Rab ( island )

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Rab (Italian: Arbe, German: Arbey) is an island in Croatia and a town of the same name located just off the northern Croatian coast in the Adriatic Sea.

The island is 22 km (14 mi) long, has an area of 93.6 km2 (36 sq mi) and 9,480 inhabitants (2001). The highest peak is Kamenjak at 408 meters. The northeastern side of the island is mostly barren, karst, while the southwestern side is covered by one of the last oak forests of the Mediterranean.

Ferries connect the island of Rab with the mainland port of Jablanac and with the neighbouring islands of Krk and Pag.

The island of Rab was first mentioned in a Greek source Periplus of Pseudo-Scylax (360 BC) and then by other Greek and Roman geographists by the name Arba. That name belonged to the Liburnians, so far the oldest known inhabitants of the island. Arba was also the name of the Liburnian settlement in the modern city of Rab. It is not certain how old this name is; it may be as old as the settlement, which means from the beginning of the Iron Age, since the Liburnians did not build the city walls on the island. The Illyrian-Liburnian word Arb meant 'dark, obscure, green, forested'. Therefore name Arba should be comprehended as a toponym meaning "Black island", due to the rich pine forests that once grew on the island.

After the 1st century AD it was recorded by many other Greek and Roman authors by the names Arba and Arva.

Its Medieval Dalmatian speaking population used Arbe, Arbia, Arbiana, Arbitana and most frequently Arbum in the documents written in the Latin language.

Arbe became also the Venetian name of the city in the 15th century when it fell under the authority of the Republic of Venice.
In the Croatian language it became Rab, a form which probably goes back as far as the 7th century when the Slavs began to settle on the island. However the first record of name Rab is preserved only in the middle of the 15th century (in a Latin document relating to the establishment of the Franciscan monastery of St. Eufemija), since the major establishment of Croatian inhabitants in the city did not occur before the 10th century, unlike the rest of the island and region.
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