Irrigated agriculture is threatened by soil salinity in numerous arid and semiarid areas of the Mediterranean basin. The objective of this work was to quantify soil salinity through electromagnetic induction (EMI) techniques and relate it to the physical characteristics and irrigation management of four Mediterranean irrigation districts located in Morocco, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey. The volume and salinity of the main water inputs (irrigation and precipitation) and outputs (crop evapotranspiration and drainage) were measured or estimated in each district. Soil salinity (ECe) maps were obtained through electromagnetic induction surveys (ECa readings) and district-specific ECa-ECe calibrations. Gravimetric soil water content (WC) and soil saturation percentage (SP) were also measured in the soil calibration samples. The ECa-ECe calibration equations were highly significant (P < 0.001) in all districts. ECa was not significantly correlated (P > 0.1) with WC, and was only significantly correlated (P < 0.1) with soil texture (estimated by SP) in Spain. Hence, ECa mainly depended upon ECe, so that the maps developed could be used effectively to assess soil salinity and its spatial variability. The surface-weighted average ECe values were low to moderate, and ranked the districts in the order: Tunisia (3.4 dS m(-1)) > Morocco (2.2 dS m(-1)) > Spain (1.4 dS m(-1)) > Turkey (0.45 dS m(-1)). Soil salinity was mainly affected by irrigation water salinity and irrigation efficiency. Drainage water salinity at the exit of each district was mostly affected by soil salinity and irrigation efficiency, with values very high in Tunisia (9.0 dS m(-1)), high in Spain (4.6 dS m(-1)), moderate in Morocco (estimated at 2.6 dS m(-1)), and low in Turkey (1.4 dS m(-1)). Salt loads in drainage waters. calculated from their salinity (ECdw) and volume (Q), were highest in Tunisia (very high Q and very high ECdw), intermediate in Turkey (extremely high Q and low ECdw) and lowest in Spain (very low Q and high ECdw) (there were no Q data for Morocco). Reduction of these high drainage volumes through sound irrigation management would be the most efficient way to control the off-site salt-pollution caused by these Mediterranean irrigation districts. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.