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Splitsko-Dalmatinska zupanija, or Split-Dalmatia County, found in the southern part of the country, is one of Croatia's 20 self-governing units. Being the most extensive county in Croatia by land area, Split-Dalmatia spans approximately 14.106,40 square kilometers. The county lies on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, contributing to the state border with Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northeast. Split-Dalmatia neighbors Sibenik-Knin County to the northwest, while to the southeast, the area is bordered by Dubrovnik-Neretva County. Several islands, such as Brač, contribute not only to the county's territory but also to its tourism, as they tend to pose as summer holiday destinations. One such example is the Golden Horn beach on the Brač Island. Split, the capital city, is located in the northern part of the county, along the shores of the sea. Regarding history, the remains from Roman times can still be spotted in the city today, with the Diocletian Palace being one such example. Another historical settlement is Trogir, with its old town inscribed as a world heritage site on the UNESCO list. In terms of geographical conditions, the county is divided into three regions: a hinterland known as Dalmatinska Zagora, featuring numerous karst fields; a coastal area; and a cluster of islands. The border with Bosnia and Herzegovina is defined by sections of the Dinaric Alps, including Dinara.
The capital city of Split-Dalmatia County is Split, found on the shores of the Adriatic Sea. Split's history dates back 17 centuries, when Roman Emperor Diocletian constructed his palace on the peninsula near Salona, intending to spend his final years there. Over time, the palace evolved into a city, attracting visitors with its tradition, historical significance, and nature. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979, Split blends ancient and modern architecture, showcasing layers of history from Roman times to the present day. Walking through the city, people can spot Peristyle, the middle-aged Romanesque Church and Gothic Palace; Renaissance portals of the noblemen's houses; and Baroque facades. Beyond its architectural and historical landmarks, the city offers festivals, museums, and concerts. People seeking nature can also explore Marjan Hill, a city symbol offering forests, trails, and beaches.
Another historical town in Split-Dalmatia County is Trogir, located on an island between the mainland and Čiovo. The town is often known for its sculptural artistry on the stone buildings, showcasing a blend of Greek, Roman, and Venetian influences. Thus, due to its "cultural value," the town was recognized on UNESCO's list of world heritage sites. Walking through Trogir's streets, people can encounter houses with various stylistic features, crests, and signs above their doors, dating back mainly to the 13th century. The city also boasts numerous churches, medieval stone walls, towers, and the Kamerlengo fortress, now serving as a summer stage. The Cathedral of St. Lawrence houses works of Croatian sculptors and artists.
For people seeking outdoor destinations, one option in the Splitsko-Dalmatinska zupanija is the Cetina River Canyon. Notably, the canyon has been protected as a natural landscape for 60 years. Visitors to the area can enjoy zip lines, canyoning, kayaking, and rafting, as well as walking through the area or participating in a boat ride. Medieval forts along the river's course are reminders of the region's history, providing panoramic viewpoints. The Viseć fortress and Radmanovo Mlinice, an old mill turned into a picnic spot, belong among the visited places near Cetina.
Split-Dalmatia County features several islands scattered in the Adriatic Sea, one of them being Brač. This island features several beaches, yet presumably, the best known among them is the Golden Horn, near the village of Bol. A 500-meter-long pebble beach, known as the Golden Horn, was shaped by winds and sea currents. Additionally, there are also Roman remains, including an 1800-year-old monument-water tank. Another island destination is The Blue Grotto, also known as the Blue Cave, a water-filled sea cave located in a bay called Balun on the eastern side of Biševo Island. The cave is relatively well-known and is often visited for its nature and its glowing blue light that illuminates the cave at certain times of the day.
Split-Dalmatia County holds the distinction of being the largest in Croatia in terms of area, spanning approximately 14,045 square kilometers, and is inhabited by circa 425,412 people.
Geographically, the county is characterized by three main features: a high hinterland known as Zagora, which includes several karst fields; a relatively narrow but densely populated coastal belt; and various islands scattered in the Adriatic Sea. The Dinarides partially form the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, while the Kozjak, Mosor, and Biokovo mountains separate the coastal belt from the hinterland.
In terms of transportation, a Split-Zadar-Karlovac-Zagreb highway connects the county to the rest of Croatia, along with the Lika railway. Travel to the county is facilitated by several airports, with the international airport Split-Kaštela being primarily used for tourist flights during the summer. Additionally, there are fairly smaller international airports on the island of Brač, as well as in Sinj and on the island of Hvar.
In the eastern part of the county, near the state borders with Bosnia and Herzegovina, is found the Biokovo-Imotska Jezera Geopark. This area boasts an array of natural phenomena, including relatively diverse habitats, plant and animal species, and geological formations from various time periods. In today's time, the area has been recognized as the third UNESCO Geopark in Croatia. In the geopark, people can visit Red Lake, a notable hydro-morphological phenomenon with its reddish rocks. At the same time, Biokovo Lake itself was designated a nature park in 1981 due to its karst landscapes and biodiversity. The region is filled with karst formations such as ridges, caves, sinkholes, and deep pits, among others.
Split-Dalmatia County has an Adriatic-type Mediterranean climate, featuring reportedly dry and hot summers and mild, wet winters. The islands have warm weather with "plenty of sunshine" and little precipitation, while the coastal areas experience colder autumns and winters with increased rainfall. Summers on the coast are hot, dry, and bright. The coldest month ranges from negative 3°C to 18°C, while the warmest month is above 22°C. Hvar is the sunniest town in the region. Prevailing winds include bora and southerly. Local Adriatic Sea's temperature, ranging from 10°C to 26°C, is reported to influence the area's climate.
The name "Dalmatia" originates from the Illyrian tribe known as the Dalmatae, who inhabited the eastern Adriatic coast during the 1st millennium BC. It was part of the Illyrian kingdom until the Roman Republic established its control over the region in the 2nd century BC. Dalmatia became a part of the Roman province of Illyricum and was later divided into two provinces, Pannonia and Dalmatia. The region expanded to cover the Dinaric Alps and most of the eastern Adriatic coast. Notably, "Dalmatia was the birthplace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian," who built Diocletian's Palace in the present-day city of Split.
Thus, Split is one of the historical destinations in the county, with Diocletian's Palace standing as one of the well-preserved examples of Roman architecture. The palace served as a villa, a summer residence, and a Roman military camp, divided into four sections with two main streets, with the Emperor's apartment and official ceremonies taking place in the southern part. At the same time, the north housed the Imperial Guard, military personnel, servants, and storage. The rectangular building measures approximately 215 x 180 meters and features four large corner towers, doors on all sides, and smaller towers along the walls. However, over time, inhabitants of the Palace and later citizens of Split made alterations to suit their needs, and the overall outlines of the Imperial Palace remain visible.
The history of the Croatian people in the Dalmatia and Sinjska Krajina region dates back to the 9th century. The area saw the emergence of the Croatian nation and the creation of relatively larger tribal alliances, leading to the formation of Dalmatian Croatia and Posavska Croatia. Branimir's inscription, dating from the era of national rulers, was found in Muć, and a Benedictine monastery was founded on the island of Brač. Split and other Dalmatian cities eventually emerged as free municipalities under Hungarian-Croatian kings. The region struggled with Venice, Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire, leading to various migrations and transformations.
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