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The Mediterranean Sea is a
sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
sea
connected to the
Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
, surrounded by the
Mediterranean Basin In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin (also known as the Mediterranean region or sometimes Mediterranea) is the region of lands around the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by ...
and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by
Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...

Western
and
Southern Europe Southern Europe is the southern region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth a ...

Southern Europe
and
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
, on the south by
North Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in th ...

North Africa
, and on the east by the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
. The Sea has played a central role in the
history of Western civilization Western civilization traces its roots back to Europe and the Mediterranean. It is linked to ancient Greece, the Roman Empire and with Medieval Western Christendom which emerged from the Middle Ages to experience such transformative episodes as th ...
. Although the Mediterranean is sometimes considered a part of the Atlantic Ocean, it is usually referred to as a separate body of water. Geological evidence indicates that around 5.9 million years ago, the Mediterranean was cut off from the Atlantic and was partly or completely
desiccated in sludge Moenave Formation at the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm, southwestern Utah Utah ( , ) is a state in the Mountain West region of the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly kn ...
over a period of some 600,000 years during the
Messinian salinity crisis The Messinian salinity crisis (MSC), also referred to as the Messinian event, and in its latest stage as the Lago Mare event, was a geological event during which the Mediterranean Sea went into a cycle of partial or nearly complete desiccation (dr ...
before being refilled by the Zanclean flood about 5.3 million years ago. The Mediterranean Sea covers an area of about , representing 0.7% of the global
ocean The ocean (also the sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
surface, but its connection to the Atlantic via the
Strait of Gibraltar The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar, : ), also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, is a narrow that connects the to the and separates the in from in . The two continen ...

Strait of Gibraltar
—the narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates the
Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a peni ...

Iberian Peninsula
in
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
from
Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undisputed territory of Morocco.Lighter green: Western Sahara, a United Nations lis ...

Morocco
in
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
—is only wide. In
oceanography Oceanography (from the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark Ages (), the period (), and the period ...
, it is sometimes called the ''Eurafrican Mediterranean Sea'', the ''European Mediterranean Sea'' or the ''African Mediterranean Sea'' to distinguish it from mediterranean seas elsewhere. The Mediterranean Sea has an average depth of and the deepest recorded point is in the
Calypso Deep Calypso Deep, located in the Hellenic Trench, Ionian Sea 62.6 km south-west of Pylos, Greece, is the deepest part of the Mediterranean Sea, with a maximum depth of , at . Manned descents The first manned descent into Calypso Deep was on 27 Septem ...

Calypso Deep
in the
Ionian Sea The Ionian Sea ( el, Ιόνιο Πέλαγος, ''Iónio Pélagos'' ; it, Mar Ionio ; al, Deti Jon ("our sea")) is an elongated bay A bay is a recessed, coastal body of water that directly connects to a larger main body of water, such ...

Ionian Sea
. It lies between latitudes 30° and 46° N and longitudes 6° W and 36° E. Its west–east length, from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Gulf of Iskenderun, on the southeastern coast of Turkey, is about . The north–south length varies greatly between different shorelines and whether only straight routes are considered. Also including longitudal changes, the shortest shipping route between the multinational
Gulf of Trieste The Gulf of Trieste ( it, Golfo di Trieste, sl, Tržaški zaliv, hr, Tršćanski zaljev, german: Golf von Triest) is a very shallow bay of the Adriatic Sea The Adriatic Sea () is a body of water separating the from the . The Adriatic is t ...

Gulf of Trieste
and the Libyan coastline of
Gulf of Sidra Gulf of Sidra, ( ar, خليج السدرة, ''Khalij as-Sidra''; it, Golfo di Sidra), after the oil port of Sidra, or Gulf of Sirte ( ar, خليج سرت, ''Khalij Surt''; it, Golfo della Sirte), after the city of Sirte, is a body of water in ...
is about . The water temperatures are mild in winter and warm in summer and give name to the
mediterranean climate A Mediterranean climate or dry summer climate is characterized by dry summers and mild, wet winters. The climate Climate is the long-term pattern of weather Weather is the state of the atmosphere, describing for example the degre ...
type due to the majority of precipitation falling in the cooler months. Its southern and eastern coastlines are lined with hot deserts not far inland, but the immediate coastline on all sides of the Mediterranean tends to have strong maritime moderation. The sea was an important route for
merchant A merchant is a person who trades in commodities In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distributi ...

merchant
s and travelers of ancient times, facilitating trade and cultural exchange between peoples of the region. The
history of the Mediterranean region The history of the Mediterranean region and of the cultures and people of the Mediterranean Basin In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin (also known as the Mediterranean region or sometimes Mediterranea) is the region of lands around the M ...
is crucial to understanding the origins and development of many modern societies. The
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
maintained nautical hegemony over the sea for centuries. The countries surrounding the Mediterranean in clockwise order are
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
,
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
,
Monaco Monaco (; ), officially the Principality of Monaco (french: Principauté de Monaco; Monégasque Ligurian: ''Prinçipatu de Mu̍negu''), is a sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The ...

Monaco
,
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...

Italy
,
Slovenia Slovenia ( ; sl, Slovenija ), officially the Republic of Slovenia (Slovene: , abbr.: ''RS''), is a country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, l ...

Slovenia
,
Croatia , image_flag = Flag of Croatia.svg , image_coat = Coat of arms of Croatia.svg , anthem = "Lijepa naša domovino ''Lijepa naša domovino'' (; ) is the national anthem A national anthem is a song that ...

Croatia
,
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina,, abbreviated BiH or B&H, sometimes called Bosnia–Herzegovina and often known informally as Bosnia, is a country in South South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north a ...

Bosnia and Herzegovina
,
Montenegro Montenegro (; cnr, Crna Gora, , , ; sq, Mali i zi) is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (fro ...

Montenegro
,
Albania Albania ( ; sq, Shqipëri or Shqipëria), officially the Republic of Albania ( sq, Republika e Shqipërisë), is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a par ...

Albania
,
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geogr ...

Greece
,
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia an ...

Turkey
,
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
,
Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part ...

Lebanon
,
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...

Israel
,
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
,
Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībiyā), officially the State of Libya ( ar, دولة ليبيا, Dawlat Lībiyā), is a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to Egypt–Libya border, th ...

Libya
,
Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in northern Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous , after in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11. ...

Tunisia
,
Algeria ) , image_map = Algeria (centered orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Algiers , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , religion = , official_languages = , languages_type = Oth ...

Algeria
, and
Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undisputed territory of Morocco.Lighter green: Western Sahara, a United Nations lis ...

Morocco
;
Malta Malta ( , , ), officially known as the Republic of Malta ( mt, Repubblika ta' Malta ) and formerly Melita, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies south of Italy, east of Tunisi ...

Malta
and
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or poli ...

Cyprus
are island countries in the sea. In addition, the
Gaza Strip The Gaza Strip (;The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) – p.761 "Gaza Strip /'gɑːzə/ a strip of territory under the control of the Palestinian National Authority and Hamas, on the SE Mediterranean coast including the town of Gaza.. ...
and the
British Overseas Territories The British Overseas Territories (BOTs), also known as United Kingdom Overseas Territories (UKOTs), are fourteen dependent territory, territories all with a constitutional and historical link with the United Kingdom. They are remnants of the B ...

British Overseas Territories
of
Gibraltar ) , anthem = "God Save the Queen" , song = "Gibraltar Anthem" , image_map = Gibraltar location in Europe.svg , map_alt = Location of Gibraltar in Europe , map_caption = United Kingdom shown in pale green , mapsize = 290px , image_map2 = ...

Gibraltar
and
Akrotiri and Dhekelia The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia ( SBA; el, Περιοχές Κυρίαρχων Βάσεων Ακρωτηρίου και Δεκέλιας, ''Periochés Kyríarchon Váseon Akrotiríou ke Dekélias''; tr, Ağrotur ve Dikelya ...

Akrotiri and Dhekelia
have coastlines on the sea.


History


Ancient civilizations

Some of the world's greatest ancient civilizations that were the base of the entire Western culture were located around the Mediterranean shores and were greatly influenced by their proximity to the sea. It provided routes for trade, colonization, and war, as well as food (from fishing and the gathering of other seafood) for numerous communities throughout the ages. Due to the shared climate, geology, and access to the sea, cultures centered on the Mediterranean tended to have some extent of intertwined culture and history. Two of the most notable Mediterranean civilizations in classical antiquity were the
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
city state A city-state is an independent sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance la ...
s and the
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3 ...
ns, both of which extensively colonized the coastlines of the Mediterranean. Later, when
Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles through ...

Augustus
founded the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
, the Romans referred to the Mediterranean as ''
Mare Nostrum ''Mare Nostrum'' (; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...

Mare Nostrum
'' ("Our Sea"). For the next 400 years, the Roman Empire completely controlled the Mediterranean Sea and virtually all its coastal regions from Gibraltar to the Levant.
Darius I of Persia Darius I ( peo, 𐎭𐎠𐎼𐎹𐎺𐎢𐏁, translit=Dārayava(h)uš; New Persian: ; ; c. 550 – 486 BCE), commonly known as Darius the Great, was the third List of kings of Persia, Persian King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire, reigning from ...
, who conquered Ancient Egypt, built a canal linking the Mediterranean to the
Red Sea The Red Sea ( ar, البحر الأحمر, translit=al-Baḥr al-ʾAḥmar; or ; Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a North ...

