Mediterranean Sea

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Mediterranean Sea
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{{Redirect|Mediterranean|other uses|Mediterranean (disambiguation)}}{{short description|Sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean between Europe, Africa and Asia}}{{Use dmy dates|date=April 2019}}

| type = SeaAtlantic Ocean, Sea of Marmara, Nile, Ebro, Rhône, Chelif River>Chelif, Po| outflow =| catchment = fw1=normal | headerstyle=text-align:left
| header = about 60
| content =
}}| length =| width =2500000sqmi|abbr=on}}1500ft|abbr=on}}5267ft|abbr=on}}3750000cumi|abbr=on}}VOLUME=30 FIRST=PAUL R. PAGE=220 YEAR=2008 URL=HTTPS://BOOKS.GOOGLE.COM/BOOKS?ID=6TCM8XY-SLUC&PG=PA220&LPG=PA220, | shore =| elevation =| frozen =List of islands in the Mediterranean>3300+Alexandria, Algiers, Athens, Barcelona, Beirut, Carthage, Dubrovnik, Istanbul, Ä°zmir, Rome, Split, Croatia>Split, Tangier, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Tripoli, Tunis (List of coastal settlements of the Mediterranean Sea>full list)| reference =}}The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa and on the east by the Levant. Although the sea is sometimes considered a part of the Atlantic Ocean, it is usually referred to as a separate body of water. Geological evidence indicates that around 5.9 million years ago, the Mediterranean was cut off from the Atlantic and was partly or completely desiccated over a period of some 600,000 years (the Messinian salinity crisis) before being refilled by the Zanclean flood about 5.3 million years ago.It covers an area of about {{Convert|2.5|e6km2||abbr=}},WEB,weblink Mediterranean Sea, Encyclopædia Britannica, 23 October 2015, representing 0.7% of the global ocean surface, but its connection to the Atlantic via the Strait of Gibraltar—the narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain in Europe from Morocco in Africa—is only {{convert|14|km|mi|0|abbr=on}} wide. In oceanography, it is sometimes called the Eurafrican Mediterranean Sea or the European Mediterranean Sea to distinguish it from mediterranean seas elsewhere.WEB,weblink Microsoft Word â€“ ext_abstr_East_sea_workshop_TLM.doc, 23 April 2010, WEB,weblink Researchers predict Mediterranean Sea level rise â€“ Headlines â€“ Research â€“ European Commission, Europa, 19 March 2009, 23 April 2010, The Mediterranean Sea has an average depth of {{convert|1500|m|ft|abbr=on}} and the deepest recorded point is {{convert|5267|m|ft|abbr=on}} in the Calypso Deep in the Ionian Sea. It lies between latitudes 30° and 46° N and longitudes 6° W and 36° E. Its west-east length, from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Gulf of Iskenderun, on the southwestern coast of Turkey, is about {{Convert|4000|km||abbr=}}.The sea was an important route for merchants and travellers of ancient times, facilitating trade and cultural exchange between peoples of the region. The history of the Mediterranean region is crucial to understanding the origins and development of many modern societies.The countries surrounding the Mediterranean in clockwise order are Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco; Malta and Cyprus are island countries in the sea. In addition, the Gaza Strip and the British Overseas Territories of Gibraltar and Akrotiri and Dhekelia have coastlines on the sea.

Names and etymology

(File:Wadj-ur.png|left|thumb|upright=0.65|Wadj-Ur, or Wadj-Wer, ancient Egyptian name of the Mediterranean Sea)(File:EFS highres STS034 STS034-86-96.jpg|thumb|With its highly indented coastline and large number of islands, Greece has the longest Mediterranean coastline.)The Ancient Egyptians called the Mediterranean Wadj-wr/Wadj-Wer/Wadj-Ur.The Ancient Greeks called the Mediterranean simply (hē thálassa; "the Sea") or sometimes (hē megálē thálassa; "the Great Sea"), (hē hēmétera thálassa; "Our Sea"), or (hē thálassa hē kath’hēmâs; "the sea around us").The Romans called it Mare Magnum ("Great Sea") or Mare Internum ("Internal Sea") and, starting with the Roman Empire, Mare Nostrum ("Our Sea"). The term Mare Mediterrāneum appears later: Solinus apparently used it in the 3rd century, but the earliest extant witness to it is in the 6th century, in Isidore of Seville.Geoffrey Rickman, "The creation of Mare Nostrum: 300 BC – 500 AD", in David Abulafia, ed., The Mediterranean in History, {{isbn|1-60606-057-0}}, 2011, p. 133. It means 'in the middle of land, inland' in Latin, a compound of medius ("middle"), terra ("land, earth"), and -āneus ("having the nature of").The Latin word is a calque of Greek (mesógeios; "inland"), from (mésos, "in the middle") and (gḗinos, "of the earth"), from (gê, "land, earth"). The original meaning may have been 'the sea in the middle of the earth', rather than 'the sea enclosed by land'.WEB,weblink entry μεσόγαιος,weblink" title="">weblink 2 December 2009, Liddell & Scott, Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed, 2001, s.v.The Carthaginians called it the "Syrian Sea". In ancient Syrian texts, Phoenician epics and in the Hebrew Bible, it was primarily known as the "Great Sea", HaYam HaGadol, (Numbers; Book of Joshua; Ezekiel) or simply as "The Sea" (1 Kings. However, it has also been called the "Hinder Sea" because of its location on the west coast of Greater Syria or the Holy Land (and therefore behind a person facing the east), which is sometimes translated as "Western Sea". Another name was the "Sea of the Philistines", Book of Exodus), from the people inhabiting a large portion of its shores near the Israelites. In Modern Hebrew, it is called HaYam HaTikhon 'the Middle Sea'.In Modern Arabic, it is known as {{transl|ar|ALA|al-Baḥr [al-Abyaḍ] al-Mutawassiṭ}} () 'the [White] Middle Sea'. In Islamic and older Arabic literature, it was Baḥr al-Rūm(ī) ( or }) 'the Sea of the Romans' or 'the Roman Sea'. At first, that name referred to only the Eastern Mediterranean, but it was later extended to the whole Mediterranean. Other Arabic names were Baḥr al-šām(ī) () 'the Sea of Syria' and Baḥr al-Maghrib () 'the Sea of the West'."Baḥr al-Rūm" in Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd edVaso Seirinidou, "The Mediterranean" in Diana Mishkova, Balázs Trencsényi, European Regions and Boundaries: A Conceptual History, series European Conceptual History 3, {{isbn|1-78533-585-5}}, 2017, p. 80In Turkish, it is the Akdeniz 'the White Sea'; in Ottoman, , which sometimes means only the Aegean Sea.Diran Kélékian, Dictionnaire Turc-Français, Constantinople, 1911 The origin of the name is not clear, as it is not known in earlier Greek, Byzantine or Islamic sources. It may be to contrast with the Black Sea.JOURNAL, Hyphen, Vella, Andrew P., 1985, Mediterranean Malta,weblink 4, 5, 469–472,weblink" title="">weblink 29 March 2017, dead, Özhan Öztürk claims that in Old Turkish ak also means "west" and that Akdeniz hence means "West Sea" and that Karadeniz (Black Sea) means "North Sea". Özhan Öztürk. BOOK,weblink Pontus: Antik Çağ'dan Günümüze Karadeniz'in Etnik ve Siyasi Tarihi Genesis Yayınları, Ankara, 2011, 5–9, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 15 September 2012, In Persian, the name was translated as Baḥr-i Safīd, which was also used in later Ottoman Turkish. It is probably the origin of the colloquial Greek phrase (Άspri Thálassa, lit. "White Sea").Johann Knobloch claims that in classical antiquity, cultures in the Levant used colours to refer to the cardinal points: black referred to the north (explaining the name Black Sea), yellow or blue to east, red to south (i.e., the Red Sea), and white to west. This would explain the Greek Άspri Thálassa, the Bulgarian Byalo More, the Turkish Akdeniz, and the Arab nomenclature described above, {{Abbr|lit.|literal translation}} "White Sea".Johann Knoblock. Sprache und Religion, Vol. 1 (Carl Winter Universitätsverlag, 1979), 18; cf. ENCYCLOPEDIA, Black Sea, Schmitt, Rüdiger,weblink Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. IV, Fasc. 3, 310–313, 1989, harv, Black – Encyclopaedia Iranica,


Ancient civilizations

File:AntikeGriechen1.jpg|thumb|upright=1.45| Greek (red) and Phoenician (yellow) colonies in antiquitycolonies in antiquityFile:Roman Empire Trajan 117AD.png|thumb|upright=1.45|The Roman EmpireRoman EmpireSeveral ancient civilizations were located around the Mediterranean shores and were greatly influenced by their proximity to the sea. It provided routes for trade, colonization, and war, as well as food (from fishing and the gathering of other seafood) for numerous communities throughout the ages.BOOK, David Abulafia, The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean, Oxford University Press, 2011, Due to the shared climate, geology, and access to the sea, cultures centered on the Mediterranean tended to have some extent of intertwined culture and history.Two of the most notable Mediterranean civilizations in classical antiquity were the Greek city states and the Phoenicians, both of which extensively colonized the coastlines of the Mediterranean. Later, when Augustus founded the Roman Empire, the Romans referred to the Mediterranean as Mare Nostrum ("Our Sea"). For the next 400 years, the Roman Empire completely controlled the Mediterranean Sea and virtually all its coastal regions from Gibraltar to the Levant.Darius I of Persia, 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.Rappoport, S. (Doctor of Philosophy, Basel). History of Egypt (undated, early 20th century), Volume 12, Part B, Chapter V: "The Waterways of Egypt", pp. 248–257 (online). London: The Grolier Society.

