Lošinj is a Croatian island in the northern Adriatic Sea, in the Kvarner Gulf. It is almost due south of the city of Rijeka and part of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar county.
The settlements on Lošinj include Nerezine, Sveti Jakov, Ćunski, Artatore, Mali Lošinj and Veli Lošinj.
A regional road runs the length of the island; ferry connections (via the island of Cres) include Brestova – Porozina, Merag – Valbiska, Mali Lošinj -Zadar, Mali Lošinj – Pula. There is also an airport on the island of Lošinj.
Lošinj is part of the Cres-Lošinj archipelago. The Cres-Lošinj archipelago includes Cres and Lošinj, and the smaller islands of Unije, Ilovik, Susak, Vele Srakane, Male Srakane and a number of uninhabited small islands. Cres is the biggest by area, Lošinj is second. Cres and Lošinj are connected by a small bridge at the town of Osor on Cres. The highest elevations are the mountains Televrin (also called Osoršćica) at 588 m (1,929 ft) and Sv. Nikola (also called Sv. Mikul) at 557 m (1,827 ft). The towns of Nerezine and Sveti Jakov lie at their base. The island is formed predominantly of chalklimestone and dolomite rocks. There are sand deposits in the western part of the Kurila peninsula.
Lošinj is the 11th largest Adriatic island by area, 33 km (21 mi) long, with the width varying from 4.75 km (2.95 mi) in the north and middle of the island, to 0.25 km (0.16 mi) near the town of Mali Lošinj. The total coastline of the island is 112.7 km (70.0 mi).
With around 2600 hours of sunshine a year, the island has become a popular destination for Slovenian, German and Italian tourists in the summer months. Average air humidity is 70%, and the average summer temperature is 24 °C (75 °F) and 7 °C (45 °F) during the winter.
The island has a mild climate and evergreen vegetation (like myrtle, holm oak, and laurel). The highest elevations in the north have more sparse vegetation. Veli Lošinj, Čikat and the south-western coast are ringed by pine forests.
Settlement on nearby Cres is known to date back around 12,000 years, and the island of Lošinj is also thought to have been inhabited since prehistoric times. This is evidenced by hill-forts at the foot of Osoršćica and around the port of Mali Lošinj. According to Ptolemy, the Romans called this island Apsorrus, and referred to the islands of Lošinj and Cres collectively as Apsirtides. In several places, ruins of Roman villas have been excavated (villae rusticae: Liski, Sveti Jakov, and Studenčić near Ćunski). Several small eremitic churches dating from the Roman era have been preserved (St. Lovreć near Osor, and St. James in Sveti Jakov).In the Middle Ages, Lošinj was the property of the clerical and secular nobility of Osorand unpopulated.
The first evidence of settlers from the mainland was in 1280. Pursuant to a contract with Osor, their settlements gained self-governance in 1389. The name Lošinj was first mentioned in 1384. Parallel with the gradual decline of Osor from the 15th century onwards, the settlements Veli Lošinj and Mali Lošinj played an increasingly important role.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, trade, shipbuilding and seafaring on the island developed more intensely. After the fall of the Republic of Venicein 1797, Lošinj became part of the Austrian province (crown land) of Istria under the Treaty of Campo Formio. By 1900 the population had reached 11,615. In 1921, it was given as 15,000.
In 1919, Lošinj, with its partially Italian population, became part of Italy under the terms of the Treaty of Saint-Germain, as confirmed by the 1920 Treaty of Rapallo. It was held by them until 1943 when it was occupied by German Wehrmacht and Croatian troops during World War II as part of the Operational Zone Adriatic Coast. In 1945 the island and the rest of Croatia became part of Yugoslavia, until Croatia declared independence from the Yugoslav Federation in 1991.
The post-Second World War period saw a substantial exodus (see Istrian exodus for further details) of its Italian-speaking population to Italy and to other countries. According to the last census the number of Italian-speaking citizens in Lošinj were 557 (6.64% of the total official resident population). Before the independence of Croatia from the Yugoslav Federation, the official censi reported the Italian-speaking minority being much smaller (figures quoted in the official census conducted in 1981 shows that the Italian minority accounted only for 1.5% of the resident population). Expatriates in Italy and around the world publish a newsletter which keeps their memories and traditions alive. On the Island Italian is popular as a second language.
Poeple and art
- Agostino Straulino (b. October 10, 1914 in Mali Lošinj; d. December 14, 2004 in Rome) was an Italian sailor and sailboat racer, who won one Olympic gold medal at the 1952 Summer Olympics (Helsinki) and one silver medal at the 1956 Summer Olympics (Melbourne) in the Star class, and eight consecutive European championships (1949–56) and two world championships (1952–53) in this class and was world champion in the 5.5m-class. His first experiences were sailing in the Kvarner Gulf, and he learned to sail going to school in his boat.
- Gaudentius of Ossero: Born c. 1000 AD and presided over the Diocese of Ossero (Osor) as bishop and later became a saint and patron of the island. Legend has it that he banished all venomous snakes from the islands while hiding in a cave from his persecutors. His remains now lie in the altar of the church bearing his name in Osor.
- The Cosulich family of shipbuilders originated in Lošinj probably prior to the 18th century and rose to prominence in the region, eventually establishing a successful shipping business in Venice and around the world, where the Cosulich Line became renowned.
- The Losinj’s Apoxyomenos: (the “Scraper”) is a bronze statue that dates back to the 1st or 2nd century BC. This type of figure was first developed by the Greek sculptor Lysippos of the 4th century BC. It was discovered underwater in the Lošinj archipelago near the uninhabited island of Vele Orjule. The Lošinj Channel was a frequent navigational route leading to the northern part of the Adriatic, to Istria and Italy. It is believed to be from a Roman shipwreck although there are no other apparent remnants. Apoxyomenos is one of the Greek conventions in representing an athlete, caught in the familiar act of scraping sweat and dust from his body with the small curved instrument that the Greeks called a strigil. The statue now resides temporarily in the Archeological Museum in Zagreb while the Lošinj museum where it is to be permanently housed from 2009 undergoes renovation