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Simple scheme of a foiba

Foiba (plural: foibas or foibe) is a type of deep natural sinkhole, doline, sink and is a collapsed portion of bedrock above a void. Sinks may be a sheer vertical opening into a cave, or a shallow depression of many acres which are common in the Kras (Carso) region, a karstic plateau region shared by Italy, Slovenia and Croatia.

In karst areas, a doline, sink or sinkhole is a closed depression draining underground. It can be cylindrical, conical, bowl-shaped or dish-shaped. The diameter ranges from a few to many hundreds of metres. The name doline comes from "dolina", the Slovenian word for this very common feature.The term "foiba" may also refer to a deep wide chasm of a river at the place where in goes under ground. [1]

The term "foiba" was used in 1770s by Italian naturalist Alberto Fortis who wrote a number of books about karst of Dalmatia.[2] It is an Italian corruption of the Latin fovea, meaning pit or chasm. They are indeed chasms excavated by water erosion, have the shape of an inverted funnel, and can be up to 200 meters deep. Such formations number in the hundreds in Istria.

Since World War II, especially in Italy, the term "foiba" has been commonly associated with the mass killings perpetrated by local and Yugoslav partisans during and shortly after the war. These were directed against native Italians and other real or perceived enemies of the incoming Tito communists. However, such usage of the foibe was already known to have been in practice by the Ustaše regime prior to World War II, in particular at the foiba of Pazin (Pisino), now called Pazinska jama.


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