|position||between North Africa , Southern Europe and the Middle East|
|Tributaries||Atlantic , Black Sea , Nile , Ebro , Tiber , Rhone , Cheliff , Po , etc. a.|
|Important islands||Sicily , Sardinia , Cyprus , Corsica , Crete , Euboea , Mallorca , Lesbos , Rhodes , Corfu , Djerba , Malta , plus at least 4300 smaller and tiny islands|
|Cities on the shore||Alexandria , Algiers , Antalya , Athens , Barcelona , Beirut , Genoa , Marseille , Naples , Palermo , Tel Aviv , Haifa , Tripoli , Tunis , Valencia , Venice|
|Maximum depth||5109 m|
|Middle deep||1430 m|
The Mediterranean Sea ( Latin Mare Mediterraneum , hence German also Mittelländisches Meer , more precisely European Mediterranean , in the Roman Empire Mare Nostrum ) is a Mediterranean Sea between Europe , Africa and Asia , a tributary of the Atlantic Ocean and, since it is just one of the Strait of Gibraltar has a narrow connection to the Atlantic, also an inland sea . In Arabic (البحر الأبيض DMG al-baḥr al-abyaḍ ) and in Turkish ( Akdeniz ) it is also known as the “White Sea”.
Together with the islands in it and the coastal regions of southern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, the Mediterranean forms the Mediterranean area , which has its own climate ( Mediterranean climate ) and is characterized by its own flora and fauna .
The area of the Mediterranean is about 2.5 million km² and its volume is 4.3 million km³. In the Calypso Depth, it reaches a maximum depth of 5109 meters. The average water depth is around 1430 meters.
Sea regions of the Mediterranean
The European Mediterranean Sea as the most solid countries or surrounded by the ocean separate the Mediterranean between the three continents of Africa, Europe and Asia. It is counted among the tributaries of the Atlantic Ocean .
In the west it is connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the Strait of Gibraltar, in the northeast via the Dardanelles , the Marmara Sea and the Bosphorus with the Black Sea and in the southeast via the Suez Canal (since 1869) with the Red Sea , a tributary of the Indian Ocean .
In the depths, the sea is divided into two characteristic basins , a western and an eastern one, which are separated by the Tunisia-Italy threshold , which is highly active seismically . With the Tyrrhenian Basin, a third, independent basin emerges here.
In terms of the natural structure, the Mediterranean is divided into a western and an eastern part:
The division into a western, central and eastern part is less common. In this case, the marine areas around the Italian Peninsula are counted as part of the central Mediterranean Sea: Ligurian Sea, Tyrrhenian Sea, Strait of Sicily, Gulf of Gabès (Little Syrte), Ionian Sea, Adriatic Sea.
The westernmost point of the Mediterranean is located at the transition from the Alborán Sea to the Strait of Gibraltar, the easternmost point is on the coast of the Gulf of İskenderun in southeastern Turkey. The northernmost point of the Mediterranean is on the coast of the Gulf of Trieste near Monfalcone in northern Italy while the southernmost point is on the coast of the Great Syrte near the Libyan town of El Agheila .
The following countries have a share on the Mediterranean coast (listed in the order as they appear on a north-facing map clockwise, starting in the west-north-west, at around “10 o'clock”): Spain , France , Monaco , Italy , Malta , Slovenia , Croatia , Bosnia and Herzegovina , Montenegro , Albania , Greece , Turkey , Cyprus , Syria , Lebanon , Israel , Egypt , Libya , Tunisia , Algeria and Morocco .
Gibraltar and the two military bases Akrotiri and Dekelia in Cyprus are British territories, but officially do not belong to the United Kingdom . The Palestinian Autonomous Territories share the Mediterranean coast with the Gaza Strip .
In the case of the Mediterranean, the two terms Mediterranean state and Mediterranean riparian state are almost synonymous, since all larger states in the Mediterranean region have access to the coast. The former also include the small European states of Vatican City and San Marino , and possibly Andorra and North Macedonia as well .
Islands and coasts
In the Mediterranean there are numerous archipelagos and individual larger and smaller islands. The island with the largest area is Sicily , followed by Sardinia . Both islands are also independent regions of Italy . Other large Mediterranean islands are - in descending order - Cyprus , Corsica and Crete . Cyprus and Malta with its neighboring islands are the only island states in the Mediterranean. With more than five million inhabitants, Sicily is by far the most populous island in the Mediterranean.