Middle Ages and empires

The Western Roman Empire collapsed around 476 AD. Temporarily the east was again dominant as Roman power lived on in the Byzantine Empire formed in the 4th century from the eastern half of the Roman Empire. Another power arose in the 7th century, and with it the religion of Islam, which soon swept across from the east; at its greatest extent, the Arab Empire controlled 75% of the Mediterranean region and left a lasting footprint on its eastern and southern shores.The Arab invasions disrupted the trade relations between Western and Eastern Europe while cutting the trade route with Oriental lands. This, however, had the indirect effect of promoting the trade across the Caspian Sea. The export of grains from Egypt was re-routed towards the Eastern world. Oriental goods, like silk and spices, were carried from Egypt to ports like Venice and Constantinople by sailors and Jewish merchants. The Viking raids further disrupted the trade in western Europe and brought it to a halt. However, the Norsemen developed the trade from Norway to the White Sea, while also trading in luxury goods from Spain and the Mediterranean. The Byzantines in the mid-8th century retook control of the area around the north-eastern part of the Mediterranean. Venetian ships from the 9th century armed themselves to counter the harassment by Arabs while concentrating trade of oriental goods at Venice.BOOK, Couper, Alastair, The Geography of Sea Transport,weblink 2015, 978-1-317-35150-4, 33–37, File:Battle of Lepanto 1571.jpg|thumb|left|The Battle of Lepanto, 1571, ended in victory for the European Holy League against the Ottoman Turks.]]The Fatimids maintained trade relations with the Italian city-states like Amalfi and Genoa before the Crusades, according to the Cairo Geniza documents. A document dated 996 mentions Amalfian merchants living in Cairo. Another letter states that the Genoese had traded with Alexandria. The caliph al-Mustansir had allowed Amalfian merchants to reside in Jerusalem about 1060 in place of the Latin hospice.BOOK, Balard, Michel, Marcus Graham, Bull, Edbury, Peter, Phillips, Jonathan, The Experience of Crusading, Volume 2 – Defining the Crusader Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 2003, 978-0-521-78151-0,weblink 23–35, The Crusades led to flourishing of trade between Europe and the outremer region.BOOK, Housley, Norman, Norman Housley, Contesting the Crusades, Blackwell Publishing, 2006, 978-1-4051-1189-8, 152–54, Genoa, Venica and Pisa created colonies in regions controlled by the Crusaders and came to control the trade with the Orient. These colonies also allowed them to trade with the Eastern world. Though the fall of the Crusader states and attempts at banning of trade relations with Muslim states by the Popes temporarily disrupted the trade with the Orient, it however continued.BOOK, James, Brundage, Medieval Italy: An Encyclopedia, Routledge, 2004, 978-1-135-94880-1,weblink 273, Europe started to revive, however, as more organized and centralized states began to form in the later Middle Ages after the Renaissance of the 12th century.File:De Engels-Nederlandse vloot in de Baai van Algiers ter ondersteuning van het ultimatum tot vrijlating van blanke slaven, 26 augustus 1816. Rijksmuseum SK-A-1377.jpeg|thumb|The bombardment of Algiers by the Anglo-Dutch fleet in support of an ultimatum to release European slaves, August 1816]]Ottoman power based in Anatolia continued to grow, and in 1453 extinguished the Byzantine Empire with the Conquest of Constantinople. Ottomans gained control of much of the sea in the 16th century and maintained naval bases in southern France (1543–1544), Algeria and Tunisia. Barbarossa, the famous Ottoman captain is a symbol of this domination with the victory of the Battle of Preveza (1538). The Battle of Djerba (1560) marked the apex of Ottoman naval domination in the Mediterranean. As the naval prowess of the European powers increased, they confronted Ottoman expansion in the region when the Battle of Lepanto (1571) checked the power of the Ottoman Navy. This was the last naval battle to be fought primarily between galleys.The Barbary pirates of Northwest Africa preyed on Christian shipping and coastlines in the Western Mediterranean Sea.BOOK,weblink Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1500–1800, Robert Davis, Palgrave Macmillan, 5 December 2003, 17 January 2013, 978-0-333-71966-4, According to Robert Davis, from the 16th to 19th centuries, pirates captured 1 million to 1.25 million Europeans as slaves.WEB,weblink British Slaves on the Barbary Coast,, 17 January 2013, The development of oceanic shipping began to affect the entire Mediterranean. Once, most trade between Western Europe and the East had passed through the region, but after the 1490s the development of a sea route to the Indian Ocean allowed the importation of Asian spices and other goods through the Atlantic ports of western Europe.C.I. Gable – Constantinople Falls to the Ottoman Turks - Boglewood Timeline – 1998 – Retrieved 3 September 2011."History of the Ottoman Empire, an Islamic Nation where Jews Lived" – Sephardic Studies and Culture – Retrieved 3 September 2011.Robert Guisepi – The Ottomans: From Frontier Warriors To Empire Builders – 1992 – History World International – Retrieved 3 September 2011.The sea remained strategically important. British mastery of Gibraltar ensured their influence in Africa and Southwest Asia. Wars included Naval warfare in the Mediterranean during World War I and Mediterranean theatre of World War II.

21st century and migrations

{{Further|European migrant crisis|List of migrant vessel incidents on the Mediterranean Sea|Timeline of the European migrant crisis}}{{CSS image crop|Image = BlackMarble20161km.jpg|bSize = 2200|cWidth = 270|cHeight = 110|oLeft = 1055|oTop = 265Satellite imagery>Satellite image of the Mediterranean Sea at night|Alt =}}In 2013, the Maltese president described the Mediterranean Sea as a "cemetery" due to the large number of migrants who drowned there after their boats capsized.WEB, Migrant deaths prompt calls for EU action,weblink Al Jazeera â€“ English, 12 December 2014, 13 October 2013, European Parliament president Martin Schulz said in 2014 that Europe's migration policy "turned the Mediterranean into a graveyard", referring to the number of drowned refugees in the region as a direct result of the policies.WEB, Schulz: EU migrant policy 'turned Mediterranean into graveyard',weblink EUobserver, 12 December 2014, 24 October 2013, An Azerbaijani official described the sea as "a burial ground ... where people die".WEB,weblink Novruz Mammadov: The Mediterranean become a burial ground, Following the 2013 Lampedusa migrant shipwreck, the Italian government decided to strengthen the national system for the patrolling of the Mediterranean Sea by authorising "Operation Mare Nostrum", a military and humanitarian mission in order to rescue the migrants and arrest the traffickers of immigrants. In 2015, more than one million migrants crossed the Mediterranean Sea into Europe.WEB, Over one million sea arrivals reach Europe in 2015,weblink UNHCR – The UN Refugee Agency, 30 December 2015, Italy was particularly affected by the European migrant crisis. Since 2013, over 700,000 migrants have landed in Italy,WEB, What will Italy's new government mean for migrants?,weblink The Local, 21 May 2018, mainly sub-Saharan Africans.NEWS, African migrants fear for future as Italy struggles with surge in arrivals,weblink Reuters, 18 July 2017, In 2019, the archaeological team of experts from Underwater Research Center of the Akdeniz University (UA) revealed a shipwreck dating back 3,600 years in the Mediterranean Sea in Turkey. 1.5 tons of copper ingots found in the ship was used to estimated its age. The Governor of Antalya Munir KaraloÄŸlu described this valuable discovery as the "Göbeklitepe of the underwater world”. It has been confirmed that the shipwreck, dating back to 1600 BC, is older than the "Uluburun Shipwreck" dating back to 1400 BC.WEB,weblink Archaeologists discover 3,600-year-old shipwreck that sunk in a storm, Davidson, Tom, 2019-04-11, mirror, 2019-05-05, WEB,weblink Turkish archaeologists discover world's 'oldest' Bronze Age shipwreck off Antalya coast, DailySabah, 2019-05-05, WEB,weblink Turkey: 3,600-year-old shipwreck found in Mediterranean,, 2019-05-05, WEB,weblink Bronze Age Ship Found in the Mediterranean is World's Oldest Shipwreck!, Whelan, Ed,, en, 2019-05-05,


