Area: 8.19 km2
Location: West of Croatia, Šibenik County
Number of inhabitants:
Seasonal: 2,000 in summer
Protected island: no
Zlarin is an island on the Croatian coast with an unspoiled environment. Cars cannot circulate on the island and the low level of urbanization, very concentrated around the port, has made it possible to conserve large natural spaces.
Island culture revolves around red coral, a craft, valued at the island’s heritage museum, which made Zlarin’s reputation.
The island’s relief is made up of two chains of parallel dolomitic limestone hills. A flatter area, called Polje, is located between these chains and slopes down to the northwest of the island, where it widens to form the bay, around which is the only village of the island. The highest point on the island, Keplac, is 169 m above sea level.
The coastline is made up of easily accessible coves, except on the southern part of the island, where there are small cliffs exposed to the waves.
Located at the entrance to the Šibenik Canal, Zlarin offers ideal shelter for sailors from the Adriatic Sea. This situation gave it strategic importance in the 17th and 18th centuries, during the Ottoman conquests. It then experienced a great area of prosperity, which continued until the beginning of the 20th century.
Vestiges of the Ottoman fortifications remain from this period of prosperity, but also the church, built in the 17th century, and 19th century villas, which were the second homes of wealthy Šibenik families.
The island has now lost its influence: a sluggish island economy, exodus of island populations … These phenomena suggest a demographic problem (increasingly high average age).
The island is traditionally known for the exploitation of red coral and sponge. Fishing and farming were also practiced there (especially olive growing and viticulture). Today, agriculture is in decline and tourism is seen as an opportunity that would allow the island to further develop. In this context, a large coral museum project is being developed in a feasibility study phase.
The village occupies only about 6% of the surface of the island, which allows a large surface of natural space. This space is covered with a dense forest, pines and cypresses. There are also other species typical of the Mediterranean scrubland, such as fig trees, olive trees, rosemary, etc.
Zlarin, due to its current economic situation, has been able to preserve its environment and its coastline, avoiding anarchic urbanization. The current challenge is the continuation of their preservation while developing new and sustainable economic activities, to allow the island population to regain a dynamic of local development.