The most important archipelagos in the European Mediterranean are from west to east
- the Balearic Islands with the main island of Mallorca , the island of Menorca and Ibiza and Formentera , including Ibiza and Formentera are
- some of Italy's archipelagos , such as the Tuscan Archipelago and Campania Archipelago , the Aeolian , Aegadian and Pelagic Islands
- Malta with Gozo and some smaller islands
- the islands of the Venetian lagoon
- the Croatian islands , the island in groups such as the Kornati islands are divided
- the Ionian Islands
- the Aegean Islands , which are themselves divided into other smaller island groups, for example the Cyclades , Sporades , the Saronic and North Aegean Islands
- the Kerkenna Islands off the coast of Tunisia
On the west coast of the Mediterranean lies the Iberian Peninsula with Spain and Portugal, which is bordered by the Atlantic in the north and west and connected to France in the northeast by the Pyrenees Mountains . To the east follows the boot-shaped Apennine peninsula with most of Italy. The Balkan Peninsula between the Adriatic, Aegean and the Black Sea, which is differently defined in terms of its extent, encompasses most of Southeastern Europe. Also Asia Minor is sometimes seen as a peninsula between the Black and Mediterranean.
Peninsulas such as Calabria and Salento in southern Italy, Istria in Croatia (the largest peninsula in the Adriatic), the Peloponnese , Attica and Chalkidiki in Greece or the Gallipoli peninsula in the European part of Turkey are significantly smaller . On the much less indented southern coast of the Mediterranean are the Cape Bon peninsulas in Tunisia and the Cyrenaica in Libya.
Stretches of coast
The coasts lie along the characteristic large areas of the Mediterranean region in terms of land mass, namely Iberian Peninsula , French Mediterranean Coast , Apennine Peninsula , Balkan Peninsula , Greece (as a peninsula of the Balkans), Asia Minor , Levant (Middle East), Maghreb (North Africa), where the latter area takes up the entire southern half of the coast, but is much less structured because here, with the Atlas Mountains, only one mass of mountains determines the coastline.
Known stretches of coastline:
- Albania: Albanian Riviera
- France: French Riviera
- Italy: Italian Riviera , Amalfi Coast , Cinque Terre , Versilia
- Croatia: Istria , Kvarner , Dalmatia ( Croatian Riviera )
- Monaco ( Monte-Carlo )
- Spain: Costa Brava , Costa del Sol or Andalusia , ( Gibraltar )
- Turkey: Turkish Riviera
- Syria , Lebanon , Israel : Levant
Cities and metropolitan areas
|Surname||Length (km)||State at the mouth||Part of the sea of the estuary|
|Aude||224||France||Western part of the Mediterranean|
|Cheliff||700||Algeria||Western part of the Mediterranean|
|Ebro||925||Spain||Western part of the Mediterranean|
|Etsch / Adige||415||Italy||Adriatic|
|Great meander / Büyük Menderes||550||Turkey||Aegean|
|Júcar||498||Spain||Western part of the Mediterranean|
|Small meander / Küçük Menderes||200||Turkey||Aegean|
|Mariza / Meriç / Evros||515||Greece / Turkey||Aegean|
|Medjerda||450||Tunisia||Western part of the Mediterranean|
|Moulouya||550||Morocco||Western part of the Mediterranean|
|Nahr al-Asi / Orontes / Asi Nehri||571||Turkey||Levantine Sea|
|Nestos / Mesta||243||Greece||Aegean|
|Rhone||812||France||Golf du Lion|
|Segura||325||Spain||Western part of the Mediterranean|
|Goiter / Strymonas||408||Greece||Aegean|
|Ter||208||Spain||Western part of the Mediterranean|
|Tiber / Tevere||405||Italy||Tyrrhenian Sea|
|Turia||280||Spain||Western part of the Mediterranean|
|Vardar / Axios||388||Greece||Aegean|
In addition, there is, first, the constant inflow from the Atlantic and, second, the excess water of the Black Sea over the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara . The net Atlantic inflow is approx. 70,000 m³ per second or 2.2e12 m³ per year, which corresponds to around 9.5 times the inflow volume of the flowing rivers. Without the water supply from the Atlantic, the water level of the Mediterranean would drop by about 1 m per year.
