The historical place-name Apulia (latin word form stemming from ancient Greek Iapyghia, Japigia) stems from the name of the ancient people Apuli (Greek Japigi) who, in the pre-roman age, dwelt in the central southern part of the region (the Dauni to the north, the Peuceti in the centre and the Messapi in the south).
The ancient prefix JAP- in the term Japudes (Japigi) would refer to peoples who came from the other side of the Adriatic Sea.
According to another widespread, though incorrect, etymology the word Apuliaderives from Apluvia, that is ” land without rain”.
With the roman occupation the Regio II Apulia et Calabria was established: it comprised a territory which was hardly wider than the present one; later the toponym Apulia will also include the Salento peninsula.
The use of the singular form Puglia has been set down in the last decades; before the establishment of the regions, indeed, the plural form Puglie was equally used.
Apulia is lapped by the Adriatic and the Ionian Sea and, in continental Italy, it is the region with the longest coast extension (865 Km).
The main rivers are: the Fortore and the Ofanto, whose last stretch is navigable. The territorial waters are scarce and they include coast lakes too, among which Lesina and Varano and the Alimini Lakes.
53,3% of Apulia’s territory consists of plains , 45,3% of hills and only 1,5 % of mountains; for this reason, Apulia is the least mountainous region of Italy. The highest mountains are in the Daunian Pre-Apennines: Mount Cornacchia (1152 m), and in the Gargano, Mount Calvo (1055 m).
The major plains are: Tavoliere delle Puglie, which takes up almost a half of Capitanata; Terra di Bari, the province of Bari and Pianura Salentina, Salento Plain.
The hills area includes Murge and Serre Salentine.
The morphology of this region can be divided, though without marked differences, between North and South: the Gargano, Daunian Pre-Apennine, the Tavoliere delle Puglie, Murge, the Arco Ionico Tarantino (in the area of Taranto, near the Ionian Sea) and Salento.
In Apulia the climate is typically Mediterranean: coast and flat areas are characterized by hot and humid summers and quite mild winters. Precipitations, concentrated in late autumn and in winter, are scarce and mostly rainy. Nevertheless, in the Daunian Pre-Apennine, Gargano and High Murgia areas snow precipitations and persistent night fog aren’t so rare in winter.
The characteristic vegetation in Apulia is the macchia mediterranea, with a predominance of olive trees. The macchia mediterranea is found along the coast, it is characterized by shrubs which have a high resistance to drought in the summer season. In the hinterland and in the hills area pinewoods, forests and rocky grasslands can be found.