Split (pronounced [splît]) is the largest Dalmatian city, the second-largest urban centre in Croatia, and the seat of Split-Dalmatia County with population of 227,456 citizens (2007). The city is located on the shores of the Mediterranean, more specifically on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea, spreading over a central peninsula and its surroundings, with its metropolitan area including the many surrounding seaside towns as well. An intraregional transport hub, the city is a link to the numerous surrounding Adriatic islands and the Apennine peninsula, as well as a popular tourist destination.
Split is also one of the oldest cities in the area, and is traditionally considered just over 1,700 years old, while archaeological research relating to the ancient Greek colony of Aspálathos (6th century BC) establishes the city as being several hundred years older.
While the beginnings of Split are often connected to the construction of Diocletian’s Palace, the city was founded earlier as a Greek colony of Aspálathos. The Greek settlement lived off trade with the surrounding Illyrian tribes, mostly the Delmatae, who inhabited the (much larger) nearby city of Salona. In time, the Roman Republic became the dominant power in the region, and conquered the Illyrians in the Illyrian Wars of 229 and 219 BC. Upon establishing permanent control, the Romans founded the province of Dalmatia with Salona as the capital, and at that time the name of the nearby Greek colony Aspálathos was changed to “Spalatum”.
Split is situated on a peninsula between the eastern part of the Gulf of Kaštela and the Split Channel. The Marjan hill (178 m), rises in the western part of the peninsula. The ridges Kozjak (779 m) and his brother Mosor (1339 m) protect the city from the north and northeast, and separate it from the hinterland.
Split is an important transport center for Dalmatia and the wider region. In addition to the Zagreb-Split freeway (A1), all the road traffic along the Adriatic coast on the route Zadar–Dubrovnik flows through the city. The city also has a series of expressways and avenues, enabling efficient, fast transit by car around the city and its suburbs. The most important mean of transport in Split is bus, the city being inadequate for trams due to its hilly geography. The local public transport company Promet Split renovated its fleet in 2008 with the latest MAN and Mercedes-Benz models.
Split is also the southernmost integrated point of the Croatian Railway network. Within Split’s city centre, railway traffic passes two tunnels before reaching the Central Station. The line to Split is unremarkable; a journey from Split to Zagreb or Rijeka takes around 5 hours, as the line is unelectrified and consists of only one track. Currently, there are no definite plans to upgrade the line, but with the start of work on the new Zagreb-Rijeka railway line in October 2007. The Split Suburban Railway network opened in early December 2006. It currently has one line, running from the Split city harbour to Kaštel Stari. The line is expected to get a second track and be fully electrified in the near future. New, low-floor trains are expected to be implemented as well. This line will also be lengthened, to encompass the aforementioned Split International Airport, and continue on to the towns of Trogir and Seget Donji. Split also plans to construct a mini-metro that is to be operational by 2012.
The Split Airport in Kaštela is the second largest in Croatia in terms of passenger numbers (1,203,778 in 2008), with year-round services to Zagreb, London, Frankfurt and the Cologne Bonn Airport in Germany, as well as heavy tourist traffic in the summer. The expansion of the terminal is scheduled to commence in 2012.
The passenger seaport in Split, with its annual traffic of 4 million passengers, is the third busiest port in the Mediterranean, with daily coastal routes to Rijeka, Dubrovnik and Ancona in Italy. During the summer season Split is connected with other Italian cities as well, such as Pescara. Most of the central Dalmatian islands are only reachable via the Split harbor (with Jadrolinija and Split Tours ferries). This includes the islands of Brač, Hvar and Šolta, as well as the more distant Vis, Korčula and Lastovo. Split is also becoming a major cruise ship destination, with over 260 ship visits, carrying 130,000 passengers. The largest ship scheduled to dock is the 315m long Celebrity Eclipse.
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