Geographically speaking, Dalmatia stretches along the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea.
More precisely: in the north Dalmatia begins from the Southern area of the Gulf of Kvarner and it ends in the south at the Bojana River’s mouth, which divides the current Montenegro from Albania.
The eastern part of the region is almost completely bounded from a mountain range of crystalline limestone rock with peaks not exceeding 2000 metres: Velebit and Dynaric Alps.
There’s only one strip of flat land from Zadar to Split with few water courses, some mountainous interruptions and which appears as a dry land, poor of vegetation for the half of its surface.
The other boundary is the Adriatic sea with its blue and deep seabed; the coast is scattered with countless islands and cliffs.
In 1930, in one of his works focused on the other Adriatic side, the academic and eminent geographer Giotto Dainelli noticed that Dalmatia in its administrative Yugoslavian boundaries (Dalmatia, except for Island of Lastovo and Zadar which passed under Italian political control due to the Treaty of Rapallo in 1922, belonged for the most part to Yugoslav Reign) covered a total of 12,835 km2 , of which 10,448 related to continent and 2,387 related to islands; instead in its geophysical whole Dalmatia covered a total of 17,800 km2.
The biggest islands in North Dalmatia are: Cherso (croatian Cres), Veglia (Krk), Arbe (Rab), and Pago (Pag).
In the South Central Dalmatia, Isola Lunga (Dugi Otok), Morter (Murter), Lesina (Hvar), Brazza (Brač), Curzola (Korčula), Lissa (Vis) and Lagosta (Lastovo) are the main islands.
It is indeed necessary to separate from Dalmatia the croatian coast (main town Segna – Senj); through the centuries this part of the coast has had an history, after the fall of Rome, strictly connected to hungarian-croatian events.
Dalmatian coast shares with Istrian coast an indented structure made of calcareous stone; there are numerous bays and coves sometimes very deep: it is natural comparing this landscape to the Scandinavian fjords.
These are the so-called “valloni” or “valli”, among the deepest we mention the fjord at the mouth of river Cherca (Krka) around Sebenico or the one at the picturesque Bay of Kotor.
The long “Canale della Morlacca” (Morlachs channel)is very fascinating and charming;it divides the high and craggy coast dominated by Velebit mountains from the Pag Island’s coast which is rough and stony but very striking.
Hidrography of Dalmatia is of course strictly linked with its geological nature.
Limestones in Dalmatia are very permeable because of the presence of numerous rifts and fissures in their mass.
These typical fissures in the calcareous rock cause a fast absorption of the rains: they don’t remain on the surface but they penetrate underground.
So Dalmatia, like any other carsic region in the eastern side of the Adriatic sea is a peculiar land where surface hidrography is replaced by underground water.
Rivers of some length are very few.
The only river flowing into the sea is Narenta (Neretva), but it has origin in Herzegovinian mountains. The only real dalmatian rivers are only three: Cettina (formerly Tilurius), Zermagna (Tedanius) and Cherca (Titius). All of them have origin in the mountainous hinterland of Sebenico, where the dalmatian inland reaches its widest point.
Dalmatian lakes are scarce, small and with no effluents. Aurana (Vrana) and Imotschi are the most important lakes.
The climate is properly Mediterranean with rare summer rainfall.
Summer is hot and windy; on the coast winter is very temperate in the south central part, colder and rainy in the mountainous inland.
The wind pattern is very different: from spring to autumn north-west winds prevail and mistral alternates with bora (north wind).
In the late autumn, when the northern hinterland cools down more deeply compared to the coast, bora wind dominates blowing fiery blasts, whereas in the most southern part blows scirocco, warm and humid wind coming from South- East.
Snow and icy are very rare along the dalmatian coast.
Thanks to the temperate climate there is the most typical Mediterranean vegetation.
In the islands and on the coast, for a less than 10 kilometres width, stretches the characteristic Mediterranean scrub, which is brushwood, sometimes thick sometimes fractioned with evergreen shrubs, heather, rosemary, sage, myrtle and juniper bushes, oleanders and pomegranate trees.
It is easy to find little pinewood, together with cypresses and holm oaks.
In the mountainous areas spread oak and beech (fagus selvatica) woods.
The most useful cultivation are olive tree, vines, fruit plants such as peach, fig, carob and marasco cherry trees: this last species, very similar to visciola cherry,gives “marasche”, small cherries with a sour tasty flesh.
After this short mentioning to these natural and geophisycal characteristics of Dalmatia it will be clear that this land has considerable similarities to many regions of southern Italy like Puglia or Sardinia.