Northern Croatian Littoral

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Northern Croatian Littoral
Sjeverno hrvatsko primorje
Geographic region of Croatiaa
Northern Croatian Littoral on a map of Croatia  Northern Croatian Littoral   Areas normally considered a part of Dalmatia (Southern Croatian Littoral), but also related to the Northern Croatian Littoral
Northern Croatian Littoral on a map of Croatia
  Northern Croatian Littoral   Areas normally considered a part of Dalmatia (Southern Croatian Littoral), but also related to the Northern Croatian Littoral
Country  Croatia
Largest city Rijeka
 • Total 5,958 km2 (2,300 sq mi)
Population (2011)b
 • Total 465,790
 • Density 78/km2 (200/sq mi)

a Northern Croatian Littoral is not designated as an official region, it is a geographic region only.

b The figure is an approximation based on the territorial span and population of the municipalities bounded by Croatia's international borders and geographic regions of Mountainous Croatia and Dalmatia, including the Kvarner Gulf islands.

Northern Croatian Littoral (Croatian: Sjeverno hrvatsko primorje) is a geographical macroregion of Croatia, comprising area between Dalmatia to its south, Mountainous Croatia to the northeast and east, Slovenia to its north and the Adriatic Sea to the west and southwest. The region encompasses entire Istria County and a large part of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, as well as a coastal part of the Lika-Senj County. Islands of Cres, Lošinj, Krk and Rab as well as nearby islets are also considered a part of the region. The term Croatian Littoral developed relatively recently reflecting historical and geographical developments in Croatia. The term is applied to entire Adriatic coast of modern Croatia in general terms, which is then divided into the Southern Croatian Littoral comprising Dalmatia, and the Northern Croatian Littoral comprising Istria and Croatian Littoral in the strict meaning of the term, the latter spanning area between cities of Rijeka and Karlobag and Kvarner Gulf islands.


Northern Croatian Littoral is a geographical macroregion of Croatia,[1] comprising area between Dalmatia to its south, Mountainous Croatia to the northeast and east, Slovenia to its north and the Adriatic Sea to the west and southwest. The region encompasses entire Istria County and a large part of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, as well as a coastal part of the Lika-Senj County. Island of Pag is also sometimes included in the region, although it is normally considered to be a part of Dalmatia.[2] Islands of Cres, Lošinj, Krk and Rab as well as further comparatively small islands surrounding those,[3] are also considered a part of the region, as a part of Croatian Littoral or Kvarner region,[4] parts of the Northern Croatian Littoral along with Croatian part of Istria peninsula. The term Croatian Littoral developed relatively recently, since the 18th and the 19th centuries, reflecting complex development of Croatia in historical and geographical terms. The term Croatian Littoral is also applied to entire Adriatic coast of modern Croatia in general terms, which is then divided into the Southern Croatian Littoral comprising Dalmatia, and the Northern Croatian Littoral comprising Istria and Croatian Littoral in the strict meaning of the term—with the strict meaning of the term pertaining to coast between Rijeka and Velebit foothills near Karlobag and to Kvarner islands.[2]

Croatian Littoral covers 5,958 square kilometres (2,300 square miles), has population of 465,790, and the region as a whole has a population density of 78.179/km2 (202.482/sq mi). Kvarner Gulf islands, encompassing 1,120 square kilometres (430 square miles), are home to 39,450 residents.[5][6] 127,498 people, or more than a quarter of region's population, live in the city of Rijeka—by far the largest urban centre in the area, followed by the city of Pula, the largest urban centre in Istria with population of 57,191. Rovinj is the third largest city in the region, only one beside Rijeka and Pula whose population exceeds 10,000. Other settlements in the region are relatively small—only five other of them exceeding population of 5,000: Poreč, Umag, Labin, Crikvenica and Mali Lošinj. Mali Lošinj is also the largest island settlement in the region.[7]

The most populous urban areas in the Northern Croatian Littoral


Rank City County Urban population Municipal population


1 Rijeka Primorje-Gorski Kotar 127,498 128,735
2 Pula Istria 57,191 57,765
3 Rovinj Istria 12,913 14,367
4 Poreč Istria 9,684 16,696
5 Umag Istria 7,093 13,594
6 Labin Istria 6,884 11,703
7 Crikvenica Primorje-Gorski Kotar 6,880 11,193
8 Mali Lošinj Primorje-Gorski Kotar 5,990 8,070
9 Senj Lika-Senj 4,822 7,165
10 Pazin Istria 4,382 8,630
Source: Croatian Bureau of Statistics, 2011 Census[7]

Topography and geology[edit]

