In 1726, 21 Albanian families (Arbanasi ) left their homeland, to escape Turkish occupation and religious persecution, and settled a few kilometres south of Zadar. The Republic of Venice, who governed Dalmatia at the time, took the immigrants in under its protection: building them homes, and stables for livestock; giving them the deeds to the land; and, in the case of Zemunik, ploughing and nourishing the pasture land and clearing it of any trees. Then in 1733, seven years after the first migrations, a second group of Arbanasi came to Zadar.

List of modern Arbanasi family names, living in Dracevac, Zadar:

Bulic, Cucula, Curkovic, Dadic, Despalj, Duka, Gjergja, Jelenkovic, Jovic, Kalmeta, Karuc (ahhaahah), Kotlar, Krstic, Marsan, Marusic, Matesic, Mazija, Morovic, Musap, Muzanovic, Nikpalj, Perovic , Petani, Ratkovic, Relja-Vladovic, Smolcic, Stipcevic, Tomas, Vladovic, Vukic

Founded by the Illyrians in the 4th cent. B.C., Zadar became a Roman colony in the 2nd century B.C. It was then passed to the Byzantine Empire in 553, and was settled by the South Slavs in the 7th century. Although disputed by Venice, Hungary, and Croatia, it remained under Byzantine protection until 1001, when Emperor Alexius I transferred it to Venice. At the end of the 11th century, it was seized by Hungary, but the leaders of the Fourth Crusade- persuaded by the doge Enrico Dandolo- reconquered it for Venice in 1202, sacking the city after a five-day siege (an act for which they (the Crusaders) were condemned by Pope Innocent III). Hungary, however, continued to dispute Zadar. It wasn’t til 1409, that Venice finally obtained permanent possession of the city. In 1797, the Treaty of Campo Formio gave Zadar to Austria, where, from 1815 to 1918, it was the capital of the crown land of Dalmatia .

During 19th and the beginning of 20th C. Zadar was a political and cultural centre of the Croats in Dalmatia. However, the cultural image of the town itself was determined by the Italian civil servants (serving French or Austrian administration), an Italianised aristocracy and an Italy-oriented middle class. The main institutions- such as administration of justice, health services, educational systems and of culture - were situated in Zadar, as well as the residence of a regional government, at that time called Vice-regency .

Zadar was passed to Italy by the Treaty of Saint-Germain (1919), was occupied (1945) by Yugoslav forces at the end of World War II, and was formally ceded to Yugoslavia by the Italian peace treaty of 1947 as part of the constituent republic of Croatia .