Adriatic Sea

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Map of the Adriatic Sea.
Sediment billowing out from Italy's shore into the Adriatic.
A satellite image of the Adriatic Sea.
Zadar, city on the Adriatic Sea
Islet Pokonji Dol in the Adriatic sea, seen from the ferry between Ilovik and Premuda in Croatia
Torre Sant'Andrea, Salento (Italy)

The Adriatic Sea is a body of saltwater separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkans, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges. The Adriatic Sea is the northermost part of the Mediterranean Sea.

Its western coast is Italian, while the eastern coast runs mostly along Croatia, and partly at Montenegro and Albania, but minor parts belong also to Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (26 km). Major rivers joining the Adriatic are the Reno, Po, Adige, Brenta, Piave, Soča/Isonzo, Raša, Zrmanja, Krka, Cetina, Neretva, Drim (Drini), and Vjose/Aoos.

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Ancient etymology

Its recent name derived from the ancient town of Hadria (now Adria) in northwestern Adriatic coast. In ancient Latin it was Mare Hadriaticum, newer Italian Mare Adriatico, Croatian Jadransko more, Slovenian Jadransko morje, Bosnian Jadransko more, Albanian Deti Adriatik. Its ancient name belonged originally only to the upper portion of that sea (Herodotus vi. 127, vii. 20, ix. 92; Euripides, Hippolytus, 736), but was gradually extended as the Syracusan colonies gained in importance there.

But even then the Adriatic in the narrower sense mostly extended as far as the Mons Garganus promontory, the outer portion being called the Ionian Sea: the name was sometimes inaccurately extended 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 xxvii. 27).

Main parameters

The Adriatic Sea (ancient Hadria), is the northern arm of the Mediterranean Sea, separating the Apennine peninsula (Italy) from the Balkan peninsula. Its western coast is Italian, while the eastern coast runs along the countries of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Albania.

The Adriatic extends northwest from 40° N to 45° 45' N., with a maximal length of about 770 km (480 miles), and a mean breadth of 160 km (about 100 miles), but the Strait of Otranto, through which it connects at the south with the Ionian Sea, is only 72 km (45 miles) wide. The chain of numerous islands which fringes the northeastern shore of Croatia, reduces also the major breadth of open sea in this part to about 90 miles. Its total surface area is about 160,000 sq.km (60,000 square miles).

The northern part of the sea is very shallow, and between the southern promontories of Istria and Rimini the depth rarely exceeds 46 m (25 fathoms). In central Adriatic between ports Šibenik and Ortona the well-marked depression of Jabuka Pit occurs, being a considerable area deep between 180m to 256m.

From a point between Korčula island and Monte Gargano promontory, there is again a shallower submarine ridge, with a broken chain of minor islets across the sea including Tremiti, Pianosa, Galiola, Palagruža, Sušac, Kopist, Lastovo, etc.

The deepest part of southeastern Adriatic lies east of Monte Gargano, south of Dubrovnik, and west of Durres where in a major basin prevail the depths under 900 m (500 fathoms), and a minor central depression falls to 1,460 m (800 fath.). The mean depth of the Adriatic is estimated at 240 m (133 fath.).

The climate of Adriatic is typical Mediterranean, with dry and sunny summer, and mild rainy winters. Tidal movement is slight, and its amphidromic point is just off the northwestern shore near Ancona. The cold bora storms or bura (northeastern sea-wind) at norteastern coast, and the prevalence of its sudden squalls from this quarter or the southeast, are dangers to navigation in winter. Also notable are sirocco or jugo (southern wind) in open sea, which brings rain in the winter and autumn, and maestral (western wind) which brings nice weather in the summer.

Coasts and islands

The western sedimentary shore is generally low with few islets and reefs, merging in the northwest, into the marshes and lagoons on either hand of the protruding delta of the Po and adjacent rivers, the sediment of which has pushed forward the coastline for several miles within historic times; so Adria is now some distance from the shore.

The eastern Adriatic coast is generally steep and rocky, with numerous islands. South of the Istrian Peninsula, which separates the Gulfs of Venice and of Trieste from the Gulf of Kvarner, the island-fringe along the east coast in Dalmatia extends as far south as Dubrovnik.

The rocky calcareous islands along Dalmatian coast, which are mostly long and narrow (the long axis lying parallel with the coast of the Croatian mainland), rise rather abruptly to elevations of a few hundred meters, with the exception of a few higher islands like Brač (Vidova gora, 778m), Lošinj (Televrina, 588m), or the peninsula Pelješac (St. Ilija, 961 m), and the largest ones are the northernmost Krk and Cres. There are over a thousand islands (1223 ones) in the eastern Adriatic, 66 of which are inhabited. They mostly belong to Croatia, and only dozen minor ones occur in Italy (Tremiti, Pianosa and Venetian Lido), Albania (Sazan isle at Otranto), and Montenegro (St.Nikola at Budva and minor islets in Boka Bay).

On the mainland, notably in the magnificent inlet of the Boka Kotorska (Bocche di Cattaro) named after the town of Kotor, lofty mountains of Orjen and Lovćen often fall directly to the sea. The prevalent colour of the rocks along eastern Adriatic is a light milky-whitish limestone, contrasting harshly with the dark evergreen vegetation, which on some of the islands is luxuriant (Rab, Korčula, Mljet, etc.). In fact, Montenegro (Black Mountain) was named after the black pines that cover the coastal hills there, and similarly the ancient Greek name for the island of Korcula is Korkyra Melaina meaning "Black Corfu".

Important cities

On sandy islands within the lagoons at the Gulf of Venice, Venice has its unique situation. Other notable cities on the Italian coast are Ravenna, Rimini, Ancona, Bari, and Pescara. Major cities on the northeastern coast include Trieste in Italy; Izola, Koper, Piran and Portorož in Slovenia; Pula (Pola), Rovinj (Rovigno), Rijeka, Zadar, Šibenik, Trogir, Split, and Ragusa (Dubrovnik) in Croatia; Bar in Montenegro; and Durres in Albania. Both coasts of Adriatic are popular tourist destinations, and especially the numerous Adriatic islands being not far from Middle Europe.

See also

External links

Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.
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