Učka seen from Kvarner Gulf

Karst topography makes up about half of Croatia and is especially prominent in the Dinaric Alps and in turn, the Northern Croatian Littoral.[9] Even though the largest part of soil in region consists of carbonate rock, flysch is significantly represented in central and northern Istria, as well as on the Kvarner Gulf coast opposite Krk.[10] The karst topography developed from the Adriatic Carbonate Platform, where karstification largely began after the final raising of the Dinarides in the Oligocene and Miocene epochs, when carbonate rock was exposed to atmospheric effects such as rain; this extended to 120 metres (390 ft) below the present sea level, exposed during the Last Glacial Maximum's sea level drop. It is estimated that some karst formations are related to earlier drops of sea level, most notably the Messinian salinity crisis.[11]

Foothills of mountains forming the northeast boundary of the region, as well as islands in the Kvarner Gulf, are a part of the Dinaric Alps, linked to a Late Jurassic to recent times fold and thrust belt, itself part of the Alpine orogeny, extending southeast from the southern Alps.[12] Geomorphologically the region is formed as the Adriatic Plate is subducted under structural units comprising the Dinaric Alps. The process formed several seismic faults, most significant among them being Ilirska Bistrica – Rijeka – Senj fault which was the source of several significant earthquakes in past centuries.[13] The Dinaric Alps in Croatia encompass the regions of Gorski Kotar and Lika in immediate hinterland of the Northern Croatian Littoral, as well as considerable parts of Dalmatia, with their northeastern edge running from 1,181-metre (3,875 ft) Žumberak to the Banovina region, along the Sava River,[14] and their westernmost landforms being 1,272-metre (4,173 ft) Ćićarija and 1,396-metre (4,580 ft) Učka mountains in Istria dividing Liburnia from the rest of Istria and marking the westernmost extent of Kvarner Littoral.[15]

Geomorphologically Istria peninsula consists of three distinct units. Mountainous north and northeast area of the peninsula abounds in karst, where exposed limestone pavements and outcrops earned the area name of White Istria. To the southwest of White Istria lies morphologically complex terrain composed of flysch, marl, clay and sandstone foothills, similarly named Grey Istria for prevailing colour of the soil there. Finally, Red Istria encompasses coastal limestone plains covered with terra rossa.[16] Coast of the western Istria is gradually subsiding, having sunk about 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) in the past two thousand years.[17] The process created indented coast with Lim and Raša rias penetrating deep inland and comparably small islands close to the shore, such as Brijuni archipelago.[16]

Cres – Lošinj and Krk – Rab island chains divide the Kvarner Gulf into four distinct areas—Rijeka Bay, Kvarner (sensu stricto), Kvarnerić and Vinodol Channel. The Cres – Lošinj group also includes inhabited islands of Ilovik, Susak, Unije, Vele Srakane, Male Srakane, as well as a larger number of small, uninhabited islands. Zadar Archipelago extends to the southeast of the island group.[18] The Krk – Rab island group includes only uninhabited islands in addition to Krk and Rab, the largest among them Plavnik, Sveti Grgur, Prvić and Goli Otok islands. The Krk – Rab island group is normally thought to represent a single archipelago with the island of Pag—southeast of Rab—and islets surrounding Pag.[19][20]