Red Sea
. Darius's canal was wide enough for two
trireme A trireme (, ; derived from Latin: ''trirēmis'' "with three banks of oars"; 'triērēs'', ''literally "three-rower") was an ancient vessel and a type of galley A galley is a type of ship A ship is a large watercraft that travels the w ...

trireme
s to pass each other with oars extended, and required four days to traverse. In 2019, the archaeological team of experts from Underwater Research Center of the
Akdeniz University Akdeniz University ( en, Mediterranean University, tr, Akdeniz Üniversitesi) is a campus university in Antalya Province of Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country straddling Southeastern Europe a ...
(UA) revealed a
shipwreck A shipwreck is the remains of a ship that has wrecked, which are found either beached on land or sunken to the bottom of a body of water. Shipwrecking may be deliberate or accidental. In January 1999, Angela Croome estimated that there have ...

shipwreck
dating back 3,600 years in the Mediterranean Sea in
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia an ...

Turkey
. 1.5 tons of copper
ingot An ingot is a piece of relatively pure material, usually metal, that is Casting, cast into a shape suitable for further processing. In steelmaking, it is the first step among semi-finished casting products. Ingots usually require a second procedure ...
s found in the ship was used to estimate its age. The
Governor of Antalya The Governor of Antalya ( Turkish: ''Antalya Valiliği'') is the bureaucratic The term bureaucracy () may refer both to a body of non-elected governing officials and to an administrative policy-making group. Historically, a bureaucracy was ...
Munir Karaloğlu described this valuable discovery as the "
Göbeklitepe
Göbeklitepe
of the underwater world”. It has been confirmed that the shipwreck, dating back to 1600 BC, is older than the "
Uluburun Shipwreck The Uluburun Shipwreck is a Late Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the s ...
" dating back to 1400 BC.


Middle Ages and empires

The
Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprises the western provinces of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican ...

Western Roman Empire
collapsed around 476 AD. Temporarily the east was again dominant as Roman power lived on in the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
formed in the 4th century from the eastern half of the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
. Another power arose in the 7th century, and with it the religion of
Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or ex ...
, which soon swept across from the east; at its greatest extent, the Arabs, under the
Umayyads The Umayyad dynasty ( ar, بَنُو أُمَيَّةَ, Banū Umayya, Sons of Umayya) or Umayyads () were the ruling family of the Muslim caliphate A caliphate ( ar, خِلَافَة, ) is an Islamic state under the leadership of an Islam ...
, controlled most of the Mediterranean region and left a lasting footprint on its eastern and southern shores. The Arab invasions disrupted the trade relations between Western and Eastern Europe while disrupting trade routes with Eastern Asian Empires. This, however, had the indirect effect of promoting the trade across the
Caspian Sea The Caspian Sea (also known as Mazandaran Sea, Hyrcanian Ocean, or Khazar Sea), tk, Hazar deňzi, az, Xəzər Dənizi, russian: Каспийское море, script=Latn, fa, دریای مازندران، دریای خزر, script=Latn, tly, ...

Caspian Sea
. The export of grains from
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
was re-routed towards the
Eastern world Eastern world, also known as the East or the Orient The Orient is a term for the East, traditionally comprising anything that belongs to the Eastern world, in relation to Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of seve ...

Eastern world
. Products from East Asian empires, like silk and spices, were carried from Egypt to ports like
Venice Venice ( ; it, Venezia ; vec, Venesia or ) is a city in northeastern Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of delimited by the and surrounding ...
and
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germa ...

Constantinople
by sailors and Jewish merchants. The
Viking raids The Viking Age (793–1066 AD) was the period during the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the 5th to the late 15th centuries, similarly to the Post-classical, Post-class ...

Viking raids
further disrupted the trade in western Europe and brought it to a halt. However, the
Norsemen The Norsemen (or Norse people) were a North Germanic The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are ...
developed the trade from Norway to the
White Sea The White Sea (russian: Белое море, ''Béloye móre''; Karelian language, Karelian and fi, Vienanmeri, lit. Dvina Sea; yrk, Сэрако ямʼ, ''Serako yam'') is a southern inlet of the Barents Sea located on the northwest coast of ...
, while also trading in luxury goods from
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
and the Mediterranean. The Byzantines in the mid-8th century retook control of the area around the north-eastern part of the Mediterranean. Venetian ships from the 9th century armed themselves to counter the harassment by Arabs while concentrating trade of Asian goods in Venice. The
Fatimids The Fatimid Caliphate ( ar, ٱلْخِلَافَة ٱلْفَاطِمِيَّة , al-Ḫilāfa al-Fāṭimiyya) was an Isma'ilism, Ismaili Shia caliphate of the 10th to the 12th centuries AD. Spanning a large area of North Africa, it range ...

Fatimids
maintained trade relations with the
Italian city-states The Italian city-states were numerous political and independent territorial entities that existed in the Italian Peninsula The Italian Peninsula (Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of ...
like
Amalfi Amalfi (, , ) is a town and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a local administrative division of Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a Northern It ...
and
Genoa Genoa ( ; it, Genova ; locally ; lij, Zêna ; English, historically, and la, Genua) is the capital of the Regions of Italy, Italian region of Liguria and the List of cities in Italy, sixth-largest city in Italy. In 2015, 594,733 people lived ...
before the Crusades, according to the
Cairo Geniza The Cairo Geniza, alternatively spelled Genizah, is a collection of some 400,000 Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelit ...
documents. A document dated 996 mentions Amalfian merchants living in
Cairo Cairo ( ; ar, القاهرة, al-Qāhirah, , Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northern Afro-Asiatic language spoken in E ...

Cairo
. Another letter states that the Genoese had traded with
Alexandria Alexandria ( or ; ar, الإسكندرية ; arz, اسكندرية ; Coptic language, Coptic: Rakodī; el, Αλεξάνδρεια ''Alexandria'') is the List of cities and towns in Egypt, third-largest city in Egypt after Cairo and Giza, ...

Alexandria
. The caliph al-Mustansir had allowed Amalfian merchants to reside in
Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس, ', , (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names); grc, Ἱερουσαλήμ/Ἰεροσόλυμα, Hierousalḗm/Hierosóluma; hy, Երուսաղեմ, Erusał ...

Jerusalem
about 1060 in place of the Latin
hospice Hospice care is a type of health care that focuses on the palliation Palliative care (derived from the Latin root ''palliare, or'' "to cloak") is an interdisciplinary medical caregiving approach aimed at optimizing quality of life Quality o ...

hospice
. The
Crusades The Crusades were a series of religious wars initiated, supported, and sometimes directed by the Latin Church in the medieval period. The term refers especially to the Eastern Mediterranean campaigns in the period between 1095 and 1271 that h ...

Crusades
led to flourishing of trade between Europe and the ''
outremer The Crusader States, also known as Outremer, were four Roman Catholic realms in the Middle East that lasted from 1098 to 1291. These Feudalism, feudal Polity, polities were created by the Latin Church, Latin Catholic leaders of the First Cru ...
'' region. Genoa, Venice and
Pisa Pisa ( , or ) is a city and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a Administrative division, local administrative division of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and function The provides essential public ser ...
created colonies in regions controlled by the Crusaders and came to control the trade with the Orient. These colonies also allowed them to trade with the Eastern world. Though the fall of the Crusader states and attempts at banning of trade relations with Muslim states by the Popes temporarily disrupted the trade with the Orient, it however continued. Europe started to revive, however, as more organized and centralized states began to form in the later
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
after the
Renaissance of the 12th century The Renaissance of the 12th century was a period of many changes at the outset of the High Middle Ages The High Middle Ages, or High Medieval Period, was the period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full sto ...
.
Ottoman Ottoman is the Turkish spelling of the Arabic masculine given name Uthman (name), Uthman (Arabic: عُثْمان ''‘uthmān''). It may refer to: Governments and dynasties * Ottoman Caliphate, an Islamic caliphate from 1517 to 1924 * Ottoman Empi ...
power based in Anatolia continued to grow, and in 1453 extinguished the Byzantine Empire with the
Conquest of Constantinople Conquest is the act of military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically officially authorized and maintained by a sovereign state, wi ...
. Ottomans gained control of much of the sea in the 16th century and maintained naval bases in
southern France Southern France, also known as the South of France or colloquially in French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, Répub ...
(1543–1544), Algeria and Tunisia.
Barbarossa Barbarossa, a name meaning "red beard" in Italian, may refer to: Arts and entertainment Fictional characters * Barbarossa Rugner, a character in the 1995 ''Suikoden'' PlayStation role-playing game * Barbarossa, pirate and protagonist in the 1953 ...

Barbarossa
, the famous Ottoman captain is a symbol of this domination with the victory of the
Battle of Preveza The Battle of Preveza was a naval battle that took place on 28 September 1538 near Preveza in northwestern Greece between an Ottoman Empire, Ottoman fleet and that of a Holy League (1538), Christian alliance assembled by Pope Paul III in which ...
(1538). The
Battle of Djerba The Battle of Djerba ( tr, Cerbe) took place in May 1560 near the island of Djerba, Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in northern Africa , image_map2 = , capital = ...
(1560) marked the apex of Ottoman naval domination in the Mediterranean. As the naval prowess of the European powers increased, they confronted Ottoman expansion in the region when the
Battle of Lepanto The Battle of Lepanto was a naval engagement that took place on 7 October 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League, a coalition of Catholic states arranged by Pope Pius V Pope Pius V (17 January 1504 – 1 May 1572), born Antonio Ghislie ...

