Sea /ˌeɪdriˈætɪk/ is a body of water separating the
Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula. The Adriatic is the
northernmost arm of the Mediterranean Sea, extending from the Strait
of Otranto (where it connects to the Ionian Sea) to the northwest and
the Po Valley. The countries with coasts on the Adriatic are Albania,
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy,
Montenegro and Slovenia. The
Adriatic contains over 1,300 islands, mostly located along its
eastern, Croatian coast. It is divided into three basins, the northern
being the shallowest and the southern being the deepest, with a
maximum depth of 1,233 metres (4,045 ft). The Otranto Sill, an
underwater ridge, is located at the border between the Adriatic and
Ionian Seas. The prevailing currents flow counterclockwise from the
Strait of Otranto, along the eastern coast and back to the strait
along the western (Italian) coast. Tidal movements in the Adriatic are
slight, although larger amplitudes are known to occur occasionally.
The Adriatic's salinity is lower than the Mediterranean's because the
Adriatic collects a third of the fresh water flowing into the
Mediterranean, acting as a dilution basin. The surface water
temperatures generally range from 30 °C (86 °F) in summer
to 12 °C (54 °F) in winter, significantly moderating the
Adriatic Basin's climate.
Sea sits on the Apulian or Adriatic Microplate, which
separated from the
African Plate in the
Mesozoic era. The plate's
movement contributed to the formation of the surrounding mountain
chains and Apennine tectonic uplift after its collision with the
Eurasian plate. In the Late Oligocene, the Apennine Peninsula first
formed, separating the
Adriatic Basin from the rest of the
Mediterranean. All types of sediment are found in the Adriatic, with
the bulk of the material transported by the Po and other rivers on the
western coast. The western coast is alluvial or terraced, while the
eastern coast is highly indented with pronounced karstification. There
are dozens of marine protected areas in the Adriatic, designed to
protect the sea's karst habitats and biodiversity. The sea is abundant
in flora and fauna—more than 7,000 species are identified as native
to the Adriatic, many of them endemic, rare and threatened ones.
The Adriatic's shores are populated by more than 3.5 million
people; the largest cities are Bari, Venice,
Trieste and Split. The
earliest settlements on the Adriatic shores were Etruscan, Illyrian,
and Greek. By the 2nd century BC, the shores were under Rome's
control. In the Middle Ages, the Adriatic shores and the sea itself
were controlled, to a varying extent, by a series of states—most
notably the Byzantine Empire, the Serbian Empire, the Republic of
Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire. The Napoleonic
Wars resulted in the
First French Empire
First French Empire gaining coastal control and
the British effort to counter the French in the area, ultimately
securing most of the eastern Adriatic shore and the
Po Valley for
Austria. Following Italian unification, the Kingdom of
an eastward expansion that lasted until the 20th century. Following
World War I
World War I and the collapse of
Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman
Empire, the eastern coast's control passed to
Yugoslavia and Albania.
The former disintegrated during the 1990s, resulting in four new
states on the Adriatic coast.
Yugoslavia agreed on their
maritime boundaries by 1975 and this boundary is recognised by
Yugoslavia's successor states, but the maritime boundaries between
Slovenian, Croatian, Bosnian-Herzegovinian, and Montenegrin waters are
Albania agreed on their maritime boundary in
Fisheries and tourism are significant sources of income all along the
Adriatic coast. Adriatic Croatia's tourism industry has grown faster
economically than the rest of the Adriatic Basin's. Maritime transport
is also a significant branch of the area's economy—there are 19
seaports in the Adriatic that each handle more than a million tonnes
of cargo per year. The largest Adriatic seaport by annual cargo
turnover is the Port of Trieste, while the
Port of Split
Port of Split is the
largest Adriatic seaport by passengers served per year.
1.3 Temperature and salinity
2 Coastal management
3.1 Seafloor sediment
Biogeography and ecology
4.1 Flora and fauna
4.2 Protected areas
6.1 Roman era
6.2 Middle Ages
6.3 Early modern period
6.4 Modern period
6.5 Late 20th century
7.1 Adriatic Euroregion
8.4 Oil and gas
9 See also
11 External links
Sea is a semi-enclosed sea, bordered in the southwest
by the Apennine or Italian Peninsula, in the northwest by the Italian
Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and in the northeast by
Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and
Albania—the Balkan peninsula. In the southeast, the Adriatic Sea
connects to the Ionian
Sea at the 72-kilometre (45 mi) wide
Strait of Otranto. The International Hydrographic Organization
(IHO) defines the boundary between the Adriatic and the Ionian seas as
a line running from the Butrinto River's mouth (latitude 39°44'N) in
Albania to the Karagol Cape in Corfu, through this island to the
Kephali Cape (these two capes are in latitude 39°45'N), and on to the
Santa Maria di Leuca
Santa Maria di Leuca Cape (latitude 39°48'N). It extends 800
kilometres (500 mi) from the northwest to the southeast and is
200 kilometres (120 mi) wide. It covers 138,600 square kilometres
(53,500 sq mi) and has a volume of 35,000 cubic kilometres
(8,400 cu mi). The Adriatic extends northwest from 40° to
45°47' north, representing the Mediterranean's northernmost
portion. The sea is geographically divided into the Northern
Adriatic, Central (or Middle) Adriatic, and Southern Adriatic. The
Sea drainage basin encompasses 235,000 square kilometres
(91,000 sq mi), yielding a land–sea ratio of 1.8. The
drainage basin's mean elevation is 782 metres (2,566 ft) above
sea level, with a mean slope of 12.1°. Major rivers discharging
into the Adriatic include the Po, Soča, Krka, Neretva, Drin, Bojana,
and Vjosë. In the late 19th century, Austria-Hungary
established a geodetic network with an elevation benchmark using the
Sea level at the Sartorio pier in Trieste, Italy. The
benchmark was subsequently retained by Austria, adopted by Yugoslavia,
and retained by the states that emerged after its dissolution.
Slovenia adopted a new elevation benchmark referring to the
upgraded tide gauge station in the coastal town of Koper.
Bay of Kotor, a ria in the Southern Adriatic
Gjipe Canyon in the Southern of
Albania where the Adriatic
the Ionian Sea
Length in kilometres of Adriatic coastlines
Notes: a The distance between the extreme points of each state's
coastline, b Not including islands in coastal lagoons
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
Sea contains more than 1,300 islands and islets, most
along the Adriatic's eastern coast—especially in Croatia, with 1,246
counted. The number includes islands, islets, and rocks of all
sizes, including ones emerging at ebb tide only. The Croatian
islands include the largest—
Cres and Krk, each covering about the
same area of 405.78 square kilometres (156.67 sq mi)—and
the tallest—Brač, whose peak reaches 780 metres (2,560 ft)
above sea level. The islands of
Cres and the adjacent
separated only by a narrow navigable canal dug in the time of
classical antiquity; the original single island was known to the
Greeks as Apsyrtides. The Croatian islands include 47 permanently
inhabited ones, the most populous among them being Krk,
Brač. The islands along the Adriatic's western (Italian) coast
are smaller and less numerous than those along the opposite coast; the
best-known ones are the 117 islands on which the city of
built. The northern shore of the Greek island of
Corfu also lies
in the Adriatic
Sea as defined by the IHO. The IHO boundary places
Diapontia Islands (northwest of Corfu) in the Adriatic Sea.
Adriatic islands off Croatia's coast
Depth of the Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea's average depth is 259.5 metres (851 ft), and
its maximum depth is 1,233 metres (4,045 ft); however, the North
Adriatic basin rarely exceeds a depth of 100 metres (330 ft).