{{multiple image| width = 180| footer =| image1 = STS059-238-074 Strait of Gibraltar.jpg| alt1 =| caption1 = A satellite image showing the Mediterranean Sea. The Strait of Gibraltar appears in the bottom left (north-west) quarter of the image; to its left is the Iberian Peninsula in Europe, and to its right, the Maghreb in Africa.| image2 = Gallipoli peninsula from space.jpg| alt2 =Dardanelles Turkish Straits>strait in Turkey. The north (upper) side forms part of Europe (the Gelibolu Peninsula in the Thrace region); on the south (lower) side is Anatolia in Asia.}}The Mediterranean Sea connects: The Sea of Marmara (Dardanelles) is often considered a part of the Mediterranean Sea, whereas the Black Sea is generally not.The {{convert|163|km|mi|abbr= on}} long artificial Suez Canal in the southeast connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.Large islands in the Mediterranean include: The typical Mediterranean climate has hot, humid, and dry summers and mild, rainy winters. Crops of the region include olives, grapes, oranges, tangerines, and cork.


The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Mediterranean Sea as follows:WEB,weblink Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition, 1953, International Hydrographic Organization, 20 April 2016, 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:
  • Western Basin:
    • On the west: A line joining the extremities of Cape Trafalgar (Spain) and Cape Spartel (Africa).
    • On the northeast: The west coast of Italy. In the Strait of Messina a line joining the north extreme of Cape Paci (15°42′E) with Cape Peloro, the east extreme of the Island of Sicily. The north coast of Sicily.
    • On the east: A line joining Cape Lilibeo the western point of Sicily ({{coord|37|47|N|12|22|E|display=inline}}), 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, the western entrance to the Dardanelles.
    • On the southeast: The entrance to the Suez Canal.
    • On the east: The coasts of Lebanon, Syria and Israel.

Coastal countries

(File:Mediterranean Relief, 1028 x 1024.jpg|thumb|upright=1.65|Map of the Mediterranean Sea)The following countries have a coastline on the Mediterranean Sea: Several other territories also border the Mediterranean Sea (from west to east): File:Barcelona skyline.jpg|thumb|Barcelona, the third largest metropolitan area on the Mediterranean Sea (after Istanbul and Alexandria) and the headquarters of the Union for the MediterraneanUnion for the MediterraneanFile:Attica 06-13 Athens 36 View from Lycabettus.jpg|thumb|right| The Acropolis of AthensAcropolis of AthensFile:Coast of Tel Aviv-Yaffo.JPG|thumb| The ancient port of Jaffa (now part of Tel Aviv-Yafo) in Israel: where Jonah set sail (according to the (Bible]]) before being swallowed by a whale{{Bibleverse||Jonah|1:3|9}} - "But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish [...].")File:Alexandria coast (2715600220).jpg|thumb|right| Alexandria, the second largest city on the Mediterranean after IstanbulIstanbulFile:Catania-etna.JPG|thumb| Catania, Sicily, with Mount EtnaMount EtnaFile:View of Konaj Square.jpg|thumb| Ä°zmir, the third metropolis of Turkey (after Istanbul and AnkaraAnkara

Coastal cities

Major cities (municipalities), with populations larger than 200,000 people, bordering the Mediterranean Sea include:{| class="wikitable" style="background:#efefef;"!Country!Cities|Algeria|Algiers, Annaba, Oran|Egypt|Alexandria, Damietta, Port Said|France|Marseille, Nice|Greece|Athens, Piraeus, Patras, Thessaloniki|Israel|Ashdod, Haifa, Netanya, Rishon LeZion, Tel Aviv|Italy|Bari, Catania, Genoa, Messina, Naples, Palermo, Rome, Taranto, Trieste, Venice|LebanonBeirut, Tripoli, Lebanon>Tripoli, Sidon|LibyaBenghazi, Khoms, Libya>Khoms, Misrata, Tripoli, Zawiya, Zliten|Malta|Valletta|Morocco|Tétouan, Tangier|Palestine|Gaza City|SpainAlicante, Badalona, Barcelona, Cartagena, Spain>Cartagena, Málaga, Palma, Valencia.|Syria|Latakia|Tunisia|Sfax, Sousse, Tunis|Turkey|Adana, Antalya, Istanbul (through the Sea of Marmara), İzmir, Mersin


(File:Bucht & Straße von Gibraltar.jpg|thumb|Africa (left, on horizon) and Europe (right), as seen from Gibraltar)The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) divides the Mediterranean into a number of smaller waterbodies, each with their own designation (from west to east):

Other seas

File:Positano - 01.jpg|thumb|Positano, Tyrrhenian SeaTyrrhenian SeaSome other seas whose names have been in common use from the ancient times, or in the present: Many of these smaller seas feature in local myth and folklore and derive their names from such associations.

Other features

File:Beirut-Sannine.jpg|thumb|View of the Saint George Bay, and snow-capped Mount Sannine from the Corniche, Beirut]]File:Port Autonome de Marseille.JPG|thumb| The Port of Marseille seen from L'EstaqueL'EstaqueFile:CIty of Saranda Albania 2016.jpg|thumb|Sarandë, Albania, stands on an open-sea gulf of the Ionian seaIonian seaIn addition to the seas, a number of gulfs and straits are recognised:

Ten largest islands by area

File:Tunisia - Sicily - South Italy.jpg|thumb|The two biggest islands of the Mediterranean: Sicily and Sardinia (ItalyItaly{| class="wikitable" style="background:#efefef;"!Country!Island!Area in km2!Population|Italy|Sicily|25,460|5,048,995|Italy|Sardinia|23,821|1,672,804|Cyprus|Cyprus|9,251|1,088,503|France|Corsica|8,680|299,209|Greece|Crete|8,336|623,666|Greece|Euboea|3,655|218.000|Spain|Majorca|3,640|869,067|Greece|Lesbos|1,632|90,643|Greece|Rhodes|1,400|117,007|Greece|Chios|842|51,936


{{wide image|Koppen World Map (Mediterranean Sea area only).png|769px| Map of climate zones in the areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, according to the Köppen climate classification}}Much of the Mediterranean coast enjoys a hot-summer Mediterranean climate. However, most of its southeastern coast has a hot desert climate, and much of Spain's eastern (Mediterranean) coast has a cold semi-arid climate. Although they are rare, tropical cyclones occasionally form in the Mediterranean Sea, typically in September–November.">

Sea temperature{|class"wikitable"|+Mean sea temperature (°C)



(File:MEDCURR.GIF|thumb|upright=1.65|Predominant surface currents for June)Being nearly landlocked affects conditions in the Mediterranean Sea: for instance, tides are very limited as a result of the narrow connection with the Atlantic Ocean. The Mediterranean is characterised and immediately recognised by its deep blue colour.Evaporation greatly exceeds precipitation and river runoff in the Mediterranean, a fact that is central to the water circulation within the basin.{{citation|last=Pinet|first=Paul R.|year=1996|title=Invitation to Oceanography|location=St Paul, Minnesota|publisher =West Publishing Co.|isbn=978-0-314-06339-7|edition=3rd|page=202}} Evaporation is especially high in its eastern half, causing the water level to decrease and salinity to increase eastward.Pinet 1996, p. 206. The average salinity in the basin is 38 PSU at 5 m depth.JOURNAL, 2000, Temperature and salinity variations of Mediterranean Sea surface waters over the last 16,000 years from records of planktonic stable oxygen isotopes and alkenone unsaturation ratios,, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 158, 3–4, 259–280, 10.1016/s0031-0182(00)00053-5, Emeis, Kay-Christian, Struck, Ulrich, Schulz, Hans-Martin, Rosenberg, Reinhild, Bernasconi, Stefano, Erlenkeuser, Helmut, Sakamoto, Tatsuhiko, Martinez-Ruiz, Francisca, 2000PPP...158..259E, The temperature of the water in the deepest part of the Mediterranean Sea is {{convert|13.2|°C}}.

