Northern Dalmatia, as represented in this Atlas, covers the coastal region from the mouth of the Zrmanja River in the north, to Primosten in the southeast. It also covers a portion of the broad Ravni Kotari hinterland as well as the Zadar-Biograd coastal strip. A low and gently undulating plain, Ravni Kotari is the most fertile part of northern Dalmatia and supplies the nearby coastal settlements and tourist resorts with produce. The concentration of islands off the coast of northern Dalmatia is amongst the highest in the Mediterranean. Divided into the Zadar and Sibenik groups, there are around 550 islands, islets and reefs.
These elongated rock-strewn islands lie parallel to the coast. Even the inhabited islands have very little land which one could define as arable, and even that has been obtained through hard labour - the cleared ground is bounded by stone walls. Many of the smaller islands are uninhabited.
With their quaint ports and quays, and attractive bays and coves, a great many of these islands are a true nautical paradise. The maestral, a favorite and most ideal wind for yachtsmen, tends to blow on summer afternoons. Northern Dalmatia boasts countless inlets where a stop and rest in unspoiled pristine nature, with not a living soul in sight, is certainly possible. The Zrmanja and Krka are the largest rivers in this region of few. Their courses pass through canyons on the way to the coast, and both are navigable for several kilometres inland. Traversing the canyons of the Krka river (national park) between Sibenik and Skradin is indeed a most special experience for yachtsman. This part of Dalmatia has been well populated for centuries. Remains of ancient settlements and preserved medieval towns bear testimony to this. In the northwest of this region lies Nin, an early medieval political and religious centre of Croatian culture. There is also Biograd, which received its royal charter in the 11th century. First mentioned in the 9th century BC, Zadar - with its 9th AD century church, well preserved city walls, together with a wealth of monuments dating from antiquity and the Middle Ages - has enjoyed an important political and administrative role throughout its entire history. This region's natural heritage is also worthy of note.
Kornati Islands (national park), a barren uninhabited archipelago which is a popular destination for mariners, particularly so the Telascica Bay on Dugi Otok at the northwestern end of this chain. There is also the Krka estuary (national park). With its lakes, cascades and deep canyons cut through limestone hills, the Krka is renowned as the most beautiful river in Croatia.