The Slavs entered the picture in the beginning of the 7th century AD. In the 9th century, Croats formed the Principality of Dalmatian Croatia, which stretched along the entire coastline of today’s Croatia. They developed their own language, fortified their towns, became Christianized, and formed commercial and sometimes stormy political alliances with their neighbors.
From 1358 until 1808, the Republic of Dubrovnik (also known as Ragusa) ruled a small, politically neutral area of Southern Dalmatia and became a successful commercial rival to Venice due to their mastery of seafaring. They traded all over the world, including in the Americas. Dubrovnik abolished slave trading in 1416, rose to economic prominence in the 15th and 16th centuries, and was distinguished by advances in public health, diplomacy, law, and literature. They adopted a white flag with the Latin word “Libertas” (liberty), which is still a motto for the city of Dubrovnik today.
Over the centuries, portions of the region passed to Venice, France, Austria, and Italy, and were eventually united under Yugoslavia. In the late-20th-century Croatian War of Independence, Dalmatia became a bloody battleground with Serbia; the scars are still visible today.