The Adriatic Sea () is a body of water separating the from the . The Adriatic is the northernmost arm of the , extending from the (where it connects to the ) to the northwest and the . The countries with coasts on the Adriatic are , , , , and . The Adriatic contains over 1,300 islands, mostly located along the Croatian part of its eastern coast. It is divided into three basins, the northern being the shallowest and the southern being the deepest, with a maximum depth of . 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 are known to occur occasionally. The Adriatic's is lower than the Mediterranean's because the Adriatic collects a third of the fresh water flowing into the Mediterranean, acting as a . The surface water temperatures generally range from in summer to in winter, significantly moderating the 's climate. The Adriatic Sea sits on the , which separated from the in the . The plate's movement contributed to the and after its with the . In the , 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 or , while the eastern coast is highly indented with pronounced ification. There are dozens of s in the Adriatic, designed to protect the sea's karst s and . The sea is abundant in flora and fauna—more than 7,000 species are identified as native to the Adriatic, many of them , rare and threatened ones. The Adriatic's shores are populated by more than 3.5 million people; the largest cities are , , and . The earliest settlements on the Adriatic shores were , n, and . By the 2nd century BC, the shores were under 's control. In the , the Adriatic shores and the sea itself were controlled, to a varying extent, by a series of states—most notably the , the , the , the and the . The resulted in the gaining coastal control and the to counter the French in the area, ultimately securing most of the eastern Adriatic shore and the Po Valley for . Following , the started an eastward expansion that lasted until the 20th century. Following and the collapse of and the Ottoman Empire, the eastern coast's control passed to and Albania. The former during the 1990s, resulting in four new states on the Adriatic coast. Italy and Yugoslavia agreed on their maritime boundaries by 1975 and this boundary is recognised by Yugoslavia's successor states, but the maritime boundaries between Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Montenegro are still disputed. Italy and Albania agreed on their maritime boundary in 1992. and are significant sources of income all along the Adriatic coast. 's tourism industry has grown faster economically than the rest of the 's. is also a significant branch of the area's economy—there are 19 seaports in the Adriatic that each handle more than a million s of cargo per year. The largest Adriatic seaport by annual cargo turnover is the , while the is the largest Adriatic seaport by passengers served per year.


The of the name ''Adriatic'' are linked to the settlement of , which probably derives its name from the ''adur'' meaning water or sea. In , the sea was known as ''Mare Adriaticum'' (''Mare Hadriaticum'', also sometimes simplified to ''Adria'') or, less frequently, as ''Mare Superum'', "
upper sea". The two terms were not synonymous, however. ''Mare Adriaticum'' generally corresponds to the Adriatic Sea's extent, spanning from the 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 to the southern tip of the , eastern shores of and western shores of . ''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 . Another name used in the period was ''Mare Dalmaticum'', applied to waters off the coast of or . The names for the sea in the languages of the surrounding countries include sq, Deti Adriatik; egl, Mèr Adriatic; fur, Mâr Adriatic; gr, Αδριατική θάλασσα – ''Adriatikí thálassa''; ruo, Marea Adriatică; it, Mare Adriatico; sh, Jadransko more, Јадранско море; sl, Jadransko morje; vec, Mar Adriàtico. In Serbo-Croatian and Slovene, the sea is often referred to as simply ''Jadran''.


