Labin was already inhabited two thousand years B.C. The remnants of Kunci, dating from the Bronze Age, nowadays can be found nearby Labin.
The old Illyrian-Celtic name of Labin was Albona/Alvona. Some historians believe that it was fortified by the Illyrians in the 11th century B.C. They also think that Albona in the Celtic language means 'a town on the hill' or 'an elevated settlement'.
Titus Livius said that Labin inhabitants were pirates. After the conflicts between the locals and Romans in the 3rd century B.C., Istra came under the latter’s control in 177 B.C. with a border taking shape at the river Rasa.
The town and its surroundings thus became an integral part of Illyria, the Roman province with a high degree of independence and authority over the nearby settlements. The oldest written document about Labin dates back to the 3rd century.
From 1295 Labin was under the rule of the dukes of Pazin. From 1381 it was under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Aquileia and between 1420 and 1797 Labin was ruled from Venice and after that it belonged to Austria.
As a Croatian-speaking town Labin was for a long time the centre of Croatia's largest coal mining district. In March and April 1921, the town was the scene of a miners' strike which quickly transformed into an anti-fascist rebellion, considered to be the first of its kind, and the declaration of the short-lived Labin Republic (also known as the Albona Republic). The mine in the downtown of Labin closed in 1989.
The famous Lutheran reformer Matthias Flacius Illyricus was born in Albona. Unfortunately, due to the counter-reformation, he was forced to live most of his life in exile in Germany where he became the leader of the conservative wing of the Lutheran movement after the death of Luther.