Dalmatians - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Only about 20 percent of Dalmatia is utilized agriculturally, and most of this is on a subsistence level. In the hinterland, the arable regions consist mainly of karst depressions (polje). However, the potential of much of this land is lost to drought and poor drainage. Crops that have a summer growing season (e.g., corn, wheat, millet, tobacco, and grapes) are planted on these small scattered plots of land. Throughout the coastal belt and the islands, patches of fertile land on the hilly slopes are terraced with rock walls to form level plots ( podove or pristave ). The coastal and island soil is not suitable for cultivation of cereal grains, but it favors olives, figs, cherries, and above all grapes. Fishing is developed along the Dalmatian coast and the Islands, especially in areas with good connections to the hinterland (e.g., Split, Šibenik, Zadar). Fishing is largely a subsistence activity since only about 15 percent of all fishermen are considered commercial. The most important type of fishing is seasonal ( periodički ribolov ), occurring at certain times of the year and in specific locations. Dalmatian men are historically famous for their seafaring capabilities and many today are employed by domestic and foreign vessels as navigators and ship captains. Animal husbandry is also limited to the subsistence level because there is very little grazing land available. Tourism is the newest and the most lucrative Commercial activity. The picturesque coastline, the romantic Islands, and the ancient cities, along with a mild Mediterranean climate, make Dalmatia one of the most frequented summer tourist areas in Europe.

Industrial Arts. The shipbuilding industry is the most developed commercial activity in Dalmatia, and a major shipbuilding yard is located in Split. Dalmatia has abundant reserves of limestone, and more than one-third of Yugoslavia's cement output comes from Split. Rich deposits of bauxite are exploited by the aluminum foundry near Šibenik. The rivers, except for a few kilometers of the Krka and Neretva, are unsuitable for navigation, but their precipitous falls make them natural sources of hydroelectric power.

Trade. Throughout the hinterland are well-established weekly markets ( pazari ) dating back to the Greek occupation. Here peasants sell their homegrown produce, crafts, and livestock.

Division of Labor. People living in Dalmatia, like other Regions of Croatia and the Balkan peninsula, have traditionally maintained a strict division of labor. Women were in charge of the domestic sphere, whereas men were in charge of the public sphere. However, with the high rate of out-migration of able-bodied men (up to 20 percent in the underdeveloped regions of the hinterland), women are being employed as semiskilled and skilled factory workers (especially in the textile industry) and are in charge of the entire agricultural cycle as well as domestic work.

Land Tenure. Because of the scarcity of fertile land, landownership is held in high esteem. In the present context, despite the high rates of out-migration, property values have been escalating because of the influx of foreign currency. The most common family form that has existed in Dalmatia as in the rest of the Balkans has been the zadruga. The zadruga is a corporate family unit under which all holdings (e.g., property, livestock, land) are held communally. Although the traditional zadruga institutionally dissolved around World War I, a very strong patrilineal and patrilocal agnatic group with traditional structural principles of household composition has persisted over time.

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