The North Adriatic basin, extending between
a line connecting
Ancona and Zadar, is only 15 metres (49 ft)
deep at its northwestern end; it gradually deepens towards the
southeast. It is the largest Mediterranean shelf and is simultaneously
a dilution basin and a site of bottom water formation. The Middle
Adriatic basin is south of the Ancona–
Zadar line, with the 270-metre
(890 ft) deep Middle Adriatic Pit (also called the Pomo
Depression or the Jabuka Pit). The 170-metre (560 ft) deep
Palagruža Sill is south of the Middle Adriatic Pit, separating it
from the 1,200-metre (3,900 ft) deep South Adriatic Pit and the
Middle Adriatic basin from the South Adriatic Basin. Further on to the
south, the sea floor rises to 780 metres (2,560 ft) to form the
Otranto Sill at the boundary to the Ionian Sea. The South Adriatic
Basin is similar in many respects to the Northern Ionian Sea, to which
it is connected. Transversely, the Adriatic
Sea is also asymmetric:
the Apennine peninsular coast is relatively smooth with very few
islands and the
Monte Conero and Gargano promontories as the only
significant protrusions into the sea; in contrast, the Balkan
peninsular coast is rugged with numerous islands, especially in
Croatia. The coast's ruggedness is exacerbated by the Dinaric Alps'
proximity to the coast, in contrast to the opposite (Italian) coast
Apennine Mountains are further away from the shoreline.
Schematic layout of Adriatic
The coastal water dynamics are determined by the asymmetric coasts and
the Mediterranean seawater's inflow through the Straits of Otranto and
further on along the eastern coast. The smooth Italian coast (with
very few protrusions and no major islands) allows the Western Adriatic
Current's smooth flow, which is composed of the surface's relatively
freshwater mass and the bottom's cold and dense water mass. The
coastal currents on the opposite shore are far more complex, due to
the jagged shoreline, several large islands and the Dinaric Alps'
proximity to the shore. The last produces significant temperature
variations between the sea and the hinterland, which leads to the
creation of local jets. The tidal movement is normally slight,
usually remaining below 30 centimetres (12 in). The amphidromic
point is at the mid-width east of Ancona.
The normal tide levels are known to increase significantly in a
conducive environment, leading to coastal flooding; this phenomenon is
most famously known in Italy—especially Venice—as acqua alta. Such
tides can exceed normal levels by more than 140 centimetres
(55 in), with the highest tide level of 194 centimetres
(76 in) observed on 4 November 1966. Such flooding is caused
by a combination of factors, including the alignment of the
Moon, meteorological factors such as sirocco related storm surges,
and the basin's geometric shape (which amplifies or reduces the
astronomical component). Moreover, the Adriatic's long and narrow
rectangular shape is the source of an oscillating water motion
(French: seiche) along the basin's minor axis. Finally,
increasingly vulnerable to flooding due to coastal area soil
subsidence. Such unusually high tides resulting in flooding have
also been observed elsewhere in the Adriatic Sea, and have been
recorded in recent years in the towns of Koper,
A submarine spring near Omiš, observed through sea surface rippling
It is estimated that the Adriatic's entire volume is exchanged through
Strait of Otranto
Strait of Otranto in 3.4±0.4 years, a comparatively short
period. (For instance, approximately 500 years are necessary to
exchange all the Black Sea's water.) This short period is particularly
important as the rivers flowing into the Adriatic discharge up to
5,700 cubic metres per second (200,000 cu ft/s). This rate
of discharge amounts to 0.5% of the total Adriatic
Sea volume, or a
1.3-metre (4 ft 3 in) layer of water each year. The greatest
portion of the discharge from any single river comes from the Po
(28%), with an average discharge from it alone of 1,569 cubic
metres per second (55,400 cu ft/s). In terms of the
annual total discharge into the entire Mediterranean Sea, the Po is
ranked second, followed by the
Neretva and Drin, which rank as third
and fourth. Another significant contributor of freshwater to the
Adriatic is the submarine groundwater discharge through submarine
springs (Croatian: vrulja); it is estimated to comprise 29% of the
total water flux into the Adriatic. The submarine springs include
thermal springs, discovered offshore near the town of Izola. The
thermal springwater is rich with hydrogen sulfide, has a temperature
of 22 to 29.6 °C (71.6 to 85.3 °F), and has enabled the
development of specific ecosystems. The inflow of freshwater,
representing a third of the freshwater volume flowing into the
Mediterranean, makes the Adriatic a dilution basin for the
Mediterranean Sea. The Middle and South Adriatic Gyres (SAG), are
significant cyclonic circulation features, with the former being
intermittent and the latter permanent. The SAG measures 150 kilometres
(93 miles) in diameter. It contributes to the flow of bottom water
from the Adriatic to the Levantine Basin through the Ionian Sea.
Through that process, the Adriatic
Sea produces most of the East
Mediterranean deep water.
Temperature and salinity
The Adriatic's surface temperature usually ranges from 22 to
30 °C (72 to 86 °F) in the summer, or 12 to 14 °C
(54 to 57 °F) in the winter, except along the western Adriatic
coast's northern part, where it drops to 9 °C (48 °F) in
the winter. The distinct seasonal temperature variations, with a
longitudinal gradient in the Northern and transversal gradient in the
Middle and Southern Adriatic, are attributed to the continental
characteristics of the Adriatic Sea: it is shallower and closer to
land than are oceans. During particularly cold winters, sea ice
may appear in the Adriatic's shallow coastal areas, especially in the
Venetian Lagoon but also in isolated shallows as far south as Tisno
(south of Zadar). The Southern Adriatic is about 8 to
10 °C (14 to 18 °F) warmer during the winter than the more
northerly regions. The Adriatic's salinity variation over the year
is likewise distinct: it ranges between 38 and 39 PSUs.
The southern Adriatic is subjected to saltier water from the Levantine
As seen from the map, most of the landmass surrounding the Adriatic
sea is classified as Cfa, with the southern region (near the Ionian
sea) being Csa.
According to the Köppen climate classification, the upper half of the
Adriatic is classified as humid subtropical climate (Cfa), with wetter
summers and colder and drier winters, and the southern Adriatic are
classified as hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Csa). The air
temperature can fluctuate by about 20 °C (36 °F) during a
The predominant winter winds are the bora and sirocco (called jugo
along the eastern coast). The bora is significantly conditioned by
wind gaps in the
Dinaric Alps bringing cold and dry continental air;
it reaches peak speeds in the areas of Trieste, Senj, and Split, with
gusts of up to 180 kilometres per hour (97 kn; 110 mph). The
sirocco brings humid and warm air, often carrying Saharan sand causing
Climate characteristics of some major Adriatic cities
Mean temperature (daily high)
Mean total rainfall
Source: World Meteorological Organization
Most populous urban areas on the Adriatic coast
Sources: 2011 Croatian census, Italian National Institute of
Statistics (2011), 2011 Albanian Census
On the Adriatic Sea's coasts and islands, there are numerous small
settlements, and a number of larger cities. Among the largest are
Bari, Venice, Trieste, and
Rimini in Italy, Split,
Koper in Slovenia. In
total, more than 3.5 million people live on the Adriatic
coasts. There are also some larger cities that are located very
near the coast, such as the Italian cities of
Ravenna and Lecce.
MOSE Project north of Lido di Venezia
Venice, which was originally built on islands off the coast, is most
at risk due to subsidence, but the threat is present in the Po delta
as well. The causes are a decrease in sedimentation rate due to loss
of sediment behind dams, the deliberate excavation of sand for
industrial purposes, agricultural use of water, and removal of ground
The sinking of
Venice slowed after artesian wells were banned in the
1960s, but the city remains threatened by the acqua alta floods.
