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Vis (island)

Satellite image of Vis and Biševo
Location Adriatic Sea
Area 89.72 km2 (34.64 sq mi)
Highest elevation 587 m (1,926 ft)
Highest point Hum
County Split-Dalmatia
Largest settlement Vis (pop. 1,920)
Population 3,460 (as of 2011)

Vis (pronounced ; Ancient Greek: Ἴσσα; Latin: Issa, Italian: Lissa) is a small Croatian island in the Adriatic Sea. The farthest inhabited island off the Croatian mainland, Vis had a population of 3,460 in 2011 and has an area of 90.26 square kilometres (34.85 square miles). The highest point of the island is Hum which is 587 metres (1,926 feet) above sea level. The island's two largest settlements are the town of Vis on the eastern side of the island (the settlement after which the island was originally named), and Komiža, on its western coast.

Once known for its thriving fishing industry in the late 19th and early 20th century, the main present-day industries on the island are agriculture and tourism. Vis town and Komiža are also seats of separate administrative municipalities which cover the entire island and nearby islets, which are both part of Split-Dalmatia County.


  • History 1
    • Second World War 1.1
  • Economy 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Balkan Air Force aircraft at Vis Air Base during review by Marshal Tito
Entrance to submarine pen on Vis, Croatia.

Vis was inhabited by the time of the Neolithic period. In the 4th century BC, the Greek tyrant of Syracuse, Dionysius the Elder, founded the colony Issa[1] on the island. Later, it became an independent polis, and even minted its own money and founded its own colonies, the most notable of which was Aspálathos (the modern-day city of Split). In the 1st century BC, the island was held by the Liburnians.[2] In the 4th century BC Syracusan Greeks colonised the Island.[3] Its importance in the region ended with the first Illyro-Roman war (29-219 BC). Having sided with Pompeus during the period of civil struggles in Rome, became an "oppidum civium Romanorum" in 47 BC.

Until 1797, the island was under the rule of the Republic of Venice. During this time large settlements developed along the coastline (Comisa (now Komiža) and Lissa (now Vis)). Administratively, the island of Lissa was for centuries bound to the island of Lesina, now named Hvar. The Venetian influence is still recognizable in architecture found on the island, and some vocabulary of the Croatian dialect spoken locally are Venetian in origin.

After the short-lived Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, with Italian as the official language, the island was ruled by the Austrian Empire since 1814. It maintained its Italian name of Lissa. After the end of World War I, it was under Italian rule again in the period from 1918 to 1921, according to the provisions of the 1915 Treaty of London, before it was ceded to Kingdom of Yugoslavia as part of the 1920 Treaty of Rapallo.

The sea to the north of the island was the location of two battles:

Second World War

Vis was at one point the site of the general headquarters of Marshal No. 6 Squadron RAF extensively used the airfield as a forward operating base, flying Hawker Hurricane Mk IV aircraft, from May 1944 to February 1945.[4] [5]

During World War II, a crate of the Armed Services Editions of paperback books was dropped by parachute along with other supplies on to Vis Island off the coast of Yugoslavia. The books were then read aloud to the partisans by English speaking soldiers who translated the books as they read them.[6]

After the war, the Yugoslav People's Army used the island as one of its main naval bases. After Croatia became independent in 1991, its navy did not reclaim most of the facilities, and the many abandoned buildings are being used for civilian purposes. In 2008, 34 mines left over from World War II were cleared from the island.


The main industries on the island are agriculture (mainly viticulture), fishing, fish refining and tourism.[7]

Around 20% of arable land on the island is covered with vineyards. Autochthonous vine species cultivated on the island are Plavac Mali, Kurteloška, and Vugava (the indigenous grape of what is now known as viognier).[8]

The sea around Vis is rich with fish, especially blue fish (sardine, mackerel and anchovy). Komiža fishermen of the 16th century developed their own type of fishing boat, the falkuša which was used even in the second half of the 20th century because of its excellent features.[8]

See also


  1. ^ An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis: An Investigation Conducted by The Copenhagen Polis Centre for the Danish National Research Foundation by Mogens Herman Hansen, 2005, Index
  2. ^ Wilkes, J. J. The Illyrians, 1992, ISBN 0-631-19807-5, page 183, "... We may begin with the Venetic peoples, Veneti, Carni, Histri and Liburni, whose language set them apart from the rest of the Illyrians. ..."
  3. ^ The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites (eds. Richard Stillwell, William L. MacDonald, Marian Holland McAllister), ISSA (Vis) Croatia. A town on an island of the same name in the central Adriatic. It was settled by Illyrians, who were under the domination of Liburni from the 8th to the 6th centuries B.C. At the beginning of the 4th century B.C. it was colonized by Syracusan Greeks as part of a plan of Dionysios the Elder to control the Adriatic. During the 3rd century Issa founded the emporia Tragurion (Traù, now Trogir) and Epetion (Stobreč) on the Illynan mainland. Its predominance in the region lasted until the first Illyro-Roman war 229-219 B.C. when it became a pawn in the battles of greater powers. In the civil war it sided with Pompey and consequently lost its privileges and autonomy in 47 B.C. when it was reduced to the rank of an oppidum civium Romanorum and was dependent on the newly founded colony at Salona. As a polis Issa minted its own money, and these coins of many types had wide circulation. The town, situated on a slope on the W side of a large bay, was defended by strong Hellenistic walls, still visible in an irregular quadrangle (265 x 360 m) that enclosed an area of 9.8 ha. The street grid and foundations of houses have been found. The necropolis has yielded many pieces of pottery, including some from S Italy. The wall of the cavea of the theater, built in the Roman period, is incorporated into the present Franciscan Monastery. It could seat about 3000 persons. Inscriptions, statues, coins, and pottery are preserved in the archaeological museums at Split and Zagreb.
  4. ^ Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE,BA,RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  5. ^ The "Tin-opener". No 6 Squadron (RAF ) Association Newsletter. July 2014.
  6. ^ Council on Books in Wartime, and Robert O. Ballou. A History of the Council on Books in Wartime, 1942-1946. 1946. Page 81.
  7. ^ (Croatian) First Croatian online peljar
  8. ^ a b Economy of Vis
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE,BA,RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • The "Tin-opener". No 6 Squadron (RAF ) Association Newsletter. July 2014.

External links

  • Komiza - Island Vis Tourist Association
  • Vis - Croatian National Tourist Board
  • Vis Tourist Association
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