Mediterranean Sea

Mediterranean Sea

Overview
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea
Sea
A sea generally refers to a large body of salt water, but the term is used in other contexts as well. Most commonly, it means a large expanse of saline water connected with an ocean, and is commonly used as a synonym for ocean...

 connected to the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, on the south by North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

, and on the east by the Levant. The sea is sometimes considered a part of the Atlantic Ocean, although it is usually identified as a completely separate body of water.

The name Mediterranean is derived from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 mediterraneus, meaning "inland" or "in the middle of the earth" (from medius, "middle" and terra, "earth").
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Encyclopedia
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea
Sea
A sea generally refers to a large body of salt water, but the term is used in other contexts as well. Most commonly, it means a large expanse of saline water connected with an ocean, and is commonly used as a synonym for ocean...

 connected to the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, on the south by North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

, and on the east by the Levant. The sea is sometimes considered a part of the Atlantic Ocean, although it is usually identified as a completely separate body of water.

The name Mediterranean is derived from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 mediterraneus, meaning "inland" or "in the middle of the earth" (from medius, "middle" and terra, "earth"). It covers an approximate area of 2.5 million km² (965,000 sq mi), but its connection to the Atlantic (the Strait of Gibraltar
Strait of Gibraltar
The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain in Europe from Morocco in Africa. The name comes from Gibraltar, which in turn originates from the Arabic Jebel Tariq , albeit the Arab name for the Strait is Bab el-Zakat or...

) is only 14 km (8.7 mi) wide. In oceanography
Oceanography
Oceanography , also called oceanology or marine science, is the branch of Earth science that studies the ocean...

, it is sometimes called the Eurafrican Mediterranean Sea or the European Mediterranean Sea to distinguish it from mediterranean seas
Mediterranean sea (oceanography)
In oceanography, a mediterranean sea is a mostly enclosed sea that has limited exchange of water with outer oceans and where the water circulation is dominated by salinity and temperature differences rather than winds....

 elsewhere.

The Mediterranean Sea has an average depth of 1500 m (4,921.3 ft) and the deepest recorded point is 5267 m (17,280.2 ft) in the Calypso Deep
Calypso Deep
Calypso Deep, located in the Ionian Sea south-west of Pylos, Greece, is the deepest part of the Mediterranean Sea, with a maximum depth of , at .At the Calypso Deep, the African Plate slides under the Eurasian Plate, creating the Hellenic Trench....

 in the Ionian Sea.

It was an important route for merchants and travelers of ancient times that allowed for trade and cultural exchange between emergent peoples of the region — the Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

n, Persian, Egyptian
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

, Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

n, Carthaginian
Carthage
Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

, Iberian
Iberians
The Iberians were a set of peoples that Greek and Roman sources identified with that name in the eastern and southern coasts of the Iberian peninsula at least from the 6th century BC...

, Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 and Byzantine
Byzantium
Byzantium was an ancient Greek city, founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzas . The name Byzantium is a Latinization of the original name Byzantion...

, Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 and Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Illyria
Illyria
In classical antiquity, Illyria was a region in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula inhabited by the Illyrians....

n, Thracian, Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

ine, Gallic
Gauls
The Gauls were a Celtic people living in Gaul, the region roughly corresponding to what is now France, Belgium, Switzerland and Northern Italy, from the Iron Age through the Roman period. They mostly spoke the Continental Celtic language called Gaulish....

, Armenian
Armenians
Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

, Arabic, Berber
Berber people
Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are continuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke the Berber language or varieties of it, which together form a branch...

, Jewish, Aragonese
Crown of Aragon
The Crown of Aragon Corona d'Aragón Corona d'Aragó Corona Aragonum controlling a large portion of the present-day eastern Spain and southeastern France, as well as some of the major islands and mainland possessions stretching across the Mediterranean as far as Greece...

, Slavic
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

 and Turkish
Turkish people
Turkish people, also known as the "Turks" , are an ethnic group primarily living in Turkey and in the former lands of the Ottoman Empire where Turkish minorities had been established in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Romania...

 cultures. The history of the Mediterranean region
History of the Mediterranean region
The history of the Mediterranean region is the history of the interaction of the cultures and people of the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea —the central superhighway of transport, trade and cultural exchange between diverse peoples...

 is crucial to understanding the origins and development of many modern societies. "For the three quarters of the globe, the Mediterranean Sea is similarly the uniting element and the centre of World History
World History
World History, Global History or Transnational history is a field of historical study that emerged as a distinct academic field in the 1980s. It examines history from a global perspective...

."

Name



The term Mediterranean derives from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 word mediterraneus, meaning "in the middle of earth" or "between lands" (medius, "middle, between" + terra, "land, earth"). This is on account of the sea's intermediary position between the continents of Africa and Europe. The Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 name Mesogeios (Μεσόγειος), is similarly from μέσο, "middle" + γη, "land, earth").

The Mediterranean Sea has been known by a number of alternative names throughout human history. For example the Romans commonly called it Mare Nostrum
Mare Nostrum
Mare Nostrum may refer to:*Mare Nostrum, the Roman term for the Mediterranean Sea, adopted by Italian nationalists and fascists.*Mare Nostrum , a Spanish-language novel by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez...

(Latin, "Our Sea"), and occasionally Mare Internum (Sallust
Sallust
Gaius Sallustius Crispus, generally known simply as Sallust , a Roman historian, belonged to a well-known plebeian family, and was born at Amiternum in the country of the Sabines...

, Jug. 17).

In the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

, it was primarily known as the "Great Sea" (Num.
Book of Numbers
The Book of Numbers is the fourth book of the Hebrew Bible, and the fourth of five books of the Jewish Torah/Pentateuch....

 34:6,7; Josh.
Book of Joshua
The Book of Joshua is the sixth book in the Hebrew Bible and of the Old Testament. Its 24 chapters tell of the entry of the Israelites into Canaan, their conquest and division of the land under the leadership of Joshua, and of serving God in the land....

 1:4, 9:1, 15:47; Ezek.
Book of Ezekiel
The Book of Ezekiel is the third of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, following the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah and preceding the Book of the Twelve....

 47:10,15,20), or simply "The Sea" (1 Kings 5:9; comp. 1 Macc. 14:34, 15:11); however, it has also been called the "Hinder Sea", due to its location on the west coast of the Holy Land
Holy Land
The Holy Land is a term which in Judaism refers to the Kingdom of Israel as defined in the Tanakh. For Jews, the Land's identifiction of being Holy is defined in Judaism by its differentiation from other lands by virtue of the practice of Judaism often possible only in the Land of Israel...

, and therefore behind a person facing the east, as referenced in the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

, sometimes translated as "Western Sea", (Deut.
Deuteronomy
The Book of Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible, and of the Jewish Torah/Pentateuch...

 11:24; Joel
Book of Joel
The Book of Joel is part of the Hebrew Bible. Joel is part of a group of twelve prophetic books known as the Minor Prophets or simply as The Twelve; the distinction 'minor' indicates the short length of the text in relation to the larger prophetic texts known as the "Major Prophets".-Content:After...

 2:20). Another name was the "Sea of the Philistines
Philistines
Philistines , Pleshet or Peleset, were a people who occupied the southern coast of Canaan at the beginning of the Iron Age . According to the Bible, they ruled the five city-states of Gaza, Askelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath, from the Wadi Gaza in the south to the Yarqon River in the north, but with...

" (Exod. 23:31), from the people occupying a large portion of its shores near the Israelites.

In Modern Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

, it has been called HaYyam HaTtikhon (הַיָּם הַתִּיכוֹן), "the middle sea", a literal adaptation of the German equivalent Mittelmeer. In Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

, it is known as Akdeniz, "the white sea". In modern Arabic, it is known as (البحر الأبيض المتوسط), "the White Middle Sea", while in Islamic and older Arabic literature, it was referenced as (بحر الروم), or "the Roman/Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 Sea."

History




As a sea around which some of the most ancient human civilisations were arranged, it has had a major influence on the history and ways of life of these cultures. It provided a way of trade, colonisation and war, and was the basis of life (via fishing and the gathering of other seafood) for numerous communities throughout the ages.

The combination of similarly shared climate, geology and access to a common sea has led to numerous historical and cultural connections between the ancient and modern societies around the Mediterranean.

Two of the most notable Mediterranean civilisations in classical antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 were the Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 city states and the Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

ns. When Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

 founded the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, the Mediterranean sea began to be called Mare Nostrum (literally:"Our Sea") by the Romans.

Darius I of Persia
Darius I of Persia
Darius I , also known as Darius the Great, was the third king of kings of the Achaemenid Empire...

, who conquered Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

 built a canal linking Mediterranean to the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

. Darius's canal was wide enough that two trireme
Trireme
A trireme was a type of galley, a Hellenistic-era warship that was used by the ancient maritime civilizations of the Mediterranean, especially the Phoenicians, ancient Greeks and Romans.The trireme derives its name from its three rows of oars on each side, manned with one man per oar...

s could pass each other with oars extended, and required four days to traverse.

The Roman empire began to crumble, however, in the fifth century and Rome collapsed after 476 AD. Temporarily the east was again dominant as the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 formed from the eastern half of the Roman one. Another power was rising in the east, that of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. At its greatest extent, the Arab Empire
Caliphate
The term caliphate, "dominion of a caliph " , refers to the first system of government established in Islam and represented the political unity of the Muslim Ummah...

 controlled 3/4 of the Mediterranean region.

Europe was reviving, however, as more organized and centralised states began to form in the later Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 after the Renaissance of the 12th century
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. It included social, political and economic transformations, and an intellectual revitalization of Western Europe with strong philosophical and scientific roots...

.

Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 power continued to grow, and in 1453, the Byzantine Empire was extinguished with the fall of Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

. The growing naval prowess of the European powers confronted further rapid Ottoman expansion in the region when the Battle of Lepanto
Battle of Lepanto (1571)
The Battle of Lepanto took place on 7 October 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League, a coalition of Catholic maritime states, decisively defeated the main fleet of the Ottoman Empire in five hours of fighting on the northern edge of the Gulf of Patras, off western Greece...

 checked the power of the Ottoman navy. The development of oceanic shipping began to affect the entire Mediterranean, however. While once all trade from the east had passed through the region, the circumnavigation of Africa allowed spice
Spice trade
Civilizations of Asia were involved in spice trade from the ancient times, and the Greco-Roman world soon followed by trading along the Incense route and the Roman-India routes...

s and other goods to be imported directly to the Atlantic ports of western Europe.

Geography



The Mediterranean Sea is connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the Strait of Gibraltar
Strait of Gibraltar
The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain in Europe from Morocco in Africa. The name comes from Gibraltar, which in turn originates from the Arabic Jebel Tariq , albeit the Arab name for the Strait is Bab el-Zakat or...

 on the west and to the Sea of Marmara
Sea of Marmara
The Sea of Marmara , also known as the Sea of Marmora or the Marmara Sea, and in the context of classical antiquity as the Propontis , is the inland sea that connects the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea, thus separating Turkey's Asian and European parts. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Black...

 and the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

, by the Dardanelles
Dardanelles
The Dardanelles , formerly known as the Hellespont, is a narrow strait in northwestern Turkey connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara. It is one of the Turkish Straits, along with its counterpart the Bosphorus. It is located at approximately...

 and the Bosporus
Bosporus
The Bosphorus or Bosporus , also known as the Istanbul Strait , is a strait that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia. It is one of the Turkish Straits, along with the Dardanelles...

 respectively, on the east. The Sea of Marmara is often considered a part of the Mediterranean Sea, whereas the Black Sea is generally not. The 163 km (101.3 mi) long man-made Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

 in the southeast connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

.

