Area: 56,542 km2, with an additional 31,067 km2 of territorial waters.
Capital: Zagreb (779.145 inhabitants - the administrative, cultural, academic and communication centre of the country).
Length of coast: 5,835 km - including 4,058 km of island, islet and reef coastline.
Number of islands, islets and reefs: 1,185. The largest islands are those of Krk and Cres. There are 67 inhabited islands.
Climate: Northern Croatia has a continental climate; Central Croatia has a semi-highland and highland climate, while the Croatian coast has a Mediterranean climate. Winter temperatures range from -1 to 30°C in the continental region, -5 to 0°C in the mountain region and 5 to 10°C in the coastal region. Summer temperatures range from 22 to 26°C in the continental region, 15 to 20°C in the mountain region and 26 to 30°C in the coastal region.
Population: The majority of the population are Croats. National minorities include Serbs, Moslems, Slovenes, Italians, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, and others.
Official language and alphabet: Croatian language and Latin alphabet.
Religions: The majority of the population are Roman Catholics, and in addition there are a number of those of Orthodox faith, as well as Muslims, and Christians of other denominations.
The Adriatic sea got its name from an ancient port of the same name. The Adriatic spans from the Balkan to the Apennine peninsula.
The part belonging to the Republic of Croatia is the east coast which extends all the way from Prevlaka in the south to cape Savudrija in the west, including all islands, islets and cliffs along the coast, and the archipelago of Palagruza (the number of islands, islets and cliffs is more than 1700). This is a unique area in Europe for cruising with motor boats, speedboats, or sailboats, but also for enjoying the underwater world.
Hydro & Oceanographic Data
Depths The shallowest part of our sea is in Istria, where the depth does not exceed 50 metres. From Pula, the seabed mildly drops, making a long, narrow valley which extends from Zirje towards Italy which is called Jabucka kotlina. The biggest depth there is about 240 metres. From Jabucka kotlina, the bottom rises to Palagruza reef where the biggest depth is 130 metres. Towards the south, the bottom drops steeply towards the Juznojadranska dolina, where the biggest measured depth is about 1,300 metres.
Seabed The appearance of the underwater relief is the consequence of tectonic movements, abrasion or erosion which were active several million years ago, in times when certain parts of the seabed were land or the coastal area. Uneven areas on the bottom are constantly reduced by sedimentation of detritus from the land. That process is slow, but constant.
Tides In the Adriatic, the high and low tides have relatively small amplitudes. In the southern part, the difference is rarely above some forty centimetres, while in the northern part it is somewhat bigger, so that it comes to 1 metre in Istria and the Gulf of Trieste. In some narrow channels and bays, the high tide can grow considerably during a strong sirocco. That phenomenon is characteristic for big and deep bays of the southern Adriatic. The tides are of a mixed type, which means that their rhythm is semidiurnal during the new and full moon, and of a daily type during the first and the last quarter. Their amplitudes are very irregular.
Sea Currents Sea currents occur under the influence of winds, the difference in pressure, temperature, and the differences in salinity. With respect to the direction, they can be horizontal or vertical. There are also bottom currents which appear as the consequence of moving of water from warmer areas to colder ones, during which the surface layer gets cold and descends towards the seabed. Currents are weakly observable in the Adriatic.The speed of currents changes in particular areas, but it also depends on time periods. The average speed of currents is about 0.5 knots, but they can also reach the speed of 4 knots.
Salinity of Sea The total quantity of salt dissolved in one kilogram of sea water is called salinity, which is usually expressed in grams and as the permillage. The salinity of the Adriatic Sea is 38.30 per mill averagely, i.e. there is 38.30 g of salt dissolved in 1 kg of water. In the northern part, the salinity is somewhat lower than in the middle and southern part because of the influence of the Po River.