The Adriatic Sea is a semi-enclosed sea, bordered in the southwest by the , in the northwest by the Italian regions of and , and in the northeast by , , , , and —the . In the southeast, the Adriatic Sea connects to the at the wide . The (IHO) defines the boundary between the Adriatic and the Ionian seas as a line running from the 's mouth ( 39°44'N) in Albania to the Karagol Cape in , through this island to the Kephali Cape (these two capes are in latitude 39°45'N), and on to the (latitude 39°48'N). It extends from the northwest to the southeast and is wide. It covers and has a volume of . The Adriatic extends northwest from to 47' north, representing the 's northernmost portion. The sea is geographically divided into the Northern Adriatic, Central (or Middle) Adriatic, and Southern Adriatic. The Adriatic Sea encompasses , yielding a land–sea ratio of 1.8. The drainage basin's mean elevation is above sea level, with a mean slope of 12.1°. Major rivers discharging into the Adriatic include the Po, , , , , , and . In the late 19th century, established a network with an using the average Adriatic Sea level at the Sartorio pier in , . The benchmark was subsequently retained by , adopted by , and retained by the states that emerged after . In 2016, Slovenia adopted a new elevation benchmark referring to the upgraded station in the coastal town of . The Alps, which also have a large meteorological impact on the Mediterranean, touch the Adriatic in the area around Trieste towards and . }) along the basin's minor axis. Finally, Venice is increasingly vulnerable to flooding due to coastal area soil . 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 , Zadar and as well. It is estimated that the Adriatic's entire volume is exchanged through the Strait of Otranto in 3.4±0.4 years, a comparatively short period. (For instance, approximately 500 years are necessary to exchange all the 's water.) This short period is particularly important as the rivers flowing into the Adriatic up to . This rate of discharge amounts to 0.5% of the total Adriatic Sea volume, or a layer of water each year. The greatest portion of the discharge from any single river comes from the (28%), with an average discharge from it alone of . In terms of the annual total discharge into the entire Mediterranean Sea, the Po is ranked second, followed by the Neretva and , which rank as third and fourth. Another significant contributor of freshwater to the Adriatic is the through submarine springs ( hr, vrulja); it is estimated to comprise 29% of the total water flux into the Adriatic. The submarine springs include , discovered offshore near the town of . The thermal springwater is rich with , has a temperature of , 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 for the Mediterranean Sea. The Middle and s (SAG), are significant features, with the former being intermittent and the latter permanent. The SAG measures in diameter. It contributes to the flow of from the Adriatic to the 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 in the summer, or in the winter, except along the western Adriatic coast's northern part, where it drops to 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, may appear in the Adriatic's shallow coastal areas, especially in the but also in isolated shallows as far south as (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 variation over the year is likewise distinct: it ranges between 38 and 39 . The southern Adriatic is subjected to saltier water from the Levantine Basin.


According to the , the upper half of the Adriatic is classified as (''Cfa''), with wetter summers and colder and drier winters, and the southern Adriatic are classified as . The air temperature can fluctuate by about during a season. The predominant winter winds are the and (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, , and , with gusts of up to . The sirocco brings humid and warm air, often carrying n sand causing .


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, Rijeka and Zadar in Croatia, Durrës and in Albania and 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 and .

Coastal management

, which was originally built on islands off the coast, is most at risk due to subsidence, but the threat is present in the Po as well. The causes are a decrease in rate due to loss of sediment behind dams, the deliberate excavation of sand for industrial purposes, agricultural use of water, and removal of ground water. The sinking of Venice slowed after 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, then-Prime Minister inaugurated the ( it, Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico), an experimental model for evaluating the performance of inflatable gates. The project proposes laying a series of 79 inflatable across the sea bed at the three entrances to the . When tides are predicted to rise above , the pontoons will be filled with air and block the incoming water from the Adriatic Sea. This engineering work was due to be completed by 2014, but as of November 2020 is expected to be completed in 2021. Implemented for the first time on October 3, 2020, the barriers are made to seal off three inlets that lead to the Venetian Lagoon and counteract floods of up to ten feet; in addition to protecting the city from flooding, the barrier system is also intended to stabilize Venice's water levels so as to minimize erosion of the brick walls and, subsequently, the foundations of various buildings in the city. However, concern has been raised regarding the frequency of its use - while only necessary a few days a year, the worst-case sea level rise scenario between 2050 and 2100 would prompt deployment up to 187 days a year, essentially cutting off the Venetian Lagoon from the Adriatic Sea. Among other possible adverse effects, this can be expected to lower the lagoon's oxygen levels and trap pollution inside of the city.


Geophysical and geological information indicate that the Adriatic Sea and the are associated with a —identified as the —that separated from the during the . This separation began in the and , when began to be deposited in the area. Between the and , the and s formed as a thick series of carbonate sediments (s and limestones), up to deep. Remnants of the former are found in the Adriatic Sea, as well as in the southern and the , and remnants of the latter are seen as the and the mountain. In the and early , the plate moved north and north-east, contributing to the (along with the and s' movements) via the of the Dinarides and Alps. In the , the motion was reversed and the took place. An unbroken zone of increased seismic activity borders the Adriatic Sea, with a belt of s 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 has been identified to the northwest of Dubrovnik, adding to the n 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 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 and western is gradually subsiding, having sunk about in the past two thousand years. In the Middle Adriatic Basin, there is evidence of volcanism in the area of on the island of and the volcanic islands of and . Earthquakes have been observed in the region since the earliest historical records. A recent strong earthquake in the region was the , measuring 7.0 on the . in the area include the 1627 Gargano peninsula and the earthquakes, both followed by strong tsunamis. In the last 600 years, fifteen tsunamis have occurred in the Adriatic Sea.