Battle of Lepanto
(1571) checked the power of the
Ottoman Navy The Ottoman Navy ( ota, دوننماى همايون, Donanma-yı Humâyûn or tr, Osmanlı Donanması), also known as the Ottoman Fleet, was established in the early 14th century after the Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; o ...
. This was the last naval battle to be fought primarily between
galley A galley is a type of ship A ship is a large watercraft that travels the world's oceans and other sufficiently deep Sea lane, waterways, carrying goods or passengers, or in support of specialized missions, such as defense, research, and fis ...

galley
s. The
Barbary pirates 1650 The Barbary pirates, or Barbary corsairs or Ottoman corsairs, were Muslims, Muslim privateers who operated from North Africa, based primarily in the ports of Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. This area was known in Europe as the Barbary Coast ...
of
Northwest Africa The Maghreb (; ar, المغرب , "the west"), also known as Northwest Africa, the Arab Maghreb ( ), and historically as "The Barbary coast", is the western part of North Africa and the Arab world, Arab World. The region includes Algeria, Libya ...
preyed on Christian shipping and coastlines in the Western Mediterranean Sea. According to Robert Davis, from the 16th to 19th centuries, pirates captured 1 million to 1.25 million Europeans as slaves. The development of oceanic shipping began to affect the entire Mediterranean. Once, most trade between Western Europe and the East had passed through the region, but after the 1490s the development of a sea route to the Indian Ocean allowed the importation of Asian
spices A spice is a seed A seed is an embryonic ''Embryonic'' is the twelfth studio album by experimental rock band the Flaming Lips released on October 13, 2009, on Warner Bros. Records, Warner Bros. The band's first double album, it was releas ...
and other goods through the Atlantic ports of western Europe. The sea remained strategically important. British mastery of
Gibraltar ) , anthem = "God Save the Queen" , song = "Gibraltar Anthem" , image_map = Gibraltar location in Europe.svg , map_alt = Location of Gibraltar in Europe , map_caption = United Kingdom shown in pale green , mapsize = 290px , image_map2 = ...

Gibraltar
ensured their influence in Africa and Southwest Asia. Especially after the naval battles of Abukir (1799,
Battle of the Nile The Battle of the Nile (also known as the Battle of Aboukir Bay; french: Bataille d'Aboukir) was a major naval battle fought between the British Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's Navy, naval warfare force. Although war ...

Battle of the Nile
) and
Trafalgar
Trafalgar
(1805), the British had for a long time strengthened their dominance in the Mediterranean. Wars included
Naval warfare in the Mediterranean during World War I There was sporadic naval warfare in the Mediterranean during World War I between the Central Powers The Central Powers, also Central Empires,german: Mittelmächte; hu, Központi hatalmak; tr, İttifak Devletleri / ; bg, Централни ...
and
Mediterranean theatre of World War II The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin (also known as the Mediterranean region or sometimes Mediterranea) is the region of lands aroun ...
. With the opening of the lockless
Suez Canal The Suez Canal ( ar, قَنَاةُ ٱلسُّوَيْسِ, ') is an artificial sea-level Mean sea level (MSL) (often shortened to sea level) is an mean, average level of the surface of one or more of Earth's bodies of water from which hei ...
in 1869, the flow of trade between Europe and Asia changed fundamentally. The fastest route now led through the Mediterranean towards East Africa and Asia. This led to a preference for the Mediterranean countries and their ports like
Trieste Trieste ( , ; sl, Trst ; german: Triest ) is a city and seaport The Porticciolo del Cedas port in Barcola The thumb is the first digit of the hand, next to the index finger. When a person is standing in the medical anatomical position (wher ...

Trieste
with the direct connections to Central and Eastern Europe experienced a rapid economic rise. In the 20th century, the 1st and 2nd World War as well as the
Suez Crisis The Suez Crisis, or the Second Arab–Israeli war, also called the Tripartite Aggression ( ar, العدوان الثلاثي, Al-ʿUdwān aṯ-Ṯulāṯiyy) in the Arab world and the Sinai War in Israel,Also known as the Suez War or 1956 War ...
and the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...
led to a shift of trade routes to the European northern ports, which changed again towards the southern ports through European integration, the activation of the
Silk Road The Silk Road () was and is a network of trade routes connecting the Eastern world, East and Western culture, West, from the 2nd century BCE to the 18th century CE. It was central to the economic, cultural, political, and religious interactions ...

Silk Road
and free world trade.


21st century and migrations

In 2013, the
Maltese Maltese may refer to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to Malta * Maltese alphabet * Maltese cuisine * Maltese culture * Maltese language, the Semitic language spoken by Maltese people * Maltese people, people from Malta or of Maltese ...

Maltese
president described the Mediterranean Sea as a "cemetery" due to the large number of migrants who drowned there after their boats capsized.
European Parliament The European Parliament (EP) is one of three Legislature, legislative branches of the European Union and one of its seven Institutions of the European Union, institutions. Together with the Council of the European Union, it adopts European legi ...

European Parliament
president
Martin Schulz Martin Schulz (born 20 December 1955) is a German politician who served as Social Democratic Party of Germany, Leader of the Social Democratic Party 2017 to 2018, and was a Member of the Bundestag (MdB) from 2017 to 2021. Previously he was Pres ...

Martin Schulz
said in 2014 that Europe's migration policy "turned the Mediterranean into a graveyard", referring to the number of drowned refugees in the region as a direct result of the policies. An Azerbaijani official described the sea as "a burial ground ... where people die". Following the
2013 Lampedusa migrant shipwreck On 3 October 2013, a boat carrying migrants from Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībīyā), officially the State of Libya, ( ar, دولة ليبيا, Dawlat Lībīyā) is a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa bordered by the Mediter ...
, the Letta Cabinet, Italian government decided to strengthen the national system for the patrolling of the Mediterranean Sea by authorising "Operation Mare Nostrum", a military and humanitarian mission in order to rescue the migrants and arrest the traffickers of immigrants. In 2015, more than one million migrants crossed the Mediterranean Sea into Europe. Italy was particularly affected by the European migrant crisis. Since 2013, over 700,000 migrants have landed in Italy, mainly sub-Saharan Africans.


Geography

The Mediterranean Sea connects: * to the
Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
by the
Strait of Gibraltar The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar, : ), also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, is a narrow that connects the to the and separates the in from in . The two continen ...

Strait of Gibraltar
(known in Homer's writings as the "Pillars of Hercules") in the west * to the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, by the Straits of the Dardanelles and the Bosporus respectively, in the east The long artificial
Suez Canal The Suez Canal ( ar, قَنَاةُ ٱلسُّوَيْسِ, ') is an artificial sea-level Mean sea level (MSL) (often shortened to sea level) is an mean, average level of the surface of one or more of Earth's bodies of water from which hei ...
in the southeast connects the Mediterranean Sea to the
Red Sea The Red Sea ( ar, البحر الأحمر, translit=al-Baḥr al-ʾAḥmar; or ; Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a North ...

Red Sea
without ship lock, because the water level is essentially the same. The westernmost point of the Mediterranean is located at the transition from the Alborán Sea to the Strait of Gibraltar, the easternmost point is on the coast of the Gulf of Iskenderun in southeastern Turkey. The northernmost point of the Mediterranean is on the coast of the
Gulf of Trieste The Gulf of Trieste ( it, Golfo di Trieste, sl, Tržaški zaliv, hr, Tršćanski zaljev, german: Golf von Triest) is a very shallow bay of the Adriatic Sea The Adriatic Sea () is a body of water separating the from the . The Adriatic is t ...

Gulf of Trieste
near Monfalcone in northern Italy while the southernmost point is on the coast of the
Gulf of Sidra Gulf of Sidra, ( ar, خليج السدرة, ''Khalij as-Sidra''; it, Golfo di Sidra), after the oil port of Sidra, or Gulf of Sirte ( ar, خليج سرت, ''Khalij Surt''; it, Golfo della Sirte), after the city of Sirte, is a body of water in ...
near the Libyan town of El Agheila. Large islands in the Mediterranean include: *
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or poli ...

Cyprus
, Crete, Euboea, Rhodes, Lesbos Island, Lesbos, Chios, Kefalonia, Corfu, Limnos, Samos, Naxos Island, Naxos, and Andros in the Eastern Mediterranean * Sicily, Cres, Krk, Brač, Hvar, Pag (island), Pag, Korčula, and Malta Island, Malta in the central Mediterranean * Sardinia, Corsica, and the Balearic Islands: Ibiza, Majorca, and Menorca in the Western Mediterranean The Alps, Alpine arc, which also has a great meteorological impact on the Mediterranean area, touches the Mediterranean in the west in the area around Nice. The typical Mediterranean climate has hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. Crops of the region include olives, grapes, orange (fruit), oranges, tangerines, carobs and cork (material), cork.


Marginal seas

The Mediterranean Sea includes 15 marginal seas: * List of seas#Marginal seas, List of seas * :Marginal seas of the Mediterranean, Marginal seas of the Mediterranean * :Gulfs of the Mediterranean, Gulfs of the Mediterranean * :Straits of the Mediterranean Sea, Straits of the Mediterranean Sea * :Channels of the Mediterranean Sea, Channels of the Mediterranean Sea Note 1: The International Hydrographic Organization defines the area as generic Mediterranean Sea, in the Western Basin. It does not recognize the label Sea of Sardinia. Note 2: Thracian Sea and Myrtoan Sea are seas that are part of the Aegean Sea. Note 3: The Black Sea is not considered part of it.


Extent

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Mediterranean Sea as follows: Stretching from the
Strait of Gibraltar The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar, : ), also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, is a narrow that connects the to the and separates the in from in . The two continen ...

