Korčula is an island in the Adriatic Sea, in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County of Croatia. The island has an area of 279 km2 (108 sq mi); 46.8 km (29.1 mi) long and on average 7.8 km (4.8 mi) wide — and lies just off the Dalmatian coast. Its 16,182 (2001) inhabitants make it the second most populous Adriatic island after Krk and the most populous Croatian island not connected to the mainland by a bridge. The population are mainly ethnic Croats(96.77%).
The island of Korčula belongs to the central Dalmatian archipelago, separated from the Pelješac peninsula by a narrow Strait of Pelješac, between 900 and 3,000 metres (3,000 and 9,800 feet) wide. It stretches in the east-west direction, in length of 47 kilometres (29 miles); on average, it is 8 km (5.0 miles) wide. With an area of 279 square kilometres (108 sq mi), it is the sixth largest Adriatic island. The highest peaks are Klupca, 568 metres (1,864 ft) and Kom, 510 metres (1,670 ft) high.
Main settlements on the island are towns of Korčula, Vela Luka and Blato. Villages on the coast are Brna, Lumbarda, Račišće, Zavalatica, Prižba andPrigradica, while Žrnovo, Pupnat, Smokvica and Čara are placed inland. The island is divided into municipalities of Korčula, Smokvica, Blato and Lumbarda.
The climate is Mediterranean; an average air temperature in January is 9.8 °C (49.6 °F) and in July 26.9 °C (80.4 °F); the average annual rainfall is 1,100 mm (43.3 in). The island is largely covered with Mediterranean flora including extensive pine forests.
The main road runs along the spine of the island connecting all settlements from Lumbarda on the eastern to Vela Luka on the western end, with the exception of Račišće, which is served by a separate road running along the northern coast. Ferries connect the city of Korčula with Orebić on the Pelješac peninsula and Drvenik on the mainland (near Makarska). Another line connects Vela Luka with Split and the island of Lastovo. Fast passenger catamarans connect those two ports with Split and the islands of Hvar and Lastovo. The main Adriatic ferry line connects Korčula withDubrovnik, Split, Zadar and Rijeka and in summer there are direct ferries to Italian Adriatic ports.
The 17th century saw the rise of Petar Kanavelić who wrote love songs, occasional epic poems and dramas. He also translated from Italian the major poetic works of that time. He is regarded as one of the greatest Croatian writers of 17th century. In 1673 he became the representative of the Korčula community in Venice. There is a primary school named after him in the town of Korčula.
Moreška is a traditional sword dance from the town of Korčula. It is one of the many proud traditional sword dances that are performed on the island. It arrived in Korčula around the 16th century. Korčula has a rich musical history of Klape groups. Klapa is a form of a cappella style of singing. The tradition goes back centuries, but the style as we know it today, originated in the 19th century. Oliver Dragojević is a famous Croatian pop singer who comes from the island.
Korčula has a very old Stonemasonry history, a tradition which reached its peak during the rule of the Venetian Republic (1420–1797). The island also has a very strong art tradition.
The Korkyra Baroque Festival is a new annual international event, which will be launched from the 7th to 16 September 2012. The festival will showcase a selection of the world’s leading ensembles and soloists specialized in Baroque music, including the Academy of Ancient Music (Great Britain), Le Parlament de Musique (France), Currende and Erik Van Nevel (Belgium), La Venexiana (Italy), Red Priest (Great Britain), Croatian Baroque Ensemble (Croatia) and others. Twelve concerts will be held over ten days along with a series of supporting events focusing on Baroque music. Along with the festival’s high artistic credentials the event will also promote the richness of Korčula’s cultural monuments and the whole town as a unique architectural treasure.
Korčula is linked to the mainland by a regular ferry service that runs between Dominče, just outside of Korčula Town and Orebić. There are numerous other local ferry services including one linking Vela Luka and Lastovo. The main Croatian ferry operator Jadrolinija runs a service linking Korčula Town with Rijeka, Split, Hvar, Mljet, Dubrovnik and (from May to September) Bari. An operator Linijska nacionalna plovidba runs a seasonal service linking Korčula with Drvenik.
There are also bus services that link the island to major cities on the mainland, which reach Korčula using the Orebić ferry service.
Korčula town also has mooring facilities. The western harbour gives shelter from wind though not against the ‘bora’ and north-westerlies. Boat owners are advised to shift to the eastern harbour or to Luka Cove. The port is open to international seaborne traffic as a permanent Port of entry; it offers all types of repairs to hulls and engines at the Brodograditelj Shipyard.