Cres is an Adriatic island in Croatia. It is one of the northern islands in the Kvarner Gulf and can be reached via ferry from Rijeka, the island of Krk or from the Istrian peninsula (line Brestova-Porozina).
With an area of 405.78 km2, Cres is the same size as the neighbouring island of Krk, although Krk has for many years been considered the largest of the islands. Cres has a population of 3,079 (2011).
Cres and the neighbouring island of Lošinj used to be one island but were divided by a channel and connected with a bridge at the town of Osor. Cres's only fresh water source is the Lake Vrana.
Cres has been inhabited since the Paleolithic period. Its name predates classical antiquity and is derived from Proto-Indo-European *(s)quer- ("cliff"). Although this is one view, another more historically correct originates from classical antiquity, when the town was founded and inhabited by ancient Greeks and called Chersos (Χέρσος); "chersos" in Greek means "baren land", "uncultivated land" and "dry heaths". Later, "Chersos" was resounded to "Cresta", from which eventually the modern name "Cres" was derived.
Cres was later ruled by the Greeks and, since the 1st century B.C., by the Roman Empire. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the island was taken over and became a part of the Byzantine Empire and remained this way for centuries. In the 7th century, the Croats invaded Cres and the islands around it. They returned to the islands in the early 9th century (believed to be somewhere around 812).
Then, around 866, the inhabitants saw the first conflicts with the Republic of Venice. The Venetians eventually took control of Cres and the neighbouring islands in the 10th and 11th centuries.
However, the Croats regained the islands and the islands went through a change of rulers for centuries, being ruled by Croats, Hungarians, and for 400 years, the Venetians took control of the islands. After Napoleon's victory over the Venetians, the island went under Austrian rule. After the defeat of Austria by Napoleon in 1809, the islands became part of the French Empire.
After the fall of Napoleon, Austria once again took control of the island for 100 years. During this time, the economy developed with olive trees, sage, and other plants becoming key to the success of the island. At the end of World War I, with the Treaty of Rapallo signed in 1920, the island was once again handed over to Italy. This lasted until 1947, when the Islands, along with Istrian Peninsula, were assigned to Yugoslavia.
The island has gone through an agricultural downturn as many residents left the island in search of a better life on the mainland and abroad. This has resulted in many former agricultural areas becoming overgrown with local vegetation. Recently people, primarily retirees, have been returning to live on the island. Tourism has become an increasingly important industry and the population experiences significant seasonal variation.