Goli Otok, meaning "Bare Island" in Croatian, is a small Eastern Adriatic island located off the coast of Croatia. It is just over one kilometer in length and is a popular vacation spot due to its unique and tumultuous history. The island has a long history, with archaeological remains dating back to the 6th century AD being found on its shores, including Roman tombs, Byzantine watchtowers, and evidence of an Illyrian-Etruscan population. However, Goli Otok is most well-known for being a notorious penitentiary island in the 20th century. From 1948 to 1988, the island was used as a prison for political dissidents and prisoners of war by the former Yugoslav government. The conditions on the island were extremely harsh, with prisoners forced to do manual labor in the hot sun and suffering psychological and physical torture. It was even nicknamed "the Croatian Alcatraz" due to its inescapable nature. After the prison was closed in 1988, the island was briefly transformed into a health resort and vacation home for government officials before being opened to the public in 2012. Most of the prison structures have been demolished, but the island still offers visitors a glimpse into its dark past and the legacy of being known as the "Croatian Alcatraz."
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