Recent studies have suggested that the city is no longer
sinking, but a state of alert remains in place. In May 2003,
Silvio Berlusconi inaugurated the MOSE project
(Italian: Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico), an experimental model
for evaluating the performance of inflatable gates. The project
proposes laying a series of 79 inflatable pontoons across the sea bed
at the three entrances to the Venetian Lagoon. When tides are
predicted to rise above 110 centimetres (43 in), the pontoons
will be filled with air and block the incoming water from the Adriatic
Sea. This engineering work is due to be completed by 2014.
Adriatic Microplate boundaries
Geophysical and geological information indicate that the Adriatic Sea
Po Valley are associated with a tectonic
microplate—identified as the Apulian or Adriatic Plate—that
separated from the
African Plate during the
Mesozoic era. This
separation began in the Middle and Late Triassic, when limestone began
to be deposited in the area. Between the
Norian and Late Cretaceous,
the Adriatic and
Apulia Carbonate Platforms formed as a thick series
of carbonate sediments (dolomites and limestones), up to 8,000 metres
(26,000 ft) deep. Remnants of the former are found in the
Adriatic Sea, as well as in the southern
Alps and the Dinaric Alps,
and remnants of the latter are seen as the
Gargano Promontory and the
Maiella mountain. In the
Eocene and early Oligocene, the plate moved
north and north-east, contributing to the
Alpine orogeny (along with
the African and Eurasian Plates' movements) via the tectonic uplift of
the Dinarides and Alps. In the Late Oligocene, the motion was reversed
and the Apennine Mountains' orogeny took place. An unbroken zone
of increased seismic activity borders the Adriatic Sea, with a belt of
thrust faults generally oriented in the northeast–southwest
direction on the east coast and the northeast–southwest normal
faults in the Apennines, indicating an Adriatic counterclockwise
rotation. An active 200-kilometre (120 mi) fault has been
identified to the northwest of Dubrovnik, adding to the Dalmatian
islands as the
Eurasian Plate slides over the Adriatic microplate.
Furthermore, the fault causes the Apennine peninsula's southern tip to
move towards the opposite shore by about 0.4 centimetres
(0.16 in) per year. If this movement continues, the seafloor will
be completely consumed and the Adriatic
Sea closed off in
50–70 million years. In the Northern Adriatic, the coast of
the Gulf of
Trieste and western
Istria is gradually subsiding, having
sunk about 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) in the past two thousand
years. In the Middle Adriatic Basin, there is evidence of Permian
volcanism in the area of
Komiža on the island of Vis and the volcanic
islands of Jabuka and Brusnik. Earthquakes have been observed in
the region since the earliest historical records. A recent strong
earthquake in the region was the 1979
Montenegro earthquake, measuring
7.0 on the Richter scale.
Historical earthquakes in the area
include the 1627 Gargano peninsula and the 1667
both followed by strong tsunamis. In the last 600 years,
fifteen tsunamis have occurred in the Adriatic Sea.
Sediment billowing out from Italy's shore into the Adriatic
All types of seafloor sediments are found in the Adriatic Sea. The
Northern Adriatic's comparatively shallow seabed is characterised by
relict sand (from times when the water level was lower and the area
was a sandy beach), while a muddy bed is typical at depths below 100
metres (330 ft). There are five geomorphological units in
the Adriatic: the Northern Adriatic (up to 100 metres (330 ft)
deep); the North Adriatic islands area protected against sediments
filling it in by outer islands (pre-
Holocene karst relief); the Middle
Adriatic islands area (large Dalmatian islands); the Middle Adriatic
(characterized by the Middle Adriatic Depression); and the Southern
Adriatic consisting of a coastal shelf and the Southern Adriatic
Depression. Sediments deposited in the Adriatic
Sea today generally
come from the northwest coast, being carried by the Po, Reno, Adige,
Brenta, Tagliamento, Piave and
Soča rivers. The volume of sediments
carried from the eastern shore by the Rječina, Zrmanja, Krka, Cetina,
Ombla, Dragonja, Mirna, Raša and
Neretva rivers is negligible,
because these sediments are mostly deposited at the river mouths. The
Adriatic's western shores are largely either alluvial or terraced,
whereas the eastern shores are predominantly rocky, except for the
southernmost part of the shore located in
Albania that consists of
sandy coves and rocky capes.
The eastern Adriatic shore's Croatian part is the most indented
Mediterranean coastline. Most of the eastern coast is
characterised by a karst topography, developed from the Adriatic
Carbonate Platform's exposure to weathering. Karstification there
largely began after the Dinarides' final uplift in the
the Miocene, when carbonate deposits were exposed to atmospheric
effects; this extended to the level of 120 metres (390 ft) below
the present sea level, exposed during the Last Glacial Maximum. It is
estimated that some karst formations are from earlier sea level drops,
most notably the Messinian salinity crisis. Similarly, karst
Apulia from the Apulian Carbonate Platform.
Rocky coast of Croatia
The largest part of the eastern coast consists of carbonate rocks,
while flysch (a particular type of sedimentary rock) is significantly
represented in the Gulf of
Trieste coast, especially along Slovenia's
coast where the 80-metre (260 ft) Strunjan cliff—the highest
cliff on the entire Adriatic and the only one of its type on the
eastern Adriatic coast—is located, on the
Kvarner Gulf coast
opposite Krk, and in
Dalmatia north of Split. Rocks of the same
type are found in
Albania and on the western Adriatic coast.
There are alternations of maritime and alluvial sediments occurring in
the Po Valley, at the Adriatic's north-west coast, and as far west as
Piacenza, dating to the
Pleistocene as the sea advanced and receded
over the valley. An advance began after the Last Glacial Maximum,
which brought the Adriatic to a high point at about 5,500 years
ago. Since then, the Po delta has been prograding
(expanding/extending). The rate of coastal zone progradation between
1000 BC and 1200 AD was 4 metres (13 ft) per year. In the
12th century, the delta advanced at a rate of 25 metres (82 ft)
per year. In the 17th century, the delta began to become a
human-controlled environment, as the excavation of artificial channels
started; the channels and new distributaries of the Po have been
prograding at rates of 50 metres (160 ft) per year or more since
then. There are more than 20 other rivers flowing into the
Italy alone, also forming alluvial coastlines,
including the lagoons of Venice, Grado and Caorle. There are
smaller eastern Adriatic alluvial coasts—in the deltas of the
Dragonja, Bojana and
Biogeography and ecology
Sea is a unique water body in respect of its overall
biogeochemical physiognomy. It exports inorganic nutrients and imports
particulate organic carbon and nitrogen through the Strait of
Otranto—acting as a mineralization site. The exchange of the
substances is made more complex by bathymetry of the Adriatic
Sea—75% of water flowing north through the strait recirculates at
Palagruža Sill and North Adriatic adds no more than 3 – 4%
of water to the South Adriatic. This is reflected in its
biogeography and ecology, and particularly in the composition and
properties of its ecosystems. Its main biogeographic units are the
Northern Adriatic, the Central Adriatic, and the Southern
Flora and fauna
The unique nature of the Adriatic gives rise to an abundance of
endemic flora and fauna. The Croatian National
Action Plan identified more than 7,000 animal and plant species in the
Adriatic Sea. The Central Adriatic is especially abundant in endemic
plant species, with 535 identified species of green, brown and red
algae. Four out of five Mediterranean seagrass species are found
in the Adriatic Sea. The most common species are
Cymodocea nodosa and
Zostera noltii, while
Zostera marina and
Posidonia oceanica are
A number of rare and threatened species are also found along the
Adriatic's eastern coast; it is relatively clearer and less polluted
than the western Adriatic coast—in part because the sea currents
flow through the Adriatic in a counterclockwise direction, thus
bringing clearer waters up the eastern coast and returning
increasingly polluted water down the western coast. This circulation
has significantly contributed to the biodiversity of the countries
along the eastern Adriatic coast; the common bottlenose dolphin is
frequent in the eastern coast's waters only, and the Croatian coast
provides refuge for the critically endangered monk seal and sea
turtles. Recent studies revealed that cetaceans and other marine
megafaunas, that were once thought to be vagrants to Adriatic Sea,
migrate and live in the semi-closed sea on larger scales. Largest
of these live normally is the fin whale, and sperm whale, the
largest of toothed whales also migrate but less common than fin
whales, followed by Cuvier's beaked whales. Basking sharks and
manta rays are some of migrant species to the sea.
