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Map of the Adriatic Sea
The 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 Mountainsmarker from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges. The Adriatic Sea is a part of the Mediterranean Seamarker.

The western coast is Italianmarker, while the eastern coast runs mostly along Croatiamarker, Montenegromarker, Albaniamarker, Sloveniamarker and Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker (26 km). Major rivers joining the Adriatic are the Reno, Pomarker, Adigemarker/Etsch, Brentamarker, Piavemarker, Soča/Isonzomarker, Zrmanjamarker, Krka, Cetinamarker, Neretvamarker, Drin (Drini).

Name and etymology

A satellite image of the Adriatic Sea.

The name has existed since antiquity; in the Latin of the Romans (Ancient Latin) it was Mare Superum; in medieval Latin it was Mare Hadriaticum or Mare Adriaticum. The name, derived from the Etruscanmarker colony of Adriamarker (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 Syracusanmarker colonies gained in importance. The word Adria probably derives from the Illyrian word adur meaning "water" or "sea".

But even then the Adriatic in the narrower sense only extended as far as the Monte Garganomarker, the outer portion being called the Ionian Seamarker:the name was sometimes, however, inaccurately used to include the Gulf of Tarentum (the modern-day Gulf of Tarantomarker), the Sea of Sicily, the Gulf of Corinthmarker and even the sea between Cretemarker and Maltamarker (Acts xxvii. 27).

The Adriatic Sea is situated largely between the eastern coast of Italy and Croatia, which are both major tourist attractions. It was used by the ancient Romans to transport goods (including animals and slaves) to Ostiamarker (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 Strait of Otrantomarker, 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

The west shore is generally low, merging, in the northwest, into the marshes and lagoons on either hand of the protruding delta of the river Pomarker, the sediment of which has pushed forward the coastline for several miles within historic times—Adria is now some distance from the shore.

On islands within one of the lagoons opening from the Gulf of Venicemarker, Venicemarker has its unique situation. Other notable cities on the Italian coast are Triestemarker, Ravennamarker, Riminimarker, Anconamarker, Pescaramarker, Barimarker, and Brindisimarker.

The east coast is generally bold and rocky, with many islands. South of the Istrian Peninsulamarker, which separates the Gulfs of Venice and Triestemarker from the Bay of Kvarnermarker, the island-fringe of the east coast extends as far south as Dubrovnikmarker. The island of Cresmarker is the largest island in the sea, slightly larger than nearby Krkmarker.

The 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 Bračmarker (Vidova gora, 778 m) or the peninsula Pelješacmarker (St. Ilija, 961 m). There are over a thousand islands in the Adriatic, 66 of which are inhabited.

On the mainland, notably in the Gulf of Kotormarker (Boka Kotorska; named after the town of Kotormarker), 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, Montenegromarker (Black Mountain) was named after the black pines that cover the coast there, and similarly the Greek name for the island of Korčulamarker is Korkyra Melaina meaning "Black Corfu".

It is interesting to note the vast difference between the Italianmarker and Croatianmarker 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.

Major cities on the eastern coast include Triestemarker in Italy; Kopermarker, Izolamarker and Piranmarker in Slovenia; Umagmarker, Porečmarker, Rovinjmarker, Pulamarker, Opatijamarker, Rijekamarker, Senjmarker, Zadarmarker, Biogradmarker, Šibenikmarker, Trogirmarker, Splitmarker, Makarskamarker, Pločemarker and Dubrovnikmarker in Croatia; Neummarker in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker; Herceg Novimarker, Kotormarker, Tivatmarker, Barmarker, Budvamarker and Ulcinjmarker in Montenegro; Shkodërmarker, Lezhëmarker, Durrësmarker, Fiermarker and Vlorëmarker in Albania.

Weather patterns

The bora (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 (western wind) which brings serene weather in the summer. The area is known for occasional waterspouts similar to those found in the Florida Keysmarker.

Tidal movement is slight. The amphidromic point is just off the northwestern shore, near Ancona.

See also


  1. "Adriatic Sea" Tiscali Encyclopedia Research Machines, 2008.
  2. Adrian Room, "Brewer's Dictionary of Names", p.7. (ISBN 1-85986-323-x)
  3. "Adriatic Sea" Britannica Encyclopedia 2008. Online Library Edition 7.
  4. Blue Flag Programme - Croatia
  5. The Bora Wind of the Adriatic Sea

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