1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Arbe
ARBE (Serbo-Croatian Rab), an island in the Adriatic Sea, forming the northernmost point of Dalmatia, Austria. Pop. (1900) 4441. Arbe is 13 m. long; its greatest breadth is 5 m. The capital, which bears the same name, is a walled town, remarkable, even among the Dalmatian cities, for its beauty. It occupies a steep ridge jutting out from the west coast. At the seaward end of this promontory is the 13th-century cathedral; behind which the belfries of four churches, at least as ancient, rise in a row along the crest of the ridge; while behind these, again, are the castle and a background of desolate hills. Many of the houses are roofless and untenanted; for, after five centuries of prosperity under Venetian or Hungarian rule, an outbreak of plague in 1456 swept away the majority of the townsfolk, and ruined the survivors. Some of the old palaces are, nevertheless, of considerable interest; one especially as the birthplace of the celebrated philosopher, Marc Antonio de Dominis. Fishing and agriculture constitute the chief resources of the islanders, whose ancient silk industry is still maintained. In 1018 the yearly tribute due to Venice was fixed at ten pounds of silk or five pounds of gold.