Data on the populated islands of Northern Croatian Littoral as of March 31, 2001
County Island Population[15] Area[15] Highest point[15] Population
Primorje-Gorski Kotar Krk 17,860 7002405780000000000405.78 km2 (100,270 acres) 7002568000000000000568 m (1,864 ft) 700144000000000000044.0 /km2 (0.178 inhabitants per acre) 45°4′N 14°36′E / 45.067°N 14.600°E / 45.067; 14.600
Rab 9,480 700190840000000000090.84 km2 (22,450 acres) 7002410000000000000410 m (1,350 ft) 7002104400000000000104.4 /km2 (0.422 inhabitants per acre) 44°46′N 14°46′E / 44.767°N 14.767°E / 44.767; 14.767
Lošinj 7,771 700174680000000000074.68 km2 (18,450 acres) 7002589000000000000589 m (1,932 ft) 7002104100000000000104.1 /km2 (0.421 inhabitants per acre) 44°35′N 14°24′E / 44.583°N 14.400°E / 44.583; 14.400
Cres 3,184 7002405780000000000405.78 km2 (100,270 acres) 7002639000000000000639 m (2,096 ft) 70007800000000000007.8 /km2 (0.032 inhabitants per acre) 44°57′N 14°24′E / 44.950°N 14.400°E / 44.950; 14.400
Susak 188 70003800000000000003.8 km2 (940 acres)[21] 700198000000000000098 m (322 ft)[21] 700149500000000000049.5 /km2 (0.200 inhabitants per acre) 44°31′N 14°18′E / 44.517°N 14.300°E / 44.517; 14.300
Ilovik 104 70005200000000000005.2 km2 (1,300 acres)[22] 700192000000000000092 m (302 ft)[22] 700120000000000000020.0 /km2 (0.081 inhabitants per acre) 44°27′N 14°33′E / 44.450°N 14.550°E / 44.450; 14.550
Unije 90 700116920000000000016.92 km2 (4,180 acres) 7002132000000000000132 m (433 ft) 70005300000000000005.3 /km2 (0.021 inhabitants per acre) 44°38′N 14°15′E / 44.633°N 14.250°E / 44.633; 14.250
Vele Srakane 8 70001149999999999991.15 km2 (280 acres)[23] 700159000000000000059 m (194 ft)[23] 70005300000000000005.3 /km2 (0.021 inhabitants per acre) 44°34′47″N 14°18′46″E / 44.57972°N 14.31278°E / 44.57972; 14.31278
Male Srakane 2 69996100000000000000.61 km2 (150 acres)[24] 700140000000000000040 m (130 ft)[25] 70003300000000000003.3 /km2 (0.013 inhabitants per acre) 44°33′50″N 14°19′58″E / 44.56389°N 14.33278°E / 44.56389; 14.33278
Istria Sveti Andrija 1 69991400000000000000.14 km2 (35 acres)[26] ? 70007100000000000007.1 /km2 (0.029 inhabitants per acre) 45°3′33″N 13°37′31″E / 45.05917°N 13.62528°E / 45.05917; 13.62528

Hydrology and climate[edit]

Lake Vrana on the island of Cres

Degree of water abundance varies significantly throughout the region. Istria is abundant with water resources because of impermeable layers of flysch. 53-kilometre (33 mi) Mirna River is the longest watercourse in Istria.[15] Other significant watercourses are Raša, Boljunčica, and Pazinčica.[27] Area between Rijeka and Vinodol contains numerous freshwater springs largely tapped for water supply systems.[28] Water significantly contributed to geomorphology of the area, especially in the Bay of Bakar, a ria located between Rijeka and Kraljevica.[29] At the seaward slopes of Velebit, in areas of Senj and Karlobag, surface watercourses are sparse. They form losing streams flowing to the sea, while springs of lower yields dry up during summer.[30] The most significant watercourse in the Croatian Littoral area is 17.5 kilometres (10.9 miles) long Rječina River,[31] flowing into the Adriatic Sea in the city of Rijeka.[32] Islands of Cres, Krk and Lošinj have significant surface water, used as the primary water supply sources on those islands. The most significant among them is Lake Vrana on the island of Cres, containing 220,000,000 cubic metres (7.8×109 cubic feet) of water.[31] Surface of the freshwater lake is at 16 metres (52 feet) above sea level, while its maximum depth is 74 metres (243 feet).[15] Gulf of Kvarner is an especially significant area in respect of preservation of biodiversity.[33]

Mirna River near Antenal

Kvarner Gulf islands and immediate mainland coastal areas enjoy moderately warm and rainy hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Cfa), although the southern part of the Lošinj Island enjoys Hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Csa) as defined by the Köppen climate classification. Areas of the Northern Croatian Littoral, further away from the coast enjoy moderately warm and rainy oceanic climate (Cfb), similar to the continental climate of most inland regions of Croatia.[34] Mean monthly temperature varies through the region. On the mainland coast it ranges between approximately 6 °C (43 °F) (in January) and 23 to 24 °C (73 to 75 °F) (in July). At higher elevations, in the mountains found along the northern and eastern peripheral areas of the region, they range between −1.2 °C (29.8 °F) (in January) and 16.8 °C (62.2 °F) (in July).[27][35] The lowest air temperature recorded in the region, −24.4 °C (−11.9 °F), was measured at the peak of Učka, on 6 January 1985.[36] Islands of Lošinj, Cres, Krk and Rab receive the most sunshine during a year—with 217 clear days per year on average. Seawater temperatures reach up to 26 °C (79 °F) in summer, or as low as 9 to 11 °C (48 to 52 °F) in winter,[35] with very rare occurrence of ice in small and shallow coves.[27] The predominant winter winds are the bora and sirocco. The bora is significantly conditioned by wind gaps in the Dinaric Alps bringing cold and dry continental air—a point where it reaches peak speeds is Senj, with gusts of up to 180 kilometres per hour (97 kn; 110 mph). The sirocco brings humid and warm air, often carrying Saharan sand causing rain dust.[37]


