The island of Hvar is the pearl of the Croatian Dalmatian islands. It has been famous since the antique because of its important strategic and nautical position, the rich of the various historical periods, the culture and natural monuments and the literature. An island in the central Dalmatian archipelago; area 299.6 sq km (length 67.5 km, width up to 10.5 km). In front of the western part of the southern coast of Hvar are Pakleni Otoci (Pakleni Islands), and in front of the middle part the island of Scedro. A crest stretches across the middle part of the island, with the highest peak Sveti Nikola (St. Nicholas) (628 m); north of it is the fertile Velo Polje (Big Field). The northern coast of the island, with the spacious Stari Grad Bay and a number of coves, is much more indented than the southern. The island is characterized by mild Mediterranean climate.  The forest vegetation, which in the past comprised the entire island, has been cleared in dolomite valleys and flysh belts, adequate for farming. Bare rocky ground is interspersed with underbrush and garrigue; lower belts are covered with holm oak, Aleppo pine and other species. There are no surface water streams on the island; smaller sources spring out at the point of contact between dolom-ites and flysh marls. The only larger source is near Jelsa, from where the waterworks runs toward the town of Hvar. Most of the villages developed around Velo Polje; larger places are found along the coast (Hvar, Stari Grad, Jelsa, Vrboska). Economy is based on tourism, farming, viticulture, olive growing and especially on cultivation of rosemary and lavender; fishing is an additional occupation of the rural population. The island of Hvar has three fish canneries (Sucuraj, Vrboska and Hvar). Tourism is especially developed in the town of Hvar and in Jelsa; modern marinas are built in Vrboska and on the Pakleni Islands. Major places on the island are connected by the regional road (Hvar - Stari Grad - Jelsa - Bogomolje - Sucuraj). Ferry lines via Hvar, Sucuraj, Stari Grad and the cove of Vira. Hvar’s location at the center of the Adriatic sailing routes has long made this island an important base for commanding trade up and down the Adriatic, across to Italy and throughout the wider Mediterranean. It has been inhabited since pre-historic times, originally by a Neolithic people whose distinctive pottery gave rise to the term Hvar Culture, and later by the Illyrians. The ancient Greeks founded the colony of Pharos in 384 BC on the site of today’s Stari Grad, making it one of the oldest towns in Europe. They were also responsible for setting out the agricultural field divisions of the Stari Grad Plain, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In medieval times, Hvar (city) rose to importance within the Venetian Empire as a major naval base. Prosperity brought culture and the arts, with one of the first public theatres in Europe, nobles’ palaces and many fine communal buildings.