Strait of Gibraltar
in the west to the entrances to the Dardanelles and the
Suez Canal The Suez Canal ( ar, قَنَاةُ ٱلسُّوَيْسِ, ') is an artificial sea-level Mean sea level (MSL) (often shortened to sea level) is an mean, average level of the surface of one or more of Earth's bodies of water from which hei ...
in the east, the Mediterranean Sea is bounded by the coasts of Europe, Africa, and Asia and is divided into two deep basins: * Western Basin: ** On the west: A line joining the extremities of Cape Trafalgar (Spain) and Cape Spartel (Africa) ** On the northeast: The west coast of Italy. In the Strait of Messina, a line joining the north extreme of Cape Paci (15°42′E) with Cape Peloro, the east extreme of the Island of Sicily. The north coast of Sicily ** On the east: A line joining Cape Lilibeo the western point of Sicily (), through the Adventure Bank to Cape Bon (Tunisia) * Eastern Basin: ** On the west: The northeastern and eastern limits of the Western Basin ** On the northeast: A line joining Kumkale, Çanakkale, Kum Kale (26°11′E) and Cape Helles, the western entrance to the Dardanelles ** On the southeast: The entrance to the
Suez Canal The Suez Canal ( ar, قَنَاةُ ٱلسُّوَيْسِ, ') is an artificial sea-level Mean sea level (MSL) (often shortened to sea level) is an mean, average level of the surface of one or more of Earth's bodies of water from which hei ...
** On the east: The coasts of
Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part ...

Lebanon
,
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
, and
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...

Israel


Coastal countries

The following countries have a coastline on the Mediterranean Sea: * Northern shore (from west to east):
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
,
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
,
Monaco Monaco (; ), officially the Principality of Monaco (french: Principauté de Monaco; Monégasque Ligurian: ''Prinçipatu de Mu̍negu''), is a sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The ...

Monaco
,
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...

Italy
,
Slovenia Slovenia ( ; sl, Slovenija ), officially the Republic of Slovenia (Slovene: , abbr.: ''RS''), is a country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, l ...

Slovenia
,
Croatia , image_flag = Flag of Croatia.svg , image_coat = Coat of arms of Croatia.svg , anthem = "Lijepa naša domovino ''Lijepa naša domovino'' (; ) is the national anthem A national anthem is a song that ...

Croatia
,
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina,, abbreviated BiH or B&H, sometimes called Bosnia–Herzegovina and often known informally as Bosnia, is a country in South South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north a ...

Bosnia and Herzegovina
,
Montenegro Montenegro (; cnr, Crna Gora, , , ; sq, Mali i zi) is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (fro ...

Montenegro
,
Albania Albania ( ; sq, Shqipëri or Shqipëria), officially the Republic of Albania ( sq, Republika e Shqipërisë), is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a par ...

Albania
,
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geogr ...

Greece
,
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia an ...

Turkey
. * Eastern shore (from north to south):
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia an ...

Turkey
,
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
,
Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part ...

Lebanon
,
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...

Israel
, State of Palestine, Palestine,
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
. * Southern shore (from west to east):
Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undisputed territory of Morocco.Lighter green: Western Sahara, a United Nations lis ...

Morocco
,
Algeria ) , image_map = Algeria (centered orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Algiers , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , religion = , official_languages = , languages_type = Oth ...

Algeria
,
Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in northern Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous , after in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11. ...

Tunisia
,
Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībiyā), officially the State of Libya ( ar, دولة ليبيا, Dawlat Lībiyā), is a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to Egypt–Libya border, th ...

Libya
,
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
. * Island nations:
Malta Malta ( , , ), officially known as the Republic of Malta ( mt, Repubblika ta' Malta ) and formerly Melita, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies south of Italy, east of Tunisi ...

Malta
,
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or poli ...

Cyprus
. Several other territories also border the Mediterranean Sea (from west to east): * the British overseas territory of
Gibraltar ) , anthem = "God Save the Queen" , song = "Gibraltar Anthem" , image_map = Gibraltar location in Europe.svg , map_alt = Location of Gibraltar in Europe , map_caption = United Kingdom shown in pale green , mapsize = 290px , image_map2 = ...

Gibraltar
* the Spanish autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla and plazas de soberanía, nearby islands * the Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus * the Palestinian
Gaza Strip The Gaza Strip (;The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) – p.761 "Gaza Strip /'gɑːzə/ a strip of territory under the control of the Palestinian National Authority and Hamas, on the SE Mediterranean coast including the town of Gaza.. ...


Exclusive economic zone

Exclusive economic zones in Mediterranean Sea:


Coastline length

The Coastline length is about 46,000 km.


Coastal cities

Major cities (municipalities), with populations larger than 200,000 people, bordering the Mediterranean Sea include:


Subdivisions

The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) divides the Mediterranean into a number of smaller waterbodies, each with their own designation (from west to east): * the
Strait of Gibraltar The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar, : ), also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, is a narrow that connects the to the and separates the in from in . The two continen ...

Strait of Gibraltar
* the Alboran Sea, between Spain and
Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undisputed territory of Morocco.Lighter green: Western Sahara, a United Nations lis ...

Morocco
* the Balearic Sea, between mainland Spain and its Balearic Islands * the Ligurian Sea between Corsica and Liguria (Italy) * the Tyrrhenian Sea enclosed by Sardinia, Italian peninsula and Sicily * the
Ionian Sea The Ionian Sea ( el, Ιόνιο Πέλαγος, ''Iónio Pélagos'' ; it, Mar Ionio ; al, Deti Jon ("our sea")) is an elongated bay A bay is a recessed, coastal body of water that directly connects to a larger main body of water, such ...

Ionian Sea
between Italy,
Albania Albania ( ; sq, Shqipëri or Shqipëria), officially the Republic of Albania ( sq, Republika e Shqipërisë), is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a par ...

Albania
and Greece * the Adriatic Sea between Italy,
Slovenia Slovenia ( ; sl, Slovenija ), officially the Republic of Slovenia (Slovene: , abbr.: ''RS''), is a country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, l ...

Slovenia
,
Croatia , image_flag = Flag of Croatia.svg , image_coat = Coat of arms of Croatia.svg , anthem = "Lijepa naša domovino ''Lijepa naša domovino'' (; ) is the national anthem A national anthem is a song that ...

Croatia
,
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina,, abbreviated BiH or B&H, sometimes called Bosnia–Herzegovina and often known informally as Bosnia, is a country in South South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north a ...

Bosnia and Herzegovina
,
Montenegro Montenegro (; cnr, Crna Gora, , , ; sq, Mali i zi) is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (fro ...

Montenegro
and
Albania Albania ( ; sq, Shqipëri or Shqipëria), officially the Republic of Albania ( sq, Republika e Shqipërisë), is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a par ...

Albania
* the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey


Other seas

Some other seas whose names have been in common use from the ancient times, or in the present: * the Sea of Sardinia, between Sardinia and Balearic Islands, as a part of the Balearic Sea * the Sea of Sicily between Sicily and
Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in northern Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous , after in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11. ...

Tunisia
* the Libyan Sea between
Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībiyā), officially the State of Libya ( ar, دولة ليبيا, Dawlat Lībiyā), is a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to Egypt–Libya border, th ...

Libya
and Crete * In the Aegean Sea, ** the Thracian Sea in its north ** the Myrtoan Sea between the Cyclades and the Peloponnese ** the Sea of Crete north of Crete ** the Icarian Sea between Kos and Chios * the Cilician Sea between Turkey and
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or poli ...

Cyprus
* the Levantine Sea at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Many of these smaller seas feature in local myth and folklore and derive their names from such associations.


Other features

In addition to the seas, a number of gulfs and straits are recognised: * the Saint George Bay in Beirut, Lebanon * the Ras Ibn Hani cape in Latakia,
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
* the Ras al-Bassit cape in northern Syria. * the Minet el-Beida ("White Harbour") bay near ancient Ugarit,
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
* the
Strait of Gibraltar The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar, : ), also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, is a narrow that connects the to the and separates the in from in . The two continen ...

Strait of Gibraltar
, connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain from
Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undisputed territory of Morocco.Lighter green: Western Sahara, a United Nations lis ...

Morocco
* the Bay of Algeciras, at the southern end of the
Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a peni ...

Iberian Peninsula
* the Gulf of Corinth, an enclosed sea between the Ionian Sea and the Corinth Canal * the Pagasetic Gulf, the gulf of Volos, south of the Thermaic Gulf, formed by the Mount Pelion peninsula * the Saronic Gulf, the gulf of Athens, between the Corinth Canal and the Mirtoan Sea * the Thermaic Gulf, the gulf of Thessaloniki, located in the northern Greek region of Macedonia (Greece), Macedonia * the Kvarner Gulf,
Croatia , image_flag = Flag of Croatia.svg , image_coat = Coat of arms of Croatia.svg , anthem = "Lijepa naša domovino ''Lijepa naša domovino'' (; ) is the national anthem A national anthem is a song that ...

Croatia
* the Gulf of Almeria, southeast of Spain * the Gulf of Lion, south of France * the Gulf of Valencia, east of Spain * the Strait of Messina, between Sicily and Calabrian peninsula * the Gulf of Genoa, northwestern Italy * the Gulf of Venice, northeastern Italy * the
Gulf of Trieste The Gulf of Trieste ( it, Golfo di Trieste, sl, Tržaški zaliv, hr, Tršćanski zaljev, german: Golf von Triest) is a very shallow bay of the Adriatic Sea The Adriatic Sea () is a body of water separating the from the . The Adriatic is t ...