Seafloor sediment

All types of s 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 . There are five units in the Adriatic: the Northern Adriatic (up to deep); the North Adriatic islands area protected against sediments filling it in by outer islands (pre- 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 and the Southern Adriatic Depression. Sediments deposited in the Adriatic Sea today generally come from the northwest coast, being carried by the Po, , , , , and Soča rivers. The volume of sediments carried from the eastern shore by the , , Krka, , , , , and rivers is negligible, because these sediments are mostly deposited at the river mouths. The Adriatic's western shores are largely either or , 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 Oligocene and the , when were exposed to atmospheric effects; this extended to the level of below the present sea level, exposed during the . It is estimated that some karst formations are from earlier sea level drops, most notably the . Similarly, karst developed in from the Apulian Carbonate Platform. The largest part of the eastern coast consists of carbonate rocks, while (a particular type of sedimentary rock) is significantly represented in the Gulf of Trieste coast, especially along Slovenia's coast where the —the highest cliff on the entire Adriatic and the only one of its type on the eastern Adriatic coast—is located, on the 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 s occurring in the , at the Adriatic's north-west coast, and as far west as , dating to the 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 (expanding/extending). The rate of coastal zone progradation between 1000 BC and 1200 AD was per year. In the 12th century, the delta advanced at a rate of 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 of the Po have been prograding at rates of per year or more since then. There are more than 20 other rivers flowing into the Adriatic Sea in Italy alone, also forming alluvial coastlines, including the lagoons of , and . There are smaller eastern Adriatic alluvial coasts—in the deltas of the Dragonja, and Neretva rivers.

Biogeography and ecology

The Adriatic Sea is a unique water body in respect of its overall 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 the Palagruža Sill and North Adriatic adds no more than 3 – 4% of water to the South Adriatic. This is reflected in its and , and particularly in the composition and properties of its s. Its main biogeographic units are the Northern Adriatic, the Central Adriatic, and the Southern Adriatic.

Flora and fauna

The unique nature of the Adriatic gives rise to an abundance of flora and fauna. The Croatian National Biodiversity Strategy 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 , and . Four out of five Mediterranean species are found in the Adriatic Sea. The most common species are ' and ', while ' and ' are comparatively rare. A number of and 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 is frequent in the eastern coast's waters only, and the Croatian coast provides refuge for the critically endangered and sea turtles. Recent studies revealed that s and other marine s, that were once thought to be vagrants to Adriatic Sea, migrate and live in the semi-closed sea on larger scales.D. Holcer D.. Fortuna M.C.. Mackelworth C. P.. 2014
Status and Conservation of Cetaceans in the Adriatic Sea
(pdf). . Mediterranean Action Plan. Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas. Retrieved on 4 September 2017
Largest of these live normally is the , and , the largest of toothed whales also migrate but less common than fin whales, followed by s. s and s are some of migrant species to the sea. Historical presences of depleted or extinct species such as s (extinct or functionally extinct), (extinct), and s have been speculated as well. Tuna has been caught by the locals in the upper Adriatic for thousands of years. The very large schools consisted mainly of and moved as far as the . However, increasing fishing prevented the migration of large schools of fish to the north. The last major tuna catch was made there in 1954 by the fishermen from Santa Croce, Contovello and . 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 morphology of the coastal or submarine topography; this includes inhabiting subterranean habitats, karst rivers, and areas around freshwater springs. There are 45 known 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 , and escape from .

