A hidden treasure in the Mediterranean as it once was


The island of Lastovo has undergone many name changes in its history, since the Ancient Greeks first sailed to historic Illyria in the 4th Century BC. Ladesta, Ladeston or Ladoston - all due to similarities with the island of Lado in the Ionic Sea - before the Romans called it Insula Augusta. From there a Middle Ages transformation to Augusta, then Lagusta and Lagosta. The Slavic suffix -ovo, combined with the Roman Lasta helped to deliver its current name of Lastovo. 

The earliest signs of human habitation date back to Neolithic times with traces of human life in Raca cave, and the island was then inhabited by the Slavs and Neretvians in the 7th Century. The Venetian influence, so prevalent in the Adriatic, did not escape Lastovo, and Doge Pietro Orseolo II conquered the island in 998, destroying the initial settlement. As a result, the people of Lastovo founded a town away from the coast, where present-day Lastovo Town now stands. 

Lastovo decided to join the prosperous Dubrovnik Republic in the 13th century, in return for a guarantee that the island's autonomy and traditions would be respected. From the island's Statute, it would appear that Lastovo was completely autonomous in 1310, an autonomy which was only partially lost in 1486. Attempts to limit that autonomy and increase taxes led to rebellion in 1602, after which 

Venice occupied Lastovo for three years, before handing it back to the Dubrovnik Republic. A subsequent attempt at autonomy in 1652 led to the complete loss of the island's autonomy.

With the dissolution of the Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik) by Napoleon, Lastovo became de facto part of the French Empire, a status which was shortlived, as the British took over the island from 1813 - 1815, before it was handed to the Habsburg Empire. 

As elsewhere in the region, Austro-Hungarian rule brought progress in the form of a census, new lighthouses, improved administration and tax management. The island's fate was at the mercy of events elsewhere in Europe, and it was occupied by Italians from 1918 to 1943, before becoming part of Federal People's Republic of  Yugoslavia in 1945.

Although Croatia declared independence in 1991 to form the modern state, The JNA army did not leave its base in Lastovo until July 1992, but with their departure, Lastovo has enjoyed Croatian rule after a very international history of different masters.


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