Gulf of Trieste
, northeastern Italy * the Gulf of Taranto, southern Italy * the Gulf of Saint Euphemia, southern Italy, with the international airport nearby * the Gulf of Salerno, southwestern Italy * the Gulf of Gaeta, southwestern Italy * the Gulf of Squillace, southern Italy * the Strait of Otranto, between Italy and
Albania Albania ( ; sq, Shqipëri or Shqipëria), officially the Republic of Albania ( sq, Republika e Shqipërisë), is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a par ...

Albania
* the Gulf of Haifa, northern Israel * the
Gulf of Sidra Gulf of Sidra, ( ar, خليج السدرة, ''Khalij as-Sidra''; it, Golfo di Sidra), after the oil port of Sidra, or Gulf of Sirte ( ar, خليج سرت, ''Khalij Surt''; it, Golfo della Sirte), after the city of Sirte, is a body of water in ...
, between Tripolitania (western Libya) and Cyrenaica (eastern Libya) * the Strait of Sicily, between Sicily and
Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in northern Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous , after in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11. ...

Tunisia
* the Corsica Channel, between Corsica and Italy * the Strait of Bonifacio, between Sardinia and Corsica * the Gulf of İskenderun, between İskenderun and Adana (Turkey) * the Gulf of Antalya, between west and east shores of Antalya (Turkey) * the Bay of Kotor, in south-western
Montenegro Montenegro (; cnr, Crna Gora, , , ; sq, Mali i zi) is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (fro ...

Montenegro
and south-eastern
Croatia , image_flag = Flag of Croatia.svg , image_coat = Coat of arms of Croatia.svg , anthem = "Lijepa naša domovino ''Lijepa naša domovino'' (; ) is the national anthem A national anthem is a song that ...

Croatia
* the Malta Channel, between Sicily and Malta * the Gozo Channel, between Malta Island and Gozo


Ten largest islands by area


Climate

Much of the Mediterranean coast enjoys a Mediterranean climate#Hot-summer Mediterranean climate, hot-summer Mediterranean climate. However, most of its southeastern coast has a Desert climate#Hot desert climates, hot desert climate, and much of Spain's eastern (Mediterranean) coast has a Semi-arid climate#Cold semi-arid climates, cold semi-arid climate. Although they are rare, Mediterranean tropical-like cyclone, tropical cyclones occasionally form in the Mediterranean Sea, typically in September–November.


Sea temperature


Oceanography

Being nearly landlocked affects conditions in the Mediterranean Sea: for instance, tides are very limited as a result of the narrow connection with the Atlantic Ocean. The Mediterranean is characterised and immediately recognised by its deep blue colour. Evaporation greatly exceeds precipitation (meteorology), precipitation and river runoff in the Mediterranean, a fact that is central to the water circulation within the basin. Evaporation is especially high in its eastern half, causing the water level to decrease and salinity to increase eastward. The average salinity in the basin is 38 Salinity, PSU at 5 m depth. The temperature of the water in the deepest part of the Mediterranean Sea is . The net water influx from the Atlantic Ocean is ca. 70,000 m³/s or . Without this Atlantic water, the sea level of the Mediterranean Sea would fall at a rate of about 1 m per year.


General circulation

Water circulation in the Mediterranean can be attributed to the surface waters entering from the Atlantic through the
Strait of Gibraltar The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar, : ), also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, is a narrow that connects the to the and separates the in from in . The two continen ...

Strait of Gibraltar
(and also low salinity water entering the Mediterranean from the Black Sea through the Bosphorus). The cool and relatively low-salinity Atlantic water circulates eastwards along the North African coasts. A part of the surface water does not pass the Strait of Sicily, but deviates towards Corsica before exiting the Mediterranean. The surface waters entering the eastern Mediterranean basin circulate along the Libyan and Israeli coasts. Upon reaching the Levantine Sea, the surface waters having warmed and increased its salinity from its initial Atlantic state, is now denser and sinks to form the Levantine Intermediate Waters (LIW). Most of the water found anywhere between 50 and 600 m deep in the Mediterranean originates from the LIW. LIW are formed along the coasts of Turkey and circulate westwards along the Greek and South Italian coasts. LIW are the only waters passing the Sicily Strait westwards. After the Strait of Sicily, the LIW waters circulate along the Italian, French and Spanish coasts before exiting the Mediterranean through the depths of the Strait of Gibraltar. Deep water in the Mediterranean originates from three main areas: the Adriatic Sea, from which most of the deep water in the eastern Mediterranean originates, the Aegean Sea, and the Gulf of Lion. Deep water formation in the Mediterranean is triggered by strong winter convection fueled by intense cold winds like the Bora (wind), Bora. When new deep water is formed, the older waters mix with the overlaying intermediate waters and eventually exit the Mediterranean. The Water cycle#Residence times, residence time of water in the Mediterranean is approximately 100 years, making the Mediterranean especially sensitive to climate change.


Other events affecting water circulation

Being a semi-enclosed basin, the Mediterranean experiences transitory events that can affect the water circulation on short time scales. In the mid 1990s, the Aegean Sea became the main area for deep water formation in the eastern Mediterranean after particularly cold winter conditions. This transitory switch in the origin of deep waters in the eastern Mediterranean was termed Eastern Mediterranean Transient (EMT) and had major consequences on water circulation of the Mediterranean. Another example of a transient event affecting the Mediterranean circulation is the periodic inversion of the North Ionian Gyre, which is an Anticyclonic rotation, anticyclonic ocean gyre observed in the northern part of the
Ionian Sea The Ionian Sea ( el, Ιόνιο Πέλαγος, ''Iónio Pélagos'' ; it, Mar Ionio ; al, Deti Jon ("our sea")) is an elongated bay A bay is a recessed, coastal body of water that directly connects to a larger main body of water, such ...

Ionian Sea
, off the Greek coast. The transition from anticyclonic to cyclonic rotation of this gyre changes the origin of the waters fueling it; when the circulation is anticyclonic (most common), the waters of the gyre originate from the Adriatic Sea. When the circulation is cyclonic, the waters originate from the Levantine Sea. These waters have different physical and chemical characteristics, and the periodic inversion of the North Ionian Gyre (called Bimodal Oscillating System or BiOS) changes the Mediterranean circulation and biogeochemistry around the Adriatic and Levantine regions.


Climate change

Because of the short residence time of waters, the Mediterranean Sea is considered a hot-spot for climate change effects.Giorgi, F. (2006). Climate change hot-spots. Geophysical Research Letters, 33(8) :L08707. 15 Deep water temperatures have increased by between 1959 and 1989. According to climate projections, the Mediterranean Sea could become warmer. The decrease in precipitation over the region could lead to more evaporation ultimately increasing the Mediterranean Sea salinity. Because of the changes in temperature and salinity, the Mediterranean Sea may become more stratified by the end of the 21st century, with notable consequences on water circulation and biogeochemistry.


Biogeochemistry

In spite of its great biodiversity, concentrations of chlorophyll and nutrients in the Mediterranean Sea are very low, making it one of the most oligotrophic ocean regions in the world. The Mediterranean Sea is commonly referred to as an LNLC (Low-Nutrient, Low-Chlorophyll) area. The Mediterranean Sea fits the definition of a desert in which its nutrient contents are low, making it difficult for plants and animals to develop. There are steep gradients in nutrient concentrations, chlorophyll concentrations and primary productivity in the Mediterranean. Nutrient concentrations in the western part of the basin are about double the concentrations in the eastern basin. The Alboran Sea, close to the
Strait of Gibraltar The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar, : ), also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, is a narrow that connects the to the and separates the in from in . The two continen ...

Strait of Gibraltar
, has a daily primary productivity of about 0.25 g C (grams of carbon) m−2 day−1 whereas the eastern basin has an average daily productivity of 0.16 g C m−2 day−1. For this reason, the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea is termed "ultraoligotrophic". The productive areas of the Mediterranean Sea are few and small. High (i.e. more than 0.5 grams of chlorophyll a, Chlorophyll ''a'' per cubic meter) productivity occurs in coastal areas, close to the river mouths which are the primary suppliers of dissolved nutrients. The Gulf of Lion has a relatively high productivity because it is an area of high vertical mixing, bringing nutrients to the surface waters that can be used by phytoplankton to produce Chlorophyll ''a''.Bosc, E., Bricaud, A., and Antoine, D. (2004). Seasonal and interannual variability in algal biomass and primary production in the Mediterranean Sea, as derived from 4 years of SeaWiFS observations : MEDITERRANEAN SEA BIOMASS AND PRODUCTION. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 18(1). Primary productivity in the Mediterranean is also marked by an intense seasonal variability. In winter, the strong winds and precipitation over the basin generate Convective mixing, vertical mixing, bringing nutrients from the deep waters to the surface, where phytoplankton can convert it into Biomass (ecology), biomass. However, in winter, light may be the limiting factor for primary productivity. Between March and April, spring offers the ideal trade-off between light intensity and nutrient concentrations in surface for a spring bloom to occur. In summer, high atmospheric temperatures lead to the warming of the surface waters. The resulting density difference virtually isolates the surface waters from the rest of the water column and nutrient exchanges are limited. As a consequence, primary productivity is very low between June and October. Oceanographic expeditions uncovered a characteristic feature of the Mediterranean Sea biogeochemistry: most of the chlorophyll production does not occur on the surface, but in sub-surface waters between 80 and 200 meters deep. Another key characteristic of the Mediterranean is its high nitrogen-to-phosphorus ratio (N:P). Alfred C. Redfield, Redfield demonstrated that most of the world's oceans have an average N:P ratio around 16. However, the Mediterranean Sea has an average N:P between 24 and 29, which translates a widespread phosphorus limitation. Because of its low productivity, plankton assemblages in the Mediterranean Sea are dominated by small organisms such as picophytoplankton and bacteria.


