Interesting facts about the Adriatic Sea

adriatic sea

The Adriatic Sea is part of the Mediterranean Sea separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula.

It is the most indented section of the Mediterranean Sea on the continent of Europe.

In the southeast, the Adriatic Sea connects to the Ionian Sea at the 72-kilometre (45 mi) wide Strait of Otranto.

The countries with coasts on the Adriatic are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, GreeceItaly, Montenegro and Slovenia.

adriatic sea map

The Adriatic Sea has an approximate length of 800 kilometers (500 miles), an average width of 160 kilometers (100 miles).

It has a surface area of approximately 138,600 square kilometers (53,500 square miles).

The water volume of the Adriatic Sea is about 35,000 cubic kilometers (8,397 cubic miles).

The maximum depth is 1,233 meters (4,045 feet) and average depth is 252.5 meters (828 feet) below the sea’s surface.


The Otranto Sill, an underwater ridge, is located at the border between the Adriatic and Ionian Seas.

It contains over 1,300 islands, mostly located along its eastern, Croatian, coast.

The Adriatic Sea has shore length of about 3,739 kilometers (2,323 miles).

There are many beautiful beaches on the Adriatic sea coast.

adriatic sea beach

Tidal movements in the Adriatic are slight, although larger amplitudes are known to occur occasionally.

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.

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 drainage basin encompasses 235,000 square kilometers (91,000 square miles).

Eleven major rivers flow into the Adriatic Sea. They are the Reno, Po, Adige, Brenta, Piave, Soča/Isonzo, Zrmanja, Krka, Cetina, Neretva, and the Drin (Drini).

The Adriatic’s shores are populated by more than 3.5 million people; the largest cities are Bari, Venice [photo below], 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; the Roman Empire’s decline in the Early Middle Ages.

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 Venice, the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire.

The Adriatic 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.

adriatic sea napoleonic war

Following Italian unification, the Kingdom of Italy started an eastward expansion that lasted until the 20th century.

The 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.

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.

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. All successor states of former Yugoslavia accepted the agreements.

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 its present shape, it was formed by the rising of the sea level by 96 meters (315 feet) following the last ice age in the Pleistocene period, when valleys and basins were submerged, and the dry land emerged as elongated islands, separated by sea channels.

The unique nature of the Adriatic gives rise to an abundance of endemic flora and fauna.

There are more than 7,000 animal and plant species in the Adriatic Sea.

Fisheries and tourism are significant sources of income all along the Adriatic coast.

The Adriatic Sea fishery’s production is distributed among countries in the basin. 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.

adriatic sea fishing boat

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). 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 Adriatic Sea ports (in four different countries) that each handle more than a million tonnes of cargo per year.

The biodiversity of the Adriatic is relatively high, and several marine protected areas have been established by countries along its coasts.

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 Po River.

In the last 600 years, fifteen tsunamis have occurred in the Adriatic Sea.

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