Adriatic Sea (ā-drē-ˈa-tik) is a body of water
separating the Italian Peninsula
from the Balkan peninsula, and the
system of the Apennine
Mountains from that of the Dinaric
Alps and adjacent ranges. The Adriatic Sea is a
part of the Mediterranean
western coast is Italian, while the
eastern coast runs mostly along Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Slovenia and Bosnia and
Herzegovina (26 km). Major rivers joining
the Adriatic are the Reno, Po, Adige/Etsch,
Brenta, Piave, Soča/Isonzo, Zrmanja, Krka, Cetina, Neretva, Drin (Drini).
Map of the Adriatic Sea
Name and etymology
A satellite image of the Adriatic
The name has existed since antiquity; in the Latin
of the Romans
(Ancient Latin) it was Mare Superum
; in medieval Latin
it was Mare
or Mare Adriaticum
. The name, derived from
the Etruscan colony of Adria (or
Hadria), originally designated only the upper portion of
the sea (Herodotus vi.
127, vii. 20, ix. 92; Euripides,
Hippolytus, 736), but was gradually extended as the
Syracusan colonies gained in importance.
Adria probably derives from the Illyrian
meaning "water" or "sea".
then the Adriatic in the narrower sense only extended as far as the
Gargano, the outer portion being called the Ionian Sea:the name was sometimes, however, inaccurately
used to include the Gulf of Tarentum (the modern-day Gulf of
Taranto), the Sea of Sicily,
the Gulf of
Corinth and even the sea between Crete and Malta (Acts
The Adriatic Sea is situated largely between the eastern coast of
Italy and Croatia, which are both major tourist attractions.
used by the ancient Romans to transport goods (including animals
and slaves) to Ostia (the Roman port).
Extent and bathymetry
The Adriatic extends northwest from 40° to 45° 45' N., with an
extreme length of about 770 km (415 nm
, 480 mi). It has a mean breadth of about 160 km (85
nm, 100 mi), although the
Otranto, through which it connects at the south with the
Ionian Sea, is only 45-55 nautical
miles wide (85-100 km).
Moreover, the chain of islands which fringes the northern part of
the eastern shore reduces the extreme breadth of open sea in this
part to 145 km (78 nm, 90 mi). Its total surface
area is about 60,000 square miles (160,000 km²).
The depths of the Adriatic near its shores share a close
relationship to the physiography of the nearby coastlines. Wherever
the coasts are high and mountainous, the nearby sea depths are
considerable. For instance, in the case of the Istrian and
Dalmatian areas of Slovenia and Croatia., the shores are low and
sandy, and the nearby sea is shallow, as in the vicinity of Venice
or, farther south, near the delta of the Italian Po River.
Generally speaking, the waters are shallow all along the Italian
coast. The site of maximum depth of the Adriatic Sea is situated
south of the central area, and the average depth is and maximum
depth is .
Coasts and islands
shore is generally low, merging, in the northwest, into the marshes
and lagoons on either hand of the protruding delta of the river
sediment of which has pushed forward the
coastline for several miles within historic times—Adria is now some
distance from the shore.
islands within one of the lagoons opening from the Gulf of
Venice, Venice has its
unique situation. Other notable cities on the Italian coast
are Trieste, Ravenna, Rimini, Ancona, Pescara, Bari, and
The east coast is generally bold and rocky, with many islands.
Peninsula, which separates the Gulfs of Venice and Trieste from the Bay of Kvarner, the island-fringe of the east coast extends as far
south as Dubrovnik. The island of Cres is the
largest island in the sea, slightly larger than nearby Krk.
islands, which are long and narrow (the long axis lying parallel
with the coast of the mainland), rise rather abruptly to elevations
of a few hundred feet, with the exception of a few larger islands
like Brač (Vidova
gora, 778 m) or the peninsula Pelješac (St. Ilija, 961 m).
There are over a
thousand islands in the Adriatic, 66 of which are inhabited.
mainland, notably in the Gulf of Kotor (Boka Kotorska; named after the town of Kotor), lofty
mountains often fall directly to the sea.
The prevalent colour of the rocks is a light, dead grey,
contrasting harshly with the dark vegetation, which on some of the
islands is luxuriant. In fact, Montenegro (Black Mountain) was named after the black pines that cover the coast there,
and similarly the Greek name for the island of Korčula is Korkyra Melaina meaning "Black
interesting to note the vast difference between the Italian and Croatian coasts on the Adriatic.
Although only a
small distance from each other, the Croatian Coast and beaches are
generally many times clearer, cleaner and bluer than Italy's.
Croatia is known for its Crystal clear water.
cities on the eastern coast include Trieste in Italy; Koper, Izola and
Piran in Slovenia; Umag, Poreč, Rovinj, Pula, Opatija, Rijeka, Senj, Zadar, Biograd, Šibenik, Trogir, Split, Makarska, Ploče and
Dubrovnik in Croatia; Neum in
Novi, Kotor, Tivat, Bar, Budva and
Montenegro; Shkodër, Lezhë, Durrës, Fier and
(northeast wind), and the
prevalence of sudden squalls from this quarter or the southeast,
are dangers to navigation in winter. Also notable are sirocco
(southern wind) which brings rain in the
winter and maestral
which brings serene weather in the summer. The area is known for
occasional waterspouts similar to those
found in the Florida
Tidal movement is slight. The amphidromic point
is just off the
northwestern shore, near Ancona.
- "Adriatic Sea" Tiscali Encyclopedia Research
- Adrian Room, "Brewer's Dictionary of Names", p.7. (ISBN
- "Adriatic Sea" Britannica Encyclopedia 2008. Online
Library Edition 7.
- Blue Flag Programme - Croatia
- The Bora Wind of the Adriatic Sea