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Historical region of Croatiaa
Lika (highlighted) on a map of Croatia
Lika (highlighted) on a map of Croatia
Country  Croatia
Largest city Gospić
 • Total 5,000 km2 (2,000 sq mi)
 • Total c. 50,000
a Lika is not designated as an official region, it is a geographic and historical region only..

Lika (pronounced [lǐːka]) is a traditional region of Croatia proper, roughly bound by the Velebit mountain from the southwest and the Plješevica mountain from the northeast. On the north-west end Lika is bounded by Ogulin-Plaški basin, and on the south-east by the Malovan pass. Today most of the territory of Lika (Gospić, Otočac, Brinje, Donji Lapac, Lovinac, Perušić, Plitvička Jezera, Udbina and Vrhovine) is part of Lika-Senj County. Josipdol, Plaški and Saborsko are part of Karlovac County and Gračac is part of Zadar County.

Major towns include Gospić, Otočac, and Gračac, most of which are located in the karst poljes of the rivers of Lika, Gacka and others. The Plitvice Lakes National Park is also in Lika.



Bijelohrvati (or White Croats) originally migrated from White Croatia to Lika in the first half of the 7th century. After the settlement of Croats (according to migrations theories), Lika became part of the Principality of Littoral Croatia. Lika then became a part of the Kingdom of Croatia in 925, when Duke Tomislav of the Croats received the crown and became King of Croatia.

The use of the term ban is directly attested in 10th-century Constantine Porphyrogenitus' book De Administrando Imperio as βο(ε)άνος, in a chapter dedicated to Croats and the organisation of their state, describing how their ban "has under his rule Krbava, Lika and Gacka".[1]

Among the twelve noble Croat tribes that had a right to choose the Croat king, the Gusići tribe was from Lika.

From the 15th century

Lika-Krbava County Coat of Arms. Kingdom of Hungary, Croatia-Slavonia

The end of the 15th century brought some migrations of Vlachs and, particularly from Dalmatia and Bosnia which fell to the Ottomans.
Lika, together with whole of Croatia became a part of the Habsburg Monarchy when the Croatian Parliament recognized Ferdinand I of the House of Habsburg as their King in 1527. The Ottomans conquered parts of the region in 1528 and it became Sandžak Lika, a part of Viyalet Bosnia; causing migrations of the region's Serbs, Croats and Vlachs into the Croatian Frontier, Carinthia and Styria; the Serbs from there inhabited Žumberak in the 1630s. After the Second Great Migration of Serbs in 1690, the migrations of Serbs to Lika increased. Shortly after Treaty of Karlowitz was signed in 1699 which ended the War of the Holy League (1683–1699), the region was incorporated into the Karlovac generalat of the Austrian Military Frontier.

Lika housed many Croatian uskoks, who would invade the Ottoman border territories and then return to Austria. They were citizens who wanted to help liberate their fellow men from Ottoman domination. Some of the more important were in Ravni Kotari; and the most famous were from Senj.[clarification needed] The uskoks had an important role in the War of the Holy League in which most of the Ottoman-held Habsburg lands were re-conquered.

The Croatian Bans and nobility wanted that the control over the regions of the Military Frontier be restored to the Croatian Parliament and the Roman Catholic Church worked hard to turn the local Serbian Orthodox populace into Uniates[citation needed] but without success. The region went through a process of de-militarization from 1869 after numerous pleas by the Croatian Parliament,[clarification needed] and it was officially demilitarized on August 8, 1873. On July 15, 1881 the Military Frontier was abolished, and Lika restored to Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, an autonomous part of Transleithania (the Hungarian part of the Dual Monarchy of Austro-Hungary).

In 18th century and in the middle of the 19th century the Orthodox Christians, mostly adherents of Serbian Orthodox Licko-Krbavska and Zrinopoljska Eparchy comprised the majority in Lika. This Eparchy, established in 1695 by metropolitan Atanasije Ljubojevic and certified by Emperor Joseph I in 1707, is known (from the 19th century) as the Eparchy of Upper Karlovac. According to the 1910 Austro-Hungarian census, the Lika-Krbava county had some 204,710 inhabitants, of those, 104,041 Orthodox (51%), 100,620 Roman Catholics (49%), 14 Greek Catholics, 12 Jews, 6 Lutherans and 2 Calvinists. The Orthodox Christian population lived predominantly in the eastern and central parts of the region.

Kingdom of Yugoslavia to SFRY

After the collapse of Austria-Hungary, Croatia and Slavonia, of which Lika was part, became part of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs on October 29, 1918. The newly created state then joined the Kingdom of Serbia on December 1, 1918 to form Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes which was in 1929 renamed into Yugoslavia. Lika remained inside Croatia, which became one of the constituent provinces of the Kingdom. The majority of Lika belonged to the Županija Lika-Krbava with the capital in Senj (instead of in Gospić previously). The new constitution abolished any previous borders and Lika became a part of the Primorsko-krajiška Oblast with the capital in Karlovac. In 1929, the region became a part of the Sava Banate (Savska banovina) of the newly formed Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and the in 1939 of the Croatian Banate (Hrvatska banovina).

Yugoslavia was invaded and split by the Axis forces in 1941 and Lika became a part of the Independent State of Croatia. During World War II the region's Serbs and Croats fought each other.

Croatian War of Independence

Due to recent civil unrest and with Croatia declaring independence from Yugoslavia, the Serb majority settlements of eastern Lika joined with fellow Serbian populous in nowadays Bosnia and Croatia in the creation and declaration of independence of the Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK). Subsequently, the Serbian paramilitary units were created with the backing of the Yugoslav National Army and Serbian paramilitary forces from B&H. Clashes with the Croatian police that followed later in 1991 quickly erupted in a full-scale war that resulted in the capital of the province Gospić being heavily damaged by the Serbian forces. War continued until 1995, when the Croatian Army liberated the region in Operation Storm, ending the existence of the RSK. Most Serbs fled Lika, although some have since returned. Most of the Croats previously expelled have now returned.


Lika is traditionally a rural area with a developed farming (growing potatoes) and livestock. Industry is minimal and relies mostly on wood processing. The non-contamination could prove a major advantage in the near future based and tourism development. For this there are great potentials – Like in the two national parks (Plitvice Lakes and Sjeverni Velebit), are important factors and proximity to Dalmatian summer resorts and good transport links.


Lika has a distinct culture. The Ikavian and Shtokavian dialects of the Croatian language are both spoken in most of Lika, and Chakavian is spoken in the North around the town of Brinje.

Lika caps are worn by the local men and farmers informally at home, and also formally at weddings and celebrations.


File:Lika region map.png
Map of main settlements in Lika

The 2011 census data for Lika-Senj County shows 50,927 [1] inhabitants, which is a decrease from the 53,677 [2] inhabitants counted in 2001 (this is a drop of about 5.1% over the ten years and continues a decades-long depopulation trend in Lika). In 2011, 84.15% of the residents were of Croat, and 13.65% of Serb, ethnicity.[2]

Notable people


  1. De Administrando Imperio 30/90-117, "καὶ ὁ βοάνος αὐτῶν κρατεῖ τὴν Κρίβασαν, τὴν Λίτζαν καὶ τὴν Γουτζησκά"
  2. "Population by Ethnicity, by Towns/Municipalities, 2011 Census: County of Lika-Senj". Census of Population, Households and Dwellings 2011. Zagreb: Croatian Bureau of Statistics. December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

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