Large islands in the Mediterranean include Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

, Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, Euboea
Euboea
Euboea is the second largest Greek island in area and population, after Crete. The narrow Euripus Strait separates it from Boeotia in mainland Greece. In general outline it is a long and narrow, seahorse-shaped island; it is about long, and varies in breadth from to...

, Rhodes
Rhodes
Rhodes is an island in Greece, located in the eastern Aegean Sea. It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in terms of both land area and population, with a population of 117,007, and also the island group's historical capital. Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within...

, Lesbos
Lesbos Island
Lesbos is a Greek island located in the northeastern Aegean Sea. It has an area of with 320 kilometres of coastline, making it the third largest Greek island. It is separated from Turkey by the narrow Mytilini Strait....

, Chios
Chios
Chios is the fifth largest of the Greek islands, situated in the Aegean Sea, seven kilometres off the Asia Minor coast. The island is separated from Turkey by the Chios Strait. The island is noted for its strong merchant shipping community, its unique mastic gum and its medieval villages...

, Kefalonia
Kefalonia
The island of Cephalonia, also known as Kefalonia, Cephallenia, Cephallonia, Kefallinia, or Kefallonia , is the largest of the Ionian Islands in western Greece, with an area of . It is also a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and the only municipality of the regional unit...

, Corfu
Corfu
Corfu is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the second largest of the Ionian Islands, and, including its small satellite islands, forms the edge of the northwestern frontier of Greece. The island is part of the Corfu regional unit, and is administered as a single municipality. The...

, Naxos and Andros
Andros
Andros, or Andro is the northernmost island of the Greek Cyclades archipelago, approximately south east of Euboea, and about north of Tinos. It is nearly long, and its greatest breadth is . Its surface is for the most part mountainous, with many fruitful and well-watered valleys. The area is...

 in the eastern Mediterranean
Eastern Mediterranean
The Eastern Mediterranean is a term that denotes the countries geographically to the east of the Mediterranean Sea. This region is also known as Greater Syria or the Levant....

; Sardinia
Sardinia
Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea . It is an autonomous region of Italy, and the nearest land masses are the French island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Tunisia and the Spanish Balearic Islands.The name Sardinia is from the pre-Roman noun *sard[],...

, Corsica
Corsica
Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the island of Sardinia....

, Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

, Cres
Cres
Cres is an Adriatic island in Croatia. It is one of the northern island in the Kvarner Gulf and can be reached via ferry from the island Krk or from the Istrian peninsula ....

, Krk
Krk
Krk is a Croatian island in the northern Adriatic Sea, located near Rijeka in the Bay of Kvarner and part of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar county....

, Brač
Brac
Brač is an island in the Adriatic Sea within Croatia, with an area of 396 km², making it the largest island in Dalmatia, and the third largest in the Adriatic. Its tallest peak, Vidova Gora, or Mount St. Vid, stands at 778 m, making it the highest island point in the Adriatic...

, Hvar
Hvar
- Climate :The climate of Hvar is characterized by mild winters and warm summers. The yearly average air temperature is , 686 mm of precipitation fall on the town of Hvar on average every year and the town has a total of 2800 sunshine hours per year. For comparison Hvar has an average of 7.7...

, Pag
Pag (island)
Pag is a Croatian island in the northern Adriatic Sea. It is the fifth-largest island of the Croatian coast, and the one with the longest coastline....

, Korčula
Korcula
Korčula is an island in the Adriatic Sea, in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County of Croatia. The island has an area of ; long and on average wide — and lies just off the Dalmatian coast. Its 16,182 inhabitants make it the second most populous Adriatic island after Krk...

 and Malta
Malta Island
Malta Island is the largest of the three major islands that constitute the Maltese archipelago and Republic of Malta. Malta is in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea directly south of Italy and north of Libya. The area is 246 km² . The capital is Valletta, largest city is Qormi and the largest...

 in the central Mediterranean; and Ibiza
Ibiza
Ibiza or Eivissa is a Spanish island in the Mediterranean Sea 79 km off the coast of the city of Valencia in Spain. It is the third largest of the Balearic Islands, an autonomous community of Spain. With Formentera, it is one of the two Pine Islands or Pityuses. Its largest cities are Ibiza...

, Majorca and Minorca
Minorca
Min Orca or Menorca is one of the Balearic Islands located in the Mediterranean Sea belonging to Spain. It takes its name from being smaller than the nearby island of Majorca....

 (the Balearic Islands
Balearic Islands
The Balearic Islands are an archipelago of Spain in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula.The four largest islands are: Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera. The archipelago forms an autonomous community and a province of Spain with Palma as the capital...

) in the western Mediterranean.

The climate is a typical Mediterranean climate
Mediterranean climate
A Mediterranean climate is the climate typical of most of the lands in the Mediterranean Basin, and is a particular variety of subtropical climate...

 with hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. Crops of the region include olive
Olive
The olive , Olea europaea), is a species of a small tree in the family Oleaceae, native to the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean Basin as well as northern Iran at the south end of the Caspian Sea.Its fruit, also called the olive, is of major agricultural importance in the...

s, grape
Grape
A grape is a non-climacteric fruit, specifically a berry, that grows on the perennial and deciduous woody vines of the genus Vitis. Grapes can be eaten raw or they can be used for making jam, juice, jelly, vinegar, wine, grape seed extracts, raisins, molasses and grape seed oil. Grapes are also...

s, orange
Orange (fruit)
An orange—specifically, the sweet orange—is the citrus Citrus × sinensis and its fruit. It is the most commonly grown tree fruit in the world....

s, tangerine
Tangerine
__notoc__The tangerine is an orange-colored citrus fruit which is closely related to the Mandarin orange . Taxonomically, it should probably be formally named as a subspecies or variety of Citrus reticulata; further work seems to be required to ascertain its correct scientific name...

s, and cork
Cork (material)
Cork is an impermeable, buoyant material, a prime-subset of bark tissue that is harvested for commercial use primarily from Quercus suber , which is endemic to southwest Europe and northwest Africa...

.

Extent


The International Hydrographic Organization
International Hydrographic Organization
The International Hydrographic Organization is the inter-governmental organisation representing the hydrographic community. It enjoys observer status at the UN and is the recognised competent authority on hydrographic surveying and nautical charting...

 defines the limits of the Mediterranean Sea as follows:

The Mediterranean Sea is bounded by the coasts of Europe, Africa and Asia, from the Strait of Gibraltar
Strait of Gibraltar
The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain in Europe from Morocco in Africa. The name comes from Gibraltar, which in turn originates from the Arabic Jebel Tariq , albeit the Arab name for the Strait is Bab el-Zakat or...

 on the West to the entrances to the Dardanelles
Dardanelles
The Dardanelles , formerly known as the Hellespont, is a narrow strait in northwestern Turkey connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara. It is one of the Turkish Straits, along with its counterpart the Bosphorus. It is located at approximately...

 and the Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

 on the East.

It is divided into two deep basins as follows:
Western Basin

On the West. A line joining the extremities of Cape Trafalgar

Cape Trafalgar
Cape Trafalgar is a headland in the Province of Cádiz in the south-west of Spain. It lies on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, northwest of the Strait of Gibraltar...

 (Spain) and Cape Spartel
Cape Spartel
Cape Spartel is a promontory in Morocco about above sea level at the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar, 12 km West of Tangier. It is frequently but incorrectly referred as the northernmost point of Africa, which is instead Ras ben Sakka, Tunisia....

 (Africa).

On the Northeast. The West Coast of Italy. In the Strait of Messina

Strait of Messina
The Strait of Messina is the narrow passage between the eastern tip of Sicily and the southern tip of Calabria in the south of Italy. It connects the Tyrrhenian Sea with the Ionian Sea, within the central Mediterranean...

 a line joining the North extreme of Cape Paci (15°42'E) with Cape Peloro, the East extreme of the Island of Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

. The North Coast of Sicily.

On the East. A line joining Cape Lilibeo the Western point of Sicily (37°47′N 12°22′E), 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 Kum Kale (26°11'E) and Cape Helles

Cape Helles
Cape Helles is the rocky headland at the south-westernmost tip of the Gallipoli peninsula, Turkey. It was the scene of heavy fighting between Turkish and British troops during the landing at Cape Helles at the beginning of the Gallipoli Campaign in 1915....

, the Western entrance to the Dardanelles
Dardanelles
The Dardanelles , formerly known as the Hellespont, is a narrow strait in northwestern Turkey connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara. It is one of the Turkish Straits, along with its counterpart the Bosphorus. It is located at approximately...

.

On the Southeast. The entrance to the Suez Canal

Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

.

On the East. The coasts of Syria

Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

.


(It should be noted that the coast referred to as belonging to Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

 in this document dating to 1953 has been within the internationally recognised borders of the country known as Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 since 1948. Of the territories administered by the Palestinian Authority, only the Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

 has a sea coast.)

Oceanography


Being nearly landlocked affects the Mediterranean Sea's properties; for instance, tide
Tide
Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the moon and the sun and the rotation of the Earth....

s are very limited as a result of the narrow connection with the Atlantic Ocean. The Mediterranean is characterized and immediately recognised by its deep blue colour.

Evaporation
Evaporation
Evaporation is a type of vaporization of a liquid that occurs only on the surface of a liquid. The other type of vaporization is boiling, which, instead, occurs on the entire mass of the liquid....

 greatly exceeds precipitation
Precipitation (meteorology)
In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation (also known as one of the classes of hydrometeors, which are atmospheric water phenomena is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of 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
Salinity
Salinity is the saltiness or dissolved salt content of a body of water. It is a general term used to describe the levels of different salts such as sodium chloride, magnesium and calcium sulfates, and bicarbonates...

 to increase eastward. This pressure gradient
Pressure gradient
In atmospheric sciences , the pressure gradient is a physical quantity that describes in which direction and at what rate the pressure changes the most rapidly around a particular location. The pressure gradient is a dimensional quantity expressed in units of pressure per unit length...

 pushes relatively cool, low-salinity water from the Atlantic across the basin; it warms and becomes saltier as it travels east, then sinks in the region of the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 and circulates westward, to spill over the Strait of Gibraltar. Thus, seawater flow is eastward in the Strait's surface waters, and westward below; once in the Atlantic, this chemically distinct Mediterranean Intermediate Water can persist thousands of kilometres away from its source.

Bordering countries


Twenty-one modern states have a coastline on the Mediterranean Sea. They are:
  • Europe (from west to east): , , , , , , , , , , and (East Thrace
    East Thrace
    East Thrace or Eastern Thrace , also known as Turkish Thrace, is the part of the modern republic of Turkey that is geographically part of Europe, all in the eastern part of the historical region of Thrace; most of Turkey is in Anatolia, also known as Asia Minor. Turkish Thrace is also called...

