Dalmatia is a narrow coastal region, stretching from island of Rab in the north to the Bay of Kotor in the south. The hinterland (Dalmatian Zagora) ranges in width from fifty kilometres in the north, to just a few kilometres in the south; it is mostly covered by rugged Dinaric Mountains. 79 islands (and about 500 islets) run parallel to the coast, the largest (in Dalmatia) being Brač, Pag and Hvar. The largest city is Split, followed by Zadar, Dubrovnik, and Šibenik.
Name of the region stems from an Illyrian tribe called the Dalmatae, who lived in the area in classical antiquity. Later it became a Roman province, and as result a Romance culture emerged, along with the now-extinct Dalmatian language, later largely replaced with related Venetian. With the arrival of Slavs to the area in the 8th century, who occupied most of the hinterland, Slavic and Romance elements began to intermix in language and the culture. During the Middle Ages, its cities were often conquered by, or switched allegiance to, the kingdoms of the region. The longest-lasting rule was the one of the Republic of Venice, which controlled most of Dalmatia between 1420 and 1797, with the exception of the small but stable Republic of Ragusa (1358–1808) in the south. Between 1815 and 1918, it was as a province of Austrian Empire known as the Kingdom of Dalmatia. After the Austro-Hungarian defeat in World War I, Dalmatia was split between the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes which controlled most of it, and the Kingdom of Italy which held several smaller parts, and after World War II, SFR Yugoslavia took control over the complete area. The entirety of Dalmatia is now part of modern Croatia. Rich historical heritage, clean waters of the Adriatic sea, and mild Mediterranean climate make the area a popular tourist destination.
Most of the area is covered by Dinaric Alps mountain ranges running from north-west to south-east. On the coasts the climate is Mediterranean, while further inland it is moderate Mediterranean. In the mountains, winters are frosty and snowy, while summers are hot and dry. To the south winters are milder. Over the centuries many forests have been cut down and replaced with bush and brush. There is evergreen vegetation on the coast. The soils are generally poor, except on the plains where areas with natural grass, fertile soils and warm summers provide an opportunity for tillage. Elsewhere, land cultivation is mostly unsuccessful because of the mountains, hot summers and poor soils, although olives and grapes flourish. Energy resources are scarce. Electricity is mainly produced by hydropower stations. There is a considerable amount of bauxite. The historic core of the city of Dubrovnik, in southern Dalmatia.
The largest Dalmatian mountains are Dinara, Mosor, Svilaja, Biokovo, Moseć, Veliki Kozjak and Mali Kozjak. The regional geographical unit of historical Dalmatia[clarification needed] - the coastal region between Istria and the Gulf of Kotor - includes the Orjen mountain with the highest peak in Montenegro, 1894 m. In present-day Dalmatia, the highest peak is Dinara (1913 m), which is not a coastal mountain, while the highest coastal Dinaric mountains are on Biokovo (Sv. Jure 1762 m) and Velebit (Vaganski vrh 1758 m), although the Vaganski vrh itself is located in Lika-Senj County.
The largest Dalmatian islands are Brač, Korčula, Dugi Otok, Mljet, Vis, Hvar, Pag and Pašman. The major rivers are Zrmanja, Krka, Cetina and Neretva.
The Adriatic Sea's high water quality, along with the immense number of coves, islands and channels, makes Dalmatia an attractive place for nautical races, nautical tourism, and tourism in general. Dalmatia also includes several national parks that are tourist attractions: Paklenica karst river, Kornati archipelago, Krka river rapids and Mljet island.