Origin and development
The European Mediterranean is largely a remnant of the Tethys , a great gulf-like primeval ocean that was surrounded by the supercontinent Pangea . The formation of the Mediterranean Sea began with the breakup of the Pangea and the drift of the African Plate (at that time still part of the great southern continent Gondwana ) to the south during the Triassic and Jurassic . This zipped the Tethys open to the west. The renewed northern drift of the African Plate in the Chalk, which has meanwhile been separated from the Gondwana Association, and its collision with the southern edge of Europe from the Paleogene led to the increasing narrowing of the western Tethys and the Alpidic mountain range . The associated emergence of the Alpidic chains in Central and Southeastern Europe as well as in the Near East (Alps, Carpathians, Dinaric Mountains, etc.) divided the western Tethys into a northern part, the Paratethys , and a southern part, which developed into today's Mediterranean (the eastern Tethys joined in the wake of the northern drift of India, which at the same time created the Indian Ocean). The collision of Africa (including the Arabian Peninsula) with the southwestern edge of what was then Asia in the Middle Miocene led to the separation of the Mediterranean from the Indian Ocean. The formation of the young fold mountains of the Mediterranean area and the islands as well as the distribution of the shelf areas and deep-sea basins are the result of complex tectonic and geomorphological processes that have not yet been finally clarified. The oceanic crust of the western Tethys Basin preserved in the eastern Mediterranean is the oldest in the world, sometimes over 300 million years old.
About six million years ago, in the Messinian (Upper Miocene), the Mediterranean began to dry up. Before the Messinian, the Mediterranean was not yet connected to the Atlantic by the narrow Strait of Gibraltar , but by much wider inlets, which led on the one hand through southern Spain and on the other hand south of the Atlas Mountains. As a result of the plate-tectonic collision between Africa and southern Europe , these sea connections closed. Due to the interaction of the oceanographic isolation of the Mediterranean basin and the arid climate in the region, the sea water evaporated and the water level sank. The forming salt desert is documented today in the sea floor of the Mediterranean Sea in the form of mighty gypsum and salt deposits . A few millennia later, the Mediterranean basin was replenished by inflowing water from the Atlantic across the Strait of Gibraltar. This process probably took place several times six to five million years ago. The repeated evaporation explains the high thickness of the salt deposits. The entire period is known as the Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC).
The Messinian salinity crisis resulted in a faunal cut in the Mediterranean area, based on which Charles Lyell , without knowing the cause, established the geological boundary between the Miocene and the Pliocene . In the Miocene there were large archipelagos in the Mediterranean, at times with land connections to North Africa. These were partly populated with tropical-African fauna: Old World monkeys ( Oreopithecus ), elephants ( Sicilian dwarf elephant ), giraffes, hippos, crocodiles. In the Pliocene, this fauna was largely replaced by immigrants from Europe, e.g. B. by saber-toothed cats ( Machairodus and Metailurus ).
In the periglacial of the Würm and Vistula Ice Age , the water level of the Mediterranean Sea was around 120 meters lower than it is today. This made the upper end of the Adriatic Sea ( Caput Adriae ) mainland, many Greek islands were connected to Anatolia, Sardinia and Corsica formed one large island, as did Sicily and Malta. A wide coastal plain stretched east of Tunisia. Extensive plains lay in front of today's mouths of the Rhone , Nile and Ebro . The entrance to the Henry Cosquer Cave with prehistoric rock carvings is now 36 m below sea level. The glacioeustatic rise in sea level at the end of the Pleistocene was about 0.2 cm / a.
The Mediterranean as a sedimentary basin
The sedimentation history of the Mediterranean Sea is closely linked to the formation of the young fold mountains of the Mediterranean area. The latter are important delivery areas for the sediments, and the tectonic processes associated with the mountain formation were an important factor influencing the sedimentation dynamics. Large rivers such as the Ebro, Po and Rhone were and are important transport media for the sediments. The largest river system that flows into the Mediterranean is the Nile. It transports around 60 million tons of sediment into the eastern Mediterranean every year. Not to be underestimated, however, is the entry of sediments from the adjacent desert areas (especially the Sahara) by wind.
A remarkable feature of the Pliocene and Quaternary Mediterranean sediment sequence is the rhythmic occurrence of digested sludge deposits . The reason for this could be climate fluctuations with a weakening of the aridity in the region. The existence and non-existence of connections to the Atlantic and Indian Oceans (via the Persian Gulf) were also of great importance for the sedimentary evolution of the Mediterranean area - especially with regard to the formation of evaporites (see above).
The Mediterranean consists mainly of four larger deep-sea basins underlaid with oceanic crust : The Balearic Basin, also known as the Algerian-Provencal Basin, which is up to 3255 m deep and is located in the western part of the Mediterranean, forms the smallest basin. In the western central part the Tyrrhenian Basin is located in the Tyrrhenian Sea at a depth of up to m to 3758 in the eastern central part of the Mediterranean Ionian basin is located in. Ionian Sea , which in the Calypso Deep - the deepest part of the European Mediterranean - m up to 5109 is deep . In the eastern region there is the up to 4517 m deep Levantine Basin in the Levantine Sea.
