The Illyrians and Romans
The history of Cres really starts with the Illyrian tribe the Liburni. They established a number of settlements on the island before the Romans invaded in the 2nd century AD. Cres, Osor and Beli (where the griffon vulture sanctuary, Caput Insulae, is now located) were all important settlements during Roman times.
Interestingly, at that time Cres and and the neighbouring island of Losinj used to be one large island. They were divided by a channel dug in Roman times; this was so boats could sail between the two. (However, unlike then, there is now a bridge that connects the two islands. Today it is easy to travel from one to the other!)
History of Cres – The Croats Arrive
After Croats took control in the 10th century, the island fell to the Venetian Empire, firstly from 1000 to 1358. Following a brief stretch of rule by the Croatian-Hungarians again, Cres once again was part of the Venetian Empire until 1797.
As with much of the surrounding area, Cres also became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1814.
20th Century History of Cres
After World War I, the islands became part of Italy, with this agreement strengthened by the 1920 Treaty of Rapallo.
After World War II (in 1947, in fact), the island was returned to Yugoslavia. It was of course part of Croatia when the country declared its independence in 1991.