An island in the western
part of the Kvarner Archipelago; 74,68 sq km (length 31 km); population
8,134. There is a bascule bridge over the 11-m wide artificial canal
(the Straits of Osor), which connects it with the island of Cres.
The island is formed predominantly of chalk limestone and dolomite
rocks; there are sand deposits in the western part of the Kurila
peninsula. The northern and southern parts of the island are much
wider and larger than its central part, the narrow belt of Privlaka.
West of Privlaka, there is a wide bay (5.6 km long and up to 1 km
wide), comprising two coves, Kovcanja and the port of Mali Losinj.
Cikat is the most popular among several coves south of the bay.
The hill Osorscica (with Televrina Peak, 588 m) rises in the north,
and Grgoscak (243 m) is the highest top in the south-western part.
In the port of Mali Losinj, the Privlaka Canal has been dug through,
so that the island of Losinj is divided into two parts; the canal
has been overbridged. The north-western part of Losinj is steep
and rocky; due to a lack of indents, it does not provide a good
shelter for ships and boats; the central part of the western coast
is extremely indented. The eastern coast is much more flat than
the western; exposed to the bora in the central part, but with numerous
coves in the south-eastern part. There are several islets off the
south-eastern coast, such as Vele Orjule and Male Orjule, Trasorka,
Kozjak, etc. The island has a mild climate and evergreen vegetation
(myrtle, holm oak, laurel, etc.), apart from its highest parts in
the north; Veli Losinj, Cikat and the south-western coast are ringed
by pine forests. An average temperature in January is 7.3 °C.
The annual rainfall is 1,008 mm (mostly occurring in the autumn).
- Losinj, once important due to its naval and shipbuilding trades,
saw an intensive development of tourism at the end of the 19th century;
in 1892 Mali and Veli Losinj became important climatic resorts.
Traditional shipbuilding (small motor and race boats) and fishery,
along with tourism, are the chief occupations. The centre of the
island is Mali Losinj, the main connection of the towns and villages
on Losinj with the neighbouring islands. A regional road runs through
the island; ferry connections (via the island of Cres) include Brestova
- Porozina, Rijeka - Porozina, Merag - Valbiska and Mali Losinj
- Zadar. There is also an airport on the island of Losinj.
The island of Losinj has been inhabited ever since the prehistoric
period (hill-forts at the foot of Osorscica and around the port
of Mali Losinj). In the ancient times, the islands Losinj and Cres
had a common name, Apsirtides. In several places the ruins of Roman
villas have been excavated (villae rusticae: Liski, St. James, Studencic
near Cunski). In the Middle Ages Losinj was unpopulated and the
property of the clerical and secular nobility of -Osor, sharing
the same fate with the island of Cres, all up to recent times. -
From the Romanesque period, several small eremitic churches have
been preserved (St. Lovrec near Osor, St. James in the village of
the same name). The first settlers from the mainland were mentioned
in 1280. Pursuant to a contract with Osor, their settlements gained
self-government in 1389. The name Losinj was first mentioned in
1384. Parallel with the gradual decline of Osor from the 15th century
onwards, the settlements Veli Losinj and Mali Losinj were playing
an increasingly important role. In the 18th and 19th centuries,
trade, shipbuilding and seafaring on the island developed more intensely.
After the fall of the Republic of Venice Losinj was under the Austro-Hungarian
rule up to its breaking off in 1918; under Italy up to 1943. In
1945 the island was annexed to its parent country Croatia.