Adriatic Sea

Adriatic Sea
Map of the Adriatic Sea.
Sediment billowing out from Italy's shore into the Adriatic.

The Adriatic Sea (pronounced /ˌeɪdriˈætɨk/) 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 northwest-to-southeast arm of the Mediterranean Sea.[1]

The western coast is Italian, while the eastern coast runs along Slovenia (47 km), Croatia (5,835 km) , Bosnia and Herzegovina (26 km), Montenegro (294 km), and Albania (295 km). Major rivers joining the Adriatic are the Reno, Po, Adige/Etsch, Brenta, Piave, Soča/Isonzo, Zrmanja, Krka, Cetina, Neretva, and Drin (Drini).


Name and etymology

Originally, the sea was known in Latin as Mare Superum. Later, it was replaced by Mare (H)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. The name Adria is derived from the Illyrian word adur meaning "water" or "sea".[2]

But even then the Adriatic in the narrower sense only extended as far as the Monte 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 xxvii. 27).

Extent and bathymetry

The Adriatic extends northwest from 40° to 45°45' North, with an extreme length of about 770 km (415 nm, 480 mi). It has an average width of about 160 km (85 nm, 100 mi), although the Strait of Otranto, through which it connects at the south with the Ionian Sea, is only 45-55 nautical miles wide (85–100 km).[3]

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 International Hydrographic Organization defines the southern limit of the Adriatic Sea as "A line running from the mouth of the Butrinto River (39°44'N) in Albania to Cape Karagol in Corfu, through this island to Cape Kephali (these two capes are in lat. 39°45'N) and on to Cape Santa Maria di Leuca".[4]

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 as is the case for the Istrian and Dalmatian areas of Slovenia and Croatia. The shores on the Italian side 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 1,457 feet (444 m) and maximum depth is 4,035 feet (1,230 m).[5]

Coasts and islands

A satellite image of the Adriatic Sea.

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 Po, the sediment of which has pushed forward the coastline for several miles within historic times—Adria is now some distance from the shore. There are stretches of rocky coast at the Mount Conero and at Gargano.

On 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 Brindisi.

The east coast is generally bold and rocky, with many islands. South of the Istrian 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.

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 Brač (Vidova gora, 780 m) or the peninsula Pelješac (St. Ilija, 961 m). There are 1246 islands in the Adriatic, 66 of which are inhabited[citation needed].

Zadar, city on the Adriatic Sea

On the 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 Corfu".

There is a notable 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, and bluer than Italian. Croatia is known for its crystal clear water.[6] Italian Adriatic is greener and less clear because it is richer in plankton.[citation needed]

Major 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 Bosnia and Herzegovina; Herceg Novi, Kotor, Tivat, Budva, Bar and Ulcinj in Montenegro; Lezhë, Durrës, Velipoja and Vlorë in Albania.

Weather patterns

The bora[7] (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 Keys.

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

The Adriatic Sea (Croatia)

Images from the Adriatic Sea region

See also


Torre Sant'Andrea, Salento (Italy)

External links

Coordinates: 43°N 15°E / 43°N 15°E / 43; 15

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Adriatic (Sea) — or Adriatic [ā΄drē at′ik] arm of the Mediterranean, between Italy and the Balkan Peninsula * * * …   Universalium

  • Adriatic (Sea) — or Adriatic [ā΄drē at′ik] arm of the Mediterranean, between Italy and the Balkan Peninsula …   English World dictionary

  • Adriatic (Sea) — or Adriatic [ā΄drē at′ik] arm of the Mediterranean, between Italy and the Balkan Peninsula …   English World dictionary

  • Adriatic Sea — an arm of the Mediterranean between Italy and the Balkan Peninsula. Also called Adriatic. * * * Arm of the Mediterranean Sea, lying between Italy and the Balkan Peninsula. It is about 500 mi (800 km) long, with an average width of 110 mi (175 km) …   Universalium

  • Adriatic Sea — A|dri|at|ic Sea also the Adriatic the Adriatic Sea the long, narrow sea between Italy and countries such as Slovenia, Croatia, Yugoslavia, and Albania …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Adriatic Sea —    Situated between Italy (q.v.) and the coast of Dalmatia (q.v.), it was the most important east west trade route prior to the 11th century. Byzantine domination of the Adriatic was tested after 827, when Muslim raiders began their conquest of… …   Historical dictionary of Byzantium

  • Adriatic Sea — noun an arm of the Mediterranean between Slovenia and Croatia and Montenegro and Albania on the east and Italy on the west • Syn: ↑Adriatic • Instance Hypernyms: ↑sea • Part Holonyms: ↑Mediterranean, ↑Mediterranean Sea • …   Useful english dictionary

  • Adriatic Sea — noun /eɪ.dɹiˈæt.ɪk/ The sea that stretches from the Ionian Sea to the Gulf of Venice. It is located between the Italian and Balkan peninsulas …   Wiktionary

  • Adriatic Sea — inlet of the Mediterranean Sea, E of Italy …   Webster's Gazetteer

  • Adriatic Sea — part of the Mediterranean Sea between Italy and Yugoslavia …   English contemporary dictionary

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