The island Ugljan originates from the Neolithic (New Stone Age). The first known name of the island comes from Plinius who quotes: "Opposite Zadar is Lissa".

In the Middle Ages the island was named after St. Michael, and the current name Ugljan is relatively new. This name actually indicates the main product of the island - olive oil.

The Liburnians were the first known inhabitants of the island Ugljan. In the 4th century BC, they built settlements on the hills Čelinjak, Kuranj and Sveti Mihovil, and their remains can still be seen today. The Romans colonized the island Ugljan in the 1st century BC. On their new estates on the island Ugljan the colonists built countryside villas used as residency and farm management centres, villa rustica, and their remains, approximately ten of them, are reminiscent of that time.

The largest villas are located on Gospodska gomila, towards cape Supetar and Stivan in Muline, where the remains of a Roman mill, an olive processing plant, are preserved. Croats settled on Ugljan in the Early Middle Ages, as evidenced by the remains of stone wickerwork and a series of toponyms. Most of the land on the island was still owned by the commune of Zadar, which assigned it for use or ownership to the most famous aristocratic families from Zadar who build residential-farm buildings on the island – summer residences.

In the Middle Ages, Ugljan, like Zadar, came under the rule of the Republic of Venice. In the early 19th century, the island was briefly ruled by the French, followed by Austria, which remained in this area until the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. It is a part of Croatia since 1918.