    )
  • Asia (from north to south): (Anatolia
    Anatolia
    Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

    ), , , , , (the Sinai Peninsula
    Sinai Peninsula
    The Sinai Peninsula or Sinai is a triangular peninsula in Egypt about in area. It is situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Red Sea to the south, and is the only part of Egyptian territory located in Asia as opposed to Africa, effectively serving as a land bridge between two...

    )
  • Africa (from east to west): , , , and


Turkey and Egypt are transcontinental countries. The southernmost islands of Italy, the Pelagie islands
Pelagie Islands
The Pelagie Islands , from the Greek pélagos - πέλαγος meaning "open sea", are the three small islands of Lampedusa, Linosa, and Lampione, located in the Mediterranean Sea between Malta and Tunisia, south of Sicily. To the northwest lie the island of Pantelleria and the Strait of Sicily...

, are geologically part of the African continent.

Several other territories also border the Mediterranean Sea (from west to east):
  • British overseas territory of Gibraltar
    Gibraltar
    Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

  • Spanish enclaves of Ceuta
    Ceuta
    Ceuta is an autonomous city of Spain and an exclave located on the north coast of North Africa surrounded by Morocco. Separated from the Iberian peninsula by the Strait of Gibraltar, Ceuta lies on the border of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Ceuta along with the other Spanish...

     and Melilla
    Melilla
    Melilla is a autonomous city of Spain and an exclave on the north coast of Morocco. Melilla, along with the Spanish exclave Ceuta, is one of the two Spanish territories located in mainland Africa...

     and nearby islands
    Plazas de soberanía
    The plazas de soberanía or sovereign territories, referred to in English as Spanish North Africa or simply Spanish Africa, are the current Spanish territories in continental North Africa bordering Morocco, except the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla.After the Reconquista, forces of the...

  • British sovereign base area of Akrotiri and Dhekelia
    Akrotiri and Dhekelia
    The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia are two British-administered areas comprising a British Overseas Territory on the island of Cyprus administered as Sovereign Base Areas of the United Kingdom...

  • Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (disputed)
  • Gaza Strip
    Gaza Strip
    thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

     of the Palestinian Territories
    Palestinian territories
    The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...



Capital cities of sovereign countries and major cities (municipalities) with populations larger than 200,000 people bordering the Mediterranean Sea are:
Country Cities
Spain Alicante
Alicante
Alicante or Alacant is a city in Spain, the capital of the province of Alicante and of the comarca of Alacantí, in the south of the Valencian Community. It is also a historic Mediterranean port. The population of the city of Alicante proper was 334,418, estimated , ranking as the second-largest...

, Badalona
Badalona
Badalona is a city in eastern Catalonia, Spain. It is located in the comarca of the Barcelonès, near the city of Barcelona and part of its metropolitan area. It is situated on the left bank of the small Besòs River and on the Mediterranean Sea, backed by the Serra de la Marina mountain range...

, Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

, Cartagena
Cartagena, Spain
Cartagena is a Spanish city and a major naval station located in the Region of Murcia, by the Mediterranean coast, south-eastern Spain. As of January 2011, it has a population of 218,210 inhabitants being the Region’s second largest municipality and the country’s 6th non-Province capital...

, Málaga
Málaga
Málaga is a city and a municipality in the Autonomous Community of Andalusia, Spain. With a population of 568,507 in 2010, it is the second most populous city of Andalusia and the sixth largest in Spain. This is the southernmost large city in Europe...

, Palma, Valencia
France Marseille
Marseille
Marseille , known in antiquity as Massalia , is the second largest city in France, after Paris, with a population of 852,395 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Marseille extends beyond the city limits with a population of over 1,420,000 on an area of...

, Montpellier
Montpellier
-Neighbourhoods:Since 2001, Montpellier has been divided into seven official neighbourhoods, themselves divided into sub-neighbourhoods. Each of them possesses a neighbourhood council....

, Nice
Nice
Nice is the fifth most populous city in France, after Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse, with a population of 348,721 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of more than 955,000 on an area of...

Monaco
Monaco
Monaco , officially the Principality of Monaco , is a sovereign city state on the French Riviera. It is bordered on three sides by its neighbour, France, and its centre is about from Italy. Its area is with a population of 35,986 as of 2011 and is the most densely populated country in the...

Monaco
Monaco
Monaco , officially the Principality of Monaco , is a sovereign city state on the French Riviera. It is bordered on three sides by its neighbour, France, and its centre is about from Italy. Its area is with a population of 35,986 as of 2011 and is the most densely populated country in the...

*
Italy Bari
Bari
Bari is the capital city of the province of Bari and of the Apulia region, on the Adriatic Sea, in Italy. It is the second most important economic centre of mainland Southern Italy after Naples, and is well known as a port and university city, as well as the city of Saint Nicholas...

, Catania
Catania
Catania is an Italian city on the east coast of Sicily facing the Ionian Sea, between Messina and Syracuse. It is the capital of the homonymous province, and with 298,957 inhabitants it is the second-largest city in Sicily and the tenth in Italy.Catania is known to have a seismic history and...

, Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

, Messina, Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

, Palermo
Palermo
Palermo is a city in Southern Italy, the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Province of Palermo. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old...

, Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, Trieste
Trieste
Trieste is a city and seaport in northeastern Italy. It is situated towards the end of a narrow strip of land lying between the Adriatic Sea and Italy's border with Slovenia, which lies almost immediately south and east of the city...

, Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

Valletta
Valletta
Valletta is the capital of Malta, colloquially known as Il-Belt in Maltese. It is located in the central-eastern portion of the island of Malta, and the historical city has a population of 6,098. The name "Valletta" is traditionally reserved for the historic walled citadel that serves as Malta's...

*
Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

Durrës
Durrës
Durrës is the second largest city of Albania located on the central Albanian coast, about west of the capital Tirana. It is one of the most ancient and economically important cities of Albania. Durres is situated at one of the narrower points of the Adriatic Sea, opposite the Italian ports of Bari...

Greece Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

, Patras
Patras
Patras , ) is Greece's third largest urban area and the regional capital of West Greece, located in northern Peloponnese, 215 kilometers west of Athens...

, Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

Limassol
Limassol
Limassol is the second-largest city in Cyprus, with a population of 228,000 . It is the largest city in geographical size, and the biggest municipality on the island. The city is located on Akrotiri Bay, on the island's southern coast and it is the capital of Limassol District.Limassol is the...

Turkey Antalya
Antalya
Antalya is a city on the Mediterranean coast of southwestern Turkey. With a population 1,001,318 as of 2010. It is the eighth most populous city in Turkey and country's biggest international sea resort.- History :...

, Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

, Iskenderun
Iskenderun
İskenderun is a city and urban district in the province of Hatay on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. The current mayor is Yusuf Hamit Civelek .-Names:...

, İzmir
Izmir
Izmir is a large metropolis in the western extremity of Anatolia. The metropolitan area in the entire Izmir Province had a population of 3.35 million as of 2010, making the city third most populous in Turkey...

, İzmit
Izmit
İzmit is a city in Turkey, administrative center of Kocaeli Province as well as the Kocaeli Metropolitan Municipality. It is located at the Gulf of İzmit in the Sea of Marmara, about east of Istanbul, on the northwestern part of Anatolia. The city center has a population of 294.875...

, Mersin
Mersin
-Mersin today:Today, Mersin is a large city spreading out along the coast, with Turkey's second tallest skyscraper , huge hotels, an opera house, expensive real estate near the sea or up in the hills, and many other modern urban...

, Tarsus
Tarsus (city)
Tarsus is a historic city in south-central Turkey, 20 km inland from the Mediterranean Sea. It is part of the Adana-Mersin Metropolitan Area, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in Turkey with a population of 2.75 million...

Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

Lattakia
Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

Beirut
Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

, Tripoli
Tripoli, Lebanon
Tripoli is the largest city in northern Lebanon and the second-largest city in Lebanon. Situated 85 km north of the capital Beirut, Tripoli is the capital of the North Governorate and the Tripoli District. Geographically located on the east of the Mediterranean, the city's history dates back...

Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

Ashdod, Haifa
Haifa
Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher...

, Rishon LeZion, Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

Palestinian territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

Gaza City
Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

, Damietta
Damietta
Damietta , also known as Damiata, or Domyat, is a port and the capital of the Damietta Governorate in Egypt. It is located at the intersection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Nile, about north of Cairo.-History:...

, Port Said
Port Said
Port Said is a city that lies in north east Egypt extending about 30 km along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, north of the Suez Canal, with an approximate population of 603,787...

Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

Benghazi
Benghazi
Benghazi is the second largest city in Libya, the main city of the Cyrenaica region , and the former provisional capital of the National Transitional Council. The wider metropolitan area is also a district of Libya...

, Khoms, Misrata, Tripoli
Tripoli
Tripoli is the capital and largest city in Libya. It is also known as Western Tripoli , to distinguish it from Tripoli, Lebanon. It is affectionately called The Mermaid of the Mediterranean , describing its turquoise waters and its whitewashed buildings. Tripoli is a Greek name that means "Three...

Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

Sfax
Sfax
Sfax is a city in Tunisia, located southeast of Tunis. The city, founded in AD 849 on the ruins of Taparura and Thaenae, is the capital of the Sfax Governorate , and a Mediterranean port. Sfax has population of 340,000...

, Tunis
Tunis
Tunis is the capital of both the Tunisian Republic and the Tunis Governorate. It is Tunisia's largest city, with a population of 728,453 as of 2004; the greater metropolitan area holds some 2,412,500 inhabitants....

Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

Algiers
Algiers
' is the capital and largest city of Algeria. According to the 1998 census, the population of the city proper was 1,519,570 and that of the urban agglomeration was 2,135,630. In 2009, the population was about 3,500,000...

, Annaba
Annaba
Annaba is a city in the northeastern corner of Algeria near the river Seybouse. It is located in Annaba Province. With a population of 257,359 , it is the fourth largest city in Algeria. It is a leading industrial centre in eastern Algeria....

, Oran
Oran
Oran is a major city on the northwestern Mediterranean coast of Algeria, and the second largest city of the country.It is the capital of the Oran Province . The city has a population of 759,645 , while the metropolitan area has a population of approximately 1,500,000, making it the second largest...

Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

Tétouan
Tétouan
Tetouan is a city in northern Morocco. The Berber name means literally "the eyes" and figuratively "the water springs". Tetouan is one of the two major ports of Morocco on the Mediterranean Sea. It lies a few miles south of the Strait of Gibraltar, and about 40 mi E.S.E. of Tangier...

, Tangiers

Subdivisions


According to the International Hydrographic Organization
International Hydrographic Organization
The International Hydrographic Organization is the inter-governmental organisation representing the hydrographic community. It enjoys observer status at the UN and is the recognised competent authority on hydrographic surveying and nautical charting...

 (IHO), the Mediterranean Sea is subdivided into a number of smaller waterbodies, each with their own designation (from west to east):
  • the Strait of Gibraltar
    Strait of Gibraltar
    The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain in Europe from Morocco in Africa. The name comes from Gibraltar, which in turn originates from the Arabic Jebel Tariq , albeit the Arab name for the Strait is Bab el-Zakat or...