Protected areas

The biodiversity of the Adriatic is relatively high, and several s have been established by countries along its coasts. In Italy, these are in the Gulf of Trieste (in the Northern Adriatic), and in the Middle Adriatic basin and in southern Apulia. The Miramare protected area was established in 1986 and covers of coast and of sea. The area encompasses of coastline near the Miramare promontory in the Gulf of Trieste. The Torre del Cerrano protected area was created in 2009, extending into the sea and along of coastline. Various zones of the protected area cover of sea surface. The Isole Tremiti reserve has been protected since 1989, while the Tremiti islands themselves are part of the . The Torre Guaceto protected area, located near and , covers a sea surface of and is adjacent to the Torre Guaceto State Reserve covering of coast and sharing an coastline with the marine protected area. Furthermore, there are 10 in Italy located along the Adriatic coast. There are seven marine protected areas in Croatia: and the off the Istria peninsula's coast, near and respectively; and in the Middle Adriatic basin, near ; and , ( hr, Malostonski zaljev) and in southern Dalmatia. The Brijuni encompasses the archipelago itself and of surrounding sea; it became a national park in 1999. The Lim Canal is a of the river. The Kornati national park was established in 1980; it covers approximately , including 89 islands and islets. The marine environment encompasses three-quarters of the total area, while the island shores' combined length equals . Telašćica is a nature park established on in 1988. The park covers of coastline, of land and of sea. The Bay of Mali Ston is located at the border of Croatia and Bosnia–Herzegovina, north of the peninsula. The marine protected area covers . The Lastovo nature park was established in 2006, and it includes 44 islands and islets, of land and of sea surface. The Mljet national park was established in 1960, covering a marine protection area. In addition, there is a Ramsar wetland reserve in Croatia—the . In Slovenia, the marine and coastal protected nature areas are the , , , and the , and natural monuments. The Sečovlje Salina Landscape Park was established in 1990, covers , and includes four s. In 1993, the area was designated a Ramsar site; it is also a site of international importance for species. The Strunjan Landscape Park was established in 2004 and comprises two nature reserves. It includes a long cliff, the northernmost Mediterranean and the only Slovenian 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 . The Debeli Rtič natural monument covers , the Cape Madona natural monument covers , and the Lakes in Fiesa natural monument, with the coastal lake as the only in Slovenia, covers . In 2010, Albania established its first marine protection area, the at the where the Adriatic and Ionian Seas meet. The park covers a total of . Two additional marine protection areas are planned in Albania: the ( sq, Kepi i Rodonit) and . In addition, Albania is home to two Ramsar wetland reserves: , and . Neither Bosnia–Herzegovina nor Montenegro have or plan to establish any marine protection areas.


The Adriatic 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 . 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 by ships, especially . 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 terminal in the , 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 tourism. 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 is associated with the large industrial centres in the Po River valley and the large industrial cities along the coast. Italy and Yugoslavia established a joint commission to protect the Adriatic Sea from pollution in 1977; the organization later changed with Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro replacing Yugoslavia. Future pollution hazards are addressed and pollution hotspots are assessed not only by nations in the basin but also through regional projects with support. 27 such hotspots have been determined as of 2011, 6 warranting an urgent response.


Settlements along the Adriatic dating to between 6100 and 5900 BC appear in Albania and Dalmatia on the eastern coast, related to the culture. During classical antiquity, ns inhabited the eastern Adriatic coast, and the western coast was inhabited by the , mainly Etruscans, before the 's rise. colonisation of the Adriatic dates back to the 7th and 6th centuries BC when and were founded. The Greeks soon expanded further north establishing several cities, including , , and Ancona, with trade established as far north as the River delta, where the (trading station) of was founded.

Roman era

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 ), which was established to bar ships from the Adriatic during the . This led to conflict with the , who lived in a collection of semi- kingdoms that covered much of the Balkans and controlled the eastern shore of the sea, resulting in the 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 the 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 's general put down the , a bitter struggle waged from 6 to 9 AD. Following the repression of the revolt the Roman province of was split into and . Most of the eastern shore of the Adriatic was part of Dalmatia, except for the southernmost portion, part of the province of , and the peninsula of on the northern part of the eastern shore; Istria contained the important Roman colony at and was incorporated into the province of . During the Roman period, Brundisium, on the western shore, and Apollonia and Dyrrachium (originally called Epidamnos, now in Albania) on the eastern shore became important ports. Brundisium was linked by the road to the city of Rome, and Dyrrachium and Apollonia were both on the , a road that by about 130 BC the Romans had extended eastward across the Balkans to Byzantium (later , now ). 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 movements, between 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 the start of the . used it during the . During , there was a three-month delay in Balkan campaign against caused when winter storms on the Adriatic and a naval blockade held up from reaching him from Brundisium with reinforcements; after the reinforcements finally arrived Caesar made an unsuccessful 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, and , that culminated in the . 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 . During the reign of Augustus it became a major naval base as part of his program to re-organize the Roman navy to better protect commerce in the Mediterranean. During the 4th century AD the emperors of the had moved their official residence north from Rome to (now ) 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 shifted to 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 of Italy.

