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The Sveti Rok Tunnel passes underneath the Velebit.
|Elevation||1,757 m (5,764 ft)|
The range forms a part of the Dinaric Alps and is located along the Adriatic coast, separating it from Lika in the interior. Velebit begins in the northwest near Senj with the Vratnik mountain pass and ends 145 km to the southeast near the source of the Zrmanja river northwest of Knin.
Major mountain passes on Velebit include the aforementioned Vratnik or Senjsko bilo at 694 m.a.s.l., where the Josephina connects Senj with Josipdol; Oštarijska vrata at 928 m.a.s.l. that connects Karlobag and Gospić; and Prezid at 766 m.a.s.l. that connects Obrovac and Gračac.
The important characteristic of Velebit are its simple, solid form, stiff cliffs, and the nakedness of seaward side and the wood-covered slopes of the Lika side. The basic geological characteristic of the mountains is karst; flora and fauna are abundant. The most popular spots on Velebit are: the peak of Vučjak, above Zavižan, the botanical gardens on Zavižan, Rožanski kukovi, Štirovača and the Paklenica National Park.
Velebit is usually divided into four regions:
- the northern part between the mountain passes Vratnik and Veliki Alan, with the highest peak Mali Rajinac (1699 m)
- the middle part between Veliki Alan and Baške Oštarije with the highest peak Šatorina (1624 m)
- the southern part between Oštarije and Mali Alan (peaks Vaganski vrh - 1757, Sveto brdo - 1753,)
- the southeastern part with Crnopac as the most remarkable peak
A further category of even more careful nature preservation exists within Sjeverni Velebit, the special reservation Hajdučki i Rožanski Kukovi, under the highest nature protection available in Croatia. Officially no human activity is allowed there (except research). These are the mostly still unexplored and wild places and probably will stay that way in the future.
A pathway called Premužićeva staza (Premužić's pathway) leads through the northern and middle parts of Velebit. This pathway was built between 1930 and 1933 and it connects northern and southern Velebit. Its length is 50 km. Many parts of Velebit would not be reachable without it. The Velebit mountains are transversed by the A1 through the Sveti Rok Tunnel.
Peaks and areas of Velebit
- Zavižan area - North Velebit (Mali Rajinac) (1699 m)
- Rožanski Kukovi group - North Velebit (Gromovaca (1676 m) and Vratarski Kuk (1676 m))
- Alančić, Rožanski Vrh, Seravski Vrh, North Velebit (Goli Vrh (1670 m))
- Veliki Kozjak (1629 m), North Velebit
- Šatorina (1624 m) - Mid Velebit
- Stap area - South Velebit, (Debeli Kuk) (1269 m)
- Visočica (1619 m) - South Velebit
- Bojin Kuk (1110 m) - South Velebit
- Viserujna (1632 m) and Rujno - South Velebit
- Paklenica area - South Velebit
- Vaganski vrh (1757 m) - South Velebit (highest peak of Velebit)
- Liburnija (1710 m) - South Velebit
- Sveto Brdo (1751 m) - South Velebit
- Tulove Grede (1120 m) - Southeast Velebit
- Crnopac (1404 m) - Southeast Velebit
Around 70 peaks exceed 1600 m.
There are hundreds of "holes" on Velebit. It has the largest and deepest caves in Croatia. The three-part "Lukina jama" cave is 1392 m deep, making it one of the deepest caves in the world, and the deepest in southeast Europe, while the "Slovačka jama" is 1320 m. What makes it unique is that it is completely vertical, steepest in the world. At the bottom of the pothole is a water course or siphon with branches that are still unexplored. A kind of leech was discovered in the pothole, which has been ascertained to represent a new species, genus and family; it has been named Croatobranchus mestrovi.
List of potholes on Velebit deeper than 500 m:
- Lukina Jama, 1392 m, Hajdučki Kukovi - North Velebit
- Slovačka Jama, 1320 m, Rožanski Kukovi - North Velebit
- Velebita, 941 m, Rožanski Kukovi - North Velebit
- Meduza, 679 m, Rožanski Kukovi - North Velebit
- Patkov Gušt, 553 m, Hajdučki Kukovi - North Velebit
- Ledena Jama, 536 m, Lomska Duliba - North Velebit
- Ponor na Bunovcu, 534 m, Bunovac - South Velebit
- Jama Olimp, 531 m, Hajdučki Kukovi - North Velebit
- Lubuška Jama, 521 m, Hajdučki Kukovi - North Velebit
Velebit in literature
Planine, the first Croatian novel by Petar Zoranić, was inspired by the Velebit mountain. In older European literature Velebit was known as Montagna della Morlacca. The Venetians called it Morlachia, which derives from the fact that there used to be Morlaks, black (mauros) Latins or black "Vlasi" (Wallachians) shepherds of Romanic origin, living in the Velebit area down to Lake Skadar after the Slavic colonisation. These same shepherds fled from the Turks from Velebit to Krk or into Istria
Literature about the Velebit that is available includes:
- Sergej Forenbacher's Velebit and its plant world.
- Željko Poljak's Mountains of Croatia.
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