    ;
  • the Alboran Sea
    Alboran Sea
    |300px|thumb|]]The Alboran Sea is the westernmost portion of the Mediterranean Sea, lying between Spain on the north and Morocco and Algeria on the south...

    , between Spain and Morocco
    Morocco
    Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

    ;
  • the Balearic Sea
    Balearic Sea
    The Balearic Sea or Iberian Sea is a body of water in the Mediterranean Sea near the Balearic Islands. In the Catalan language the area is also known as the Catalan-Balearic Sea .The Ebro River flows into this small sea....

    , between mainland Spain and its Balearic Islands
    Balearic Islands
    The Balearic Islands are an archipelago of Spain in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula.The four largest islands are: Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera. The archipelago forms an autonomous community and a province of Spain with Palma as the capital...

    ;
  • the Ligurian Sea
    Ligurian Sea
    The Ligurian Sea is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea, between the Italian Riviera and the island of Corsica. The sea is probably named after the ancient Ligures people.-Geography:...

     between Corsica
    Corsica
    Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the island of Sardinia....

     and Liguria
    Liguria
    Liguria is a coastal region of north-western Italy, the third smallest of the Italian regions. Its capital is Genoa. It is a popular region with tourists for its beautiful beaches, picturesque little towns, and good food.-Geography:...

     (Italy);
  • the Tyrrhenian Sea
    Tyrrhenian Sea
    The Tyrrhenian Sea is part of the Mediterranean Sea off the western coast of Italy.-Geography:The sea is bounded by Corsica and Sardinia , Tuscany, Lazio, Campania, Basilicata and Calabria and Sicily ....

     enclosed by Sardinia
    Sardinia
    Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea . It is an autonomous region of Italy, and the nearest land masses are the French island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Tunisia and the Spanish Balearic Islands.The name Sardinia is from the pre-Roman noun *sard[],...

    , Italian peninsula
    Italian Peninsula
    The Italian Peninsula or Apennine Peninsula is one of the three large peninsulas of Southern Europe , spanning from the Po Valley in the north to the central Mediterranean Sea in the south. The peninsula's shape gives it the nickname Lo Stivale...

     and Sicily
    Sicily
    Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

    ;
  • the Ionian Sea
    Ionian Sea
    The Ionian Sea , is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Adriatic Sea. It is bounded by southern Italy including Calabria, Sicily and the Salento peninsula to the west, southern Albania to the north, and a large number of Greek islands, including Corfu, Zante, Kephalonia, Ithaka, and...

     between Italy, Albania
    Albania
    Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

     and Greece;
  • the Adriatic Sea
    Adriatic Sea
    The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges...

     between Italy, Slovenia
    Slovenia
    Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

    , Croatia
    Croatia
    Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

    , Bosnia and Herzegovina
    Bosnia and Herzegovina
    Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the...

    , Montenegro
    Montenegro
    Montenegro Montenegrin: Crna Gora Црна Гора , meaning "Black Mountain") is a country located in Southeastern Europe. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the south-west and is bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast and Albania to the...

     and Albania
    Albania
    Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

    ;
  • the Aegean Sea
    Aegean Sea
    The Aegean Sea[p] is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between the southern Balkan and Anatolian peninsulas, i.e., between the mainlands of Greece and Turkey. In the north, it is connected to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea by the Dardanelles and Bosporus...

     between Greece and Turkey.

Other seas


Although not recognised by the IHO treaties, there are some other seas whose names have been in common use from the ancient times, or in the present:
  • the Sea of Sardinia
    Sea of Sardinia
    The Sea of Sardinia The Sea of Sardinia The Sea of Sardinia ) is a body of water in the Mediterranean Sea between the spanish archipelago of Balearic Islands and the Italian island of Sardinia....

    , between Sardinia
    Sardinia
    Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea . It is an autonomous region of Italy, and the nearest land masses are the French island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Tunisia and the Spanish Balearic Islands.The name Sardinia is from the pre-Roman noun *sard[],...

     and Balearic Islands
    Balearic Islands
    The Balearic Islands are an archipelago of Spain in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula.The four largest islands are: Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera. The archipelago forms an autonomous community and a province of Spain with Palma as the capital...

    , as a part of the Balearic Sea
    Balearic Sea
    The Balearic Sea or Iberian Sea is a body of water in the Mediterranean Sea near the Balearic Islands. In the Catalan language the area is also known as the Catalan-Balearic Sea .The Ebro River flows into this small sea....

  • the Sea of Sicily between Sicily
    Sicily
    Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

     and Tunisia
    Tunisia
    Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

    ,
  • the Libyan Sea
    Libyan Sea
    The Libyan Sea is the portion of the Mediterranean Sea, north of the African coast of ancient Libya, i.e. Cyrenaica and Marmarica...

     between Libya
    Libya
    Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

     and Crete
    Crete
    Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

    ,
  • In the Aegean Sea
    Aegean Sea
    The Aegean Sea[p] is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between the southern Balkan and Anatolian peninsulas, i.e., between the mainlands of Greece and Turkey. In the north, it is connected to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea by the Dardanelles and Bosporus...

    ,
    • the Thracian Sea
      Thracian Sea
      thumb|250px|Map of the Aegean Sea. Thracian Sea is shown in its top.The Thracian Sea is a sea that is part of the Aegean Sea and forms the northernmost point of the sea. Regions surrounding the sea are Macedonia and Thrace as well as northwestern Turkey. The entire stretch of the sea lies north...

       in its north,
    • the Myrtoan Sea
      Myrtoan Sea
      The Myrtoan Sea is a subdivision of the Mediterranean Sea that lies between the Cyclades and the Peloponnesos. It is described as the part of the Aegean Sea south of Euboea, Attica, and Argolis. Some of the water mass of the Black Sea reaches the Myrtoan Sea, via transport through the Aegean...

       between the Cyclades
      Cyclades
      The Cyclades is a Greek island group in the Aegean Sea, south-east of the mainland of Greece; and a former administrative prefecture of Greece. They are one of the island groups which constitute the Aegean archipelago. The name refers to the islands around the sacred island of Delos...

       and the Peloponnese
      Peloponnese
      The Peloponnese, Peloponnesos or Peloponnesus , is a large peninsula , located in a region of southern Greece, forming the part of the country south of the Gulf of Corinth...

      ,
    • the Sea of Crete
      Sea of Crete
      thumb|300px|Map of the Sea of CreteThe Sea of Crete is the sea south of the Aegean Sea, north of the island Crete, and south of the Cyclades. The sea also stretches from Kythera east to the Dodecanese islands of Karpathos and Kassos. The bounding seas to the west are the Ionian Sea as well as...

       north of Crete,
    • the Icarian Sea
      Icarian Sea
      The Icarian Sea is a subdivision of the Mediterranean Sea that lies between the Cyclades and Asia Minor. It is described as the part of the Aegean Sea to the south of Chios, to the east of the Eastern Cyclades and west of Anatolia...

       between Kos
      Kos
      Kos or Cos is a Greek island in the south Sporades group of the Dodecanese, next to the Gulf of Gökova/Cos. It measures by , and is from the coast of Bodrum, Turkey and the ancient region of Caria. Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within the Kos peripheral unit, which is...

       and Chios
      Chios
      Chios is the fifth largest of the Greek islands, situated in the Aegean Sea, seven kilometres off the Asia Minor coast. The island is separated from Turkey by the Chios Strait. The island is noted for its strong merchant shipping community, its unique mastic gum and its medieval villages...

  • the Cilician Sea between Turkey and Cyprus
    Cyprus
    Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

  • the Levantine Sea
    Levantine Sea
    - Geography :The Levantine Sea is bordered by Turkey in the north, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the Gaza Strip in the east, Egypt and Libya in the south, and the Aegean Sea in the northwest. The western border to the open Mediterranean is defined as a line from the cape Ra's al-Hilal in Libya to the...

     at the eastern end of the Mediterranean

Other features


Many of these smaller seas feature in local myth and folklore and derive their names from these associations. In addition to the seas, a number of gulfs
Headlands and bays
Headlands and bays are two related features of the coastal environment.- Geology and geography :Headlands and bays are often found on the same coastline. A bay is surrounded by land on three sides, whereas a headland is surrounded by water on three sides. Headlands are characterized by high,...

 and strait
Strait
A strait or straits is a narrow, typically navigable channel of water that connects two larger, navigable bodies of water. It most commonly refers to a channel of water that lies between two land masses, but it may also refer to a navigable channel through a body of water that is otherwise not...

s are also recognised:
  • the Saint George Bay
    Saint George Bay
    The Saint George Bay is located on the northern coast of the city of Beirut in Lebanon. The Saint George Bay is believed to be the place where Saint George slew the dragon. Today the bay houses Beirut's western marina and extends to the north until the marina of Dbayeh...

     in Beirut, Lebanon
  • the Ras Ibn Hani
    Ras Ibn Hani
    Ras Ibn Hani is a small cape located north of Latakia, Syria on the Mediterranean Sea. It is an important archaeological site as it was occupied almost continuously from the late Bronze Age until Byzantine times...

     cape in Latakia
    Latakia
    Latakia, or Latakiyah , is the principal port city of Syria, as well as the capital of the Latakia Governorate. In addition to serving as a port, the city is a manufacturing center for surrounding agricultural towns and villages...

    , Syria
    Syria
    Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

  • the Ras al-Bassit
    Ras al-Bassit
    Ras al-Bassit is a small cape located north of Latakia, Syria on the Mediterranean Sea. The cape is a popular resort destination and the coastline is unusual for its distinctive black sand beaches.-History:...

     cape in northern Syria.
  • the Minet el-Beida
    Minet el-Beida
    Minet el-Beida is a small bay located north of Latakia, Syria on the Mediterranean Sea. It is an important archaeological site because it served as the harbor town and necropolis for Ugarit.-Overview:...

     ("White Harbour") bay near ancient Ugarit
    Ugarit
    Ugarit was an ancient port city in the eastern Mediterranean at the Ras Shamra headland near Latakia, Syria. It is located near Minet el-Beida in northern Syria. It is some seven miles north of Laodicea ad Mare and approximately fifty miles east of Cyprus...

    , Syria
    Syria
    Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

  • the Strait of Gibraltar
    Strait of Gibraltar
    The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain in Europe from Morocco in Africa. The name comes from Gibraltar, which in turn originates from the Arabic Jebel Tariq , albeit the Arab name for the Strait is Bab el-Zakat or...

    , connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain from Morocco
    Morocco
    Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

  • the Bay of Gibraltar
    Bay of Gibraltar
    The Bay of Gibraltar is a bay at the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula. It is around long by wide, covering an area of some , with a depth of up to in the centre of the bay...

    , at the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula
    Iberian Peninsula
    The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

  • the Gulf of Corinth
    Gulf of Corinth
    The Gulf of Corinth or the Corinthian Gulf is a deep inlet of the Ionian Sea separating the Peloponnese from western mainland Greece...