General circulation

Water circulation in the Mediterranean can be described from the surface waters entering from the Atlantic through the Strait of Gibraltar. These cool and relatively low-salinity waters circulate westwards along the North African coasts. A part of these surface waters does not pass the Strait of Sicily, but deviates towards Corsica before exiting the Mediterranean. The surface waters entering the eastern Mediterranean basin circulate along the Libyan and Israelian coasts. Upon reaching the Levantine Sea, the surface waters having experienced warming and saltening from their initial Atlantic state, are now more dense and deepen to form the Levantine Intermediate Waters (LIW). Most of the water found anywhere between 50 and 600 m deep in the Mediterranean originates from the LIW.BOOK, 10.1007/b107143, Circulation in the Mediterranean Sea, The Mediterranean Sea, 5K, 29–66, Handbook of Environmental Chemistry, 2005, Millot, Claude, Taupier-Letage, Isabelle, 978-3-540-25018-0,weblink LIW are formed along the coasts of Turkey and circulate eastwards along the Greek and South Italian coasts. LIW are the only waters passing the Sicily Strait eastwards. After the Strait of Sicily, the intermediate waters circulate along the Italian, French and Spanish coasts before exiting the Mediterranean through the depths of the Strait of Gibraltar. Deep water in the Mediterranean originates from three main areas: the Adriatic Sea, from which most of the deep water in the eastern Mediterranean originates, the Aegean Sea, and the Gulf of Lion. Deep water formation in the Mediterranean is triggered by strong winter convection fueled by intense cold winds like the Bora. When new deep water is formed, the older waters mix with the overlaying intermediate waters and eventually exit the Mediterranean. The residence time of water in the Mediterranean is approximately 100 years, making the Mediterranean especially sensitive to climate change.JOURNAL, Millot, C., 1989, La Circulation Générale En Méditerranée Occidentale : Aperçu De Nos Connaissances Et Projets D'études, General Circulation in the Western Mediterranean: Overview of Our Knowledge and Study Projects, French, Annales de Géographie, 98, 549, 497–515, 23452851, 10.3406/geo.1989.20925,

Other events affecting water circulation

Being a semi-enclosed basin, the Mediterranean experiences transitory events that can affect the water circulation on short time scales. In the mid 1990s, the Aegean Sea became the main area for deep water formation in the eastern Mediterranean after particularly cold winter conditions. This transitory switch in the origin of deep waters in the eastern Mediterranean was termed Eastern Mediterranean Transient (EMT) and had major consequences on water circulation of the Mediterranean.JOURNAL, Gasparini, G.P., Ortona, A., Budillon, G., Astraldi, M., Sansone, E., The effect of the Eastern Mediterranean Transient on the hydrographic characteristics in the Strait of Sicily and in the Tyrrhenian Sea, Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, June 2005, 52, 6, 915–935, 10.1016/j.dsr.2005.01.001, 2005DSRI...52..915G, JOURNAL, Lascaratos, Alex, Roether, Wolfgang, Nittis, Kostas, Klein, Birgit, Recent changes in deep water formation and spreading in the eastern Mediterranean Sea: a review, Progress in Oceanography, August 1999, 44, 1–3, 5–36, 10.1016/S0079-6611(99)00019-1, 1999PrOce..44....5L, JOURNAL, Theocharis, Alexander, Nittis, Kostas, Kontoyiannis, Harilaos, Papageorgiou, Emanuel, Balopoulos, Efstathios, Climatic changes in the Aegean Sea influence the eastern Mediterranean thermohaline circulation (1986–1997), Geophysical Research Letters, 1 June 1999, 26, 11, 1617–1620, 10.1029/1999GL900320, 1999GeoRL..26.1617T, Another example of a transient event affecting the Mediterranean circulation is the periodic inversion of the North Ionian Gyre, which is an anticyclonic ocean gyre observed in the northern part of the Ionian Sea, off the Greek coast. The transition from anticylonic to cyclonic rotation of this gyre changes the origin of the waters fueling it; when the circulation is anticyclonic (most common), the waters of the gyre originate from the Adriatic Sea. When the circulation is cyclonic, the waters originate from the Levantine Sea. These waters have different physical and chemical characteristics, and the periodic inversion of the North Ionian Gyre (called Bimodal Oscillating System or BiOS) changes the Mediterranean circulation and biogeochemistry around the Adriatic and Levantine regions.Civitarese, G., Gacic, M., Lipizer, M., and Borzelli, G. L. E. (2010). On the impact of the Bimodal Oscillating System (BiOS) on the biogeochemistry and biology of the Adriatic and Ionian Seas (Eastern Mediterranean). Biogeosciences, 7(12) : 3987–3997. WOS :000285574100006.

Climate change

Because of the short residence time of waters, the Mediterranean Sea is considered a hot-spot for climate change effects.Giorgi, F. (2006). Climate change hot-spots. Geophysical Research Letters, 33(8) :L08707. 15 Deep water temperatures have increased by {{Convert|0.12|C-change||abbr=}} between 1959 and 1989.Béthoux, J. P., Gentili, B., Raunet, J., and Tailliez, D. (1990). Warming trend in the western Mediterraneandeep water. Nature, 347(6294) : 660–662. According to climate projections, the Mediterranean Sea could become warmer. The decrease in precipitation over the region could lead to more evaporation ultimately increasing the Mediterranean Sea salinity.Adloff, F., Somot, S., Sevault, F., Jordà, G., Aznar, R., Déqué, M., Herrmann, M., Marcos, M., Dubois,C., Padorno, E., Alvarez-Fanjul, E., and Gomis, D. (2015). Mediterranean Sea response to climatechange in an ensemble of twenty first century scenarios. Climate Dynamics, 45(9–10) : 2775–2802 Because of the changes in temperature and salinity, the Mediterranean Sea may become more stratified by the end of the 21st century, with notable consequences on water circulation and biogeochemistry.


In spite of its great biodiversity, concentrations of chlorophyll and nutrients in the Mediterranean Sea are very low, making it one of the most oligotrophic ocean regions in the world. The Mediterranean Sea is commonly referred to as an LNLC (Low-Nutrient, Low-Chlorophyll) area. The Mediterranean Sea fits the definition of a desert as it has low precipitation and its nutrient contents are low, making it difficult for plants and animals to develop.There are steep gradients in nutrient concentrations, chlorophyll concentrations and primary productivity in the Mediterranean. Nutrient concentrations in the western part of the basin are about double the concentrations in the eastern basin. The Alboran Sea, close to the Strait of Gibraltar, has a daily primary productivity of about 0.25 g C (grams of carbon) m−2 day−1 whereas the eastern basin has an average daily productivity of 0.16 g C m−2 day−1.Uitz, J., Stramski, D., Gentili, B., D’Ortenzio, F., and Claustre, H. (2012). Estimates of phytoplankton class-specific and total primary production in the Mediterranean Sea from satellite ocean color observations: primary production in the Mediterranean. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 26(2) For this reason, the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea is termed "ultraoligotrophic". The productive areas of the Mediterranean Sea are few and small. High (i.e. more than 0.5 grams of Chlorophyll a per cubic meter) productivity occurs in coastal areas, close to the river mouths which are the primary suppliers of dissolved nutrients. The Gulf of Lion has a relatively high productivity because it is an area of high vertical mixing, bringing nutrients to the surface waters that can be used by phytoplankton to produce Chlorophyll a.Bosc, E., Bricaud, A., and Antoine, D. (2004). Seasonal and interannual variability in algal biomass and primary production in the Mediterranean Sea, as derived from 4 years of SeaWiFS observations : MEDITERRANEAN SEA BIOMASS AND PRODUCTION. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 18(1).Primary productivity in the Mediterranean is also marked by an intense seasonal variability. In winter, the strong winds and precipitation{{Fix|text=Contradicts statement above that precipitation is low}} over the basin generate vertical mixing, bringing nutrients from the deep waters to the surface, where phytoplankton can convert it into biomass.Lebeaupin Brossier, C., Béranger, K., Deltel, C., and Drobinski, P. (2011). The Mediterranean response to different space–time resolution atmospheric forcings using perpetual mode sensitivity simulations. Ocean Modelling, 36(1–2) : 1–25 However, in winter, light may be the limiting factor for primary productivity. Between March and April, spring offers the ideal trade-off between light intensity and nutrient concentrations in surface for a spring bloom to occur. In summer, high atmospheric temperatures lead to the warming of the surface waters. The resulting density difference virtually isolates the surface waters from the rest of the water column and nutrient exchanges are limited. As a consequence, primary productivity is very low between June and October.d’Ortenzio, F. and Ribera d’Alcalà, M. (2009). On the trophic regimes of the Mediterranean Sea: a satellite analysis. Biogeosciences, 6(2) : 139–148Oceanographic expeditions uncovered a characteristic feature of the Mediterranean Sea biogeochemistry: most of the chlorophyll production does not occur on the surface, but in sub-surface waters between 80 and 200 meters deep.Moutin, T., Van Wambeke, F., and Prieur, L. (2012). Introduction to the Biogeochemistry from the Oligo- trophic to the Ultraoligotrophic Mediterranean (BOUM) experiment. Biogeosciences, 9(10) : 3817–3825. Another key characteristic of the Mediterranean is its high nitrogen-to-phosphorus ratio (N:P). Redfield demonstrated that most of the world's oceans have an average N:P ratio around 16. However, the Mediterranean Sea has an average N:P between 24 and 29, which translates a widespread phosphorus limitation.{{clarify|date=August 2019}}Berland, B., Bonin, D., and Maestrini, S. (1980). Azote ou phosphore ? Considérations sur le paradoxe nutritionnel de la mer méditerranée. Oceanologica Acta, 3(1) : 135–141Béthoux, J. P., Morin, P., Madec, C., and Gentili, B. (1992). Phosphorus and nitrogen behaviour in the Mediterranean Sea. Deep Sea Research Part A. Oceanographic Research Papers, 39(9) : 1641–1654.Kress, N. and Herut, B. (2001). Spatial and seasonal evolution of dissolved oxygen and nutrients in the Southern Levantine Basin (Eastern Mediterranean Sea) : chemical characterization of the water masses and inferences on the N : P ratios. Deep Sea Research Part I : Oceanographic Research Papers, 48(11) : 2347–2372Krom, M. D., Thingstad, T. F., Brenner, S., Carbo, P., Drakopoulos, P., Fileman, T. W., Flaten, G. A. F., Groom, S., Herut, B., Kitidis, V., Kress, N., Law, C. S., Liddicoat, M. I., Mantoura, R. F. C., Pasternak, A., Pitta, P., Polychronaki, T., Psarra, S., Rassoulzadegan, F., Skjoldal, E. F., Spyres, G., Tanaka, T., Tselepides, A., Wassmann, P., Wexels Riser, C., Woodward, E. M. S., Zodiatis, G., and Zohary, T. (2005). Summary and overview of the CYCLOPS P addition Lagrangian experiment in the Eastern Mediterranean. Deep Sea Research Part II : Topical Studies in Oceanography, 52(22–23) : 3090–3108.Because of its low productivity, plankton assemblages in the Mediterranean Sea are dominated by small organisms such as picophytoplankton and bacteria.Sammartino, M., Di Cicco, A., Marullo, S., and Santoleri, R. (2015). Spatio-temporal variability of micro-, nano- and pico-phytoplankton in the Mediterranean Sea from satellite ocean colour data of SeaWiFS. Ocean Sciences, 11(5) : 759–778Uitz, J., Stramski, D., Gentili, B., D’Ortenzio, F., and Claustre, H. (2012). Estimates of phytoplankton class-specific and total primary production in the Mediterranean Sea from satellite ocean color obser- vations : primary production in the mediterranean. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 26(2)


