Haračić, who was among the first to recognize the benefit of Lošinj’s climate. Him and a group of physicians from the medical school in Vienna turned global attention to Lošinj as a destination suitable for climate therapy.

Lošinj’s development has followed this direction to date and will continue to develop as a tourist destination.

The History of Camping on the Island of Lošinj:
  • Camp Čikat was mentioned as early as 1955 when the first guests with tents arrived in the forest in Čikat and realized the advantages of camping in a pine forest right by the sea.
  • Camp Baldarin – the first campers were guests from Maribor who arrived in 1969.
  • Camp Bijar – thanks to the French guests who were the first to put up their tents and build a sanitary facility in 1964, camping in Osor started its tradition. They were later followed by young German campers.