    , an enclosed sea between the Ionian Sea and the Corinth Canal
    Corinth Canal
    The Corinth Canal is a canal that connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. It cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth and separates the Peloponnesian peninsula from the Greek mainland, thus effectively making the former an island. The builders dug the canal through...

  • the Pagasetic Gulf
    Pagasetic Gulf
    The Pagasetic Gulf is a rounded gulf in the prefecture of Magnesia that is formed by the Mount Pelion peninsula. It is connected with the Euboic Sea...

    , the gulf of Volos
    Volos
    Volos is a coastal port city in Thessaly situated midway on the Greek mainland, about 326 km north of Athens and 215 km south of Thessaloniki...

    , south of the Thermaic Gulf, formed by the Mount Pelion peninsula
    Peninsula
    A peninsula is a piece of land that is bordered by water on three sides but connected to mainland. In many Germanic and Celtic languages and also in Baltic, Slavic and Hungarian, peninsulas are called "half-islands"....

  • the Saronic Gulf
    Saronic Gulf
    The Saronic Gulf or Gulf of Aegina in Greece forms part of the Aegean Sea and defines the eastern side of the isthmus of Corinth. It is the eastern terminus of the Corinth Canal, which cuts across the isthmus.-Geography:The gulf includes the islands of; Aegina, Salamis, and Poros along with...

    , the gulf of Athens
    Athens
    Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

    , between the Corinth Canal and the Mirtoan Sea
  • the Thermaic Gulf
    Thermaic Gulf
    The Thermaic Gulf is a gulf of the Aegean Sea located immediately south of Thessaloniki, east of Pieria and Imathia, and west of Chalkidiki . It was named after the ancient town of Therma, which was situated on the northeast coast of the gulf...

    , the gulf of Thessaloniki
    Thessaloniki
    Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

    , located in the northern Greek region of Macedonia
    Macedonia (Greece)
    Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of Greece in Southern Europe. Macedonia is the largest and second most populous Greek region...

  • the Kvarner Gulf
    Kvarner Gulf
    The Kvarner Gulf ); sometimes also Kvarner Bay, in Italian Quarnaro or Carnaro) is a bay in the northern Adriatic Sea, located between the Istrian peninsula and the northern Croatian seacoast....

    , Croatia
    Croatia
    Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

  • the Gulf of Lion
    Gulf of Lion
    The Gulf of Lion is a wide embayment of the Mediterranean coastline of Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence in France, reaching from the border with Catalonia in the west to Toulon.The chief...

    , south of France
  • the Gulf of Valencia
    Gulf of Valencia
    The Gulf of Valencia , is a gulf or inlet of the western Mediterranean Sea, on the eastern coast of Spain. Its limits are the Cap de la Nau headland in the south, while the northern limit is diffuse: for some it is the Cape of Vinaròs; and for others it is the Ebre Delta. When the Cape of Vinaròs...

    , east of Spain
  • the Strait of Messina
    Strait of Messina
    The Strait of Messina is the narrow passage between the eastern tip of Sicily and the southern tip of Calabria in the south of Italy. It connects the Tyrrhenian Sea with the Ionian Sea, within the central Mediterranean...

    , between Sicily
    Sicily
    Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

     and the toe of Italy
  • the Gulf of Genoa
    Gulf of Genoa
    The Gulf of Genoa is the northernmost part of the Ligurian Sea. The width of the gulf is about 125 km, from the city of Imperia in the west to La Spezia in the east. The largest city on the its coast is Genoa, which has an important port....

    , northwestern Italy
  • the Gulf of Venice
    Gulf of Venice
    The Gulf of Venice is a gulf that borders modern day Italy, Slovenia and Croatia, and is at the far north of the Adriatic Sea between the delta of the Po river in northern Italy and the Istria peninsula in Croatia.- Geography :...

    , northeastern Italy
  • the Gulf of Trieste
    Gulf of Trieste
    The Gulf of Trieste is a shallow bay of the Adriatic Sea, in the extreme northern part of the Mediterranean Sea. It is part of the Gulf of Venice and is shared by Italy, Slovenia and Croatia...

    , northeastern Italy
  • the Gulf of Taranto
    Gulf of Taranto
    The Gulf of Taranto is a gulf of the Ionian Sea, in southern Italy.The Gulf of Taranto is almost square, 140 km long and wide, and is delimited by the capes Santa Maria di Leuca and Colonna...

    , southern Italy
  • the Gulf of Salerno
    Gulf of Salerno
    The Gulf of Salerno is a gulf of the Tyrrhenian Sea in the coast of the province of Salerno in south-western Italy. The northern part of this coast is the touristic Costiera Amalfitana, including towns like Amalfi, Maiori, Positano and the city of Salerno itself.The Gulf of Salerno is separated...

    , southwestern Italy
  • the Gulf of Gaeta
    Gulf of Gaeta
    The Gulf of Gaeta is a body of water on the west coast of Italy and part of the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is bounded by Cape Circeo in the north, Ischia and the Gulf of Naples in the south, and the Pontine Islands in the west....

    , southwestern Italy
  • the Gulf of Squillace
    Gulf of Squillace
    The Gulf of Squillace is a body of water, an inlet of the Ionian Sea along the Calabrian coast of Italy.The gulf, renowned for its natural beauty, is part of the Ionian Sea and makes up part of the east coast of the region of Calabria...

    , southern Italy
  • the Strait of Otranto
    Strait of Otranto
    The Strait of Otranto connects the Adriatic Sea with the Ionian Sea and separates Italy from Albania. Its width at Punta Palascìa, east of Salento is less than . The strait is named after the Italian city of Otranto.- History :...

    , between Italy and Albania
    Albania
    Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

  • the Gulf of Haifa
    Gulf of Haifa
    Haifa Bay is a small bay along the Mediterranean coast of Northern Israel. Haifa Bay is Israel's only natural harbor on the Mediterranean.Fed by the Kishon River, the cities of Haifa and Acre mark its southern and northern capes, while its centre is lined with dunes and the suburban Krayot...

    , between Haifa
    Haifa
    Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher...

     and Akko, Israel
    Israel
    The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

  • the Gulf of Sidra
    Gulf of Sidra
    Gulf of Sidra is a body of water in the Mediterranean Sea on the northern coast of Libya; it is also known as Gulf of Sirte or the Great Sirte or Greater Syrtis .- Geography :The Gulf of Sidra has been a major centre for tuna fishing in the Mediterranean for centuries...

    , between Tripolitania
    Tripolitania
    Tripolitania or Tripolitana is a historic region and former province of Libya.Tripolitania was a separate Italian colony from 1927 to 1934...

     (western Libya) and Cyrenaica
    Cyrenaica
    Cyrenaica is the eastern coastal region of Libya.Also known as Pentapolis in antiquity, it was part of the Creta et Cyrenaica province during the Roman period, later divided in Libia Pentapolis and Libia Sicca...

     (eastern Libya)
  • the Strait of Sicily
    Strait of Sicily
    The Strait of Sicily is the strait between Sicily and Tunisia. It is about wide and divides the Tyrrhenian Sea and the western Mediterranean Sea from the eastern Mediterranean. Its maximum depth is ....

    , between Sicily
    Sicily
    Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

     and Tunisia
    Tunisia
    Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

  • the Corsica Channel, between Corsica
    Corsica
    Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the island of Sardinia....

     and Italy
  • the Strait of Bonifacio
    Strait of Bonifacio
    The Strait of Bonifacio is the strait between Corsica and Sardinia, named after the Corsican town Bonifacio. It is wide and divides the Tyrrhenian Sea from the western Mediterranean Sea...

    , between Sardinia
    Sardinia
    Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea . It is an autonomous region of Italy, and the nearest land masses are the French island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Tunisia and the Spanish Balearic Islands.The name Sardinia is from the pre-Roman noun *sard[],...

     and Corsica
    Corsica
    Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the island of Sardinia....

  • the Gulf of İskenderun
    Gulf of Iskenderun
    The Gulf of İskenderun is a gulf or inlet of the Levantine Sea, the easternmost part of Mediterranean Sea, of which it forms the easternmost tip, on the southern coast of Turkey near its border with Syria. It also contains the northernmost point of the Levantine Sea...

    , between İskenderun
    Iskenderun
    İskenderun is a city and urban district in the province of Hatay on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. The current mayor is Yusuf Hamit Civelek .-Names:...

     and Adana
    Adana
    Adana is a city in southern Turkey and a major agricultural and commercial center. The city is situated on the Seyhan River, 30 kilometres inland from the Mediterranean, in south-central Anatolia...

     (Turkey)
  • the Gulf of Antalya
    Gulf of Antalya
    The Gulf of Antalya is a large bay of the northern Levantine Sea, in the eastern Mediterranean Sea south of Antalya province, Turkey. It includes some of the main seaside resorts of Turkey, also known as the "Turkish riviera"....

    , between west and east shores of Antalya (Turkey)
  • the Bay of Kotor
    Bay of Kotor
    The Bay of Kotor in south-western Montenegro is a winding bay on the Adriatic Sea. The bay, sometimes called Europe's southernmost fjord, is in fact a submerged river canyon of the disintegrated Bokelj River which used to run from the high mountain plateaus of Mount Orjen...

    , in south-western Montenegro
    Montenegro
    Montenegro Montenegrin: Crna Gora Црна Гора , meaning "Black Mountain") is a country located in Southeastern Europe. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the south-west and is bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast and Albania to the...

     and south-eastern Croatia
    Croatia
    Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

  • the Malta Channel
    Malta Channel
    Malta Channel separates the European island of Malta from the southern tip of Sicily. The channel serves as a sea route link to Europe for the Maltese....

    , between Sicily and Malta

10 Major islands


Flag Island Area in km² Population
    Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

25,460 5,048,995
    Sardinia
Sardinia
Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea . It is an autonomous region of Italy, and the nearest land masses are the French island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Tunisia and the Spanish Balearic Islands.The name Sardinia is from the pre-Roman noun *sard[],...

24,090 1,672,804
  Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

9,251 1,088,503
    Corsica
Corsica
Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the island of Sardinia....

8,680 299,209
  Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

8,336 623,666
  Euboea
Euboea
Euboea is the second largest Greek island in area and population, after Crete. The narrow Euripus Strait separates it from Boeotia in mainland Greece. In general outline it is a long and narrow, seahorse-shaped island; it is about long, and varies in breadth from to...

3,684 218,032
    Majorca 3,640 869,067
  Lesbos 1,632 90,643
  Rhodes
Rhodes
Rhodes is an island in Greece, located in the eastern Aegean Sea. It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in terms of both land area and population, with a population of 117,007, and also the island group's historical capital. Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within...

1,400 117,007
  Chios
Chios
Chios is the fifth largest of the Greek islands, situated in the Aegean Sea, seven kilometres off the Asia Minor coast. The island is separated from Turkey by the Chios Strait. The island is noted for its strong merchant shipping community, its unique mastic gum and its medieval villages...

