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Mediterranean Sea

Satellite image


The Mediterranean Sea is a part of the Atlantic Ocean almost completely enclosed by land, on the north by Europe, on the south by Africa, and on the east by Asia. It covers an approximate area of 2.5 million km² (965 000 mi²). It is also called the Eurafrican Mediterranean Sea or the European Mediterranean Sea in oceanography to distinguish it from mediterranean seas elsewhere.

It was a superhighway of transport in ancient times, allowing for trade and cultural exchange between emergent peoples of the region — Egyptians,Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, and the Middle-East (Arab/Persian/Semitic) cultures. The history of the Mediterranean is important in understanding the origin and development of Western Civilization.

Name

The term Mediterranean derives from the Latin mediterraneus, 'inland' (medius, 'middle' + terra, 'land, earth'), in Greek "mesogeios".

The Mediterranean Sea has been known by a number of alternative names throughout human history. It was, for example, commonly called Mare Nostrum (Latin, Our Sea) by the Romans. In the Bible, it is referred to as the Great Sea or the Western Sea. In modern Hebrew, it is called "ha-Yam ha-Tichon" (הים התיכון), "the middle sea", a literal adaptation of the German equivalent Mittelmeer. In Turkish, it is Akdeniz, "the white sea". In Arabic, it is Al-Baħr Al-Abyad Al-Muttawasit (البحر الأبيض المتوسط), "the middle white sea".

Currently, "The Med" is a common British English contraction for the Mediterranean Sea and its surrounding regions when employed in informal speech.


Geography

Map of the Mediterranean Sea

The Mediterranean Sea is connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the Strait of Gibraltar on the west and to the Sea of Marmara and Black Sea, by the Dardanelles and the Bosporus 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 man-made Suez Canal in the south-east connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea.

Tides are very limited in the Mediterranean as a result of the narrow connection with the ocean.

The Mediterranean climate is generally one of wet winters and hot, dry summers. Special crops of the region are olives, grapes, oranges, tangerines, and cork. The region has a long history of civilization.

Large islands in the Mediterranean include:

Bordering countries

Modern states (21) bordering the Mediterranean Sea are:

Subdivisions

A view across the straits of Gibraltar

The Mediterranean Sea is sub-divided into a number of smaller seas /some names may be come from the ancient legends/, each with their own designation (from west to east):

In addition to the seas, a number of gulfs and straits are also recognised:

Geology

The geology of the Mediterranean is complex, involving the break-up and then collision of the African and Eurasian plates, and the Messinian Salinity Crisis in the late Miocene when the Mediterranean dried up.

The Mediterranean Sea has an average depth of 1,500 m and the deepest recorded point is 5267 meters (about 3.27 miles) in the Calypso Deep in the Ionian Sea. The coastline extends for 46,000 km. A shallow submarine ridge (the Strait of Sicily) between the island of Sicily and the coast of Tunisia divides the sea in two main subregions (which in turn are divided into subdivisions), the Western Mediterranean and the Eastern Mediterranean. The Western Mediterranean covers an area of about 0.85 million km² and the Eastern Mediterranean about 1.65 million km².

In the last few centuries, mankind has done much to alter Mediterranean geology. Structures have been built all along the coastlines, exacerbating and rerouting erosional patterns. Many pollution-producing boats travel the sea that unbalance the natural chemical ratios of the region. Beaches have been mismanaged, and the overuse of the sea's natural and marine resources continues to be a problem. This misuse speeds along and/or confounds natural processes. The actual geography has also been altered by the building of dams and canals.

The Mediterranean was once thought to be the remnant of the Tethys Ocean. It is now known to be a structurally younger ocean basin known as Neotethys. Neotethys formed during the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic rifting of the African and Eurasian plates.



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