{{see also|Geology and paleoclimatology of the Mediterranean Basin}}File:Vrulja kod OmiÅ¡a.jpg|thumb|A submarine karst spring, called vrulja, near OmiÅ¡OmiÅ¡The geologic history of the Mediterranean Sea is complex. Underlain by oceanic crust, the sea basin was once thought to be a tectonic remnant of the ancient Tethys Ocean; it is now known to be a structurally younger basin, called the Neotethys, which was first formed by the convergence of the African and Eurasian plates during the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic. Because it is a near-landlocked body of water in a normally dry climate, the Mediterranean is subject to intensive evaporation and the precipitation of evaporites. The Messinian salinity crisis started about six million years ago (mya) when the Mediterranean became landlocked, and then essentially dried up. There are salt deposits accumulated on the bottom of the basin of more than a million cubic kilometres—in some places more than three kilometres thick.JOURNAL, 10.1111/j.1365-3091.2008.01031.x, Decoding the Mediterranean salinity crisis, Sedimentology, 56, 1, 95–136, 2009, Ryan, William B. F., 2009Sedim..56...95R, JOURNAL, William Ryan, Modeling the magnitude and timing of evaporative drawdown during the Messinian salinity crisis, Stratigraphy, 2008, 5, 3–4, 229,weblink Scientists estimate that the sea was last filled about 5.3 million years ago (mya) in less than two years by the Zanclean flood. Water poured in from the Atlantic Ocean through a newly breached gateway now called the Strait of Gibraltar at an estimated rate of about three orders of magnitude (one thousand times) larger than the current flow of the Amazon River.JOURNAL, 10.1038/nature08555, 20010684, Catastrophic flood of the Mediterranean after the Messinian salinity crisis, Nature, 462, 7274, 778–781, 2009, Garcia-Castellanos, D., Estrada, F., Jiménez-Munt, I., Gorini, C., Fernàndez, M., Vergés, J., De Vicente, R., 2009Natur.462..778G, The Mediterranean Sea has an average depth of {{convert|1500|m|ft|abbr=on}} and the deepest recorded point is {{convert|5267|m|ft|abbr=on}} in the Calypso Deep in the Ionian Sea. The coastline extends for {{convert|46000|km|mi|abbr=on}}. 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: the Western Mediterranean, with an area of about 850,000 km2 (330,000 mi2); and the Eastern Mediterranean, of about 1.65 million km2 (640,000 mi2). Coastal areas have submarine karst springs or s, which discharge pressurised groundwater into the water from below the surface; the discharge water is usually fresh, and sometimes may be thermal.BOOK,weblink Geologic/Hydrogeologic Setting and Classification of Springs, 57, Springs and Bottled Waters of the World: Ancient History, Source, Occurrence, Quality and Use, Philip, Elmer LaMoreaux, 2001, Springer, 978-3-540-61841-6, JOURNAL,weblink Geografski Obzornik, 2004, 51, 2, 0016-7274, Slovenian, Jože, Žumer, Odkritje podmorskih termalnih izvirov, Discovery of submarine thermal springs, 11–17, {{sl icon}}

Tectonics and paleoenvironmental analysis

{{unreferenced section|date=October 2018}}The Mediterranean basin and sea system was established by the ancient African-Arabian continent colliding with the Eurasian continent. As Africa-Arabia drifted northward, it closed over the ancient Tethys Ocean which had earlier separated the two supercontinents Laurasia and Gondwana.At about that time in the middle Jurassic period (roughly 170 million years ago {{dubious|date=November 2018}}) a much smaller sea basin, dubbed the Neotethys, was formed shortly before the Tethys Ocean closed at its western (Arabian) end. The broad line of collisions pushed up a very long system of mountains from the Pyrenees in Spain to the Zagros Mountains in Iran in an episode of mountain-building tectonics known as the Alpine orogeny. The Neotethys grew larger during the episodes of collisions (and associated foldings and subductions) that occurred during the Oligocene and Miocene epochs (34 to 5.33 mya); see animation: Africa-Arabia colliding with Eurasia. Accordingly, the Mediterranean basin consists of several stretched tectonic plates in subduction which are the foundation of the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. Various zones of subduction contain the highest oceanic ridges, east of the Ionian Sea and south of the Aegean. The Central Indian Ridge runs east of the Mediterranean Sea south-east across the in-between{{clarify|date=August 2019}} of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula into the Indian Ocean.