Historical presences of depleted or extinct species such as North
Atlantic right whales (extinct or functionally extinct), atlantic gray
whales (extinct), and humpback whales have been speculated as
The Northern Adriatic in particular is rich in endemic fish fauna.
Around thirty species of fish are found in only one or two countries
bordering the Adriatic Sea. These are particularly due to or dependent
upon the karst morphology of the coastal or submarine topography; this
includes inhabiting subterranean habitats, karst rivers, and areas
around freshwater springs. There are 45 known subspecies endemic
to the Adriatic's coasts and islands. In the Adriatic, there are at
least 410 species and subspecies of fish, representing approximately
70% of Mediterranean taxa, with at least 7 species endemic to the
Adriatic. Sixty-four known species are threatened with extinction,
largely because of overfishing. Only a small fraction of the fish
found in the Adriatic are attributed to recent processes such as
Lessepsian migration, and escape from mariculture.
Isole Tremiti protected area
See also: Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance
The biodiversity of the Adriatic is relatively high, and several
marine protected areas have been established by countries along its
coasts. In Italy, these are
Miramare in the Gulf of
Trieste (in the
Northern Adriatic), Torre del Cerrano and
Isole Tremiti in the Middle
Adriatic basin and Torre Guaceto in southern Apulia. The
Miramare protected area was established in 1986 and covers 30 hectares
(74 acres) of coast and 90 hectares (220 acres) of sea. The area
encompasses 1.8 kilometres (1.1 mi) of coastline near the
Miramare promontory in the Gulf of Trieste. The Torre del Cerrano
protected area was created in 2009, extending 3 nautical miles
(5.6 km; 3.5 mi) into the sea and along 7 kilometres
(4.3 mi) of coastline. Various zones of the protected area cover
37 square kilometres (14 sq mi) of sea surface. The
Isole Tremiti reserve has been protected since 1989, while the Tremiti
islands themselves are part of the Gargano National Park. The
Torre Guaceto protected area, located near
Brindisi and Carovigno,
covers a sea surface of 2,227 hectares (5,500 acres) and is adjacent
to the Torre Guaceto State Reserve covering 1,114 hectares (2,750
acres) of coast and sharing an 8-kilometre (5.0 mi) coastline
with the marine protected area. Furthermore, there are 10
internationally important (Ramsar) wetland reserves in
along the Adriatic coast.
Kornati national park
There are seven marine protected areas in Croatia:
Brijuni and the Lim
Canal off the
Istria peninsula's coast, near
Pula and Rovinj
Telašćica in the Middle Adriatic basin,
near Zadar; and Lastovo,
Bay of Mali Ston
Bay of Mali Ston (Croatian: Malostonski
Mljet in southern Dalmatia. The
Brijuni national park
encompasses the 743.3-hectare (1,837-acre) archipelago itself and
2,651.7 hectares (6,552 acres) of surrounding sea; it became a
national park in 1999. The Lim Canal is a 10-kilometre
(6.2 mi) ria of the Pazinčica river. The
park was established in 1980; it covers approximately 220 square
kilometres (85 sq mi), including 89 islands and islets. The
marine environment encompasses three quarters of the total area, while
the island shores' combined length equals 238 kilometres
Telašćica is a nature park established on Dugi
Otok in 1988. The park covers 69 kilometres (43 mi) of coastline,
22.95 square kilometres (8.86 sq mi) of land and 44.55
square kilometres (17.20 sq mi) of sea. The Bay of Mali
Ston is located at the border of
Croatia and Bosnia–Herzegovina,
north of the
Pelješac peninsula. The marine protected area covers 48
square kilometres (19 sq mi). The
Lastovo nature park
was established in 2006, and it includes 44 islands and islets, 53
square kilometres (20 sq mi) of land and 143 square
kilometres (55 sq mi) of sea surface. The Mljet
national park was established in 1960, covering a 24-square-kilometre
(9.3 sq mi) marine protection area. In addition, there
is a Ramsar wetland reserve in Croatia—the
Karavasta Lagoon in Albania
In Slovenia, the marine and coastal protected nature areas are the
Sečovlje Salina Landscape Park, Strunjan Landscape Park, Škocjan
Inlet Nature Reserve, and the Debeli Rtič, Cape Madona and Lakes in
Fiesa natural monuments. The Sečovlje Salina Landscape Park
was established in 1990, covers 721 hectares (1,780 acres), and
includes four nature reserves. In 1993, the area was
designated a Ramsar site; it is also a site of international
importance for waterbird species. The 429-hectare (1,060-acre)
Strunjan Landscape Park was established in 2004 and comprises two
nature reserves. It includes a 4 kilometres (2.5 mi)
long cliff, the northernmost Mediterranean salt field and the only
Slovenian lagoon system. It is also the northernmost point of
growth of some Mediterranean plant species. The Škocjan Inlet
Nature Reserve was established in 1998 and covers 122 hectares (300
Debeli Rtič natural monument covers 24 hectares (59
acres), the Cape Madona natural monument covers 12 hectares (30
acres), and the Lakes in Fiesa natural monument, with the coastal
lake as the only brackish lake in Slovenia, covers 2.1 hectares
Albania established its first marine protection area, the
Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park
Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park at the Karaburun Peninsula where
the Adriatic and Ionian Seas meet. The park covers a total of 12,570
hectares (31,100 acres). Two additional marine protection areas
are planned in Albania: the
Cape of Rodon
Cape of Rodon (Albanian: Kepi i Rodonit)
and Porto Palermo. In addition,
Albania is home to two Ramsar
wetland reserves: Karavasta Lagoon, and Butrint. Neither
Montenegro have or plan to establish any
marine protection areas.
Sea ecosystem is threatened by excessive input of
nutrients through drainage from agricultural land and wastewater
flowing from cities; this includes both along its coast and from
rivers draining into the sea—especially from the Po River.
Venice is often cited as an example of polluted coastal waters where
shipping, transportation, farming, manufacturing and wastewater
disposal contribute to polluting the sea. A further risk is
presented by ballast water discharge by ships, especially tankers.
