An extension of the Mediterranean Sea, the Adriatic Sea lies between the Italian and Balkan Peninsulas. While the western coast of the body of water is entirely Italian territory, its eastern coast is shared by Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Albania.
The maximum length of the Adriatic Sea is about 478 miles. The northern Adriatic is shallow. Between Istria and Rimini, the body of water is only about 150 feet at its deepest. However, between Ortona and Šibenik, the Adriatic Sea exceeds 500 feet in depth. South of Dubrovnik and west of Durrës is a large basin that is more than 3,000 feet deep. To the south of this basin is a small basin that is almost 5,000 feet deep. The average depth of the Adriatic is almost 800 feet.
Adriatic Sea Prehistory
The Adriatic Sea was not a hindrance to the expansion of prehistoric cultures in southeastern Europe. The coasts on both sides of the body of water have more in common than the hinterlands, leading archaeologists to conclude that there was considerable human activity in the Adriatic Sea before written history. The earliest trace of navigation in the Adriatic is dated to the period following the Glacial period, approximately 10,000 years ago. Global warming caused the sea level to rise by about a hundred yards. The earliest sailors of the Mediterranean traveled between Apulia and Dalmatia. Although it is not clear how the ancient sailors navigated the sea, it is established that they mainly traveled in search of spouses, raw materials and technology exchange.
Quick Facts about the Adriatic Sea
- The countries with coasts on the Adriatic are Italy, Croatia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Slovenia.
- The prevailing currents flow counterclockwise from the Strait of Otranto, along the eastern coast and back to the strait along the western (Italian) coast.
- 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 Adriatic Sea sits on the Apulian or Adriatic Microplate, which separated from the African Plate in the Mesozoic era.
- Following World War I and the collapse of Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, the eastern coast’s control passed to Yugoslavia and Albania.
- 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 Slovenian, Croatian, Bosnian–Herzegovinian and Montenegrin waters are still disputed.
- The Adriatic Sea drainage basin encompasses 91,000 sq mi, yielding a land–sea ratio of 1.8.
- The Adriatic Sea contains more than 1300 islands and islets, most along the Adriatic’s eastern coast—especially in Croatia, with 1,246 counted.
- The coast’s ruggedness is exacerbated by the Dinaric Alps’ proximity to the coast, in contrast to the opposite (Italian) coast where the Apennine Mountains are further away from the shoreline.
- 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.