Geology

The geology, geologic history of the Mediterranean Sea is complex. Underlain by oceanic crust, the sea basin was once thought to be a tectonic remnant of the ancient Tethys Ocean; it is now known to be a structurally younger basin, called the Neotethys, which was first formed by the convergence of the African plate, African and Eurasian plates during the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic. Because it is a near-landlocked body of water in a normally dry climate, the Mediterranean is subject to intensive evaporation and the precipitation of evaporites. The
Messinian salinity crisis The Messinian salinity crisis (MSC), also referred to as the Messinian event, and in its latest stage as the Lago Mare event, was a geological event during which the Mediterranean Sea went into a cycle of partial or nearly complete desiccation (dr ...
started about six million years ago (mya) when the Mediterranean became landlocked, and then essentially dried up. There are salt deposits accumulated on the bottom of the basin of more than a million cubic kilometres—in some places more than three kilometres thick. Scientists estimate that the sea was last filled about 5.3 million years ago (mya) in less than two years by the Zanclean flood. Water poured in from the Atlantic Ocean through a newly breached gateway now called the
Strait of Gibraltar The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar, : ), also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, is a narrow that connects the to the and separates the in from in . The two continen ...

Strait of Gibraltar
at an estimated rate of about three orders of magnitude (one thousand times) larger than the current flow of the Amazon River. The Mediterranean Sea has an average depth of and the deepest recorded point is in the
Calypso Deep Calypso Deep, located in the Hellenic Trench, Ionian Sea 62.6 km south-west of Pylos, Greece, is the deepest part of the Mediterranean Sea, with a maximum depth of , at . Manned descents The first manned descent into Calypso Deep was on 27 Septem ...

Calypso Deep
in the
Ionian Sea The Ionian Sea ( el, Ιόνιο Πέλαγος, ''Iónio Pélagos'' ; it, Mar Ionio ; al, Deti Jon ("our sea")) is an elongated bay A bay is a recessed, coastal body of water that directly connects to a larger main body of water, such ...

Ionian Sea
. The coastline extends for . A shallow submarine ridge (the Strait of Sicily) between the island of Sicily and the coast of
Tunisia ) , image_map = Tunisia location (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = Location of Tunisia in northern Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous , after in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11. ...

Tunisia
divides the sea in two main subregions: the Western Mediterranean, with an area of about 850,000 km2 (330,000 mi2); and the Eastern Mediterranean, of about 1.65 million km2 (640,000 mi2). Coastal areas have submarine karst springs or s, which discharge pressurised groundwater into the water from below the surface; the discharge water is usually fresh, and sometimes may be thermal.


Tectonics and paleoenvironmental analysis

The Mediterranean basin and sea system were established by the ancient African-Arabian continent colliding with the Eurasian continent. As Africa-Arabia drifted northward, it closed over the ancient Tethys Ocean which had earlier separated the two supercontinents Laurasia and Gondwana. At about that time in the middle Jurassic period (roughly 170 million years ago ) a much smaller sea basin, dubbed the Neotethys, was formed shortly before the Tethys Ocean closed at its western (Arabian) end. The broad line of collisions pushed up a very long system of mountains from the Pyrenees in Spain to the Zagros Mountains in Iran in an episode of mountain-building tectonics known as the Alpine orogeny. The Neotethys grew larger during the episodes of collisions (and associated foldings and subductions) that occurred during the Oligocene and Miocene epochs (34 to 5.33 mya); see animation: Supercontinent, Africa-Arabia colliding with Eurasia. Accordingly, the Mediterranean Oceanic basin, basin consists of several stretched Tectonics, tectonic plates in subduction which are the foundation of the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. Various zones of subduction contain the highest oceanic ridges, east of the
Ionian Sea The Ionian Sea ( el, Ιόνιο Πέλαγος, ''Iónio Pélagos'' ; it, Mar Ionio ; al, Deti Jon ("our sea")) is an elongated bay A bay is a recessed, coastal body of water that directly connects to a larger main body of water, such ...

Ionian Sea
and south of the Aegean Sea, Aegean. The Central Indian Ridge runs east of the Mediterranean Sea south-east across the in-between of
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
and the Arabian Peninsula into the Indian Ocean.


Messinian salinity crisis

During Mesozoic and Cenozoic times, as the northwest corner of Africa converged on Iberia, it lifted the Betic-Rif mountain belts across southern Iberia and northwest Africa. There the development of the intramontane Betic and Rif basins created two roughly parallel marine gateways between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Dubbed the Betic corridor, Betic and Rifian corridors, they gradually closed during the middle and late Miocene: perhaps several times. In the late Miocene the closure of the Betic Corridor triggered the so-called "
Messinian salinity crisis The Messinian salinity crisis (MSC), also referred to as the Messinian event, and in its latest stage as the Lago Mare event, was a geological event during which the Mediterranean Sea went into a cycle of partial or nearly complete desiccation (dr ...
" (MSC), when the Mediterranean almost entirely dried out. The start of the MSC was recently estimated astronomically at 5.96 mya, and it persisted for some 630,000 years until about 5.3 mya; see Animation: Messinian salinity crisis, at right. After the initial drawdown and re-flooding, there followed more episodes—the total number is debated—of sea drawdowns and re-floodings for the duration of the MSC. It ended when the Atlantic Ocean last re-flooded the basin—creating the
Strait of Gibraltar The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar, : ), also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, is a narrow that connects the to the and separates the in from in . The two continen ...

Strait of Gibraltar
and causing the Zanclean flood—at the end of the Miocene (5.33 mya). Some research has suggested that a desiccation-flooding-desiccation cycle may have repeated several times, which could explain several events of large amounts of salt deposition. Recent studies, however, show that repeated desiccation and re-flooding is unlikely from a geodynamic point of view.


Desiccation and exchanges of flora and fauna

The present-day Atlantic gateway, the
Strait of Gibraltar The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar, : ), also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, is a narrow that connects the to the and separates the in from in . The two continen ...

Strait of Gibraltar
, originated in the early Pliocene via the Zanclean Flood. As mentioned, there were two earlier gateways: the Betic Corridor across southern Spain and the Rifian Corridor across northern Morocco. The Betic closed about 6 mya, causing the Messinian salinity crisis (MSC); the Rifian or possibly both gateways closed during the earlier Tortonian times, causing a "Tortonian salinity crisis" (from 11.6 to 7.2 mya), long before the MSC and lasting much longer. Both "crises" resulted in broad connections between the mainlands of Africa and Europe, which allowed migrations of flora and fauna—especially large mammals including primates—between the two continents. The Vallesian, Vallesian crisis indicates a typical extinction and replacement of mammal species in Europe during Tortonian times following climatic upheaval and overland migrations of new species: see Animation: Messinian salinity crisis (and mammal migrations), at right. The almost complete enclosure of the Mediterranean basin has enabled the oceanic gateways to dominate seawater circulation and the environmental evolution of the sea and basin. Circulation patterns are also affected by several other factors—including climate, bathymetry, and water chemistry and temperature—which are interactive and can induce precipitation of evaporites. Deposits of evaporites accumulated earlier in the nearby Geology of the Western Carpathians#Foredeep, Carpathian foredeep during the Middle Miocene, and the adjacent Red Sea Basin (during the Late Miocene), and in the whole Mediterranean basin (during the MSC and the Messinian age). Many diatomites are found underneath the evaporite deposits, suggesting a connection between their formations. Today, evaporation of surface seawater (output) is more than the supply (input) of fresh water by precipitation and coastal drainage systems, causing the salinity of the Mediterranean to be much higher than that of the Atlantic—so much so that the saltier Mediterranean waters sink below the waters incoming from the Atlantic, causing a two-layer flow across the Strait of Gibraltar: that is, an outflow Strait of Gibraltar#Inflow and outflow, ''submarine current'' of warm saline Mediterranean water, counterbalanced by an inflow surface current of less saline cold oceanic water from the Atlantic. In the 1920s, Herman Sörgel proposed the building of a hydroelectric dam (the Atlantropa project) across the Straits, using the inflow current to provide a large amount of hydroelectric energy. The underlying energy grid was also intended to support a political union between Europe and, at least, the Maghreb part of Africa (compare Eurafrique, Eurafrika for the later impact and Desertec for a later project with some parallels in the planned grid).


Shift to a "Mediterranean climate"

The end of the Miocene also marked a change in the climate of the Mediterranean basin. Fossil evidence from that period reveals that the larger basin had a humid subtropical climate with rainfall in the summer supporting laurel forests. The shift to a "Mediterranean climate" occurred largely within the last three million years (the late Pliocene epoch) as summer rainfall decreased. The subtropical laurel forests retreated; and even as they persisted on the islands of Macaronesia off the Atlantic coast of Iberia and North Africa, the present Mediterranean vegetation evolved, dominated by coniferous trees and sclerophyllous trees and shrubs with small, hard, waxy leaves that prevent moisture loss in the dry summers. Much of these forests and shrublands have been altered beyond recognition by thousands of years of human habitation. There are now very few relatively intact natural areas in what was once a heavily wooded region.


