Novalja (pronounced [nɔ̌v̞aʎa]) is a town in the north of the island of Pag in the Croatian part of Adriatic Sea. In recent times Novalja became famous because of the Zrće Beach, which is one of the biggest summer party zones in Europe.
The earliest settlers on the island were an Illyrian tribe that came to the region in the Bronze Age; traces of their settlement could still be seen around Pag. In the 1st century B.C. brought the arrival of the Romans, who left numerous archeological and cultural artifacts behind. The Croats arrived in the 7th century along with the great migration and settled in the area. The island was for some time under the rule of the Croatian kingdom. Yet the island was always fought over, and in the 11th and 12th centuries the whole island was split between the community of Rab and the community of Zadar. Novalja was given to the community and diocese of Rab by Croatian King Petar Krešimir IV. From the 12th to 14th centuries, Novalja, along with other Dalmatian towns and islands were the subject of fierce fights between the Republic of Venice and Croatian-Hungarian rulers. From the beginning of the 15th century and for the next four centuries, Venice ruled much of the island until Napoleon abolished it and Austria and France began battling for the Dalmatian area. Eventually, Austria won and the island was given back to the control of Venice.
The island would continue to pass through many different rules, from Austria to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia after World War I, and then under Independent State of Croatia rule (1941–1945), during which time the Croatian coast was divided with Italy. Island of Pag, Island of Hvar and Brač were Croatian while Italy had Zadar up to Omiš and rest of the islands. After the war goes back to Yugoslavia, and then finally to new founded independent Croatia. Unusually, the island is divided between two counties, with Novalja and Stara Novalja being part of the northern Lika-Senj County.