Karaburun Peninsula is the largest peninsula of Albania, located in the District of Vlorë, southwestern Albania, at the eastern side of the Strait of Otranto, where the Adriatic Sea meets the Ionian Sea. It has an area of 62 km2 (24 sq mi) and has no population.
It is 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) long with a width that varies from 3 to 4.5 kilometres (1.9 to 2.8 mi). The peninsula is a Managed Nature Reserve, and military zone, while its surrounding sea waters form part of the Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park.
Karaburun peninsula lies southwest of Albania, in the county and district of Vlorë, whereas the Strait of Otranto separates it from Salento in Italy, by only 72 kilometres (45 mi). It borders with Gulf of Vlorë to the east and the Ionian Sea to the west. In the north, the waters of Mezokanal (or South canal) divide the peninsula from Sazan Island, which is 4.8 km away.
On the south, Karaburun peninsula’s border lies on the virtual line that links the extreme south of Vlora's Gulf with Gjiri i Arushës (Bear’s bay) to the west. The highest altitude of the peninsula is Maja e Koretës (Koreta’s peak) 826 m above sea level. Here, a telecommunication antenna tower was erected in recent years. Northwest rises the other prominent peak of the peninsula: Maja e Ilqes 733 m.
Southeast of the peaks the terrain lowers to the karstic plateau of Ravena (with altitudes 200–300 m), well known for its wintry pastures. Whereas the offshore margin of the Karaburun peninsula has been investigated down to -200m of water depth, within 4/5 km.
The western coast of Karaburun peninsula comprises a rough relief, steep cliffs, caves, small bays and rocky beaches, such as Gjiri i Arushës (Bear's bay), Gjiri i Dafinës (Laurel bay) and 14 km (8.7 mi) southeast of Gjiri i Arushës is located the most interesting Gramata Bay, a small bay where ships and vessels anchored since antiquity.
On the high and steep rock faces of the bay, which served also as a marble quarry, there are inscriptions and names of even prominent historical figures that date back to the 4th century BC, such as of Mark Antony and Byzantine emperor John V Palaiologos in 1369 on his way to Venice.
On the north of the peninsula there's a landmark cape, Kepi i Gjuhëzës, the westernmost point of continental Albania (Sazan Island being the one westernmost point of the country) and the country most famous Haxhi Aliu's cave. The eastern coasts are less rough and slope gradually to the bay of Vlora. From the altitudes of the peninsula, on clear weather, the coasts of Salento and the town of Otranto in Italy can be seen by naked eye.
Karaburun peninsula is part of the Sazan Zone, which is a constituent of the Albanides tectonic unit. Albanides form the link between Dinarides and Hellenides orogenic belts. They are considered allocthonous and mobilist theories deduce they come from the east. Tectonically, the peninsula consists entirely of Mesozoic Era limestone formations of Cretaceous and Paleogene periods.
These formations have been continuously under the effect of Karst and are exploited as marble (metamorphosed limestone) since antiquity. The widespread Karst topography is responsible for the absence of potable water and thus the absence of any population on the peninsula.
Despite the dry surface and upper soil layers, there are several water sources that pour deep directly into the sea. The geological evolution has formed also capes such as Galloveci cape and Kepi i Gjuhëzës, as well as a total number of 20 caves along the whole coast.
The sea water surrounding the Karaburun peninsula forms the largest marine area of Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park. Further south to the peninsula lies Llogara National Park. It has a mild Mediterranean climate with hot summers and generally warm to cool, dry winters.
Water sources are absent on ground surface. Nevertheless, the fauna is represented by several species, such as the endangered loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) that nests on the isolated beaches of the western Ionian coasts.
Also the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) have also been sighted. Vegetation is poor, but there are oak trees on the western side of the peninsula and on the plateau of Ravena (covered with pastures). The eastern side is covered with scattered bushes and pines.