Vis (island)

Coordinates: 43°02′33″N 16°09′09″E / 43.04250°N 16.15250°E / 43.04250; 16.15250
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

LocationAdriatic Sea
Coordinates43°02′33″N 16°09′09″E / 43.04250°N 16.15250°E / 43.04250; 16.15250
Area89.72 km2 (34.64 sq mi)
Highest elevation587 m (1926 ft)
Highest pointHum
Largest settlementVis (pop. 1,920)
Population3,617 (2011)

Vis (pronounced [ʋîːs]; Ancient Greek: Ἴσσα; Latin: Issa, Italian: Lissa) is a small Croatian island in the Adriatic Sea. It is the farthest inhabited island off the Croatian mainland. Before the end of World War I, the island was held by the Liburnians, the Republic of Venice, the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, and the Austrian Empire. During the 19th century, the sea to the north of Vis was the site of two naval battles. In 1920, the island was ceded to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia as part of the Treaty of Rapallo. During World War II, the island was the headquarters of the Yugoslav Partisan movement. After the war, Vis was used as a naval base for the Yugoslav People's Army until 1989. The island's main industries are viticulture, fishing, fish processing, and tourism.


Historical population
of Vis island
1857 6,304—    
1869 6,485+2.9%
1880 7,871+21.4%
1890 8,647+9.9%
1900 9,914+14.7%
1910 10,107+1.9%
1921 9,788−3.2%
1931 8,756−10.5%
1948 7,485−14.5%
1953 7,890+5.4%
1961 7,004−11.2%
1971 5,049−27.9%
1981 4,134−18.1%
1991 4,361+5.5%
2001 3,637−16.6%
2011 3,460−4.9%
Source: Naselja i stanovništvo Republike Hrvatske 1857–2001, DZS, Zagreb, 2005

The farthest inhabited island off the Croatian mainland, Vis had a population of 3,617 in 2011. Vis has an area of 90.26 square kilometres (34.85 square miles). Its highest point 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 island's eastern side (the settlement for which the island was originally named) and Komiža on its western coast.


Ancient history[edit]

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 on the island.[1][2] A town on an island of the same name 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. the island 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 Illyrian 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 South 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. 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.[3]

Under Venice[edit]

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 is Venetian in origin.[citation needed]

Long 19th century[edit]

After the short-lived Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, with Italian as the official language, the island was ruled by the Austrian Empire from 1814. In official Austrian (Habsburg) administration, as with other places in Dalmatia up until 1909, it maintained its Italian name of Lissa,[4] Most of the inhabitants speaking Veneto da mar.[5][dubious ][better source needed] In the Austrian census of 1910, out of 10,107 inhabitants (10,041 citizens), 9,939 responded that their language is Croatian (98.9%), with just 92 declared to be Italian-speakers (0.9%).[6] (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[edit]

Vis was at one point the site of the general headquarters of Marshal Josip Broz Tito, the leader of the Yugoslav Partisan resistance movement. It was occupied by Italy between 1941 and 1943, then was liberated by the Partisans and held by a British flotilla in 1943–44. At the end of World War II the island returned to Yugoslavia. During the war the island was mined. Allied fighter planes were based at a small airfield that was also used for emergency landings of Allied bombers, including an American B-24 flown by George McGovern. No. 6 Squadron RAF extensively used the airfield as a forward operating base, flying Hawker Hurricane Mk IV fighter aircraft, from May 1944 to February 1945.[7][8]

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.[9]

Early in July 1944, the novelist Evelyn Waugh flew with Randolph Churchill from Bari, Italy, to Vis as part of the British military mission to Yugoslavia.[10] There they met Marshal Tito.[10] Waugh and Churchill returned to Bari before flying back to Yugoslavia to begin their mission, but their aeroplane crash-landed, both men were injured, and their mission was delayed for a month.[11][12][13]

During WWII the island was also home to 1435 Squadron of the RAF flying Mark IX Spitfires in ground support of allied troops fighting in Italy.