Uljanik in Pula is the largest Croatian shipyard by operating income

Economy of the Northern Croatian Littoral is largely centered on the city of Rijeka, whose economic impact is felt directly not only in the macroregion, but also in all parts of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County outside the macroregion and a substantial part of the Lika-Senj County.[38] The most significant economic activities in the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County are transport, largely based on activities of the Port of Rijeka, shipbuilding and tourism in the coastal areas representing a part of the Northern Croatian Littoral, and forestry and wood processing industry in the Gorski Kotar region in the hinterland.[39] In the city of Rijeka itself, the most significant economic activities are civil engineering, wholesale and retail trade, transport and storage services and processing industry.[40] Tourism, wood processing ad agriculture are the predominant economic activities in the Lika-Senj County, where nearly all businesses are small and medium enterprisess.[41] The Istria County has economy based in tourism—hosting more than 30% of all tourists arriving in Croatia and accounting for more than 25% of all tourist overnight stays recorded in the country. Processing industry occupies a prominent position in economic structure of the county, and the most significant part of the sector is shipbuilding. Agriculture in the region is supported by tobacco and food processing industries.[42]

Marinas contribute significantly to the region's tourist industry[43]

In 2010, five companies headquartered in the Northern Croatian Littoral ranked among the top fifty by operating income among Croatian companies. The highest ranked among them was the 10th ranked Uljanik shipyard headquartered in Pula.[44] It is followed by Rijeka-based Plodine supermarket chain,[45] and Euro Petrol petroleum product wholesale and retail company,[46] ranked the 16th and the 22nd in Croatia respectively. TDR, ranked the 32nd, is a tobacco processing company and a part of Adris Group.[47] Both TDR and Adris Group are headquartered in Rovinj.[48] The 50th ranked company in Croatia is Lupoglav-based BINA Istra, developer and operator of the Istrian Y road transport system consisting of the A8 and the A9 motorways.[49][50]

County GDP GDP per capita
million Index
Istria 2,754 6.2 12,810 126.7
Lika-Senj 435 1.0 8,707 96.1
Primorje-Gorski Kotar 3,744 8.4 12,305 121.7
TOTAL: 6,933 15.6 12,478 123.4
Source: Croatian Bureau of Statistics (2008 data)[51]


Port of Rijeka container cargo terminal

Pan-European transport corridor branches Vb runs through the Northern Croatian Littoral. The route encompasses the A6 motorway spanning from the Orehovica interchange—a part of the Rijeka bypass where the A6 and the A7 motorways meet—to the Bosiljevo 2 interchange where the corridor route switches to the A1 motorway before proceeding north to Zagreb and Budapest, Hungary. The corridor also comprises a railway line connecting the Port of Rijeka to Zagreb and further destinations abroad.[52] Other significant road transport routes in the region consist of modern motorways—the A7 and the A9 connecting Rijeka and Pula to Slovenia and the A8 forming a link between the two motorways and providing the central part of the most efficient road route between the two largest cities in the region.[53] Even though Pula has rail service,[54] there is no direct service between Rijeka and Pula—the Istrian peninsula is accessible by rail through Slovenia only.[55]

The Port of Rijeka is the largest port in Croatia, handling the largest portion of the country's imports and exports.[56][57] Its facilities include terminals and other structures in the city and in the area reaching from the Bay of Bakar, where the bulk cargo terminal is located, approximately 13 kilometres (8.1 miles) east of Rijeka, to Bršica to the west of Rijeka, where there is a multi-purpose terminal.[58] The Port of Rijeka also serves passenger and ferry lines operated by Jadrolinija to the nearby islands of Cres, Mali Lošinj, Susak, Ilovik, Unije, Rab and Pag, as well as to Adriatic ports further south, such as Split and Dubrovnik. The line to Split and Dubrovnik also serves the islands of Hvar, Korčula and Mljet.[59][60] There are three international airports in the region—Pula, Rijeka and Lošinj.[61] The Pula Airport is the busiest of the three, followed by the Rijeka Airport.[62]

Pipeline transport infrastructure in the region comprises Jadranski naftovod (JANAF) pipeline connecting the Omišalj oil terminal—a part of the Port of Rijeka—to Sisak and Virje crude oil storage facilities and terminals and to a terminal in Slavonski Brod further east on the Sava River.[63] JANAF also operates a pipeline between the terminal and the INA's Rijeka Refinery.[64]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

  • Fano to the Mouths of the Po including the Entrance to Kvarner #54140
  • Approaches to Gulf of Trieste #54169
  • Kvarner and Adjacent Waters #54180

Coordinates: 45°21′22″N 14°22′32″E / 45.35611°N 14.37556°E / 45.35611; 14.37556