Paleoclimate

Because of its latitude and its landlocked position, the Mediterranean is especially sensitive to astronomically induced climatic variations, which are well documented in its sedimentary record. Since the Mediterranean is subject to the deposition of eolian dust from the Sahara during dry periods, whereas riverine detritus (geology), detrital input prevails during wet ones, the Mediterranean marine sapropel-bearing sequences provide high-resolution climatic information. These data have been employed in reconstructing astronomically calibrated time scales for the last 9 Ma of the Earth's history, helping to constrain the time of past geomagnetic reversals. Furthermore, the exceptional accuracy of these paleoclimatic records has improved our knowledge of the Earth's orbital variations in the past.


Biodiversity

Unlike the vast multidirectional ocean currents in open
ocean The ocean (also the sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
s within their respective oceanic zones; Marine ecosystem, biodiversity in the Mediterranean Sea is that of a stable one due to the subtle but strong locked nature of Ocean current, currents which affects favorably, even the smallest macroscopic type of Hydrothermal vent, volcanic life form. The stable marine ecosystem of the Mediterranean Sea and Sea surface temperature, sea temperature provides a nourishing environment for Marine biology, life in the deep sea to flourish while assuring a balanced aquatic ecosystem excluded from any external Deep sea, deep Ocean, oceanic factors. It is estimated that there are more than 17,000 Marine life, marine species in the Mediterranean Sea with generally higher marine biodiversity in Coast, coastal areas, Continental shelf, continental shelves, and decreases with depth. As a result of the drying of the sea during the
Messinian salinity crisis The Messinian salinity crisis (MSC), also referred to as the Messinian event, and in its latest stage as the Lago Mare event, was a geological event during which the Mediterranean Sea went into a cycle of partial or nearly complete desiccation (dr ...
, the marine biota of the Mediterranean are derived primarily from the Atlantic Ocean. The North Atlantic is considerably colder and more nutrient-rich than the Mediterranean, and the marine life of the Mediterranean has had to adapt to its differing conditions in the five million years since the basin was reflooded. The Alboran Sea is a transition zone between the two seas, containing a mix of Mediterranean and Atlantic species. The Alboran Sea has the largest population of bottlenose dolphins in the Western Mediterranean, is home to the last population of harbour porpoises in the Mediterranean, and is the most important feeding grounds for loggerhead sea turtles in Europe. The Alboran Sea also hosts important commercial fisheries, including sardines and swordfish. The Mediterranean monk seals live in the Aegean Sea in Greece. In 2003, the World Wildlife Fund raised concerns about the widespread drift net fishing endangering populations of dolphins, turtles, and other marine animals such as the Galathea strigosa, spiny squat lobster. There was a resident population of killer whale in the Mediterranean until the 1980s, when they went extinct, probably due to longterm PCB exposure. There are still annual sightings of killer whale vagrants.


Environmental issues

For 4,000 years, human activity has transformed most parts of Mediterranean Europe, and the "humanisation of the landscape" overlapped with the appearance of the present Mediterranean climate. The image of a simplistic, environmental determinist notion of a Mediterranean paradise on Earth in antiquity, which was destroyed by later civilisations, dates back to at least the 18th century and was for centuries fashionable in archaeological and historical circles. Based on a broad variety of methods, e.g. historical documents, analysis of trade relations, floodplain sediments, pollen, tree-ring and further archaeometric analyses and population studies, Alfred Thomas Grove's and Oliver Rackham's work on "The Nature of Mediterranean Europe" challenges this common wisdom of a Mediterranean Europe as a "Lost Eden", a formerly fertile and forested region, that had been progressively degraded and desertified by human mismanagement. The belief stems more from the failure of the recent landscape to measure up to the imaginary past of the classics as idealised by artists, poets and scientists of the early modern Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment. The historical evolution of climate, vegetation and landscape in southern Europe from prehistoric times to the present is much more complex and underwent various changes. For example, some of the deforestation had already taken place before the Roman age. While in the Roman age large enterprises such as the Latifundium, latifundia took effective care of forests and agriculture, the largest depopulation effects came with the end of the empire. Some assume that the major deforestation took place in modern times—the later usage patterns were also quite different e.g. in southern and northern Italy. Also, the climate has usually been unstable and there is evidence of various ancient and modern "Little Ice Ages", and plant cover accommodated to various extremes and became resilient to various patterns of human activity. Human activity was therefore not the cause of climate change but followed it. The wide ecological diversity typical of Mediterranean Europe is predominantly based on human behavior, as it is and has been closely related human usage patterns. The diversity range was enhanced by the widespread exchange and interaction of the longstanding and highly diverse local agriculture, intense transport and trade relations, and the interaction with settlements, pasture and other land use. The greatest human-induced changes, however, came after World War II, in line with the "1950s syndrome" as rural populations throughout the region abandoned traditional subsistence economies. Grove and Rackham suggest that the locals left the traditional agricultural patterns and instead became scenery-setting agents for tourism. This resulted in more uniform, large-scale formations. Among further current important threats to Mediterranean landscapes are overdevelopment of coastal areas, abandonment of mountains and, as mentioned, the loss of variety via the reduction of traditional agricultural occupations.The Nature of Mediterranean Europe: An Ecological History, by Alfred Thomas Grove, Oliver Rackham, Yale University Press, 2003
review at Yale university pressNature of Mediterranean Europe: An Ecological History (review) Brian M. Fagan
, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Volume 32, Number 3, Winter 2002, pp. 454–455 , ]


Natural hazards

The region has a variety of geological hazards which have closely interacted with human activity and land use patterns. Among others, in the eastern Mediterranean, the Thera eruption, dated to the 17th or 16th century BC, caused a large tsunami that some experts hypothesise devastated the Minoan civilization, Minoan civilisation on the nearby island of Crete, further leading some to believe that this may have been the catastrophe that inspired the Atlantis legend. Mount Vesuvius is the only active volcano on the European mainland, while others, Mount Etna and Stromboli, are on neighbouring islands. The region around Vesuvius including the Phlegraean Fields Caldera west of Naples are quite active and constitute the most densely populated volcanic region in the world where an eruptive event may occur within decades. Vesuvius itself is regarded as quite dangerous due to a tendency towards explosive (Plinian eruption, Plinian) eruptions. It is best known for its Eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79, eruption in AD 79 that led to the burying and destruction of the Ancient Rome, Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The large experience of member states and regional authorities has led to exchange on the international level with cooperation of NGOs, states, regional and municipality authorities and private persons. The Greek–Turkish earthquake diplomacy is a quite positive example of natural hazards leading to improved relations between traditional rivals in the region after earthquakes in İzmir and Athens in 1999. The European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) was set up to respond to major natural disasters and express European solidarity to disaster-stricken regions within all of Europe. The largest amount of funding requests in the EU relates to forest fires, followed by floods and earthquakes. Forest fires, whether man made or natural, are a frequent and dangerous hazard in the Mediterranean region. Tsunamis are also an often underestimated hazard in the region. For example, the 1908 Messina earthquake and tsunami took more than 123,000 lives in Sicily and Calabria and was among the most deadly natural disasters in modern Europe.


Invasive species

The opening of the
Suez Canal The Suez Canal ( ar, قَنَاةُ ٱلسُّوَيْسِ, ') is an artificial sea-level Mean sea level (MSL) (often shortened to sea level) is an mean, average level of the surface of one or more of Earth's bodies of water from which hei ...
in 1869 created the first salt-water passage between the Mediterranean and the
Red Sea The Red Sea ( ar, البحر الأحمر, translit=al-Baḥr al-ʾAḥmar; or ; Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a North ...

Red Sea
. The Red Sea is higher than the Eastern Mediterranean, so the canal functions as a tidal strait that pours Red Sea water into the Mediterranean. The Bitter Lakes, which are hyper-saline natural lakes that form part of the canal, blocked the migration of Red Sea species into the Mediterranean for many decades, but as the salinity of the lakes gradually equalised with that of the Red Sea, the barrier to migration was removed, and plants and animals from the Red Sea have begun to colonise the Eastern Mediterranean. The Red Sea is generally saltier and more nutrient-poor than the Atlantic, so the Red Sea species have advantages over Atlantic species in the salty and nutrient-poor Eastern Mediterranean. Accordingly, Red Sea species invade the Mediterranean biota, and not vice versa; this phenomenon is known as the Lessepsian migration (after Ferdinand de Lesseps, the French engineer) or Erythrean ("red") invasion. The construction of the Aswan High Dam across the Nile River in the 1960s reduced the inflow of freshwater and nutrient-rich silt from the Nile into the Eastern Mediterranean, making conditions there even more like the Red Sea and worsening the impact of the invasive species. Invasive species have become a major component of the Mediterranean ecosystem and have serious impacts on the Mediterranean ecology, endangering many local and endemism, endemic Mediterranean species. A first look at some groups of exotic species shows that more than 70% of the non-indigenous Decapoda, decapods and about 63% of the exotic fishes occurring in the Mediterranean are of Indo-Pacific origin, introduced species, introduced into the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal. This makes the Canal the first pathway of arrival of Introduced species, alien species into the Mediterranean. The impacts of some Lessepsian species have proven to be considerable, mainly in the Levantine basin of the Mediterranean, where they are replacing native species and becoming a familiar sight. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature definition, as well as Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Ramsar Convention terminologies, they are alien species, as they are non-native (non-indigenous) to the Mediterranean Sea, and they are outside their normal area of distribution which is the Indo-Pacific region. When these species succeed in establishing populations in the Mediterranean Sea, compete with and begin to replace native species they are "Alien Invasive Species", as they are an agent of change and a threat to the native biodiversity. In the context of CBD, "introduction" refers to the movement by human agency, indirect or direct, of an alien species outside of its natural range (past or present). The Suez Canal, being an artificial (man made) canal, is a human agency. Lessepsian migrants are therefore "introduced" species (indirect, and unintentional). Whatever wording is chosen, they represent a threat to the native Mediterranean biodiversity, because they are non-indigenous to this sea. In recent years, the Egyptian government's announcement of its intentions to deepen and widen the canal have raised concerns from marine biologists, fearing that such an act will only worsen the invasion of Red Sea species into the Mediterranean, and lead to even more species passing through the canal.


