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Mediterranean

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Mediterranean

"Mediterranean" redirects here. For other uses, see Mediterranean (disambiguation).
"Mediterranean sea" redirects here. For the oceanographical term, see Mediterranean sea (oceanography).

The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa, 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 mediterraneus, meaning "inland" or "in the middle of the land" (from medius, "middle" and terra, "land"). It covers an approximate area of 2.5 million km² (965,000 sq mi), but its connection to the Atlantic (the Strait of Gibraltar) is only 14 km (8.7 mi) wide. In oceanography, it is sometimes called the Eurafrican Mediterranean Sea or the European Mediterranean Sea to distinguish it from mediterranean seas elsewhere.[1][2]

The Mediterranean Sea has an average depth of 1,500 m (4,900 ft) and the deepest recorded point is 5,267 m (17,280 ft) in the Calypso Deep in the Ionian Sea.

It was an important route for merchants and travellers of ancient times that allowed for trade and cultural exchange between emergent peoples of the region. The history of the Mediterranean region is crucial to understanding the origins and development of many modern societies.

Name

The term Mediterranean derives from the Latin word mediterraneus, meaning "in the middle of earth" or "between lands" (medi-; adj. medius, -um -a "middle, between" + terra f., "land, earth"): as it is between the continents of Africa, Asia and Europe. The Greek name Mesogeios (Μεσόγειος), is similarly from μέσο, "middle" + γη, "land, earth").[3]

The Mediterranean Sea has historically had several names. For example the Romans commonly called it Mare Nostrum (Latin, "Our Sea"), and occasionally Mare Internum (Sallust, Jug. 17).

In the Bible, it was primarily known as הים הגדול (HaYam HaGadol), the "Great Sea", (Num. 34:6,7; Josh. 1:4, 9:1, 15:47; Ezek. 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, and therefore behind a person facing the east, sometimes translated as "Western Sea", (Deut. 11:24; Joel 2:20). Another name was the "Sea of the Philistines" (Exod. 23:31), from the people occupying a large portion of its shores near the Israelites.

In Modern Hebrew, it has been called HaYam HaTikhon (הַיָּם הַתִּיכוֹן), "the Middle Sea", reflecting the Sea's name in ancient Greek (Mesogeios), Latin (Mare internum) and modern languages in both Europe and the Middle East (Mediterranean, etc.). Simillarly, in Modern Arabic, it is known as al-Baḥr [al-Abyaḍ] al-Mutawassiṭ (البحر [الأبيض] المتوسط), "the [White] Medium Sea", while in Islamic and older Arabic literature, it was referenced as Baḥr al-Rūm (بحر الروم), or "the Roman/Byzantine Sea." In Turkish, it is known as Akdeniz,[4] "the White Sea".

History



Several ancient civilizations were located around its shores; thus it has had a major influence on those cultures. It provided routes for trade, colonization and war, and provided food (by fishing and the gathering of other seafood) for numerous communities throughout the ages.[5]

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

Two of the most notable Mediterranean civilizations in classical antiquity were the Greek city states and the Phoenicians. When Augustus founded the Roman Empire, the Mediterranean Sea began to be called Mare Nostrum (literally:"Our Sea") by the Romans.

Darius I of Persia, who conquered Ancient Egypt, built a canal linking the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. Darius's canal was wide enough for two triremes to pass each other with oars extended, and required four days to traverse.[6]

The western Roman empire collapsed around AD 476. Temporarily the east was again dominant as the Byzantine Empire formed from the eastern half of the Roman empire. Another power soon arose in the east: Islam. At its greatest extent, the Arab Empire controlled 75% of the Mediterranean region.

Europe was reviving, however, as more organized and centralized states began to form in the later Middle Ages after the Renaissance of the 12th century.

Ottoman power continued to grow, and in 1453, the Byzantine Empire was extinguished with the Conquest of Constantinople. Ottomans gained control of much of the sea in the 16th century and maintained naval bases in southern France, Algeria and Tunisia. Barbarossa, the famous Ottoman captain is a symbol of this domination with the victory of the Battle of Preveza. The Battle of Djerba marked the apex of Ottoman naval domination in the Mediterranean. However, as naval prowess of the European powers grew, they confronted Ottoman expansion in the region when the Battle of Lepanto checked the power of the Ottoman Navy. This was the last naval battle to be fought primarily between galleys.

The Barbary pirates of North Africa preyed on Christian shipping in the western Mediterranean Sea.[7] According to Robert Davis, from the 16th to 19th century, pirates captured 1 million to 1.25 million Europeans as slaves.[8]

The development of oceanic shipping began to affect the entire Mediterranean. Once, all trade from the east had passed through the region, but now the circumnavigation of Africa allowed spices and other goods to be imported through the Atlantic ports of western Europe.[9][10][11] The Malta president described the Mediterranean sea as a "cemetery" due to the large amounts of migrants who drown there.[12]

Geography

A satellite image showing the Strait of Gibraltar. Left is the Iberian Peninsula in Europe; on the right, the Maghreb in Africa.
The Dardanelles strait. The north side is Europe with the Gelibolu Peninsula in the Thrace region; the south side is Anatolia in Asia.

The Mediterranean Sea is connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the Strait of Gibraltar in the west and to the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, by the Dardanelles and the Bosporus respectively, in 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 mi) long man-made Suez Canal in the southeast connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.

Large islands in the Mediterranean include Cyprus, Crete, Euboea, Rhodes, Lesbos, Chios, Kefalonia, Corfu, Limnos, Samos, Naxos and Andros in the eastern Mediterranean; Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, Cres, Krk, Brač, Hvar, Pag, Korčula and Malta in the central Mediterranean; and Ibiza, Majorca and Minorca (the Balearic Islands) in the western Mediterranean.

The typical Mediterranean climate has hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. Crops of the region include olives, grapes, oranges, tangerines, and cork.

Extent

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Mediterranean Sea as follows:[13]

Stretching from the Strait of Gibraltar in the West to the entrances to the Dardanelles and the Suez Canal in the East, the Mediterranean Sea is bounded by the coasts of Europe, Africa and Asia, and is divided into two deep basins:



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