Sea Temperature The Adriatic Sea has a very marked annual change of the surface temperature. The average annual temperature is 11°C. During the winter, the sea is the coldest and the surface temperature is about 7°C; very seldom, it can drop below that too. In the spring, the sea becomes warmer, and the surface temperature rises to 18°C. In the summer the surface of the sea reaches a very high temperature, of up to 22 to 25°C, and in the southern Adriatic and Istria up to 27°C. In the Adriatic, thermoclines, i.e. parts of the water column of the same temperature, are very well distinguished. The thermocline is most evident during the summer, and, in the winter, the isothermal process arises, i.e. equaling of the temperature throughout the water column. In the summer, we can notice the first thermocline at the depth of 3 to 5 metres, the next one is at about 12 metres, and yet another one at 18 metres, while below 30 metres the temperature is mostly constant throughout the year.
Waves in the Adriatic Waves occur primarily as the consequence of the blowing of winds. The bigger the reach, i.e. the surface across which the wind blows, the higher the waves will be. Their strength depends on the configuration and the exposure of the coast. In that way, mixing of the surface layer with water from the deep is enabled, and the interaction between the atmosphere and the sea. We distinguish the crest and the trough of a wave. The length of the wave is the distance between two troughs. Most often, heights of waves in the Adriatic are between 0.5 and 1.5 metres, and they very rarely exceed 5 metres.
Climate The climate at the Adriatic is typically a Mediterranean one, with mild rainy winters, and hot and dry summers. The air temperature changes depending on the area. Thus, summer temperatures in July will be about 34°C in the northern part, while in the southern part they will rise even to 38°C. In the winter, the coldest temperatures are noticed in the northern Adriatic (up to -16°C), while they will not have exceeded 6°C in the southern part.
Winds At the Adriatic Sea, the bora, sirocco and north-western wind blow most often.
Bora Bora (Cro.: bura) is a dry, cold downward wind blowing in bursts from the north-northeast to the east-northeast direction. The direction in which the wind blows is mostly influenced by the configuration of the shore. The strength of bora is explained by the existence of warm air over the surface of the sea, and a cold layer of air above mountain ranges in the littoral, which cause a strong streaming due to equating of the pressure. Cold air tends to fill the void which occurs due to the rising of the warm (lighter) air from the sea surface. Bora blows mostly in the winter. In the summer, it usually lasts for a day or several hours, while, in the winter, it can blow as long as 14 days.
Sirocco Sirocco (Cro.: jugo, siroko or silok) is a warm and moist wind which blows from the direction east-southeast to south-southwest. Its consequences are high waves and rain. Sirocco is a characteristic wind for the southern Adriatic, where it blows longer and stronger than in the northern part. In the summer, it usually blows as long as 3 days, and in the winter even as long as 3 weeks. The signs of the oncoming sirocco are the calm at the sea, weak changeable winds, dimness of the horizon, the increase of the temperature and moisture, and the gradual decrease of the pressure. Waves from the direction of the southeast become bigger.
Landward Breeze The landward breeze (Cro.: maestral, maestral, smorac) is a daily, thermic wind blowing from the direction of the northwest, and it occurs as the consequence of the difference in the speed of warming up of the land and the sea. It is present from the spring to the autumn, and, during the day, it often changes the direction of blowing. The landward breeze is more present in the southern Adriatic than in the northern Adriatic, and it starts to blow earlier there.
Stiff Breeze The stiff breeze (Cro.: burin) is a wind blowing contrary to the landward breeze. It blows during the night from the direction of the north, north-east in the northern Adriatic, and in the southern Adriatic, from the east or south-east. It is the strongest before the dawn, and after that it stops soon.
Data About Weather Weather forecasts are made by the State Hydrometeorological Institute, and they can be heard on VHF frequencies of coastal radio stations and harbor master's offices. They are also broadcast on FM stations or at the end of the news or within broadcasts for seamen. Harbor master's offices constantly send weather reports and warnings on their VHF operating channels, in four languages. It is possible to get forecasts with the presentation of the synoptical situation in all the marinas and harbor offices.
Nautical Radio Service and Communications Service The whole of the Croatian coast is covered by radio communications rather well. The radio service for protection of human lives and safety of navigation is provided by Plovput from Split, through radio stations Split and Dubrovnik, which cover the southern Adriatic, and Rijeka, which covers the northern part of our sea. According to the standards of the GMDSS system (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System), the channel for automated receipt of digitalized distress calls is the channel 70, after which the communication is transferred to the operating channel of the coastal station, i.e. a harbor master's office (16 or 10). GMDSS system has been in use since 1 st February 1999, and on the present VHF channel for distress calls, the channel 16, constant listening will be possible still for some more time. For a direct call to a harbor master's office, the channel 10 is used.