Middle Ages

In the , after the , the Adriatic's coasts were ruled by , and the . The Ostrogothic Kingdom ruled Italy following the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD. However, during the reign of the Byzantine Empire sent an army under the general to regain control of Italy, resulting in the . The Byzantines established the and 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 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 and then the , which controlled the Adriatic Sea's western coast, while on the east coast gradually shrunk following the and invasions starting in the 7th century. The 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 's control over the Kingdom of Italy (which would last until the in 1648), the establishment of an independent and the Byzantine Empire's return to the southern Apennine peninsula. In addition, the were carved out in the area around and central Italy in the 8th century. The in the Adriatic Sea basin saw further territorial changes, including the ending the Byzantine presence on the Apennine peninsula in the 11th and 12th centuries (the territory would become the in 1282) and the control of a substantial part of the eastern Adriatic coast by the after a was established between Croatia and Hungary in 1102. In this period, the Republic of Venice began to expand its territory and influence. In 1202, the was diverted to conquer at the behest of the Venetians—the first instance of a attacking a city—before proceeding to sack . In the 13th century, Venice established itself as a leading . During much of the 12th and 13th centuries, Venice and the were culminating in the , ousting the Genoese from the Adriatic. Still, the 1381 Treaty of Turin that ended the war required Venice to renounce claims to Dalmatia, after losing the territory to Hungary in 1358. In the same year, the was established in Dubrovnik as a city-state after it was freed from Venetian suzerainty. Venice regained 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 's expansion that reached Adriatic shores in present-day Albania and Montenegro as well as the immediate hinterland of the Dalmatian coast, defeating the Hungarian and Croatian armies at in 1493 and in 1526. These defeats spelled the end of an independent Hungarian kingdom, and both and nobility chose of the as their new ruler, bringing the to the shore of the Adriatic Sea, where it would remain for nearly four hundred years. The Ottomans and Venetians fought a , 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 the in October 1571.

Early modern period

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 , was already lost to the Papal States. The 17th century's final territorial changes were caused by the , when in 1699 Venice slightly enlarged its possessions in Dalmatia. In 1797, the Republic of Venice was abolished after the . The Venetian territory was then handed over to and briefly ruled as part of the . The territory was turned back over to France after the in 1805 when the territory in the became an integral part of the new . The new kingdom included the province of , thus removing the Papal State from the Adriatic coast; however, Trieste, Istria and Dalmatia were joined into a set of separate provinces of the : the . These were created in 1809 through the ; they represented the end of Venetian rule on the eastern Adriatic coast, as well as the end of the Republic of Ragusa. The Adriatic Sea was a minor in the Napoleonic Wars; the involved the 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 . The campaign reached its climax in the 1811 , and ended with British and troops seizing the coastal cities on the eastern Adriatic coast from the French. Days before the Battle of Waterloo, the awarded the Illyrian Provinces (spanning from the Gulf of to the ) to Austria. The Congress of Vienna also created the 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 was formed in 1816 by unifying the kingdoms of Naples and .