Arrival of new tropical Atlantic species

In recent decades, the arrival of exotic species from the tropical Atlantic has become noticeable. Whether this reflects an expansion of the natural area of these species that now enter the Mediterranean through the Gibraltar strait, because of a warming trend of the water caused by global warming; or an extension of the maritime traffic; or is simply the result of a more intense scientific investigation, is still an open question. While not as intense as the "Lessepsian" movement, the process may be of scientific interest and may therefore warrant increased levels of monitoring.


Sea-level rise

By 2100 the overall level of the Mediterranean could rise between as a result of the effects of global warming, effects of climate change. This could have adverse effects on populations across the Mediterranean: * Rising sea levels will submerge parts of
Malta Malta ( , , ), officially known as the Republic of Malta ( mt, Repubblika ta' Malta ) and formerly Melita, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies south of Italy, east of Tunisi ...

Malta
. Rising sea levels will also mean rising salt water levels in Malta's groundwater supply and reduce the availability of drinking water. * A rise in sea level would flood of the Nile Delta, displacing over 500,000 Egyptians. *
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or poli ...

Cyprus
wetlands are also in danger of being destroyed by the rising temperatures and sea levels. Coastal ecosystems also appear to be threatened by sea level rise, especially enclosed seas such as the Baltic Sea, Baltic, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. These seas have only small and primarily east–west movement Habitat corridor, corridors, which may restrict northward displacement of organisms in these areas. Sea level rise for the next century (2100) could be between and and temperature shifts of a mere 0.05–0.1 °C in the deep sea are sufficient to induce significant changes in species richness and functional diversity.


Pollution

Marine pollution, Pollution in this region has been extremely high in recent years. The United Nations Environment Programme has estimated that of sewage, of mineral oil, of mercury, of lead and of phosphates are dumped into the Mediterranean each year. The Barcelona Convention aims to 'reduce pollution in the Mediterranean Sea and protect and improve the marine environment in the area, thereby contributing to its sustainable development.' Many marine species have been almost wiped out because of the sea's pollution. One of them is the Mediterranean monk seal which is considered to be among the world's most endangered marine mammals. The Mediterranean is also plagued by marine debris. A 1994 study of the seabed using trawl nets around the coasts of Spain, France and Italy reported a particularly high mean concentration of debris; an average of 1,935 items per km2. Plastic debris accounted for 76%, of which 94% was plastic bags.


Shipping

Some of the world's busiest shipping routes are in the Mediterranean Sea. In particular, the Maritime Silk Road from Asia and Africa leads through the Suez Canal directly into the Mediterranean Sea to its deep-water ports in Piraeus,
Trieste Trieste ( , ; sl, Trst ; german: Triest ) is a city and seaport The Porticciolo del Cedas port in Barcola The thumb is the first digit of the hand, next to the index finger. When a person is standing in the medical anatomical position (wher ...

Trieste
, Genoa, Marseilles and Barcelona. It is estimated that approximately 220,000 merchant vessels of more than 100 gross tonnage, tonnes cross the Mediterranean Sea each year—about one third of the world's total merchant shipping. These ships often carry hazardous cargo, which if lost would result in severe damage to the marine environment. The discharge of chemical tank washings and oily wastes also represent a significant source of marine pollution. The Mediterranean Sea constitutes 0.7% of the global water surface and yet receives 17% of global marine oil pollution. It is estimated that every year between and of crude oil are deliberately released into the sea from shipping activities. Approximately of oil are transported annually in the Mediterranean Sea (more than 20% of the world total), with around 250–300 oil tankers crossing the sea every day. An important destination is the Port of Trieste, the starting point of the Transalpine Pipeline, which covers 40% of Germany's oil demand (100% of the federal states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg), 90% of Austria and 50% of the Czech Republic. Accidental oil spills happen frequently with an average of 10 spills per year. A major oil spill could occur at any time in any part of the Mediterranean.


Tourism

The coast of the Mediterranean has been used for tourism since ancient times, as the Roman villa buildings on the Amalfi Coast or in Barcola show. From the end of the 19th century, in particular, the beaches became places of longing for many Europeans and travelers. From then on, and especially after World War II, mass tourism to the Mediterranean began with all its advantages and disadvantages. While initially, the journey was by train and later by bus or car, today the plane is increasingly used.Rüdiger Hachtmann "Tourismus-Geschichte." (2007); Attilio Brilli "Quando viaggiare era un'arte. Il romanzo del grand tour." (1995). Tourism is today one of the most important sources of income for many Mediterranean countries, despite the man-made geopolitical conflicts in the region. The countries have tried to extinguish rising man-made chaotic zones that might affect the region's economies and societies in neighboring coastal countries, and shipping routes. Naval and rescue components in the Mediterranean Sea are considered to be among the best due to the rapid cooperation between various List of fleets, naval fleets. Unlike the vast open oceans, the sea's closed position facilitates effective naval and rescue missions, considered the safest and regardless of any man-made or natural disaster. Tourism is a source of income for small coastal communities, including islands, independent of urban centers. However, tourism has also played major role in the environmental degradation, degradation of the coastal and marine environment. Rapid development has been encouraged by Mediterranean governments to support the large numbers of tourists visiting the region; but this has caused serious disturbance to marine habitats by erosion and #Pollution, pollution in many places along the Mediterranean coasts. Tourism often concentrates in areas of high natural wealth, causing a serious threat to the habitats of endangered species such as sea turtles and monk seals. Reductions in natural wealth may reduce the incentive for tourists to visit.


Overfishing

Fish stock levels in the Mediterranean Sea are alarmingly low. The European Environment Agency says that more than 65% of all fish stocks in the region are outside safe biological limits and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, that some of the most important fisheries—such as albacore and Atlantic bluefin tuna, bluefin tuna, hake, marlin, swordfish, red mullet and sea bream—are threatened. There are clear indications that catch size and quality have declined, often dramatically, and in many areas larger and longer-lived species have disappeared entirely from commercial catches. Large open water fish like tuna have been a shared fisheries resource for thousands of years but the stocks are now dangerously low. In 1999, Greenpeace published a report revealing that the amount of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean had decreased by over 80% in the previous 20 years and government scientists warn that without immediate action the stock will collapse.


Gallery

File:Hammametgolf.jpg, Beach of Hammamet, Tunisia, Hammamet, Tunisia File:Plage-de-la-courtade.jpg, The beach of la Courtade in the Îles d'Hyères, France File:Chia beach, Sardinia, Italy.jpg, Sardinia's south coast, Italy File:Malta - Birzebbuga - Triq il-Bajja s-Sabiha + Pretty Bay + Gnien Mons. Guzeppi Minuti 03 ies.jpg, Pretty Bay, Malta File:Piran Stadtpanorama.jpg, Panoramic view of Piran, Slovenia File:Cavtat Croatia 2008-10-07.JPG, Panoramic view of Cavtat, Croatia File:Neum02451.JPG, View of Neum, Bosnia and Herzegovina File:svetistefan1756.JPG, A view of Sveti Stefan, Montenegro File:Ksamill-1.jpg, Ksamil Islands, Albania File:Panagiotis wreck.jpg, Navagio, Greece File:Marmaris TURKEY.JPG, Marmaris, Turkish Riviera, Turquoise Coast, Turkey File:Petra tou romiou beach.jpg, Paphos, Cyprus File:Burjeslam.jpg, Burj Islam Beach, Latakia, Syria File:BeirutRaouche1.jpg, A view of Raouché off the coast of Beirut, Lebanon File:Bat Galim neighborhood and Haifa Bay.jpg, A view of Haifa, Israel File:Coast of Alexandria, A view From Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt.jpg, Coast of
Alexandria Alexandria ( or ; ar, الإسكندرية ; arz, اسكندرية ; Coptic language, Coptic: Rakodī; el, Αλεξάνδρεια ''Alexandria'') is the List of cities and towns in Egypt, third-largest city in Egypt after Cairo and Giza, ...

Alexandria
, view From Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt File:ForbysIbizaTown 02.jpg, Old city of Ibiza Town, Spain File:Les Aiguades.jpg, Les Aiguades near Béjaïa, Algeria File:EL Jebha1.jpg, El Jebha, a port town in Morocco File:Gibraltar-Europa-Point-LH-from-the-sea.jpg, Europa Point, Gibraltar File:Monaco City 001.jpg, Panoramic view of La Condamine, Monaco File:شاطئ دير البلح horizon adjusted.jpg, Sunset at the Deir al-Balah beach, Gaza Strip


See also

* * * , the site of the Mediterranean cultures * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Names of the Mediterranean Sea * – Early cartographer of the Mediterranean * * – also known as the Japanese Mediterranean Sea * *


References


External links


Mediterranean Sea Microorganisms: 180+ images of Foraminifera

Eastern Mediterranean Sea Long Term Ecological Research Station
{{Authority control Mediterranean Sea, European seas Geography of North Africa Marginal seas of the Atlantic Ocean Marine ecoregions Natural history of Europe Articles containing video clips Seas of Africa Seas of Asia