842 51,936

Sea temperature

Sea temperature (°C)
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Marseille
Marseille
Marseille , known in antiquity as Massalia , is the second largest city in France, after Paris, with a population of 852,395 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Marseille extends beyond the city limits with a population of over 1,420,000 on an area of...

 http://www.weather2travel.com/climate-guides/france/marseille.php
13 12 11 13 16 18 21 22 21 18 16 14
Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

 http://www.weather2travel.com/climate-guides/spain/barcelona.php
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Valencia http://www.weather2travel.com/climate-guides/spain/valencia.php 14 13 14 15 17 21 24 26 24 21 18 15
Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

 http://www.weather2travel.com/climate-guides/italy/neapolitan-riviera/naples.php
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Málaga
Málaga
Málaga is a city and a municipality in the Autonomous Community of Andalusia, Spain. With a population of 568,507 in 2010, it is the second most populous city of Andalusia and the sixth largest in Spain. This is the southernmost large city in Europe...

 http://www.weather2travel.com/climate-guides/spain/costa-del-sol/malaga.php
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Gibraltar
Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

 http://www.weather2travel.com/climate-guides/gibraltar/gibraltar.php
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Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 http://www.weather2travel.com/climate-guides/greece/athens.php
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Heraklion
Heraklion
Heraklion, or Heraclion is the largest city and the administrative capital of the island of Crete, Greece. It is the 4th largest city in Greece....

 http://www.weather2travel.com/climate-guides/greece/crete/iraklion.php
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Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

 http://www.weather2travel.com/climate-guides/malta/valletta.php
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Paphos
Paphos
Paphos , sometimes referred to as Pafos, is a coastal city in the southwest of Cyprus and the capital of Paphos District. In antiquity, two locations were called Paphos: Old Paphos and New Paphos. The currently inhabited city is New Paphos. It lies on the Mediterranean coast, about west of the...

 http://www.weather2travel.com/climate-guides/cyprus/paphos.php
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Larnaca
Larnaca
Larnaca, is the third largest city on the southern coast of Cyprus after Nicosia and Limassol. It has a population of 72,000 and is the island's second largest commercial port and an important tourist resort...

 http://www.weather2travel.com/climate-guides/cyprus/larnaca.php
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Limassol
Limassol
Limassol is the second-largest city in Cyprus, with a population of 228,000 . It is the largest city in geographical size, and the biggest municipality on the island. The city is located on Akrotiri Bay, on the island's southern coast and it is the capital of Limassol District.Limassol is the...

 http://www.weather2travel.com/climate-guides/cyprus/limassol.php
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Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 http://www.weather2travel.com/climate-guides/egypt/alexandria.php
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Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

 http://www.weather2travel.com/climate-guides/israel/tel-aviv.php
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Geology


See also: Geology and paleoclimatology of the Mediterranean Basin

The geologic history
Geology
Geology is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which it evolves. Geology gives insight into the history of the Earth, as it provides the primary evidence for plate tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, and past climates...

 of the Mediterranean is complex. It was involved in the tectonic break-up and then collision of the African
African Plate
The African Plate is a tectonic plate which includes the continent of Africa, as well as oceanic crust which lies between the continent and various surrounding ocean ridges.-Boundaries:...

 and Eurasian
Eurasian Plate
The Eurasian Plate is a tectonic plate which includes most of the continent of Eurasia , with the notable exceptions of the Indian subcontinent, the Arabian subcontinent, and the area east of the Chersky Range in East Siberia...

 plates. The Messinian Salinity Crisis
Messinian salinity crisis
The Messinian Salinity Crisis, 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 partly or nearly complete desiccation throughout the latter part of the Messinian age of the Miocene...

 occurred in the late Miocene
Miocene
The Miocene is a geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about . The Miocene was named by Sir Charles Lyell. Its name comes from the Greek words and and means "less recent" because it has 18% fewer modern sea invertebrates than the Pliocene. The Miocene follows the Oligocene...

 (12 million years ago to 5 million years ago) when the Mediterranean dried up. Geologically the Mediterranean is underlain by oceanic crust
Oceanic crust
Oceanic crust is the part of Earth's lithosphere that surfaces in the ocean basins. Oceanic crust is primarily composed of mafic rocks, or sima, which is rich in iron and magnesium...

.

The Mediterranean Sea has an average depth of 1500 m (4,921.3 ft) and the deepest recorded point is 5267 m (17,280.2 ft) in the Calypso Deep
Calypso Deep
Calypso Deep, located in the Ionian Sea south-west of Pylos, Greece, is the deepest part of the Mediterranean Sea, with a maximum depth of , at .At the Calypso Deep, the African Plate slides under the Eurasian Plate, creating the Hellenic Trench....

 in the Ionian Sea
Ionian Sea
The Ionian Sea , is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Adriatic Sea. It is bounded by southern Italy including Calabria, Sicily and the Salento peninsula to the west, southern Albania to the north, and a large number of Greek islands, including Corfu, Zante, Kephalonia, Ithaka, and...

. The coastline extends for 46000 km (28,583.1 mi). A shallow submarine ridge (the Strait of Sicily
Strait of Sicily
The Strait of Sicily is the strait between Sicily and Tunisia. It is about wide and divides the Tyrrhenian Sea and the western Mediterranean Sea from the eastern Mediterranean. Its maximum depth is ....

) between the island of Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

 and the coast of Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

 divides the sea in two main subregions (which in turn are divided into subdivisions), the Western Mediterranean and the Eastern Mediterranean
Eastern Mediterranean
The Eastern Mediterranean is a term that denotes the countries geographically to the east of the Mediterranean Sea. This region is also known as Greater Syria or the Levant....

. The Western Mediterranean covers an area of about 0.85 million km² (0.33 million mi²) and the Eastern Mediterranean
Eastern Mediterranean
The Eastern Mediterranean is a term that denotes the countries geographically to the east of the Mediterranean Sea. This region is also known as Greater Syria or the Levant....

 about 1.65 million km² (0.64 million mi²).

Tectonic evolution


The geodynamic
Geodynamics
Geodynamics is a subfield of geophysics dealing with dynamics of the Earth. It applies physics, chemistry and mathematics to the understanding of how mantle convection leads to plate tectonics and geologic phenomena such as seafloor spreading, mountain building, volcanoes, earthquakes, faulting and...

 evolution of the Mediterranean Sea was provided by the convergence of European and African plates. This process was driven by the differential spreading along the Atlantic ridge, which led to the closure of the Tethys Ocean
Tethys Ocean
The Tethys Ocean was an ocean that existed between the continents of Gondwana and Laurasia during the Mesozoic era before the opening of the Indian Ocean.-Modern theory:...

 and eventually to the Alpine orogenesis
Alpine orogeny
The Alpine orogeny is an orogenic phase in the Late Mesozoic and Tertiary that formed the mountain ranges of the Alpide belt...

. However, the Mediterranean also hosts wide extensional basins and migrating tectonic
Plate tectonics
Plate tectonics is a scientific theory that describes the large scale motions of Earth's lithosphere...

 arcs, in response to its land-locked configuration.

According to a report published by Nature
Nature (journal)
Nature, first published on 4 November 1869, is ranked the world's most cited interdisciplinary scientific journal by the Science Edition of the 2010 Journal Citation Reports...

 in 2009, scientists think that the Mediterranean Sea was mostly filled during a time period of less than two years, in a major flood (the Zanclean flood
Zanclean flood
The Zanclean flood is a flood theorized to have refilled the Mediterranean Sea 5.33 million years ago, at the beginning of the Zanclean age, between the Miocene and Pliocene, which ended the Messinian salinity crisis...

) that happened approximately 5.33 million years ago, in which water poured in from the Atlantic Ocean and through the Strait of Gibraltar
Strait of Gibraltar
The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain in Europe from Morocco in Africa. The name comes from Gibraltar, which in turn originates from the Arabic Jebel Tariq , albeit the Arab name for the Strait is Bab el-Zakat or...

, at a rate three times the current flow of the Amazon River
Amazon River
The Amazon of South America is the second longest river in the world and by far the largest by waterflow with an average discharge greater than the next seven largest rivers combined...

.

Eastern Mediterranean


In middle Miocene
Miocene
The Miocene is a geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about . The Miocene was named by Sir Charles Lyell. Its name comes from the Greek words and and means "less recent" because it has 18% fewer modern sea invertebrates than the Pliocene. The Miocene follows the Oligocene...

 times, the collision
Orogeny
Orogeny refers to forces and events leading to a severe structural deformation of the Earth's crust due to the engagement of tectonic plates. Response to such engagement results in the formation of long tracts of highly deformed rock called orogens or orogenic belts...

 between the Arabian microplate
Arabian Plate
The Arabian Plate is one of three tectonic plates which have been moving northward over millions of years and colliding with the Eurasian Plate...

 and Eurasia
Eurasian Plate
The Eurasian Plate is a tectonic plate which includes most of the continent of Eurasia , with the notable exceptions of the Indian subcontinent, the Arabian subcontinent, and the area east of the Chersky Range in East Siberia...

 led to the separation between the Tethys
Tethys Ocean
The Tethys Ocean was an ocean that existed between the continents of Gondwana and Laurasia during the Mesozoic era before the opening of the Indian Ocean.-Modern theory:...

 and the Indian
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

 oceans. This process resulted in profound changes in the oceanic circulation patterns, which shifted global climates towards colder conditions. The Hellenic arc
Hellenic arc
The Hellenic arc or Aegean arc is an arcuate tectonic feature of the eastern Mediterranean Sea related to the subduction of the African Plate beneath the Aegean Sea Plate...

, which has a land-locked configuration, underwent a widespread extension for the last 20 Myr due to a slab roll-back process. In addition, the Hellenic Arc experienced a rapid rotation phase during the Pleistocene
Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years BP that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciations. The name pleistocene is derived from the Greek and ....

, with a counterclockwise component in its eastern portion and a clockwise trend in the western segment.

Central Mediterranean


The opening of small oceanic basins of the central Mediterranean follows a trench migration and back-arc opening process that occurred during the last 30 Myr. This phase was characterised by the anticlockwise rotation of the Corsica-Sardinia block, which lasted until the Langhian (ca.16 Ma), and was in turn followed by a slab detachment along the northern African margin. Subsequently, a shift of this active extentional deformation led to the opening of the Tyrrenian basin.

Western Mediterranean


Since Mesozoic
Mesozoic
The Mesozoic era is an interval of geological time from about 250 million years ago to about 65 million years ago. It is often referred to as the age of reptiles because reptiles, namely dinosaurs, were the dominant terrestrial and marine vertebrates of the time...

 to Tertiary
Tertiary
The Tertiary is a deprecated term for a geologic period 65 million to 2.6 million years ago. The Tertiary covered the time span between the superseded Secondary period and the Quaternary...

 times, during convergence between Africa and Iberia, the Betic-Rif mountain belts developed. Tectonic models for its evolution include: rapid motion of Alboran microplate, subduction
Subduction
In geology, subduction is the process that takes place at convergent boundaries by which one tectonic plate moves under another tectonic plate, sinking into the Earth's mantle, as the plates converge. These 3D regions of mantle downwellings are known as "Subduction Zones"...

 zone and radial extensional collapse caused by convective removal of lithospheric mantle. The development of these intramontane Betic and Rif basins led to the onset of two marine gateways which were progressively closed during the late Miocene by an interplay of tectonic and glacio-eustatic processes.