Modern period

The process of culminated in the , resulting in the annexing all territories along the western Adriatic coast south of in 1860, and the 1861 establishment of the in its place. The Kingdom of Italy expanded in 1866: it , but was defeated in the Adriatic near . Following the and the of 1868, the control of much of the eastern Adriatic coast was redefined. The n (Austrian) part of Austria-Hungary spanned from the to the Bay of Kotor, with the exception of the mainland. In the territory outside the Austrian Littoral, was given to (modern-day ) as a separate part of the . The rest of the territory was made a part of the , which in turn was also in the n part of the dual monarchy. The Adriatic coastline controlled by the Ottoman Empire was reduced by the in 1878, through recognition of the independence of the , which controlled the coast south of the Bay of Kotor to the Bojana River. The Ottoman Empire lost all territories along the Adriatic following the and consequent that established an independent Albania. The was largely limited to blockade attempts by the and the of the to thwart the British, French and Italian moves. Italy joined the Allies in April 1915 with the , which promised Italy the Austrian Littoral, northern Dalmatia, the , most of the eastern Adriatic islands and Albania as a . 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 , giving the latter access to the Adriatic. Another short-lived, unrecognised state established in 1918 was the , 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 Slovenes, Croats and Serbs formed the —subsequently renamed Yugoslavia. The proponents of the new union in the saw the move as a safeguard against Italian expansionism as stipulated in the Treaty of London. The treaty was largely disregarded by Britain and because of conflicting promises made to Serbia and a perceived lack of Italian contribution to the war effort outside Italy itself. The 1919 did transfer the Austrian Littoral and Istria to Italy but awarded Dalmatia to Yugoslavia. Following the war, a of demobilized Italian soldiers seized Rijeka and set up the —seen as a harbinger of —in order to force the recognition of Italian claims to the city. After sixteen months of the Regency's existence, the redefined the Italian–Yugoslav borders, among other things transferring Zadar and the islands of Cres, Lastovo and to Italy, securing the island of Krk for Yugoslavia and establishing the ; this new state was abolished in 1924 by the that awarded Fiume (modern Rijeka) to Italy and to Yugoslavia.

Late 20th century

During , the Adriatic saw only , starting with the and the joint . The latter led to the annexation of a large part of Dalmatia and nearly all the eastern Adriatic islands by Italy and the establishment of two s, the and the , which controlled the remainder of the former Yugoslav Adriatic coast. In 1947, after the and the war's end, Italy (now a ) and the signed the . The treaty reversed all wartime annexations, guaranteed the independence of Albania, created the (FTT) as a city-state, and gave most of the , as well as Istria, the islands of Cres, Lastovo and 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 . During the , the Adriatic Sea became the southernmost flank of the as Italy joined , while the established bases in Albania. After the , : and declared independence in 1991, and Bosnia–Herzegovina followed in 1992, while Montenegro remained in a federation with Serbia, officially called . The ensuing included limited naval engagements and a blockade of Croatia's coast by the , leading to the 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 several NATO operations, including the , and the .


Italy and 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 and consists of 43 points connected by straight lines or circular . 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 with the Albanian continental shelf border, which remains undefined. Before the breakup of Yugoslavia, Albania, Italy and Yugoslavia initially proclaimed , subsequently reduced to international-standard and all sides adopted systems (mostly in the 1970s). Albania and Italy determined their sea border in 1992 according to the . Following , the Adriatic became an of the EU. The defines the Adriatic Sea as an enclosed or semi-enclosed sea.

Adriatic Euroregion

The was established in Pula in 2006 to promote trans-regional and trans-national cooperation in the Adriatic Sea area and serve as an Adriatic framework to help resolve issues of regional importance. The Adriatic Euroregion consists of 23 members: the Apulia, , , , , Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions of Italy; the municipality of Izola in Slovenia; the , , , , , and counties of Croatia; the of Bosnia–Herzegovina; the municipalities of and in Montenegro; the , , , , and counties of Albania; and the Greek prefectures of and .


The former Yugoslav republics' land borders were decided by demarcation commissions implementing the 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 Albania and Montenegro was not defined before the 1990s. Croatia and Slovenia started negotiations to define maritime borders in the 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 was initially suspended pending resolution of its . These disputes with Slovenia were eventually settled with an agreement to accept the decision of an commission set up via the , 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 Croatia was formally settled in 1999, but a few issues are still in dispute—the and two islets in the border area. The Croatia–Montenegro maritime boundary is disputed in the Bay of Kotor, at the peninsula. This dispute was exacerbated by the peninsula's occupation by the and later by the (Serbian–Montenegrin) , which in turn was replaced by a 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.