After 1945[edit]

After the war, the Yugoslav People's Army used the island as one of its main naval bases until abandoning the base in 1989.[14] 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 and tourism, including tunnels, bunkers and a secret submarine base.[14] In 2008, 34 mines left over from World War II were cleared from the island.[citation needed]

In 2017 the movie Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was filmed on location on Vis.[15]

In 2019 GEOPARK Vis archipelago became a member of UNESCO Global Geoparks.[16]


Vis town and Komiža are seats of separate administrative municipalities which cover the entire island and nearby islets, which are both part of Split-Dalmatia County.


The island's main industries are agriculture (mainly viticulture), fishing, fish processing, and tourism.[17]

Around 20% of the island's arable land is covered with vineyards. Autochthonous vine species cultivated on the island are Plavac Mali, Kurteloška, and Vugava.[18]

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 until the second half of the 20th century because of its excellent features.[18]


Vis is accessed only by boat from Split. Jadrolinija services the island using mainly the car ferry Petar Hektorović, with the scheduled voyage time of 2h20'. There is also a high speed passenger catamaran service Split-Milna-Hvar-Vis provided by Jadrolinija which takes 1h30'.

There used to be direct ship lines to Italy during summer season. In 2010 Termoli Jet started Termoli-Vis-Split line, taking 3h30' to reach Vis from Italian city of Termoli.[19] In 2015, Blue Line ran the now cancelled night ferry service Ancona-Vis.[20]

In 2016, now-defunct European Coastal Airlines tried establishing seaplane passenger service Split-Vis, which took some 15 minutes.[21]


Notable people[edit]


  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. ^ The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites (eds. Richard Stillwell, William L. MacDonald, Marian Holland McAllister), ISSA (Vis) Croatia.
  3. ^ Wilkes, J. J. The Illyrians, 1992, ISBN 0-631-19807-5, p. 183, "... We may begin with the Venetic peoples, Veneti, Carni, Histri and Liburni, whose language set them apart from the rest of the Illyrians. ..."
  4. ^ Bartoli, Matteo. Le parlate italiane della Venezia Giulia e della Dalmazia. Tipografia italo-orientale. Grottaferrata 1919
  5. ^ Colella, Amedeo. L'esodo dalle terre adriatiche. Rilevazioni statistiche. Edizioni Opera per Profughi. Roma, 1958
  6. ^ Spezialortsrepertorium Von Dalmatien, bearbeitet aufgrund der Ergebnisse der Volkszählung am 20. Dezember 1910. Wien: Verl. d. Deutschösterr. Staatsdruckerei, 1919. Print., s. 21: Lissa
  7. ^ Jefford, C.G. 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.
  8. ^ The "Tin-opener". No 6 Squadron (RAF ) Association Newsletter. July 2014.
  9. ^ Council on Books in Wartime, and Robert O. Ballou. A History of the Council on Books in Wartime, 1942–1946. 1946. p. 81.
  10. ^ a b Churchill 1997, p. 251
  11. ^ Lovell 2012, p471-6
  12. ^ Soames 2003, p389-90
  13. ^ Churchill 1997, p. 252, 256
  14. ^ a b Ryan (15 March 2015). "Take a Look Inside These Abandoned Submarines & Bases". History in Orbit website. pp. 34–37. Archived from the original on 11 January 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  15. ^ Demark, Nikolina (15 August 2017). "Will the Filming of 'Mamma Mia' Affect the Island of Vis?". Total Croatia News. Archived from the original on 15 August 2017. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
  16. ^ "Vis Archipelago Enters UNESCO Global Geopark Network".
  17. ^ (in Croatian) First Croatian online peljar
  18. ^ a b Economy of Vis Archived 7 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ Redazione (10 May 2010). "Termoli-Croazia: Il catamarano pronto alla partenza. Primo viaggio il 24 giugno". myNews Termoli e Molise (in Italian). Retrieved 10 July 2023.
  20. ^ Olivieri, Maurizio (4 June 2015). Guida della Croazia (in Italian). Youcanprint. ISBN 978-88-911-9181-6.
  21. ^ News, Total Croatia (9 September 2016). "European Coastal Airlines Seaplane Docks at Island of Vis". Total Croatia. Retrieved 10 July 2023. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  • Jefford, C.G. 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[edit]