As with the other nearby islands, there is evidence in the history of Pag to suggest that there were settlements on the island from as far back as the Stone Age. The Liburnians, an Illyrian tribe, were also present on the island in the 2nd century BC.
The Romans made their presence felt in the 1st century BC; although the island wasn’t particularly prominent at that time, its name stems from the Latin word pagus, meaning village.
Following the influx of Slavic peoples to the area of what is now the Croatian coast, some also settled on the island in the 6th and 7th centuries. Different sections of the island came under the control of the churches of Rab and Zadar. The island sought to wrestle control from Zadar over the centuries, successfully at times, although various battles saw it return back to Zadar’s control during this period as well.
Like its neighbouring islands and much of Dalmatia, Pag came to be under Venetian rule from 1409. Having suffered and been badly damaged during the assorted battles in the previous centuries, the island’s main town Pag Town (named Cissa back then) was moved in the 15th century from where it was to its present-day location.
In 1797, Pag became part of the Austrian Empire, as did much of the Croatian coast. This was then followed by brief Napoleonic rule in the first part of the 19th century. The island of Pag then prospered economically under Austrian rule, with investment in the island’s production of salt.
20th Century History of Pag
The island came to be part of Yugoslavia in 1918. It was occupied first by Italy and then Germany during World War II. The island was liberated on 5th April 1945, becoming part of Yugoslavia once more.
Pag was of course part of the Croatia that declared independence in 1991.