The Adriatic Sea '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 . 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 . Overexploited species include , , , , , , , , , as well as , and s. s and s are also being killed by fishing nets. The depleted fish stock, and Croatia's (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 2013, when , 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 . 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 , including (which comprises 40% of the total fisheries production). The total fisheries output's gross value in 2002 was $1.9 billion. In 2007, Croatia's production in live weight reached . In 2006, the total Croatian fisheries production volume was of catch and from marine aquaculture. Croatian fisheries employed approximately 20,000. The 2006 marine capture catch in Croatian waters consisted of s (44.8%),  (31.3%), s (2.7%), other  (4.8%),  (2.4%),  (2.1%), other  (8.3%), s (largely and ') (0.8%), (largely s and s) (0.3%),  (0.6%), s (0.2%) and es and other s (1.6%). Croatian marine aquaculture production consisted of tuna (47.2%), oysters and mussels (28.2% combined) and and  (24.6% combined). In 2007, Albanian fisheries production amounted to , including aquaculture production, which reached in 2006. At the same time, Slovenian fisheries produced a total of with 55% of the production volume originating in aquaculture, representing the highest ratio in the Adriatic. Finally, the Montenegrin fisheries production stood at in 2006, with only 11 tonnes coming from aquaculture. In 2007, the fisheries production in Bosnia–Herzegovina reached volume of and 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 the Emilia-Romagna region and by the . The Croatian tourist facilities are further augmented by 21,000 nautical ports and ; are attracted to various types of marine . All countries along the Adriatic coast, except Albania and Bosnia–Herzegovina, take part in the certification programme (of the ), for beaches and s 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 Croatia and 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 Montenegrin GDP. Tourism in Adriatic Croatia has recently exhibited greater growth than in the other regions around the Adriatic. File:Beach of Rimini (14-07-2012).jpg, is a major seaside tourist resort in Italy File:Triestebarcolana.jpg, The in , Italy, was named "the greatest sailing race" by the for its 2,689 boats and over 16,000 sailors on the starting line. File:Ulcinj, Montenegro - Sept. 2010.jpg, View of , Montenegro File:Golden Cape.jpg, The (Golden Cape) on the island of File:Split center from the air 1.jpg, The in File:NeumCoastBH.jpg, The coast of , the only town to be situated along Bosnia and Herzegovina's of coastline File:Palace Hotel Portoroz.JPG, is the largest seaside tourist centre in Slovenia


There are nineteen Adriatic Sea ports (in four different countries) that each handles more than a million tonnes of cargo per year. The largest cargo ports among them are the (the largest Adriatic cargo port in Italy), the Port of Venice, the , the (the largest Slovenian port), the (the largest Croatian cargo port), and the . The largest passenger ports in the Adriatic are the (the largest Croatian passenger port) and ports in (the largest Italian passenger seaport in the Adriatic). The largest seaport in Montenegro is the . In 2010, the Northern Adriatic seaports of Trieste, Venice, Ravenna, Koper and Rijeka founded the to position themselves more favourably in the EU's transport systems. The port of Trieste is of particular importance for Central Europe because this is where the begins, supplying 100 percent of southern Germany, 90 percent of Austria and 50 percent of the Czech Republic with crude oil.

Oil and gas

is produced through several projects, including a joint venture of the and 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,Ianniello, A., Bolelli, W., and Di Scala, L., 1992, Barbara Field, Adriatic Sea, Offshore Italy, In Giant Oil and Gas Fields of the Decade, 1978–1988, AAPG Memoir 54, Halbouty, M.T., editor, Tulsa: American Association of Petroleum Geologists, but their development commenced in 1996. In 2008, INA produced 14.58 million 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 in the Adriatic Sea to hold at least of natural gas, adding that they may even reach . INA estimates, however, are 50% lower than those supplied by Eni. Oil was discovered in the Northern Adriatic at a depth of approximately ; the discovery was assessed as not viable because of its location, depth and quality. These gas and oil reserves are part of the Province of Northern Italy and 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 of and 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 . Montenegro is also expected to look for oil off its coast. As of January 2012, only 200 s had been sunk off the Croatian coast, with all but 30 in the Northern Adriatic basin.


File:Durres harbor from the sea.jpg, , the largest port in Albania File:Luka brajdica 040408.jpg, , the largest cargo port in Croatia File:Koper (39).jpg, , the largest port in File:Triest Port1.JPG, , the largest cargo port in the Adriatic File:The port of Bar, view from Vrsuta mnt (39372956332).jpg, , the largest seaport in Montenegro File:Porto_ancona.jpg, Port of , a large passenger port

See also

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External links

Region 5 – Western Africa, Mediterranean, Black Sea Nautical Charts
from the
Nautical Chart 54131 (Adriatic Sea)
from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
the seashore of our posterity
nbsp;– video recording of Albanian, Croatian, and Montenegrin coasts {{good article Bodies of water of the Slovene Littoral