Messinian salinity crisis

File:Etapa3muda.jpg|thumb|upright=1.2|Messinian salinity crisis before the Zanclean floodZanclean flood(File:Crisis salina del Messiniense.ogv|thumb|upright=1.2|Animation: Messinian salinity crisis)During Mesozoic and Cenozoic times, as the northwest corner of Africa converged on Iberia, it lifted the Betic-Rif mountain belts across southern Iberia and northwest Africa. There the development of the intramontane Betic and Rif basins created two roughly-parallel marine gateways between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Dubbed the Betic and Rifian corridors, they gradually closed during the middle and late Miocene: perhaps several times.JOURNAL, de la Vara, Alba, Topper, Robin P.M., Meijer, Paul Th., Kouwenhoven, Tanja J., 2015, Water exchange through the Betic and Rifian corridors prior to the Messinian Salinity Crisis: A model study, Paleoceanography, 30, 5, 548–557, 10.1002/2014PA002719, 2015PalOc..30..548V, 1874/326590, In the late Miocene the closure of the Betic Corridor triggered the so-called "Messinian salinity crisis" (MSC), when the Mediterranean almost entirely dried out. The start of the MSC was recently estimated astronomically at 5.96 mya, and it persisted for some 630,000 years until about 5.3 mya;JOURNAL, Astrochronology for the Messinian Sorbas basin (SE Spain) and orbital (precessional) forcing for evaporite cyclicity, 2001, 10.1016/S0037-0738(00)00171-8, W., Krijgsman, A.R., Fortuinb, F.J., Hilgenc, F.J., Sierrod, Sedimentary Geology (journal), Sedimentary Geology, 140, 1, 43–60, 2001SedG..140...43K, 1874/1632,weblink see Animation: Messinian salinity crisis, at right.After the initial drawdown{{clarify|date=August 2019}} and re-flooding, there followed more episodes—the total number is debated—of sea drawdowns and re-floodings for the duration of the MSC. It ended when the Atlantic Ocean last re-flooded the basin—creating the Strait of Gibraltar and causing the Zanclean flood—at the end of the Miocene (5.33 mya). Some research has suggested that a desiccation-flooding-desiccation cycle may have repeated several times, which could explain several events of large amounts of salt deposition.JOURNAL, Gargani J., Rigollet C., Mediterranean Sea level variations during the Messinian Salinity Crisis., Geophysical Research Letters, 2007, 34, L10405, L10405, 10.1029/2007GL029885, 2007GeoRL..3410405G, JOURNAL, Gargani J., Moretti I., Letouzey J., Evaporite accumulation during the Messinian Salinity Crisis : The Suez Rift Case., Geophysical Research Letters, 2008, 35, 2, L02401, 10.1029/2007gl032494, 2008GeoRL..35.2401G, Recent studies, however, show that repeated desiccation and re-flooding is unlikely from a geodynamic point of view.JOURNAL, Govers, Rob, Choking the Mediterranean to dehydration: The Messinian salinity crisis, Geology, February 2009, 37, 2, 167–170, 10.1130/G25141A.1, 2009Geo....37..167G, JOURNAL, Garcia-Castellanos, D., Villaseñor, A., Messinian salinity crisis regulated by competing tectonics and erosion at the Gibraltar arc, Nature, 15 December 2011, 480, 7377, 359–363, 10.1038/nature10651, 22170684, 2011Natur.480..359G,

Desiccation and exchanges of flora and fauna

The present-day Atlantic gateway, the Strait of Gibraltar, originated in the early Pliocene via the Zanclean Flood. As mentioned, there were two earlier gateways: the Betic Corridor across southern Spain and the Rifian Corridor across northern Morocco. The Betic closed about 6 mya, causing the Messinian salinity crisis (MSC); the Rifian or possibly both gateways closed during the earlier Tortonian times, causing a "Tortonian salinity crisis" (from 11.6 to 7.2 mya), long before the MSC and lasting much longer. Both "crises" resulted in broad connections between the mainlands of Africa and Europe, which allowed migrations of flora and fauna—especially large mammals including primates—between the two continents. The Vallesian crisis indicates a typical extinction and replacement of mammal species in Europe during Tortonian times following climatic upheaval and overland migrations of new species:BOOK
, Agusti, J
, Moya-Sola, S
, Mammal extinctions in the Vallesian (Upper Miocene)
, 30, 1990, 425–432
, 1613-2580, 10.1007/BFb0011163, Lecture Notes in Earth Sciences
, 978-3-540-52605-6
, (Abstract) see Animation: Messinian salinity crisis (and mammal migrations), at right.
The almost complete enclosure of the Mediterranean basin has enabled the oceanic gateways to dominate seawater circulation and the environmental evolution of the sea and basin. Circulation patterns are also affected by several other factors—including climate, bathymetry, and water chemistry and temperature—which are interactive and can induce precipitation of evaporites. Deposits of evaporites accumulated earlier in the nearby Carpathian foredeep during the Middle Miocene, and the adjacent Red Sea Basin (during the Late Miocene), and in the whole Mediterranean basin (during the MSC and the Messinian age). Many diatomites are found underneath the evaporite deposits, suggesting a connection between their{{clarify|date=August 2019}} formations.Today, evaporation of surface seawater (output) is more than the supply (input) of fresh water by precipitation and coastal drainage systems, causing the salinity of the Mediterranean to be much higher than that of the Atlantic—so much so that the saltier Mediterranean waters sink below the waters incoming from the Atlantic, causing a two-layer flow across the Strait of Gibraltar: that is, an outflow submarine current of warm saline Mediterranean water, counterbalanced by an inflow surface current of less saline cold oceanic water from the Atlantic. In the 1920s, Herman Sörgel proposed the building of a hydroelectric dam (the Atlantropa project) across the Straits, using the inflow current to provide a large amount of hydroelectric energy. The underlying energy grid was also intended to support a political union between Europe and, at least, the Maghreb part of Africa (compare Eurafrika for the later impact and Desertec for a later project with some parallels in the planned grid).Politische Geographien Europas: Annäherungen an ein umstrittenes Konstrukt, Anke Strüver, LIT Verlag Münster, 2005, p. 43

Shift to a "Mediterranean climate"

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


Because of its latitude and its land-locked position, the Mediterranean is especially sensitive to astronomically induced climatic variations, which are well documented in its sedimentary record. Since the Mediterranean is subject to the deposition of eolian dust from the Sahara during dry periods, whereas riverine detrital input prevails during wet ones, the Mediterranean marine sapropel-bearing sequences provide high-resolution climatic information. These data have been employed in reconstructing astronomically calibrated time scales for the last 9 Ma of the Earth's history, helping to constrain the time of past geomagnetic reversals.FJ, Hilgen. Astronomical calibration of Gauss to Matuyama sapropels in the Mediterranean and implication for the Geomagnetic Polarity Time Scale, 104 (1991) 226–244 Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 1991.WEB,weblink Archived copy, 4 December 2009, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 24 July 2011, Furthermore, the exceptional accuracy of these paleoclimatic records has improved our knowledge of the Earth's orbital variations in the past.


Unlike the vast multidirectional ocean currents in open oceans within their respective oceanic zones; biodiversity in the Mediterranean Sea is that of a stable one due to the subtle but strong locked nature of currents which affects favorably, even the smallest macroscopic type of volcanic life form. The stable marine ecosystem of the Mediterranean Sea and sea temperature provides a nourishing environment for life in the deep sea to flourish while assuring a balanced aquatic ecosystem excluded from any external deep oceanic factors. It is estimated that there are more than 17,000 marine species in the Mediterranean Sea with generally higher marine biodiversity in coastal areas, continental shelves, and decreases with depthColl, Marta, et al., "The biodiversity of the Mediterranean Sea: estimates, patterns, and threats." PloS one 5.8, 2010..As a result of the drying of the sea during the Messinian salinity crisis,Hsu K.J., "When the Mediterranean Dried Up" Scientific American, Vol. 227, December 1972, p. 32 the marine biota of the Mediterranean are derived primarily from the Atlantic Ocean. The North Atlantic is considerably colder and more nutrient-rich than the Mediterranean, and the marine life of the Mediterranean has had to adapt to its differing conditions in the five million years since the basin was reflooded.The Alboran Sea is a transition zone between the two seas, containing a mix of Mediterranean and Atlantic species. The Alboran Sea has the largest population of bottlenose dolphins in the Western Mediterranean, is home to the last population of harbour porpoises in the Mediterranean, and is the most important feeding grounds for loggerhead sea turtles in Europe. The Alboran Sea also hosts important commercial fisheries, including sardines and swordfish. The Mediterranean monk seals live in the Aegean Sea in Greece. In 2003, the World Wildlife Fund raised concerns about the widespread drift net fishing endangering populations of dolphins, turtles, and other marine animals such as the spiny squat lobster.There was a resident population of killer whale in the Mediterranean until the 1980s, when they went extinct, probably due to long term PCB exposure. There are still annual sightings of killer whale vagrants.Carrington, Damian. "UK's last resident killer whales 'doomed to extinction'", The Guardian, London, 14 January 2016. Retrieved 17 February 2019.{{See also|Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance|List of fish of the Mediterranean Sea|List of fish of the Black Sea}}

