How did Croatia obtain its long Coastline?

21st April 2016

Royal Clipper

Anyone fortunate enough to have experienced the Adriatic Sea will know about its stunning coastlines, which are shared between Italy, Slovenia and the Balkan nations. Star Clippers operate many Eastern Mediterranean itineraries that can take you to some of the most stunning port towns and cities in the world.

Upon looking at a map of this region, however, one thing soon becomes apparent. Croatia has one of the longest coastlines in the Mediterranean, covering an area of over 3,600 miles. Contrastingly, the neighbouring nations of Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have almost no coastline whatsoever. Slovenia’s coastline, located north of Croatia, covers an area of 29 miles, whilst Bosnia and Herzegovina’s coastline covers a mere 12 miles.

For the most part, Bosnia and Slovenia’s respective coastlines can be accounted for by an unfortunate history and a lack of fixed borders. Over the course of history, the borders of the Balkan nations have changed considerably.

Bosnia and Herzegovina was ruled by the Ottoman Empire between 1463 and 1878, which had a huge impact on the nation’s culture and architecture. During the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire made advances into Croatia, until the 1593 Battle of Sisak, which is labelled as the first Ottoman defeat and brought a sense of stability to the borders.

It is worth noting at this point that western Bosnia was also part of Croatia at this point, but was subsequently lost to the Ottoman Empire during the Great Turkish War (1667-1698). Despite this, Croatia was able to regain its northeasternmost region of Slavonia. Much of Croatia’s borders with Bosnia were shaped during this period, whilst Dalmatia (now Southern Croatia) was determined by the Fifth and Seventh Ottoman-Venetian Wars.

Bosnia did, however, obtain a small portion of the dominantly Croatian coastline – which is held by the town of Neum. This came about after Napoleon set his sights on the stunning walled city of Dubrovnik, which surrendered to his forces in 1806.

Dubrovnik

This resulted in the Republic of Dubrovnik (which was known as Ragusa) sharing an unfavourable border with Venice. A small section of land was subsequently sold to the Ottomans to provide protection for Dubrovnik and, to this day, it remains the only section of Bosnian coastline.

Slovenia’s lack of coastline can be accounted for by the region of Istria, which exchanged hands between the Venetian Empire, Napoleon and Austrian Empire before becoming part of Yugoslavia. In fact, the main reasoning behind all of Croatia’s borders can be accounted for by Yugoslavia, which was split into respective republics based on historical borders even before its breakup in 1991.

These borders were never amended prior to 2013 when Croatia joined the European Union, and today border controls remain stricter than ever before. However, there is an ongoing dispute between Slovenia and Croatia over the Gulf of Piran – a body of water which Croatia claims extends in a north-west direction out of the northernmost area of coastline; whilst Slovenia claims it extends in a western direction from the southernmost point of their coastline.


Guests embarking on selected Eastern Mediterranean itineraries will be able to experience a variety of stunning Croatian islands and coastline destinations. Sailing on board the guests sailing on board the Star Clipper, passengers will also be able to visit a range of coastal locations in Montenegro and Italy.