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Drin River Basin


The extended Drin Basin:

  • Extends to Albania, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Kosovo[1] and Montenegro (Drin Riparians);
  • Comprises the sub–basins of five water bodies, each one of them shared by two or three Riparians:
  • Covers a geographical area of about 19,000 km2;
  • Is characterized by mountainous relief - the highest peaks are over 2,500 m - with flat land in the coastal area.

  • Hosts about 1.5 million people who rely on the water resources of the basin for drinking water, agriculture, fisheries, industry, hydropower and for supporting the provision of tourism services;

  • Encompasses complex ecosystems of major importance that host unique biotopes with many indigenous species, important both from a European and an international conservation perspective;
  • Sustains and affects coastal and marine ecosystems in the Adriatic, through its freshwater flow.

The Drin River is the “connecting body” of the extended Drin Basin, linking the lakes, wetlands, rivers and other aquatic habitats, with a system of groundwater bodies, into a single, yet complex, hydrological ecosystem.

Setting out from the two Prespa Lakes, linked to each other by a small channel, water flows through underground karst[6] cavities to Lake Ohrid, the largest lake in terms of water volume in South East Europe. The only surface outflow of Lake Ohrid, the Black Drin River flows north through The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and enters Albania. The White Drin River rises in Kosovo, flows into Albania, where it meets the Black Drin and forms the Drin River. Flowing westward through Albania, the Drin River meets the Buna/Bojana River, close after the outflow of the latter from Lake Skadar/Shkoder, the largest lake in terms of surface in South East Europe. The Buna/Bojana River directly discharges into the Adriatic Sea.


[1] References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).

[2] The river is called Drin i Zi in Albania and Crn Drim in The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

[3] The river is called Drin i Bardhë in Albania and Beli Drin in Kosovo.

[4] The river is called Buna in Albania and Bojana in Montenegro.

[5] The lake is called Skadar in Montenegro and Shkoder in Albania.

[6] A landscape formed by the dissolution of soluble rocks, including limestone and dolomite.


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