Still, since most of the cargo handled by the Adriatic ports, and
virtually all liquid (tanker) cargo handled by the ports, is coming
to—not coming from—the Adriatic Basin, the risk from ballast water
(from tankers expelling ballast water then loading in the Adriatic)
remains minimal. However, proposed export oil pipelines were objected
to specifically because of this issue. Oil spills are a major concern
in terms of potential environmental impact and damage to tourism and
fisheries. It is estimated that if a major oil spill happened, a
million people would lose their livelihoods in
Croatia alone. An
additional risk is presented by oil refineries in the
Po River basin
where oil spills have occurred before, in addition to accidents
occurring in the Adriatic already, so far with no significant
environmental consequences. Since 2006,
Italy has been
considering the construction of an offshore and an onshore LNG
terminal in the Gulf of Trieste, as well as a pipeline, in the
immediate vicinity of the Slovenian–Italian border. The
Slovenian government and municipalities, the municipal council of
Trieste, and non-governmental organisations have voiced concern
over their environmental hazards, effect on transport and effect on
Another source of pollution of the Adriatic is solid waste. Drifting
waste—occasionally relatively large quantities of material,
especially waste plastic—is transported northwest by the
sirocco. Air pollution in the
Adriatic Basin is associated with
the large industrial centres in the
Po River valley and the large
industrial cities along the coast.
Yugoslavia established a joint commission to protect the
Sea from pollution in 1977; the organization later changed
Montenegro replacing Yugoslavia.
Future pollution hazards are addressed and pollution hotspots are
assessed not only by nations in the basin but also through regional
World Bank support. 27 such hotspots have been
determined as of 2011, 6 warranting an urgent response.
The origins of the name Adriatic are linked to the Etruscan settlement
of Adria, which probably derives its name from the Illyrian adur
meaning water or sea. In classical antiquity, the sea was known
as Mare Adriaticum (Mare Hadriaticum, also sometimes simplified to
Adria) or, less frequently, as Mare Superum, "[the] upper sea".
The two terms were not synonymous, however. Mare Adriaticum generally
corresponds to the Adriatic Sea's extent, spanning from the Gulf of
Venice to the Strait of Otranto. That boundary became more
consistently defined by Roman authors—early Greek sources place the
boundary between the Adriatic and Ionian seas at various places
ranging from adjacent to the Gulf of
Venice to the southern tip of the
Peloponnese, eastern shores of
Sicily and western shores of
Crete. Mare Superum on the other hand normally encompassed both
the modern Adriatic
Sea and the sea off the Apennine peninsula's
southern coast, as far as the Strait of Sicily. Another name used
in the period was Mare Dalmaticum, applied to waters off the coast of
Dalmatia or Illyricum.
The names for the sea in the languages of the surrounding countries
include Albanian: Deti Adriatik; Emilian: Mèr Adriatic; Friulian:
Mâr Adriatic; Greek: Αδριατική θάλασσα Adriatikí
Thálassa; Istro Romanian: Marea Adriatică; Italian: Mare Adriatico;
Serbo-Croatian: Jadransko More / Јадранско море; Slovene:
Jadransko Morje; Venetian: Mar Adriàtico. In Croatian and Slovene,
the sea is often referred to as simply Jadran.
Pula Arena, one of the six largest surviving Roman amphitheatres
Settlements along the Adriatic dating to between 6100 and 5900 BC
Dalmatia on the eastern coast, related to the
Cardium Pottery culture. During classical antiquity, Illyrians
inhabited the eastern Adriatic coast, and the western coast was
inhabited by the peoples of Ancient Italy, mainly Etruscans, before
the Roman Republic's rise. Greek colonisation of the Adriatic
dates back to the 7th and 6th centuries BC when
Apollonia were founded. The Greeks soon expanded further north
establishing several cities, including Epidaurus, Black Corcyra, Issa
and Ancona, with trade established as far north as the
Po River delta,
where the emporion (trading station) of
Adria was founded.
Roman economic and military influence in the region began to grow with
the creation by 246 BC of a major naval base at Brundisium (now
Brindisi), which was established to bar Carthaginian ships from the
Adriatic during the Punic Wars. This led to conflict with the
Illyrians, who lived in a collection of semi-Hellenized kingdoms that
covered much of the Balkans and controlled the eastern shore of the
sea, resulting in the
Illyrian Wars from 229–168 BC. The initial
Roman intervention in 229 BC, motivated in part by a desire to
suppress Illyrian piracy in the Adriatic, marked the first time that
Roman navy crossed that sea to launch a military
campaign. Those wars ended with the eastern shore becoming a
province of the Roman Republic. However, resistance to Roman rule
continued sporadically and
Rome did not completely consolidate control
of the region until Augustus's general
Tiberius put down the Great
Illyrian Revolt, a bitter struggle waged from 6 to 9 AD.
Following the repression of the revolt the Roman province of Illyricum
was split into
Dalmatia and Pannonia. Most of the eastern shore of the
Adriatic was part of Dalmatia, except for the southernmost portion,
part of the province of Macedonia, and the peninsula of
Istria on the
northern part of the eastern shore;
Istria contained the important
Roman colony at
Pula and was incorporated into the province of
During the Roman period Brundisium, on the western shore, and
Apollonia and Dyrrachium (originally called Epidamnos, now
Albania) on the eastern shore became important ports. Brundisium was
linked by the Via Appia road to the city of Rome, and Dyrrachium and
Apollonia were both on the Via Egnatia, a road that by about 130 BC
the Romans had extended eastward across the Balkans to Byzantium
(later Constantinople, now Istanbul). This made the sea
passage across the Adriatic between Brundisium and Dyrrachium (or
Apollonia) a link in the primary route for travelers, trade, and troop
Rome and the East. This route played a major role
in some of the military operations that marked the end of the Roman
Republic and start of the imperial period. Sulla used it during the
First Mithridatic War. During Caesar's Civil War, there was a
three-month delay in Caesar's Balkan campaign against
when winter storms on the Adriatic and a naval blockade held up Mark
Antony from reaching him from Brundisium with reinforcements; after
the reinforcements finally arrived Caesar made an unsuccessful attempt
to capture Dyrrachium before the campaign moved inland. Marc
Antony and Octavian (later Augustus) crossed the Adriatic to
Dyrrachium with their armies in their campaign against two of Caesar's
assassins, Brutus and Cassius, that culminated in the Battle of
Philippi. Brundisium and Dyrrachium remained important ports well
after the Roman period, but an earthquake in the 3rd century AD
changed the path of a river causing Apollonia's harbor to silt up, and
the city to decline.
Another city on the Italian coast of the Adriatic that increased in
importance during the Roman era was Ravenna. During the reign of
Augustus it became a major naval base as part of his program to
Roman navy to better protect commerce in the
Mediterranean. During the 4th century AD the emperors of the
Roman Empire had moved their official residence north from
Mediolanum (now Milan) in order to be better able to control
the military frontier with the Germanic tribes. In 402 AD, during a
period of repeated Germanic invasions of Italy, the capital was
Ravenna because nearby marshes made it more defensible, and
the Adriatic provided an easy escape path by sea. When the
Western Empire fell in 476 AD
Ravenna became the capital of the
Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy.
In the Early Middle Ages, after the Roman Empire's decline, the
Adriatic's coasts were ruled by Ostrogoths, Lombards and the Byzantine
Ostrogothic Kingdom ruled
Italy following the
fall of the Western
Roman Empire in 476 AD. However, during the reign
Byzantine Empire sent an army under the general
Belisarius to regain control of Italy, resulting in the Gothic War
(535–554). The Byzantines established the Exarchate of
by 553 AD their viceroy (Exarch) ruled almost the entire Italian
peninsula from that city. In 568 AD the Lombards invaded northern
Italy, and over the course of the next century or so the importance of
the Exarchate declined as the territory under Lombard control expanded
and as the Byzantine outpost of
Venice became increasingly
independent. In 752 AD the Lombards overthrew the Exarchate, ending
the influence of the
Byzantine Empire on the western shore of the
Adriatic for a few centuries.