Since the Mediterranean has only a narrow connection with the Atlantic and is only 3,500 km long, it has hardly any tidal range . The highest values for the maximum tidal range are in the range 100 cm ( Venice ), 120 cm ( Trieste ) and 200 cm ( Gulf of Gabès ). However, large areas of the Mediterranean have a hardly detectable tidal range of less than 10 cm, only a few regions achieve values of over 30 cm due to resonance .
The salt content of the European Mediterranean is around 3.8% higher than that of the Atlantic (around 3.5%). This is a consequence of the strong evaporation , which is not compensated by the inflow of fresh water from the large rivers and streams (one speaks in this context of a concentration basin ). For this reason, a strong salt water current flows off into the Atlantic at the bottom of the Strait of Gibraltar , while on the surface an even stronger countercurrent, corresponding to the net water loss, transports less salt and therefore lighter ocean water into the Mediterranean. The surface salinity increases from west to east from 3.63% in the Strait of Gibraltar to 3.91% off the coast of Asia Minor.
The climate in the Mediterranean area is characterized by very warm, predominantly dry summers and mild winters with high levels of precipitation . The mean air temperatures in summer range from 23 ° C in the western areas to 26 ° C in the east. Maximum temperatures are 30 ° C. In winter the values are 10 ° C in the west and 16 ° C off the Levantine coast. The annual precipitation decreases from west to east.
Constant weather conditions prevail for almost the entire summer under the influence of the subtropical high pressure belt; only in the eastern Mediterranean (especially in the Aegean Sea) do the Etesia blowing from the north lead to cooling. In winter, especially the western part of the Mediterranean Sea is under the influence of the westerly wind circulation (see wind ).
Winds with gale force penetrating from the north, such as the Mistral in southern France, sometimes cause striking ingress of cold air. The Bora (Croatian Bura ) is a dry, cold and gusty fall wind on the Croatian Adriatic coast. Bora-type winds, with their frequency and high average speeds (in winter), are among the strongest in the world on the Croatian coast .
Effects of global warming
Recently accelerated global warming has exacerbated existing environmental problems across the Mediterranean. For five broad and interconnected areas of impact (water, ecosystems, nutrition, health and safety), current changes and future scenarios consistently point to substantial and increasing risks in the coming decades.
The Mediterranean is badly affected by global warming . A study commissioned by the Union for the Mediterranean and the United Nations Environment Program came to the conclusion in 2019 that the Mediterranean Sea, with a temperature increase of 1.5 ° C since the pre-industrial age, compared to the global increase of an average of 1, 1 ° C warmer. The water temperature has increased considerably by 0.12 to 0.5 ° C since the 1970s.
Without additional protective measures, the regional temperature rise will be 2.2 ° C in 2040 and in some regions it may exceed 3.8 ° C in 2100. Summer precipitation will decrease by 10 to 30% depending on the region. Extreme events (heat waves, droughts, floods and fires) are becoming more common. The surface temperature of seawater has recently risen by around 0.4 ° C per decade; compared to the period between 1961 and 1990, the forecasts for the year 2100 fluctuate on average between +1.8 ° C and +3.5 ° C.
Since the middle of the 20th century, researchers have recorded a rise in sea level , which has accelerated since the 1970s to up to 2.5 to 10 millimeters annually between 1990 and 2007. The sea level rise has averaged around 3 mm per year over the past few decades. The acidification of sea water is also advancing.
According to researchers, the number of species of native snails, mussels and other invertebrates belonging to the mollusc group along the Israeli coast had decreased by up to 95 percent by January 2021.
Flora and fauna
The fauna of the Mediterranean is very diverse and rich in species. It consists mainly of fish , sponges , cnidarians , mollusks , echinoderms and arthropods . It is estimated that there are around 700 species of fish in the Mediterranean. So far, 35 species of shark have been identified in the Mediterranean. These include species that are potentially dangerous to humans, such as the great white shark , the blue shark and the short-finned mako . However, the population density of these species is low, which is believed to be the main reason that shark attacks are extremely rare in the Mediterranean. The most common are harmless species, such as the small spotted dogfish .
Whales are also found in the Mediterranean. Five species of baleen whales have been identified. In the Mediterranean, the fin whale is the only baleen whale that is regularly observed. So far, 16 species of toothed whale have been identified. These include the common dolphin , bottlenose dolphin , pilot whale and sperm whale . Whales and dolphins are most commonly seen in the Strait of Gibraltar and the Ligurian Sea ; especially the dolphins are native to the whole Mediterranean.
