5 Feb 2016

Interesting Facts About the Mediterranean Sea

Mediterranean Sea
CC-BY-2.0  Wikimedia Commons

The Mediterranean Sea is almost completely land locked. Only the narrow strait of Gibraltar connects it with the Atlantic Ocean. It is an oval shaped sea.

 Mediterranean Sea is sandwiched in between the continents of Africa and Europe. The collision between the African and European plates is the reason of its origin.

The sea has fascinated human kind for millions of years. Some of the world’s most enlightened ancient civilizations were originated around the areas near the sea. Let us discuss some interesting facts about the Mediterranean Sea.

  • The name “Mediterranean” has been derived from two Latin words “Medius” and “Terra”. The first term means “middle” and the second “earth”. Actually, it was in the middle of the Roman world.

  • The average depth of the Mediterranean is 4900 ft but the deepest point is 17280 ft. The name of this deepest point is Calypso deep which is in the Ionian Sea, near Greece.

  • The Mediterranean Sea has two sub divisions – the Eastern and Western. A sub-sea ridge from Sicily to Tunisia is the divider. The ridge is called as the “Strait of Sicily”.

  • 5.96 million years ago, the Mediterranean Sea was almost dried up. That event is known as “Messinian salinity crisis”. The crisis lasted for almost 630000 years.
Photo of Mediterranean Sea
A scene of the Mediterranean Sea
  • The Mediterranean has joined the Atlantic with the narrow strait of Gibraltar. It is less than eight miles wide in some points.

  • The Mediterranean Sea is longer from east to west than north to south. It is 2400 mi long. On some parts, it is close to 1000 mi wide.  It covers an area of 970000 sq mi.

  • Submarine karst springs can be observed in many coastal regions of the sea. Ground water is released from these springs. That water is highly pressurized, fresh and sometimes even hot.
  • The sea touches three continents – Asia, Africa and Europe. The Southern part of Europe, Western Asia and North Africa encircle the ocean.

  • Many countries have shoreline with the Mediterranean. The most important among them are Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco etc.

  • There are close to 200 islands in this sea. Most of them are very small. Some of these are uninhabited. Most of these islands are under the administration of Greece.

  • Sicily is the largest of all Mediterranean islands with an area of 9927 sq mi. It has a population of more than 5 million. This island is an autonomous region under Italy.

  •  The tallest active volcano of Europe, Mt Etna (10922 ft) is in the island of Sicily. It is one of the most active volcanoes of the world.
Mount Etna
Mount Etna as seen from a boat in the Mediterranean Sea
  • Some of the other major islands of the Mediterranean Sea are Sardinia, Corsica, Cyprus, Crete, etc. Sardinia and Cyprus both has more than 1 million inhabitants. 

  • The Mediterranean Sea is subdivided into many smaller seas like the Alboran Sea, Ligurian Sea, Adriatic Sea, Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea etc. Among these the Adriatic touches largest number of countries.

  • The Mediterranean region has a special climate characterized by hot dry summer and cool, wet winter. The vegetation of the region is specially equipped to survive the long very dry summer months.

  • Areas beside or near this sea is famous for fruit productions. Some of the most prominent fruits of the region are olives, grapes, figs, walnuts and citrus.

  • The strait of Dardanelles connects the Aegean Sea, a part of the Mediterranean, with the Sea of Marmara. That strait is like a river as it is 38mi long and 0.75 to 3.73 mi wide. The water at the surface flows from the Marmara to the Aegean. An undercurrent flows at the opposite direction.

  • The strait of Bosporus connects the Sea of Marmara with the Black Sea. The length of the channel is about 17 mi and width varies from 1.8 to 2.8 mi. The city of Istanbul is located in both sides of the strait.

  • The Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean with the Red Sea. It is about 120 mi in length. It is the shortest sea route from Europe and Asia which. It reduces the sea voyage distance by about 4000 mi. That is why the canal has immense economical importance. It is under the control of Egyptian government.

alexandria harbor
Alexandria harbor
  • There are many important ports and harbors on the Mediterranean Sea. Some of the most famous and largest of such ports on the African coast are Alexandria of Egypt, Tripoli and Benghazi of Libya, Algiers of Algeria, Tangier of Morocco, Tunis of Tunisia, etc. The Asian ports are Tel Aviv of Israel, Antalya of Turkey, and Latakia of Syria. Major ports on the European side are Durres of Albania; Split of Croatia; Nice, Marseille, and Toulon of France; Naples, Palermo, Genoa, and Venice of Italy; Barcelona, Valencia, Malaga, and Palma of Spain; and Monaco, etc.

  • The Mediterranean Sea is the home of many endemic species of fishes and marine animals. Some of these are engendered like the monk seal, loggerhead turtle and  the green turtle.

  • There are some species of whales and dolphins in this sea. The pilot whale and the fin whale are now two engendered marine animals.

We need to create awareness among people to save the environment of the sea. Thousands of marine animals are about to be extinct due to the lack of care from us.