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GeneralOpatija is located in western Croatia, southwest of Reijeka on the Adriatic coast. As of 2001 there were 7,850 people living in the town and 12,719 people living in the greater municipal area. Opatija is a popular summer and winter tourist spot and the mountain ranges surrounding the town have winter resorts. Opatija was originally part of a territory belonging to the Liburni a pre-Roman Illyrian people. During the Middle Ages Opatija was divided between Kastav and Veprinac. The modern history of Opatija started in 1844 when a wealthy merchant from Rijeka, Iginio Scarpa, founded Vila Angiolina. This villa became a popular destination for the Austrian royal family and Austrian nobility. Later luxury villas and hotels were built in the town. A new railroad was built by the Austrian Southern Railway which reached Rijeka and was accessible to Opatija by tram. Franz Joseph I, the Austrian Emperor, spent many winters in Opatija. Many of the hotels and villas built during this time still exist today. In 1920 Opatija was given to Italy. In 1922, the Italian government, under Fascist rule, began a program of forced Italianization of its population. Many of the public positions were given to Italian speaking citizens. In 1947, when Opatija was given to Yugoslavia, many of the Italian speakers moved to Italy. When Yugoslavia was disbanded in 1991 Opatija became part of Croatia. Opatija means abbey. Opatija was named after Opatija Sv. Jakova (the Abbey of Saint James). The Abbey which was built in the 1300s is located in Saint James?s Park. St. James?s Church which was built in 1506 and renovated in 1937 is now located in the same place.
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