Environmental issues

{{disputed|talkpage=Talk:Mediterranean_Sea/Archive_1#Some_controversial_additions_to_the_.22Environmental_history.22_section|what=section|date=February 2017}}For 4,000 years, human activity has transformed most parts of Mediterranean Europe, and the "humanisation of the landscape" overlapped with the appearance of the present Mediterranean climate. The image of a simplistic, environmental determinist notion of a Mediterranean paradise on Earth in antiquity, which was destroyed by later civilisations, dates back to at least the 18th century and was for centuries fashionable in archaeological and historical circles. Based on a broad variety of methods, e.g. historical documents, analysis of trade relations, floodplain sediments, pollen, tree-ring and further archaeometric analyses and population studies, Alfred Thomas Grove's and Oliver Rackham's work on "The Nature of Mediterranean Europe" challenges this common wisdom of a Mediterranean Europe as a "Lost Eden", a formerly fertile and forested region, that had been progressively degraded and desertified by human mismanagement. The belief stems more from the failure of the recent landscape to measure up to the imaginary past of the classics as idealised by artists, poets and scientists of the early modern Enlightenment.File:Palomares H-Bomb Incident.jpg|thumb|The thermonuclear bomb that fell into the sea recovered off Palomares, AlmeríaPalomares, AlmeríaThe historical evolution of climate, vegetation and landscape in southern Europe from prehistoric times to the present is much more complex and underwent various changes. For example, some of the deforestation had already taken place before the Roman age. While in the Roman age large enterprises such as the latifundia took effective care of forests and agriculture, the largest depopulation effects came with the end of the empire. Some{{who|date=September 2014}} assume that the major deforestation took place in modern times—the later usage patterns were also quite different e.g. in southern and northern Italy. Also, the climate has usually been unstable and there is evidence of various ancient and modern "Little Ice Ages",Little Ice Ages: Ancient and Modern, Jean M. Grove, Taylor & Francis, 2004 and plant cover accommodated to various extremes and became resilient to various patterns of human activity.Human activity was therefore not the cause of climate change but followed it. The wide ecological diversity typical of Mediterranean Europe is predominantly based on human behavior, as it is and has been closely related human usage patterns. The diversity range{{clarify|date=August 2019}} was enhanced by the widespread exchange and interaction of the longstanding and highly diverse local agriculture, intense transport and trade relations, and the interaction with settlements, pasture and other land use. The greatest human-induced changes, however, came after World War II, in line with the "1950s syndrome"Christian Pfister (editor), Das 1950er Syndrom: Der Weg in die Konsumgesellschaft, Berne 1995 as rural populations throughout the region abandoned traditional subsistence economies. Grove and Rackham suggest that the locals left the traditional agricultural patterns and instead became scenery-setting agents{{clarify|date=August 2019}} for tourism. This resulted in more uniform, large-scale formations{{Fix|text=of what?}}. Among further current important threats to Mediterranean landscapes are overdevelopment of coastal areas, abandonment of mountains and, as mentioned, the loss of variety via the reduction of traditional agricultural occupations.The Nature of Mediterranean Europe: An Ecological History, by Alfred Thomas Grove, Oliver Rackham, Yale University Press, 2003, review at Yale university press Nature of Mediterranean Europe: An Ecological History (review) Brian M. Fagan], Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Volume 32, Number 3, Winter 2002, pp. 454–455 |]

Natural hazards

File:DenglerSW-Stromboli-20040928-1230x800.jpg|thumb|upright=1.1|StromboliStromboliThe region has a variety of geological hazards which have closely interacted with human activity and land use patterns. Among others, in the eastern Mediterranean, the Thera eruption, dated to the 17th or 16th century BC, caused a large tsunami that some experts hypothesise devastated the Minoan civilisation on the nearby island of Crete, further leading some to believe that this may have been the catastrophe that inspired the Atlantis legend.The wave that destroyed Atlantis Harvey Lilley, BBC News Online, 20 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-21. Mount Vesuvius is the only active volcano on the European mainland, while others, Mount Etna and Stromboli, are on neighbouring islands. The region around Vesuvius including the Phlegraean Fields Caldera west of Naples are quite activeAntonio Denti, "Super volcano", global danger, lurks near Pompeii, Reuters, 3 August 2012. and constitute the most densely populated volcanic region in the world where an eruptive event may occur within decades.JOURNAL
, Roberto
, Isaia
, Paola Marianelli, Alessandro Sbrana
, 2009
, Caldera unrest prior to intense volcanism in Campi Flegrei (Italy) at 4.0 ka B.P.: Implications for caldera dynamics and future eruptive scenarios
, Geophysical Research Letters
, 36
, L21303
, 10.1029/2009GL040513
, L21303
, 2009GeoRL..3621303I,
Vesuvius itself is regarded as quite dangerous due to a tendency towards explosive (Plinian) eruptions.NEWS, Bill, McGuire, In the shadow of the volcano, 16 October 2003, Guardian News and Media Limited,,weblink 8 May 2010, It is best known for its eruption in AD 79 that led to the burying and destruction of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.The large experience{{clarify|date=August 2019}} of member states and regional authorities has led to exchange{{Fix|text=of what?}} on the international level with cooperation of NGOs, states, regional and municipality authorities and private persons.WEB,weblink Alle kennisdossiers van het Instituut Fysieke Veiligheid, The Greek–Turkish earthquake diplomacy is a quite positive example of natural hazards leading to improved relations between traditional rivals in the region after earthquakes in İzmir and Athens in 1999. The European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) was set up to respond to major natural disasters and express European solidarity to disaster-stricken regions within all of Europe.EU Solidarity Fund Website 2003 proposal of EUR 47.6 million for Italian regions hit by natural disasters The largest amount of funding requests in the EU relates to forest fires, followed by floods and earthquakes. Forest fires, whether man made or natural, are a frequent and dangerous hazard in the Mediterranean region. Tsunamis are also an often underestimated hazard in the region. For example, the 1908 Messina earthquake and tsunami took more than 123,000 lives in Sicily and Calabria and was among the most deadly natural disasters in modern Europe.

Invasive species

File:Himantura uarnak egypt.jpg|thumb|The reticulate whipray is one of the species that colonised the Eastern Mediterranean through the Suez Canal as part of the ongoing Lessepsian migrationLessepsian migrationThe opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 created the first salt-water passage between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. The Red Sea is higher than the Eastern Mediterranean, so the canal functions as a tidal strait that pours Red Sea water into the Mediterranean. The Bitter Lakes, which are hyper-saline natural lakes that form part of the canal, blocked the migration of Red Sea species into the Mediterranean for many decades, but as the salinity of the lakes gradually equalised with that of the Red Sea, the barrier to migration was removed, and plants and animals from the Red Sea have begun to colonise the Eastern Mediterranean. The Red Sea is generally saltier and more nutrient-poor than the Atlantic, so the Red Sea species have advantages over Atlantic species in the salty and nutrient-poor Eastern Mediterranean. Accordingly, Red Sea species invade the Mediterranean biota, and not vice versa; this phenomenon is known as the Lessepsian migration (after Ferdinand de Lesseps, the French engineer) or Erythrean ("red") invasion. The construction of the Aswan High Dam across the Nile River in the 1960s reduced the inflow of freshwater and nutrient-rich silt from the Nile into the Eastern Mediterranean, making conditions there even more like the Red Sea and worsening the impact of the invasive species.Invasive species have become a major component of the Mediterranean ecosystem and have serious impacts on the Mediterranean ecology, endangering many local and endemic Mediterranean species. A first look at some groups of exotic species shows 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,WEB,weblink IUCN Guidelines for the Prevention of Biodiversity Loss Caused by Alien Invasive Species, 11 August 2009, 2000, International Union for Conservation of Nature, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 15 January 2009, introduced into the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal. This makes the Canal the first pathway of arrival of alien species into the Mediterranean. The impacts of some Lessepsian species have proven to be considerable, mainly in the Levantine basin of the Mediterranean, where they are replacing native species and becoming a familiar sight.According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature definition, as well as Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Ramsar Convention terminologies, they are alien species, as they are non-native (non-indigenous) to the Mediterranean Sea, and they are outside their normal area of distribution which is the Indo-Pacific region. When these species succeed in establishing populations in the Mediterranean Sea, compete with and begin to replace native species they are "Alien Invasive Species", as they are an agent of change and a threat to the native biodiversity. In the context of CBD, "introduction" refers to the movement by human agency, indirect or direct, of an alien species outside of its natural range (past or present). The Suez Canal, being an artificial (man made) canal, is a human agency. Lessepsian migrants are therefore "introduced" species (indirect, and unintentional). Whatever wording is chosen, they represent a threat to the native Mediterranean biodiversity, because they are non-indigenous to this sea. In recent years, the Egyptian government's announcement of its intentions to deepen and widen the canal have raised concerns from marine biologists, fearing that such an act will only worsen the invasion of Red Sea species into the Mediterranean, and lead to even more species passing through the canal.Galil, B.S. and Zenetos, A. (2002). A sea change: exotics in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, in: Leppäkoski, E. et al. (2002). Invasive aquatic species of Europe: distribution, impacts and management. pp. 325–336.

