The history of Losinj is – not surprisingly – very similar to its close neighbour, Cres. (Losinj and Cres in fact used to be one island. They were split by an artificial canal constructed as a sea route.)
There is in fact evidence of life on Losinj going as far back as pre-historic times. However, the first part of Losinj’s history goes to the Liburnians in the first few centuries BC, and their settlements all over the island.
Once the Roman Empire swept into the area, Losinj was surprisingly overlooked. Although there were some relatively important Roman towns on Cres, there’s not all that much to suggest a large presence on Losinj. (The Roman name for the island was Apsorrus.)
Croats arrive on Losinj
The Croats arrived on the island sometime in the 10th century, although Losinj came under Venetian rule from 1000 to 1358. After rule by the Croatian-Hungarian kingdom for around 60 years, it returned to the Venetian Empire, under which it remained until that Empire’s fall in 1797. Towards the latter part of this period, Losinj’s strength in shipbuilding and seafaring grew; this continued through to the 19th century.
The island became part of the Austrian Empire in 1814, and remained so until the end of World War I. During this time, Losinj further prospered and tourism on the island became popular; the wealthier citizens of the Austrian Empire holidayed on the island. The first hotel on the island of Losinj was built in 1887. You can read more on the history of tourism on the island here.
20th Century History of Losinj
In 1920, the island was actually given to Italy by the Treaty of Rapallo. This is also the case of some of the other nearby islands such as Cres and parts of mainland, especially Istria (and famously Zadar further south along the coast).
Occupied during World War II, the island of Losinj became part of Yugoslavia after the war. The island was part of Croatia when it declared independence in 1991.