The last part of the period saw the rise of the
Carolingian Empire and
then the Frankish Kingdom of Italy, which controlled the Adriatic
Sea's western coast, while Byzantine
Dalmatia on the east coast
gradually shrunk following the Avar and Croatian invasions starting in
the 7th century. The Republic of
Venice was founded during this
period and went on to become a significant maritime power after
receiving a Byzantine tax exemption in 1082. The end of the
period brought about the Holy Roman Empire's control over the Kingdom
Italy (which would last until the
Peace of Westphalia
Peace of Westphalia in
1648), the establishment of an independent Kingdom of
the Byzantine Empire's return to the southern Apennine
peninsula. In addition, the
Papal States were carved out in
the area around
Rome and central
Italy in the 8th century.
The Republic of
Venice was a leading maritime power in Europe
Middle Ages in the Adriatic
Sea basin saw further territorial
changes, including the Norman conquest of southern
Italy ending the
Byzantine presence on the
Apennine peninsula in the 11th and 12th
centuries (the territory would become the
Kingdom of Naples
Kingdom of Naples in
1282) and the control of a substantial part of the eastern
Adriatic coast by the Kingdom of Hungary after a personal union was
Croatia and Hungary in 1102. In this period,
the Republic of
Venice began to expand its territory and
influence. In 1202, the
Fourth Crusade was diverted to conquer
Zadar at the behest of the Venetians—the first instance of a
Crusader force attacking a
Catholic city—before proceeding to sack
Constantinople. In the 13th century,
Venice established itself as
a leading maritime nation. During much of the 12th and 13th centuries,
Venice and the
Republic of Genoa
Republic of Genoa were engaged in warfare culminating
in the War of Chioggia, ousting the Genoese from the Adriatic.
Still, the 1381 Treaty of Turin that ended the war required
renounce claims to Dalmatia, after losing the territory to Hungary in
1358. In the same year, the
Republic of Ragusa
Republic of Ragusa was established in
Dubrovnik as a city-state after it was freed from Venetian
Dalmatia in 1409 and held it for nearly four hundred
years, with the republic's apex of trading and military power in the
first half of the 15th century. The 15th and the 16th centuries
brought about the Byzantine Empire's destruction in 1453 and the
Ottoman Empire's expansion that reached Adriatic shores in present-day
Montenegro as well as the immediate hinterland of the
Dalmatian coast, defeating the Hungarian and Croatian armies
at Krbava in 1493 and Mohács in 1526. These defeats spelled the
end of an independent Hungarian kingdom, and both Croatian and
Hungarian nobility chose Ferdinand I of the
House of Habsburg
House of Habsburg as their
new ruler, bringing the
Habsburg Monarchy to the shore of the Adriatic
Sea, where it would remain for nearly four hundred years. The
Ottomans and Venetians fought a series of wars, but until the 17th
century these were not fought in the Adriatic area. Ottoman raids
on the Adriatic coasts effectively ceased after the massive setback in
Battle of Lepanto
Battle of Lepanto in October 1571.
Early modern period
Battle of Lissa, 1811
In 1648, the Holy
Roman Empire lost its claim on its former Italian
lands, formally ending the Kingdom of Italy; however, its only outlet
on the Adriatic Sea, the Duchy of Ferrara, was already lost to the
Papal States. The 17th century's final territorial changes were
caused by the Morean or Sixth Ottoman–Venetian War, when in 1699
Venice slightly enlarged its possessions in Dalmatia. In 1797,
the Republic of
Venice was abolished after the French conquest.
The Venetian territory was then handed over to
Austria and briefly
ruled as part of the Archduchy of Austria. The territory was turned
back over to
France after the Peace of Pressburg in 1805, when the
territory in the Po valley became an integral part of the new
Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy. The new kingdom included the
province of Romagna, thus removing the Papal State from the Adriatic
coast; however, Trieste,
Dalmatia were joined into a
set of separate provinces of the French Empire: the Illyrian
Provinces. These were created in 1809 through the Treaty of
Schönbrunn; they represented the end of Venetian rule on the eastern
Adriatic coast, as well as the end of the Republic of Ragusa. The
Sea was a minor theatre in the Napoleonic Wars; the Adriatic
campaign of 1807–1814 involved the British
Royal Navy contesting the
Adriatic's control by the combined navies of France,
Italy and the
Kingdom of Naples. During the campaign, the
Royal Navy occupied Vis
and established its base there in Port St. George. The campaign
reached its climax in the 1811 Battle of Lissa, and ended with
British and Austrian troops seizing the coastal cities on the eastern
Adriatic coast from the French. Days before the Battle of
Congress of Vienna
Congress of Vienna awarded the Illyrian Provinces
(spanning from the Gulf of
Trieste to the Bay of Kotor) to
Congress of Vienna
Congress of Vienna also created the Kingdom of
Lombardy–Venetia which encompassed the city of Venice, the
surrounding coast and a substantial hinterland, and was controlled by
Austria. In the Apennine peninsula's south, the Kingdom of the
Two Sicilies was formed in 1816 by unifying the kingdoms of Naples and
Battle of Lissa, 1866
The process of
Italian unification culminated in the Second Italian
War of Independence, resulting in the
Kingdom of Sardinia
Kingdom of Sardinia annexing all
territories along the western Adriatic coast south of Venetia in 1860,
and the 1861 establishment of the Kingdom of
Italy in its place. The
Italy expanded in 1866: it annexed Venetia, but its
navy was defeated in the Adriatic near Vis. Following the
Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867
Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 and the Croatian–Hungarian
Settlement of 1868, the control of much of the eastern Adriatic coast
was redefined. The cisleithanian (Austrian) part of Austria-Hungary
spanned from the
Austrian Littoral to the Bay of Kotor, with the
exception of the
Croatian Littoral mainland. In the territory outside
the Austrian Littoral, special status was given to
Fiume (modern day
Rijeka) as a separate part of the Kingdom of Hungary. The rest of the
territory was made a part of the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, which in
turn was also in the Transleithanian part of the dual monarchy.
The Adriatic coastline controlled by the
Ottoman Empire was reduced by
Congress of Berlin
Congress of Berlin in 1878, through recognition of the
independence of the Principality of Montenegro, which controlled the
coast south of the
Bay of Kotor
Bay of Kotor to the Bojana River. The Ottoman
Empire lost all territories along the Adriatic following the First
Balkan War and consequent 1913 Treaty of London that established an
SMS Szent István
SMS Szent István moments before its sinking by the Italian MAS
World War I
World War I Adriatic Campaign was largely limited to blockade
attempts by the Allies and the effort of the
Central Powers to thwart
the British, French and Italian moves.
Italy joined the Allies in
April 1915 with the Treaty of London, which promised
Austrian Littoral, northern Dalmatia, the port of Vlorë, most of the
eastern Adriatic islands and
Albania as a protectorate. The
treaty provided the basis for all the following divisions between
Italy and Yugoslavia. In 1918, the Montenegrin national assembly
voted to unite with the Kingdom of Serbia, giving the latter access to
the Adriatic. Another short-lived, unrecognised state established
in 1918 was the State of Slovenes,
Croats and Serbs, formed from parts
of Austria-Hungary, comprising most of the former monarchy's Adriatic
coastline. Later that year, the Kingdom of
Serbia and the State of
Croats and Serbs formed the Kingdom of Serbs,
Slovenes—subsequently renamed Yugoslavia. The proponents of the new
union in the
Croatian parliament saw the move as a safeguard against
Italian expansionism as stipulated in the Treaty of London. The
treaty was largely disregarded by Britain and
France because of
conflicting promises made to
Serbia and a perceived lack of Italian
contribution to the war effort outside
Italy itself. The 1919
Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye did transfer the
Austrian Littoral and
Istria to Italy, but awarded
Dalmatia to Yugoslavia. Following
the war, a private force of demobilized Italian soldiers seized Rijeka
and set up the Italian Regency of Carnaro—seen as a harbinger of
Fascism—in order to force the recognition of Italian claims to the
city. After sixteen months of the Regency's existence, the 1920
Treaty of Rapallo redefined the Italian–Yugoslav borders, among
other things transferring
Zadar and the islands of Cres,
Palagruža to Italy, securing the island of
establishing the Free State of Fiume; this new state was abolished in
1924 by the Treaty of
Rome that awarded
Fiume (modern Rijeka) to Italy
and Sušak to Yugoslavia.
