Split

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For other uses, see Split (disambiguation).
Split Harbour
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Split Harbour

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.

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History

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 9½ acres (38,000 m²).

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 industrialization 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, ocassionally interrupted by various incidents. The most spectacular such incident ocurred 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 after with had been named. 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 traditional capital is actually the city of Zadar.

Economy

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 will be opened in July 2005, although 98% of the highway is already fully functional and in use. 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.

Transportation

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 ZadarDubrovnik flows through the city. The airport in Kaštela 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 a daily route to Ancona in Italy; most of the middle Dalmatian islands are only reachable through the Split harbour (usually with Jadrolinija ferries). This includes both the closer islands of Brač, Hvar, and Šolta, and the more distant Vis and Lastovo.

Culture

Split is also known as one of the centres of Croatian culture.

Its literary tradition can be traced to medieaval times, and includes names like Marko Marulić, while in more modern times Split excelled by authors famous for their sense of humour. Among them the most notable were Miljenko Smoje, Đermano Senjanović and the trio best known for founding Feral Tribune.

Split also houses two important archeological museums - one dedicated to antique, another to early medieval period.

But the most recognisable aspect of Split culture is popular music. Notable composers include Ivo Tijardović, Zdenko Runjić and Tonči Huljić, some of the most influential musicians in former Yugoslavia. Split also had one of the first Croatian rap groups - The Beat Fleet (TBF).

Sport

Split's most famous resident is the former tennis star Goran Ivanišević. Another rising tennis star is "Little Goran", Mario Ančić, also from Split. The local football team is Hajduk Split. Basketball is also popular, with notable players such as Toni Kukoč.

The biggest sports events to be held in Split were the Mediterranean Games in 1979 and the European Athletics Championships in 1990.

Picigin is a local sport played on several of the city beaches (Bačvice etc). It is played in shallow water with a small ball.

External links

cs:Split de:Split eo:Split fr:Split hr:Split it:Spalato nl:Split ja:スプリト pl:Split ro:Split sr:Сплит sv:Split, Kroatien

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