Arrival of new tropical Atlantic species

In recent decades, the arrival of exotic species from the tropical Atlantic has become noticeable. Whether this reflects an expansion of the natural area of these species that now enter the Mediterranean through the Gibraltar strait, because of a warming trend of the water caused by global warming; or an extension of the maritime traffic; or is simply the result of a more intense scientific investigation, is still an open question. While not as intense as the "Lessepsian" movement, the process may be of scientific interest and may therefore{{Fix|text=non sequitur}} warrant increased levels of monitoring.{{citation needed|date=December 2011}}

Sea-level rise

By 2100 the overall level of the Mediterranean could rise between {{convert|3|to|61|cm|1|abbr=on}} as a result of the effects of climate change.WEB, Mediterranean Sea Level Could Rise By Over Two Feet, Global Models Predict,weblink Science Daily, 3 March 2009, This could have adverse effects on populations across the Mediterranean:
  • Rising sea levels will submerge parts of Malta. Rising sea levels will also mean rising salt water levels in Malta's groundwater supply and reduce the availability of drinking water.NEWS, Briny future for vulnerable Malta,weblink 4 April 2007, BBC News,
  • A {{convert|30|cm|0|abbr=on}} rise in sea level would flood {{convert|200|km2|0|abbr=out}} of the Nile Delta, displacing over 500,000 Egyptians.WEB, Egypt fertile Nile Delta falls prey to climate change,weblink 28 January 2010, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 9 February 2011,
Coastal ecosystems also appear to be threatened by sea level rise, especially enclosed seas such as the Baltic, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. These seas have only small and primarily east-west movement corridors, which may restrict northward displacement of organisms in these areas.Nicholls, R.J.; Klein, R.J.T. (2005). Climate change and coastal management on Europe's coast, in: Vermaat, J.E. et al. (Ed.) (2005). Managing European coasts: past, present and future. pp. 199–226. Sea level rise for the next century (2100) could be between {{convert|30|cm|in|abbr=on}} and {{convert|100|cm|in|abbr=on}} and temperature shifts of a mere 0.05–0.1 Â°C in the deep sea are sufficient to induce significant changes in species richness and functional diversity.WEB,weblink Other threats in the Mediterranean | Greenpeace International, Greenpeace, 23 April 2010,weblink" title="">weblink 16 April 2010, dead,


Pollution in this region has been extremely high in recent years.{{When|date=May 2012}} The United Nations Environment Programme has estimated that {{convert|650000000|t|ST|abbr=on}} of sewage, {{convert|129000|t|ST|abbr=on}} of mineral oil, {{convert|60000|t|ST|abbr=on}} of mercury, {{convert|3800|t|ST|abbr=on}} of lead and {{convert|36000|t|ST|abbr=on}} of phosphates are dumped into the Mediterranean each year.WEB,weblink Pollution in the Mediterranean Sea. Environmental issues,, 23 April 2010, The Barcelona Convention aims to 'reduce pollution in the Mediterranean Sea and protect and improve the marine environment in the area, thereby contributing to its sustainable development.'WEB,weblink EUROPA, Europa, 23 April 2010, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 9 April 2009, Many marine species have been almost wiped out because of the sea's pollution. One of them is the Mediterranean monk seal which is considered to be among the world's most endangered marine mammals.WEB,weblink Mediterranean Monk Seal Fact Files: Overview,, 5 May 1978, 23 April 2010, The Mediterranean is also plagued by marine debris. A 1994 study of the seabed using trawl nets around the coasts of Spain, France and Italy reported a particularly high mean concentration of debris; an average of 1,935 items per km2. Plastic debris accounted for 76%, of which 94% was plastic bags.WEB,weblink Marine Litter: An Analytical Overview, 1 August 2008, 2005, United Nations Environment Programme,


File:Portacontainer MSC in navigazione nello stretto di Messina.jpg|thumb|A cargo ship cruises towards the Strait of MessinaStrait of MessinaSome of the world's busiest shipping routes are in the Mediterranean Sea. It is estimated that approximately 220,000 merchant vessels of more than 100 tonnes cross the Mediterranean Sea each year—about one third of the world's total merchant shipping. These ships often carry hazardous cargo, which if lost would result in severe damage to the marine environment.The discharge of chemical tank washings and oily wastes also represent a significant source of marine pollution. The Mediterranean Sea constitutes 0.7% of the global water surface and yet receives 17% of global marine oil pollution. It is estimated that every year between {{convert|100000|t|LT|abbr=on}} and {{convert|150000|t|LT|abbr=on}} of crude oil are deliberately released into the sea from shipping activities.Approximately {{convert|370000000|t|LT|abbr=on}} of oil are transported annually in the Mediterranean Sea (more than 20% of the world total), with around 250–300 oil tankers crossing the sea every day. Accidental oil spills happen frequently with an average of 10 spills per year. A major oil spill could occur at any time in any part of the Mediterranean.


File:Turkey-2459 (2216286345).jpg|thumb|Antalya on the Turkish Riviera (Turquoise Coast) received more than 11 million international tourist arrivals in 2014.]]Tourism is one of the most important sources of income for many Mediterranean countries, despite the man-made geopolitical conflicts{{clarify|date=August 2019}} in the region. The countries have tried to extinguish rising man-made chaotic zones{{clarify|date=August 2019}} that might affect the region's economies and societies in neighboring coastal countries, and shipping routes. Naval and rescue components in the Mediterranean Sea are considered to be among the best{{fact|date=August 2019}} due to the rapid cooperation between various naval fleets. Unlike the vast open oceans, the sea's closed position facilitates effective naval and rescue missions{{fact|date=August 2019}}, considered the safest{{fact|date=August 2019}} and regardless of{{clarify|date=August 2019}} any man-made or natural disaster.Tourism is a source of income for small coastal communities, including islands, independent of urban centers. However, tourism has also played major role in the degradation of the coastal and marine environment. Rapid development has been encouraged by Mediterranean governments to support the large numbers of tourists visiting the region; but this has caused serious disturbance to marine habitats by erosion and pollution in many places along the Mediterranean coasts.Tourism often concentrates in areas of high natural wealth{{clarify|date=August 2019}}, causing a serious threat to the habitats of endangered species such as sea turtles and monk seals. Reductions in natural wealth may reduce the incentive for tourists to visit.{{see also|Environmental impact of tourism}}


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


File:Hammametgolf.jpg|Beach of Hammamet, TunisiaFile:Plage-de-la-courtade.jpg|The beach of la Courtade in the Îles d'Hyères, FranceFile:Chia beach, Sardinia, Italy.jpg|Sardinia's south coast, ItalyFile:Malta - Birzebbuga - Triq il-Bajja s-Sabiha + Pretty Bay + Gnien Mons. Guzeppi Minuti 03 ies.jpg|Pretty Bay, MaltaFile:Piran Stadtpanorama.jpg|Panoramic view of Piran, SloveniaFile:Cavtat Croatia 2008-10-07.JPG|Panoramic view of Cavtat, CroatiaFile:Neum02451.JPG|View of Neum, Bosnia and HerzegovinaFile:svetistefan1756.JPG|A view of Sveti Stefan, MontenegroFile:Ksamill-1.jpg|Ksamil Islands, AlbaniaFile:Panagiotis wreck.jpg|Navagio, GreeceFile:Marmaris TURKEY.JPG|Marmaris, Turquoise Coast, TurkeyFile:Petra tou romiou beach.jpg|Paphos, CyprusFile:Burjeslam.jpg|Burj Islam Beach, Latakia, SyriaFile:BeirutRaouche1.jpg|A view of Raouché off the coast of Beirut, LebanonFile:Bat Galim neighborhood and Haifa Bay.jpg|A view of Haifa, IsraelFile:Coast of Alexandria, A view From Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt.jpg|Coast of Alexandria, view From Bibliotheca Alexandrina, EgyptFile:ForbysIbizaTown 02.jpg|Old city of Ibiza Town, SpainFile:Les Aiguades.jpg|Les Aiguades near Béjaïa, AlgeriaFile:EL Jebha1.jpg|El Jebha, a port town in MoroccoFile:Gibraltar-Europa-Point-LH-from-the-sea.jpg|Europa Point, GibraltarFile:Monaco City 001.jpg|Panoramic view of La Condamine, MonacoFile:شاطئ دير البلح horizon adjusted.jpg|Sunset at the Deir al-Balah beach, Gaza Strip

See also

{{div col}}
  • {{annotated link|Babelmed}}, the site of the Mediterranean cultures
  • {{annotated link|Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly}}
  • {{annotated link|Familial Mediterranean fever}}
  • {{annotated link|History of the Mediterranean region}}
  • {{annotated link|Holy League (1571)}}
  • {{annotated link|List of islands in the Mediterranean}}
  • {{annotated link|List of Mediterranean countries}}
  • {{annotated link|Mediterranean diet}}
  • {{annotated link|Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub}}
  • {{annotated link|Mediterranean Games}}
  • {{annotated link|Mediterranean race}}
  • {{annotated link|Mediterranean Sea (oceanography)}}
  • {{annotated link|Piri Reis}} – Early cartographer of the Mediterranean
  • {{annotated link|Seto Inland Sea}} – also known as the Japanese Mediterranean Sea
  • {{annotated link|Tyrrhenian Basin}}
  • {{annotated link|Union for the Mediterranean}}
{{div col end}}



External links

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