In Croatia, there are three commercial systems of wireless telephony: mobile phone 099, Cronet 098 and VipNet 091.
Preservation of the Adriatic
Aside from the rich cultural heritage, diverse natural resources and attractions characterize the Adriatic. Nature is specially protected according to the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia. The state body with the special task of preserving nature is the Government Board for the preservation of nature.
The coastal region holds a special place, and therefore, there is a systematic policy of the preservation of nature through urban planning and managing of the sustainable development.
The institutes for research of the sea in Rovinj, Split and Dubrovnik carry out continuos biological, ecological and chemical research of the Adriatic. The project for the development of islands was recently introduced and should be an incentive for the development of our islands.
Except for the governmental bodies, there is also a whole range of associations which, through their programs and activities, help to preserve natural resources. Croatian biological and Croatian ecological society carry out and support research projects of the Adriatic and its underwater area.
There is also the project of the Good dolphin research in cooperation with the Tethy Institute from Milan and An Association Mediterranean Monk Seal which examines research of the areas which used to be inhabited by this sea mammal, Group of the friends of nature 'Our Lovely' who also work on the Blue flag project, Green flag and Eco School with the primary task of educating younger generations about ecological matters.
Life in the sea Various animals and plants live in the Adriatic. We can distinguish two types of habitats: the plegic area or the area of the open sea where two big groups of organisms live plankton, that is to say, all organisms floating in the sea, and nektons or real swimmers, all organisms which can actively move around. The group of benthos, or life at the bottom of the sea, includes all organisms, which are constantly or occasionally connected to the sea bottom.
In the water mass between the mentioned areas we can distinguish different belts or steps with different characteristics:
Supralythoral, which is the part, exposed to the spraying of the sea,Mediolythoral which is the area of the high and the low tide. Then comes infralitoral or the area of photophilic algae and, which in the Adriatic expands from the border of the low tide to 30-50 meters, Abyssal which reaches 50 to 200 meters, Hadal or the deep sea area, which extends more than 200 meters in depth.
Abyssal exists only in the southern part of the Adriatic, and in the area of the Jabuka basin, and hadal does not exist in our sea Crabs inhabit the supralythoral area of the Adriatic. Endemic algae, the Adriatic bladder wrack and sea anemone inhabit the mediolythoral area. In the infralythoral area, which is the largest one, many species of algae, corals, and different sorts of fish like sheepshead bream, the predatory yellow fish, ugly frog-fish, gilthead, goby, bamboofish and many others.
The Adriatic eco-destination
The quality of the water in the Adriatic is very well preserved. The results reached through the constant measuring of the quality of water on more than 800 beaches are in accordance with the strictest criteria. Except for the cleanliness of the sea, another important quality of the coastal area is its biological and geographical particular quality, which can be seen in the number of species of plants and animals, and in the high number of endemic species (for example human fish).
In order to protect and preserve such natural wealth, a list of rare and endangered species, the so called Red Book, has been made.
Various projects are carried out in Croatia by government institutions or associations of citizens with the goal of preserving natural and cultural heritage, and its evaluation. One of these projects is The Blue Flag Project, and from the year 2001, the project Green Key also starts with the goal of improving the quality of surroundings in hotels, motels, camps and other facilities.
Another project is Eco habitat Green Laguna in Porec, where the environment is especially taken care of. Green Laguna has its olive groves, orchards, horse stables etc. where tourists can take active part in preserving the environment.
Through the year several days are especially marked in Croatia such as:
* International day for water preservation
* World meteorological day
* Day of the planet earth
* Day of the dolphins
* World day of preserving the environment
* Day of the Sun
Except for the natural, great significance lies on the preservation of cultural heritage, as well. National costumes and customs are preserved. During the summer, in most coastal towns special celebrations are organized in order to show tourists our local traditions, for example, traditional donkey race which is held each year in Tribunje, Moreska - knights, dance on Korcula.
Croatia is also, except for its ecological cleanliness of air and water, an exceptionally safe place where everybody feels pleasant and welcome.