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The Governorate of Dalmatia (Italian language: Governatorato di Dalmazia ), was a province of the Kingdom of Italy, created in April 1941 from the existing Province of Zara together with occupied Yugoslav territory annexed by Italy after the invasion of Yugoslavia by the Axis powers and the signing of the Rome Treaties.[1]


File:Londonski ugovor hr.svg

Map of planned territorial changes of the London Pact of 1915. Areas in light green are the territories promised to Italy, that included a large portion of Dalmatia.

Dalmatia was a strategic region during World War I that both Italy and Serbia intended to seize from Austria-Hungary. Italy joined the Triple Entente Allies in 1915 upon agreeing to the London Pact that guaranteed Italy the right to annex a large portion of Dalmatia in exchange for Italy's participation on the Allied side. From 5–6 November 1918, Italian forces were reported to have reached Lissa, Lagosta, Sebenico, and other localities on the Dalmatian coast.[2] By the end of hostilities in November 1918, the Italian military had seized control of the entire portion of Dalmatia that had been guaranteed to Italy by the London Pact and by 17 November had seized Fiume as well.[3] In 1918, Admiral Enrico Millo declared himself Italy's Governor of Dalmatia.[4] Famous Italian nationalist Gabriele d'Annunzio supported the seizure of Dalmatia, and proceeded to Zadar in an Italian warship in December 1918.[5]

However in spite of the guarantees of the London Pact to Italy of a large portion of Dalmatia and Italian military occupation of claimed territories of Dalmatia, during the peace settlement negotiations of 1919 to 1920 the Fourteen Points of Woodrow Wilson that advocated self-determination of nations took precedence, with Italy only being permitted to annex Zadar from Dalmatia, while the rest of Dalmatia was to be part of Yugoslavia. This enraged Italian nationalists who considered this as a betrayal of the promises of the London Pact.


The Governorate of Dalmatia was made up of parts of coastal Yugoslavia that were occupied and annexed by Italy from April 1941 to September 1943, together with the pre-war Italian Province of Zara on the Dalmatian coast, including the island of Lagosta (Lastovo) and totalling about 200 square kilometers, which Italy had possessed since 1919. The town of Zara (Zadar), which had included most of the Italian population of Dalmatia since the beginning of the 20th century and was largely Italian-speaking,[6] was designated as its capital.

The creation of the Governorate of Dalmatia fulfilled the demands of Italian irredentism, but not all of Dalmatia was annexed by Italy, as the German puppet state known as the Independent State of Croatia took some parts of it. Nevertheless, the Italian army maintained de facto control over the whole of Dalmatia.

The Kingdom of Italy divided the Governorate in three Italian provinces: Zara (Zadar), Spalato (Split) and Cattaro (Kotor), but never created officially an Italian region with the name "Dalmatia". While the Governorate was not called a region of Italy, the northern Dalmatian islands of Veglia (Krk) and Arbe (Rab) were administratively united to the Italian province of Fiume (now Rijeka) and became areas of Italy.

In September 1941, Italy's fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini, ordered the military occupation of the entire Dalmatian coast, including the city of Dubrovnik ("Ragusa"), and islands such as Vis (Lissa) and Pag (Pago) which had been given to the puppet Independent State of Croatia of Ante Pavelić: Mussolini tried to annex those areas to the Governorship of Dalmatia, but was temporarily stopped by the strong opposition of Pavelić, who retained nominal control of them.[7] Fascist Italy even occupied Marindol and other villages that had previously belonged to the Banovina of Croatia, Milić-Selo, Paunović-Selo, Žunić-Selo, Vukobrati, Vidnjevići and Vrhovci. In 1942 these villages were annexed to Cernomegli (now Črnomelj, in Slovenia), which was then part of the Italian Province of Lubiana, even though their population was not Slovene but Croatian.

The governorship was held until January 1943 by Giuseppe Bastianini, when he was recalled to Italy to join the cabinet, his place as governor being taken by Francesco Giunta.[8]


Map of the three provinces of the Governorate of Dalmatia.

The Governorate of Dalmatia consisted of three provinces: Zara (Zadar), Spalato (Split) and Cattaro (Kotor). The administrative capital was Zara. After the autumn of 1941 also the Dalmatian islands of Pag (Pago), Brač (Brazza) and Hvar (Lesina), initially given to the Independent State of Croatia, were annexed. These islands were occupied by the Italian army, along with an area of Croatia which was away from the coast of Sinj towards the center of Bosnia, near Sarajevo and Banja Luka.

Province Area (km²) Population[9]
Zara 3,179 211,900
Spalato 1,075 128,400
Cattaro 547 39,800
Total 4,801 380,100

After the Kingdom of Italy changed sides to the Allies in 1943, German forces took over the area. This territory was not given to the fascist Italian Social Republic (which was a puppet state of Germany), but instead completely dissolved and added to the puppet Independent State of Croatia. But Zara remained Italian (even under control of the German Army) until 1945 (the city suffered a bombing in 1944).

Governors of Dalmatia

  • Athos Bartolucci (17 April 1941 – 7 June 1941)
  • Giuseppe Bastianini (7 June 1941 – 14 February 1943)
  • Francesco Giunta (14 February 1943 – 10 September 1943)

See also


  1. Governatorato di Dalmazia (in Italian)
  2. Giuseppe Praga, Franco Luxardo. History of Dalmatia. Giardini, 1993. Pp. 281.
  3. Paul O'Brien. Mussolini in the First World War: the Journalist, the Soldier, the Fascist. Oxford, England, UK; New York, New York, USA: Berg, 2005. Pp. 17.
  4. Paul O'Brien. Mussolini in the First World War: the Journalist, the Soldier, the Fascist. Oxford, England, UK; New York, New York, USA: Berg, 2005. Pp. 17.
  5. A. Rossi. The Rise of Italian Fascism: 1918-1922. New York, New York, USA: Routledge, 2010. Pp. 47.
  6. Vrandečić, Josip (2001-10-07). "Razvoj talijanskog nacionalizma u Dalmaciji" (in Croatian). Dijalog povjesničara - istoričara 6. Zagreb: Political Science Research Centre Ltd. (PSRC) for Scientific Research Work. pp. 204–205. Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  7. Giorgio Bocca, Storia d'Italia nella guerra fascista 1940-1943. Mondadori editore. Milano, 2006
  8. Jozo Tomasevich, War and revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941-1945: occupation and collaboration, Stanford University Press, 2001, pp. 136-137
  9. cfr.: Davide Rodogno Il nuovo ordine mediterraneo, ed. Bollati Boringhieri, Turin, 2003.

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