Late 20th century
During World War II, the Adriatic saw only limited naval action,
starting with the Italian invasion of
Albania and the joint Axis
invasion of Yugoslavia. The latter led to the annexation of a large
Dalmatia and nearly all the eastern Adriatic islands by Italy
and the establishment of two puppet states, the Independent State of
Croatia and the Kingdom of Montenegro, which controlled the remainder
of the former Yugoslav Adriatic coast. In 1947, after the
Italy and Allied armed forces and the war's end,
Italy (now a republic) and the Allies signed the Treaty of Peace with
Italy. The treaty reversed all wartime annexations, guaranteed the
independence of Albania, created the Free Territory of
as a city-state, and gave communist
Yugoslavia most of the Slovenian
Littoral, as well as Istria, the islands of Cres,
Palagruža, and the cities of
Zadar and Rijeka. The FTT was
partitioned in 1954:
Trieste itself and the area to the North of it
were placed under Italian control, while the rest came under Yugoslav
control. This arrangement was made permanent in the 1975 Treaty of
During the Cold War, the Adriatic
Sea became the southernmost flank of
Iron Curtain as
Italy joined NATO, while the Warsaw Pact
established bases in Albania. After the fall of communism,
Yugoslavia broke apart:
Croatia declared independence in
1991, and Bosnia–Herzegovina followed in 1992, while
Montenegro remained in a federation with Serbia, officially called
Serbia and Montenegro. The ensuing Croatian War of Independence
included limited naval engagements and a blockade of Croatia's coast
by the Yugoslav Navy, leading to the Battle of the Dalmatian
channels and a later withdrawal of Yugoslav vessels. Montenegro
declared itself independent in 2006, effectively land-locking
Serbia. The period also saw the Adriatic
Sea as the theatre of
NATO operations, including the blockade of Yugoslavia,
intervention in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the 1999 bombing of
Yugoslavia defined their Adriatic continental shelf
delimitation in 1968, with an additional agreement signed in 1975
on the Gulf of
Trieste boundary, following the Treaty of Osimo. The
boundary agreed in 1968 extends 353 nautical miles (654 km;
406 mi) and consists of 43 points connected by straight
lines or circular arc segments. The additional boundary agreed upon in
1975 consists of 5 points, extending from an end point of the
1968 line. All successor states of former
Yugoslavia accepted the
agreements. In the Adriatic's southernmost areas the border was not
determined in order to avoid prejudicing the location of the tripoint
with the Albanian continental shelf border, which remains undefined.
Before the breakup of Yugoslavia, Albania,
Italy and Yugoslavia
initially proclaimed 15-nautical-mile (28 km; 17 mi)
territorial waters, subsequently reduced to international-standard 12
nautical miles (22 km; 14 mi) and all sides adopted baseline
systems (mostly in the 1970s).
Italy determined their sea
border in 1992 according to the equidistance principle. Following
Croatian EU membership, the Adriatic became an internal sea of the
United Nations Convention on the Law of the
Sea as an enclosed or semi-enclosed sea.
The town of
Izola in the Gulf of Koper, southwestern Slovenia
Adriatic Euroregion was established in
Pula in 2006 to promote
trans-regional and trans-national cooperation in the Adriatic
and serve as an Adriatic framework to help resolve issues of regional
Adriatic Euroregion consists of 23 members: the
Apulia, Molise, Abruzzo, Marche, Emilia-Romagna,
Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions of Italy; the municipality of
Slovenia; the Istria, Primorje-Gorski Kotar, Lika-Senj, Zadar,
Dalmatia and Dubrovnik-
Neretva counties of
Croatia; the Herzegovina-
Neretva Canton of Bosnia–Herzegovina; the
Tivat in Montenegro; the Fier, Vlorë,
Durrës and Lezhë counties of Albania; and the
Greek prefectures of
Thesprotia and Corfu.
The former Yugoslav republics' land borders were decided by
demarcation commissions implementing the
AVNOJ decisions of 1943 and
1945, but the exact course has not been agreed upon by the
successor states, which makes the maritime boundaries' definition
difficult; the maritime borders were not defined at all in the
time of Yugoslavia. In addition, the maritime boundary between
Montenegro was not defined before the 1990s.
Slovenia started negotiations to define maritime borders
Gulf of Piran
Gulf of Piran in 1992 but failed to agree, resulting in a
dispute. Both countries also declared their economic zones, which
partially overlap. Croatia's application to become an EU
member state was initially suspended pending resolution of its border
disputes with Slovenia. These disputes with
eventually settled with an agreement to accept the decision of an
international arbitration commission set up via the UN, enabling
Croatia to progress towards EU membership. Aside from
the EU membership difficulty, even before its settling the dispute has
caused no major practical problems.
The maritime boundary between Bosnia–Herzegovina and
formally settled in 1999, but a few issues are still in dispute—the
Klek peninsula and two islets in the border area. The
Montenegro maritime boundary is disputed in the Bay of
Kotor, at the
Prevlaka peninsula. This dispute was exacerbated by the
peninsula's occupation by the
Yugoslav People's Army
Yugoslav People's Army and later by the
(Serbian–Montenegrin) FR Yugoslav Army, which in turn was replaced
United Nations observer mission that lasted until 2002. Croatia
took over the area with an agreement that allowed Montenegrin presence
in the bay's Croatian waters, and the dispute has become far less
contentious since Montenegro's independence in 2006.
Sea fishery's production is distributed among countries
in the basin. In 2000, the nominal—on a live weight
basis—total landings of all Adriatic fisheries reached 110,000
tonnes (108,000 long tons).
Overfishing is a recognised
problem—450 species of fish live in the Adriatic Sea, including
120 species threatened by excessive commercial fishing, a problem
exacerbated by pollution and global warming. Overexploited species
include common dentex, red scorpionfish, monkfish, John Dory, blue
shark, spiny dogfish, mullet, red mullet, Norway lobster, as
well as European hake, and sardines. Turtles and common
bottlenose dolphins are also being killed by fishing nets. The
depleted fish stock, and Croatia's Ecological and Fisheries Protection
Zone (ZERP) contributed to accusations of overfishing exchanged
between Italian and Croatian fishermen. ZERP was introduced in
2003, but its application to EU member states was suspended in
2004. The depleted stocks of fish are being addressed through a
new proposed EU fisheries policy that was scheduled to take effect in
Croatia acceded to the EU, and restore the stocks to
sustainable levels by 2015.
The largest volume of fish harvesting was in Italy, where the total
production volume in 2007 stood at 465,637 tonnes (458,283 long
tons). In 2003, 28.8% of Italian fisheries production volume was
generated in the Northern and central Adriatic, and 24.5% in Apulia
(from the Southern Adriatic and Ionian Sea). Italian fisheries,
including those operating outside the Adriatic, employed 60,700 in the
primary sector, including aquaculture (which comprises 40% of the
total fisheries production). The total fisheries output's gross value
in 2002 was $1.9 billion.