Paleoenvironmental analysis


Its semi-enclosed configuration makes the oceanic gateways critical in controlling circulation and environmental evolution in the Mediterranean Sea. Water circulation patterns are driven by a number of interactive factors, such as climate and bathymetry, which can lead to precipitation of evaporites. During late Miocene times, a so-called "Messinian Salinity Crisis
Messinian salinity crisis
The Messinian Salinity Crisis, 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 partly or nearly complete desiccation throughout the latter part of the Messinian age of the Miocene...

" (MSC hereafter) occurred, which was triggered by the closure of the Atlantic gateway. Evaporite
Evaporite
Evaporite is a name for a water-soluble mineral sediment that result from concentration and crystallization by evaporation from an aqueous solution. There are two types of evaporate deposits, marine which can also be described as ocean deposits, and non-marine which are found in standing bodies of...

s accumulated in the Red Sea Basin
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

 (late Miocene
Miocene
The Miocene is a geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about . The Miocene was named by Sir Charles Lyell. Its name comes from the Greek words and and means "less recent" because it has 18% fewer modern sea invertebrates than the Pliocene. The Miocene follows the Oligocene...

), in the Carpatian foredeep (middle Miocene) and in the whole Mediterranean area (Messinian
Messinian
The Messinian is in the geologic timescale the last age or uppermost stage of the Miocene. It spans the time between 7.246 ± 0.005 Ma and 5.332 ± 0.005 Ma...

). An accurate age estimate of the MSC—5.96 Ma—has recently been astronomically achieved; furthermore, this event seems to have occurred synchronously. The beginning of the MSC is supposed to have been of tectonic origin; however, an astronomical control (eccentricity) might also have been involved. In the Mediterranean basin, diatomites are regularly found underneath the evaporite
Evaporite
Evaporite is a name for a water-soluble mineral sediment that result from concentration and crystallization by evaporation from an aqueous solution. There are two types of evaporate deposits, marine which can also be described as ocean deposits, and non-marine which are found in standing bodies of...

 deposits, thus suggesting (albeit not clearly so far) a connection between their geneses.

The present-day Atlantic gateway, i.e. the Strait of Gibraltar
Strait of Gibraltar
The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain in Europe from Morocco in Africa. The name comes from Gibraltar, which in turn originates from the Arabic Jebel Tariq , albeit the Arab name for the Strait is Bab el-Zakat or...

, finds its origin in the early Pliocene. However, two other connections between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea existed in the past: the Betic Corridor
Betic corridor
The Betic Corridor, or North-Betic Strait, was a strait of water connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean that once separated the Iberian plate from the Eurasian plate through the Betic Cordillera...

 (southern Spain) and the Rifian Corridor (northern Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

). The former closed during Tortonian
Tortonian
The Tortonian is in the geologic timescale an age or stage of the late Miocene that spans the time between 11.608 ± 0.005 Ma and 7.246 ± 0.005 Ma . It follows the Serravallian and is followed by the Messinian....

 times, thus providing a "Tortonian Salinity Crisis" well before the MSC; the latter closed about 6 Ma, allowing exchanges in the mammal fauna between Africa and Europe. Nowadays, evaporation is more relevant than the water yield supplied by riverine water and precipitation, so that salinity in the Mediterranean is higher than in the Atlantic. These conditions result in the outflow of warm saline Mediterranean deep water across Gibraltar, which is in turn counterbalanced by an inflow of a less saline surface current of cold oceanic water.

The Mediterranean was once thought to be the remnant of the Tethys Ocean
Tethys Ocean
The Tethys Ocean was an ocean that existed between the continents of Gondwana and Laurasia during the Mesozoic era before the opening of the Indian Ocean.-Modern theory:...

. It is now known to be a structurally younger ocean basin known as Neotethys. The Neotethys formed during the Late Triassic
Triassic
The Triassic is a geologic period and system that extends from about 250 to 200 Mya . As the first period of the Mesozoic Era, the Triassic follows the Permian and is followed by the Jurassic. Both the start and end of the Triassic are marked by major extinction events...

 and Early Jurassic
Jurassic
The Jurassic is a geologic period and system that extends from about Mya to  Mya, that is, from the end of the Triassic to the beginning of the Cretaceous. The Jurassic constitutes the middle period of the Mesozoic era, also known as the age of reptiles. The start of the period is marked by...

 rift
Rift
In geology, a rift or chasm is a place where the Earth's crust and lithosphere are being pulled apart and is an example of extensional tectonics....

ing of the African and Eurasian plates
Plate tectonics
Plate tectonics is a scientific theory that describes the large scale motions of Earth's lithosphere...

.

Paleoclimate


Because of its latitudinal position and its land-locked configuration, the Mediterranean is especially sensitive to astronomically induced climatic variations, which are well documented in its sedimentary record. Since the Mediterranean is involved in the deposition of eolian dust from the Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

 during dry periods, whereas riverine detrital input prevails during wet ones, the Mediterranean marine sapropel
Sapropel
Sapropel is a term used in marine geology to describe dark-coloured sediments that are rich in organic matter...

-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 Reversal
Geomagnetic reversal
A geomagnetic reversal is a change in the Earth's magnetic field such that the positions of magnetic north and magnetic south are interchanged. The Earth's field has alternated between periods of normal polarity, in which the direction of the field was the same as the present direction, and reverse...

s. Furthermore, the exceptional accuracy of these paleoclimatic records have improved our knowledge of the Earth's orbital variations in the past.

Ecology and biota


As a result of the drying of the sea during the Messinian Salinity Crisis
Messinian salinity crisis
The Messinian Salinity Crisis, 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 partly or nearly complete desiccation throughout the latter part of the Messinian age of the Miocene...

, 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
Alboran Sea
|300px|thumb|]]The Alboran Sea is the westernmost portion of the Mediterranean Sea, lying between Spain on the north and Morocco and Algeria on the south...

 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 Dolphin
Bottlenose Dolphin
Bottlenose dolphins, the genus Tursiops, are the most common and well-known members of the family Delphinidae, the family of oceanic dolphins. Recent molecular studies show the genus contains two species, the common bottlenose dolphin and the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin , instead of one...

s in the western Mediterranean, is home to the last population of harbour porpoise
Harbour Porpoise
The harbour porpoise is one of six species of porpoise. It is one of the smallest marine mammals. As its name implies, it stays close to coastal areas or river estuaries, and as such, is the most familiar porpoise to whale watchers. This porpoise often ventures up rivers, and has been seen...

s in the Mediterranean, and is the most important feeding grounds for Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Loggerhead Sea Turtle
The loggerhead sea turtle , or loggerhead, is an oceanic turtle distributed throughout the world. It is a marine reptile, belonging to the family Cheloniidae. The average loggerhead measures around long when fully grown, although larger specimens of up to have been discovered...

s in Europe. The Alboran sea also hosts important commercial fisheries, including sardine
Sardine
Sardines, or pilchards, are several types of small, oily fish related to herrings, family Clupeidae. Sardines are named after the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, around which they were once abundant....

s and swordfish
Swordfish
Swordfish , also known as broadbill in some countries, are large, highly migratory, predatory fish characterized by a long, flat bill. They are a popular sport fish of the billfish category, though elusive. Swordfish are elongated, round-bodied, and lose all teeth and scales by adulthood...

. In 2003, the World Wildlife Fund raised concerns about the widespread drift net
Drift net
Drift netting is a fishing technique where nets, called drift nets, are allowed to float freely at the surface of a sea or lake. Usually a drift net is a gill net with floats attached to a rope along the top of the net, and weights attached to another rope along the foot of the net to keep the net...

 fishing endangering populations of dolphins, turtles, and other marine animals.

Invasive species



The opening of the Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

 in 1869 created the first salt-water passage between the Mediterranean and Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

. The Red Sea is higher than the Eastern Mediterranean
Eastern Mediterranean
The Eastern Mediterranean is a term that denotes the countries geographically to the east of the Mediterranean Sea. This region is also known as Greater Syria or the Levant....

, so the canal serves as a tidal strait
Strait
A strait or straits is a narrow, typically navigable channel of water that connects two larger, navigable bodies of water. It most commonly refers to a channel of water that lies between two land masses, but it may also refer to a navigable channel through a body of water that is otherwise not...

 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 equalized 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
Eastern Mediterranean
The Eastern Mediterranean is a term that denotes the countries geographically to the east of the Mediterranean Sea. This region is also known as Greater Syria or the Levant....

. 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
Eastern Mediterranean
The Eastern Mediterranean is a term that denotes the countries geographically to the east of the Mediterranean Sea. This region is also known as Greater Syria or the Levant....

. Accordingly, Red Sea species invade the Mediterranean biota, and not vice versa; this phenomenon is known as the Lessepsian migration (after Ferdinand de Lesseps
Ferdinand de Lesseps
Ferdinand Marie, Vicomte de Lesseps, GCSI was the French developer of the Suez Canal, which joined the Mediterranean and Red Seas in 1869, and substantially reduced sailing distances and times between the West and the East.He attempted to repeat this success with an effort to build a sea-level...

, the French engineer) or Erythrean invasion. The construction of the Aswan High Dam across the Nile River in the 1960s reduced the inflow of freshwater and nutrient-rich silt
Silt
Silt is granular material of a size somewhere between sand and clay whose mineral origin is quartz and feldspar. Silt may occur as a soil or as suspended sediment in a surface water body...

 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
"Invasive species", or invasive exotics, is a nomenclature term and categorization phrase used for flora and fauna, and for specific restoration-preservation processes in native habitats, with several definitions....

.

Invasive species
Invasive species
"Invasive species", or invasive exotics, is a nomenclature term and categorization phrase used for flora and fauna, and for specific restoration-preservation processes in native habitats, with several definitions....

 have become a major component of the Mediterranean ecosystem and have serious impacts on the Mediterranean ecology, endangering many local and endemic Mediterranean species. A first look at some groups of exotic species show that more than 70% of the non-indigenous decapods and about 63% of the exotic fishes occurring in the Mediterranean are of Indo Pacific origin, introduced
Introduced species
An introduced species — or neozoon, alien, exotic, non-indigenous, or non-native species, or simply an introduction, is a species living outside its indigenous or native distributional range, and has arrived in an ecosystem or plant community by human activity, either deliberate or accidental...

 into the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal. This makes the Canal as the first pathway of arrival of "alien
Introduced species
An introduced species — or neozoon, alien, exotic, non-indigenous, or non-native species, or simply an introduction, is a species living outside its indigenous or native distributional range, and has arrived in an ecosystem or plant community by human activity, either deliberate or accidental...

" 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
Convention on Biological Diversity
The Convention on Biological Diversity , known informally as the Biodiversity Convention, is an international legally binding treaty...

(CBD) and Ramsar Convention
Ramsar Convention
The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, i.e., to stem the progressive encroachment on and loss of wetlands now and in the future, recognizing the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural,...

 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. Depending on their impact, Lessepsian migrants are either alien or alien invasive species. 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, facilitating the crossing of the canal for yet additional species.

Arrival of new tropical Atlantic species


In recent decades, the arrival of exotic species from the tropical Atlantic has become a noticeable feature. 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
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

; 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 deserves to be studied and monitored.

