Hvar Island, Croatia
Hvar Island is one of more than 1200 islands located of the coast of Croatia. It is approx. 68km (42.25mi) long and with a population of a little over 11,000 making it the 4thmost populated of the Croatian islands. The island is renowned for its natural beauty, fertile soil and natural springs, all of which make it one of the most visited places on the Dalmatian coast. The hillsides are covered with pine trees, vineyards, olive groves, fruit orchards as well as their beloved lavender fields, making it also one of the greenest islands in the Adriatic.
Located in the Adriatic Sea, Hvar lies to the south of the island of Brač being separated by the Hvar Channel, to the west is the island of Vis, separated by the Vis Channel, and to the south is Korčula, separated by the Korčula Channel. The mainland of the Pelješac Peninsula is only 6km (3.7mi) away by crossing the Neretva Channel. There are also several smaller islands such as the Paklinski Islands to the west, Šćedro Island to the south whilst the Zečevo island lies off its north coast
The location of Hvar, at the centre of sailing routes through the Adriatic, has made the island and important base for trade across the Adriatic to Italy, or even wider, throughout the Mediterranean. Hvar has been inhabited since Neolithic times (3000-2000 BC), when the occupants created a distinctive form pottery today known as Hvar pottery. One of the oldest towns in Europe, Stari Grad, was founded on the island 384 BC by the Greeks and is still inhabitant today. The Greeks also laid the bases for the wonderful agricultural set up the island has. The creation of the Stari Grad Plain, where the land was divided into parcels (known as choras), bounded by stone walls and included a rainwater recovery system using gutters and cisterns. Agricultural activity in the chora has remained uninterrupted for 24 centuries and even today, continue to grow the same crops, grapes and olives, as the ancient Greeks did.
With the arrival of the Venetians from Italy, Hvar Town rose in importance within the Venetian Empire as they used it as major naval base. This prosperity, and peace, brought with it noble palaces, beautiful civic buildings and a flourishing of the arts and culture. This resulted in one of the first public theatres to be built, which is still in Hvar Town today.
The arrival of Napoleon and the French saw the lavender exports increase, and this along with rosemary production boomed with the French perfume industry.
Tourism today is the largest contributer to the island’s economy and has been for more than 150 years. The island’s climate of mild winters, long warm summers and many hours of sunshine have all aided in visitors wanting to come. In fact one of the oldest tourist organisations in the world was formed in Hvar town. In 1868, the Hygenic Assosiation of Hvar was formed, to aid in the assistance to visitors to the island as well as being instrumental in the developing of infrastructure of hotels, appartements, shops, marinas, cafés and restaurants. This success is mirrored by the fact that Hvar is regularly listed in the top 10 island by the Conde Nast Travel magazine