Fishing boat in Croatia
In 2007, Croatia's production in live weight reached 53,083 tonnes
(52,245 long tons). In 2006, the total Croatian fisheries
production volume was 37,800 tonnes (37,200 long tons) of catch and
14,200 tonnes (14,000 long tons) from marine aquaculture. Croatian
fisheries employed approximately 20,000. The 2006 marine capture catch
in Croatian waters consisted of sardines (44.8%),
anchovies (31.3%), tunas (2.7%), other pelagic
fish (4.8%), hake (2.4%), mullet (2.1%), other demersal
fish (8.3%), crustaceans (largely lobster and Nephrops
norvegicus) (0.8%), shellfish (largely oysters and
mussels) (0.3%), cuttlefish (0.6%), squids (0.2%) and
octopuses and other cephalopods (1.6%). Croatian marine aquaculture
production consisted of tuna (47.2%), oysters and
mussels (28.2% combined) and bass and bream (24.6%
In 2007, Albanian fisheries production amounted to 7,505 tonnes (7,386
long tons), including aquaculture production, which reached 1,970
tonnes (1,940 long tons) in 2006. At the same time, Slovenian
fisheries produced a total of 2,500 tonnes (2,460 long tons) with 55%
of the production volume originating in aquaculture, representing the
highest ratio in the Adriatic. Finally, the Montenegrin fisheries
production stood at 911 tonnes (897 long tons) in 2006, with only 11
tonnes coming from aquaculture. In 2007, the fisheries production
in Bosnia–Herzegovina reached volume of 9,625 tonnes (9,473 long
tons) and 2,463 tonnes (2,424 long tons) in Slovenia.
Dubrovnik is a major tourist destination in Croatia
Zlatni Rat (Golden Cape) on the island of Brač
Palace of the Emperor Diocletian
Palace of the Emperor Diocletian in Split
Rimini is a major seaside tourist resort in Italy
Portorož is the largest seaside tourist centre in Slovenia
The countries bordering the Adriatic
Sea are significant tourist
destinations. The largest number of tourist overnight stays and the
most numerous tourist accommodation facilities are recorded in Italy,
especially in the
Veneto region (around Venice).
Veneto is followed by
Emilia-Romagna region and by the Adriatic Croatian counties. The
Croatian tourist facilities are further augmented by
21,000 nautical ports and moorings; nautical tourists are
attracted to various types of marine protected areas.
All countries along the Adriatic coast, except
Bosnia–Herzegovina, take part in the
Blue Flag beach
Blue Flag beach certification
programme (of the Foundation for Environmental Education), for beaches
and marinas meeting strict quality standards including environmental
protection, water quality, safety and services criteria. As of
January 2012, the Blue Flag has been awarded to 103 Italian Adriatic
beaches and 29 marinas, 116 Croatian beaches and 19 marinas, 7
Slovenian beaches and 2 marinas, and 16 Montenegrin beaches.
Adriatic tourism is a significant source of income for these
countries, especially in
Montenegro where the tourism
income generated along the Adriatic coast represents the bulk of such
income. The direct contribution of travel and tourism to
Croatia's GDP stood at 5.1% in 2011, with the total industry
contribution estimated at 12.8% of the national GDP. For
Montenegro, the direct contribution of tourism to the national GDP is
8.1%, with the total contribution to the economy at 17.2% of
Tourism in Adriatic
Croatia has recently
exhibited greater growth than in the other regions around the
Tourism in the Adriatic
*Beds in all collective accommodation facilities; includes "Hotel
beds" figure also shown separately
**Includes both Adriatic and
Ionian sea coasts
See also: Ship transport
Port of Trieste, the largest cargo port in the Adriatic
Port of Koper, the largest port in Slovenia
Port of Rijeka, the largest cargo port in Croatia
Port of Durrës
There are nineteen Adriatic
Sea ports (in four different countries)
that each handle more than a million tonnes of cargo per year. The
largest cargo ports among them are the Port of
Trieste (the largest
Adriatic cargo port in Italy), the Port of Venice, the Port of
Ravenna, the Port of
Koper (the largest Slovenian port), the Port
Rijeka (the largest Croatian cargo port), and the Port of Brindisi.
The largest passenger ports in the Adriatic are the
Port of Split
Port of Split (the
largest Croatian passenger port) and ports in
Ancona (the largest
Italian passenger seaport in the Adriatic). The
largest seaport in
Montenegro is the Port of Bar. In 2010, the
Northern Adriatic seaports of Trieste, Venice, Ravenna,
Rijeka founded the
North Adriatic Ports Association to position
themselves more favourably in the EU's transport systems.
Major Adriatic ports*, annual transport volume
Slovenia, Slovenian Istria
Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Croatia, Primorje-Gorski Kotar
Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia
*Ports handling more than a million tonnes of cargo or serving more
than a million passengers per year
Sources: National Institute of Statistics (2007 data, Italian ports,
note: the Port of
Ancona and Falconara Marittima;
passenger traffic below 200,000 is not reported), Croatian Bureau
of Statistics (2008 data, Croatian ports, note: the Port of Rijeka
includes the Rijeka, Bakar,
Omišalj terminals; the
Port of Ploče
Port of Ploče includes the
Durrës' Chamber of Commerce and Industry –
Albania (2007 data,
Port of Durrës), SEOnet (2011 data, Port of Koper)
Oil and gas
Natural gas is produced through several projects, including a joint
venture of the
Eni and INA companies that operates two platforms—one
is in Croatian waters and draws gas from six wells, and the other
(which started operating in 2010) is located in Italian waters. The
Adriatic gas fields were discovered in the 1970s,:265 but their
development commenced in 1996. In 2008, INA produced
14.58 million BOE per day of gas. About 100 offshore
platforms are located in the
Emilia-Romagna region, along with 17
in the Northern Adriatic.
Eni estimated its concessions in the
Sea to hold at least 40,000,000,000 cubic metres
(1.4×1012 cu ft) of natural gas, adding that they may even
reach 100,000,000,000 cubic metres (3.5×1012 cu ft). INA
estimates, however, are 50% lower than those supplied by Eni. Oil
was discovered in the Northern Adriatic at a depth of approximately
5,400 metres (17,700 ft); the discovery was assessed as not
viable because of its location, depth and quality. These gas and
oil reserves are part of the
Po basin Province of Northern
the Northern Mediterranean Sea.
In the 2000s, investigation works aimed at discovering gas and oil
reserves in the Middle and Southern Adriatic basins intensified, and
by the decade's end, oil and natural gas reserves were discovered
southeast of the Bari, Brindisi—Rovesti and Giove oil discoveries.
Surveys indicate reserves of 3 billion barrels of oil in place and
5.7×1010 cubic metres (2,000,000,000,000 cu ft) of gas in
place. The discovery was followed by further surveys off the
Croatian coast. In January 2012, INA commenced prospecting for
oil off Dubrovnik, marking the resumption of oil exploration along the
eastern Adriatic coast after surveys commenced in the late 1980s
around the island of
Brač were cancelled because of Yugoslavia's
breakup and war in Croatia.
Montenegro is also expected to look for
oil off its coast. As of January 2012, only 200 exploration
wells had been sunk off the Croatian coast, with all but 30 in the
Northern Adriatic basin.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina portal
Geography of Albania
Geography of Bosnia-Herzegovina
Geography of Croatia
Geography of Europe
Geography of Italy
Geography of Montenegro
Geography of Slovenia
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