Sea-level rise


The overall level of the Mediterranean could rise between 3–61 cm as a result of the effects of climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

. This could have adverse effects on populations across the Mediterranean:
  • Rising sea levels will submerge parts of Malta
    Malta
    Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

    . Rising sea levels will also mean rising salt water levels in Malta's groundwater supply and reduce the availability of drinking water.
  • A 30 cm rise in sea level would flood 200 square kilometres of the Nile Delta
    Nile Delta
    The Nile Delta is the delta formed in Northern Egypt where the Nile River spreads out and drains into the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the world's largest river deltas—from Alexandria in the west to Port Said in the east, it covers some 240 km of Mediterranean coastline—and is a rich...

    , displacing over 500,000 Egyptians
    Egyptians
    Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

    .


Coastal ecosystems also appear to be threatened by sea level rise, especially enclosed seas such as the Baltic
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. These seas have only small and primarily east-west orientated movement corridors
Habitat corridor
A habitat corridor is a strip of land that aids in the movement of species between disconnected areas of their natural habitat. An animal’s natural habitat would typically include a number of areas necessary to thrive, such as wetlands, burrowing sites, food, and breeding grounds...

, which may restrict northward displacement of organisms in these areas. Sea level rise for the next century (2100) could be between 30 cm (11.8 in) and 100 cm (39.4 in) 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



Pollution in this region has been extremely high in recent years. The United Nations Environment Programme
United Nations Environment Programme
The United Nations Environment Programme coordinates United Nations environmental activities, assisting developing countries in implementing environmentally sound policies and practices. It was founded as a result of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in June 1972 and has its...

 has estimated that 650000000 t (716,502,352.1 ST) of sewage
Sewage
Sewage is water-carried waste, in solution or suspension, that is intended to be removed from a community. Also known as wastewater, it is more than 99% water and is characterized by volume or rate of flow, physical condition, chemical constituents and the bacteriological organisms that it contains...

, 129000 t (142,198.2 ST) of mineral oil
Mineral oil
A mineral oil is any of various colorless, odorless, light mixtures of alkanes in the C15 to C40 range from a non-vegetable source, particularly a distillate of petroleum....

, 60000 t (66,138.7 ST) of mercury, 3800 t (4,188.8 ST) of lead and 36000 t (39,683.2 ST) of phosphates are dumped into the Mediterranean each year. The Barcelona Convention
Barcelona Convention
The 1976 Barcelona Convention for Protection against Pollution in the Mediterranean Sea is a regional convention to prevent and abate pollution from ships, aircraft and land based sources in the Mediterranean Sea. This includes, but is not limited to, dumping, run-off and discharges...

 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
Mediterranean Monk Seal
The Mediterranean monk seal is a pinniped belonging to the Phocidae family. At some 450-510 remaining individuals, it is believed to be the world's second-rarest pinniped , and one of the most endangered mammals in the world.It is present in parts of the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic...

 which is considered to be among the world's most endangered marine mammal
Marine mammal
Marine mammals, which include seals, whales, dolphins, and walruses, form a diverse group of 128 species that rely on the ocean for their existence. They do not represent a distinct biological grouping, but rather are unified by their reliance on the marine environment for feeding. The level of...

s.

The Mediterranean is also plagued by marine debris
Marine debris
Marine debris, also known as marine litter, is human created waste that has deliberately or accidentally become afloat in a lake, sea, ocean or waterway. Oceanic debris tends to accumulate at the centre of gyres and on coastlines, frequently washing aground, when it is known as beach litter or...

. A 1994 study of the seabed
Seabed
The seabed is the bottom of the ocean.- Ocean structure :Most of the oceans have a common structure, created by common physical phenomena, mainly from tectonic movement, and sediment from various sources...

 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. It is estimated that approximately 220,000 merchant vessel
Merchant vessel
A merchant vessel is a ship that transports cargo or passengers. The closely related term commercial vessel is defined by the United States Coast Guard as any vessel engaged in commercial trade or that carries passengers for hire...

s of more than 100 tonnes
Gross tonnage
Gross tonnage is a unitless index related to a ship's overall internal volume. Gross tonnage is different from gross register tonnage...

 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 seventeen percent of global marine oil pollution. It is estimated that every year between 100000 t (98,420.4 LT) and 150000 t (147,630.5 LT) of crude oil are deliberately released into the sea from shipping activities.

Approximately 370000000 t (364,155,307.3 LT) of oil are transported annually in the Mediterranean Sea (more than 20% of the world total), with around 250-300 oil tanker
Oil tanker
An oil tanker, also known as a petroleum tanker, is a merchant ship designed for the bulk transport of oil. There are two basic types of oil tankers: the crude tanker and the product tanker. Crude tankers move large quantities of unrefined crude oil from its point of extraction to refineries...

s crossing the Sea every day. Accidental oil spill
Oil spill
An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, especially marine areas, due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. The term is mostly used to describe marine oil spills, where oil is released into the ocean or coastal waters...

s 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



With a unique combination of pleasant climate, beautiful coastline, rich history and diverse culture the Mediterranean region is the most popular tourist destination in the world — attracting approximately one third of the world's international tourists.

Tourism is one of the most important sources of income for many Mediterranean countries. It also supports small communities in coastal areas and islands by providing alternative sources of income far from urban centres. However, tourism has also played major role in the 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 each year. But this has caused serious disturbance to marine habitats such as erosion and 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 Mediterranean species such as sea turtles and monk seals. It is ironic that tourism in this region is destroying the foundations of its own existence. And it is inevitable that the tourists will leave the Mediterranean as it becomes more depleted of its natural beauty.

Overfishing


Fish stock levels in the Mediterranean Sea are alarmingly low. The European Environment Agency says that over 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
Albacore
The albacore, Thunnus alalunga, is a type of tuna in the family Scombridae. This species is also called albacore fish, albacore tuna, albicore, longfin, albies, pigfish, tombo ahi, binnaga, Pacific albacore, German bonito , longfin tuna, longfin tunny, or even just tuna...

 and bluefin tuna, hake
Hake
The term hake refers to fish in either of:* family Phycidae of the northern oceans* family Merlucciidae of the southern oceans-Hake fish:...

, marlin
Marlin
Marlin, family Istiophoridae, are fish with an elongated body, a spear-like snout or bill, and a long rigid dorsal fin, which extends forward to form a crest. Its common name is thought to derive from its resemblance to a sailor's marlinspike...

, swordfish
Swordfish
Swordfish , also known as broadbill in some countries, are large, highly migratory, predatory fish characterized by a long, flat bill. They are a popular sport fish of the billfish category, though elusive. Swordfish are elongated, round-bodied, and lose all teeth and scales by adulthood...

, red mullet
Red mullet
The red mullets or surmullets are two species of goatfish, Mullus barbatus and Mullus surmuletus, found in the Mediterranean Sea, east North Atlantic Ocean, and the Black Sea. Both "red mullet" and "surmullet" can also refer to the Mullidae in general.Though they can easily be distinguished—M...

 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
Greenpeace
Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over forty countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, The Netherlands...

 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.

Aquaculture


Aquaculture
Aquaculture
Aquaculture, also known as aquafarming, is the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic plants. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, and can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is the...

 is expanding rapidly — often without proper environmental assessment — and currently accounts for 30% of the fish protein consumed worldwide. The industry claims that farmed seafood lessens the pressure on wild fish stocks, yet many of the farmed species are carnivorous, consuming up to five times their weight in wild fish.

Mediterranean coastal areas are already over exposed to human influence, with pristine areas becoming ever scarcer. The aquaculture sector adds to this pressure, requiring areas of high water quality to set up farms. The installation of fish farms close to vulnerable and important habitats such as seagrass meadows is particularly concerning.

Aquaculture production in the Mediterranean also threatens biodiversity through the introduction of new species to the region, the impact of the farms' organic and chemical effluents on the surrounding environment and coastal habitat destruction.

See also



  • Babelmed
    Babelmed
    Babelmed is a non profit organisation established in Rome in April 2001. Its main objective is to promote cultural exchanges in the Mediterranean and to spread information and ideas regarding this shared sea, particularly important today when prejudices and amalgamations are creating new barriers,...

    , the site of the Mediterranean cultures
  • Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly
    Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly
    The Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly , established in Naples on 3 December 2003 by decision of the Ministerial Conference of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, is the most recent institution of the Barcelona Process. The EMPA opened its proceedings in Vouliagmeni on 22 and 23 March 2004...

  • Familial Mediterranean fever
    Familial Mediterranean fever
    Familial Mediterranean fever is a hereditary inflammatory disorder. FMF is an autoinflammatory disease caused by mutations in MEFV, a gene which encodes a 781–amino acid protein denoted pyrin....

  • History of the Mediterranean region
    History of the Mediterranean region
    The history of the Mediterranean region is the history of the interaction of the cultures and people of the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea —the central superhighway of transport, trade and cultural exchange between diverse peoples...

  • Holy League (Mediterranean)
    Holy League (Mediterranean)
    The Holy League of 1571 was arranged by Pope St. Pius V and included almost all the major Catholic maritime states in the Mediterranean. It was intended to break the Ottoman Turks' control of the eastern Mediterranean Sea and was formally concluded on 25 May 1571...

  • List of islands in the Mediterranean
  • List of Mediterranean countries
  • Mediterranean Basin
    Mediterranean Basin
    In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin refers to the lands around the Mediterranean Sea that have a Mediterranean climate, with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers, which supports characteristic Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub vegetation...

  • Mediterranean climate
    Mediterranean climate
    A Mediterranean climate is the climate typical of most of the lands in the Mediterranean Basin, and is a particular variety of subtropical climate...


  • Mediterranean diet
    Mediterranean diet
    The Mediterranean diet is a modern nutritional recommendation inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of southern Italy, Crete and much of the rest of Greece in the 1960s....

  • Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub
    Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub
    Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome, defined by the World Wildlife Fund, characterized by dry summers and rainy winters. Summers are typically hot in low-lying inland locations but can be cool near some seas, as near San Francisco, which have a sea of cool waters...

  • Mediterranean Games
    Mediterranean Games
    The Mediterranean Games are a multi-sport games held every four years, mainly for nations bordering the Mediterranean Sea, where Europe, Africa and Asia meet. The idea was proposed at the 1948 Summer Olympics by Muhammed Taher Pasha, chairman of the Egyptian Olympic Committee, and they were first...

  • Mediterranean race
    Mediterranean race
    The Mediterranean race was one of the three sub-categories into which the Caucasian race and the people of Europe were divided by anthropologists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, following the publication of William Z. Ripley's book The Races of Europe...

  • Mediterranean sea (oceanography)
    Mediterranean sea (oceanography)
    In oceanography, a mediterranean sea is a mostly enclosed sea that has limited exchange of water with outer oceans and where the water circulation is dominated by salinity and temperature differences rather than winds....

  • Mediterranean Union
  • Piri Reis
    Piri Reis
    Piri Reis was an Turkish Ottoman admiral, geographer and cartographer born between 1465 and 1470 and died in 1554 or 1555....

    , early Mediterranean maps
  • Seto Inland Sea, which is sometimes named the Japanese Mediterranean Sea
  • Suez Canal
    Suez Canal
    The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...



External links