Dalmatia: Ships & Grapes
The early 1990s were years of war in Croatia and Dalmatia while the last five years of the decade were ones of slow recovery. The 1890s by contrast were years of peace but in Dalmatia especially, they were also years of economic depression not helped, explains Marcus Tanner in his history of Croatia "by Vienna's policy of vesting political power in the city council's in the hands of a tiny Italian minority. "
The region eked out a poor existence on wine and shipbuilding. But in the 1890s blight destroyed vineyards throughout Europe. Another blow was a favourable trade agreement reached with Italy that allowed Italy to flood the empire with cheap wine, undercutting Dalmatian exports. The switch to iron and steel ships then ruined the Dalmatians' second principal industry; there was not nearly enough capital in the region to finance the restructuring of Dalmatia's old wooden ship industry. Nor was there any money to finance the building of railways. By the turn of the century short lines linked Split to Sibenik and Knin but no further. As a result there were no decent transport links with either Bosnia or Croatia… .Poverty in Dalmatia drove tens of thousands to emigrate to America, and left the Adriatic islands with the half-deserted air they have retained ever since – outside the tourist season.
Croatia: A Nation Forged in War. Marcus Tanner. 1997.
[p. 110 / Yale University Press]