The Mediterranean Sea is a sea 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 kms (965 000 miles), but its connection to the Atlantic (the Strait of Gibraltar) is only 14 km (9 mi) wide. In oceanography, it is sometimes called the Eurafrican Mediterranean Sea or the European Mediterranean Sea, 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 the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Semitic, Persian, Phoenician, Carthaginian, Greek, Roman and Turkish cultures. The history of the Mediterranean is important in understanding the origin and development of Western Civilization.
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.
Large islands in the Mediterranean include Cyprus, Crete, Euboea, Rhodes, Lesbos, Chios, Kefalonia and Corfu in the eastern Mediterranean; Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, and Malta in the central Mediterranean; and Ibiza, Majorca and Minorca (the Balearic Islands) in the western Mediterranean. The Mediterranean climate is generally one of wet winters and hot, dry summers. Crops of the region include olives, grapes, oranges, tangerines, and cork.
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 kms and the Eastern Mediterranean about 1.65 million kms.
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.
Admissions essays from EssayEdge.com