The only species of seal in the Mediterranean is the Mediterranean monk seal . It is threatened with extinction.
The most important and at the same time most common vascular plant species in the Mediterranean is the Neptune grass .
Influence of humans apart from global warming
The Mediterranean ecosystem is threatened by overfishing . It is one of the most heavily exploited marine regions in the world. According to Greenpeace, some fish species have already completely disappeared. Tuna and swordfish in particular are threatened by the high demand. In the case of sharks , more than half of the species are threatened with extinction .
In addition, the Mediterranean Sea suffers from a high concentration of microplastics . As an inland sea , it forms a veritable “plastic trap” and in the summer months the already high amount of garbage is increased by mass tourism in the mostly densely populated coastal regions. Although it only takes up one percent of the surface of the world's oceans, the Mediterranean Sea contains seven percent of the microplastic present in the world's oceans. With 1.25 million particles per square kilometer, the microplastic concentration is four times higher than in the garbage eddies in the great oceans . The largest input of plastic waste in the Mediterranean comes from the coasts and rivers of Turkey (144 tons per day), followed by Spain (126), Italy (90), Egypt (77) and France (66). Most of the plastic waste ends up in the Mediterranean from Turkey, Egypt and Italy.
The spread of the introduced species of seaweed Caulerpa taxifolia , which has begun to overgrow the native seagrass beds, which are of great importance for the bioproductivity of the Mediterranean Sea, poses a threat with an impact on the Mediterranean ecosystem that can hardly be overestimated .
Other anthropogenic influences on the Mediterranean ecosystem are:
- the lessepsian migration through the Suez Canal
- the accelerated salinization
- by dumping the salt residues from seawater desalination plants and
- due to the decrease in freshwater inflow due to the steadily increasing water demand of the population in the catchment area
- Retention of the nutrient-rich Nile mud in the Aswan Dam
- the eutrophication by the supply of untreated sewage and the resulting lack of oxygen due to algal blooms
In the 8th century BC BC expanded the Assyrian Empire under King Tiglath-pileser III. his dominion as far as the eastern Mediterranean (Levant, Cyprus and Nile Delta). The Assyrians called the Mediterranean the "Upper Sea of the Sunset" or simply the Upper Sea .
Economically and culturally, the Mediterranean area was expanded in the first millennium BC. Dominated most of the time by the Greeks and Phoenicians . However, both peoples did not have closed empires, but were split up into individual city- states. The only exception among the Greeks was the Alexander Empire , which began around 330 BC. Chr. Occupied the entire eastern Mediterranean area. Although it only existed for a few years, it permanently consolidated the influence of Greek culture in this region (see → Hellenism ). Carthage , a Phoenician colony in what is now Tunisia, developed from around 550 BC. B.C. to a territorial state that existed until the 3rd century B.C. BC held the supremacy in the western Mediterranean (see → History of Carthage ).
From the Second Punic War (218–201 BC), the Romans ruled large parts of the Mediterranean and called it mare nostrum ("our sea"). In the year 30 BC BC Egypt became a Roman province. Under the reign of Emperor Claudius (41–54 AD), the ancient Kingdom of Mauritania (a very extensive region in northwestern Africa that has nothing to do with today's Mauritania ) was finally conquered by the Romans. From then on, the Roman Empire ( Imperium Romanum ) enclosed the entire Mediterranean for the next 300 years.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, the Eastern Roman Empire, later called the Byzantine Empire , initially remained a regional power in the eastern Mediterranean. In the 7th century, large parts of the Mediterranean came under Arab rule (see also → Umayyads ). In the 11th century the Turks, coming from Central Asia, largely displaced the Byzantines from Asia Minor. In 1453 they conquered Constantinople and finally smashed the Byzantine Empire. Subsequently, the Ottoman Empire expanded to include numerous successor states of the Umayyad Caliphate and remained the most important power in the Mediterranean region until the 19th century. The Venetians were bitter opponents of the Turks in the struggle for supremacy at sea in the 15th and 16th centuries .
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, almost the entire Mediterranean region came under the control of European powers, particularly France and Great Britain . In the First World War (1914–1918) and even more so in the Second World War (1939–1945) the Mediterranean was also a theater of war. In the second half of the 20th century, the European colonies in North Africa and on the eastern Mediterranean coast gradually gained their independence. The founding of the State of Israel in 1948 is of particular historical importance in several respects (see also → Middle East conflict ).
In the 21st century the Mediterranean scene is a migration movement from the less developed, poor and often additionally shaken by political crises and conflicts countries in Africa and the Near- and Middle East advanced to the wealthy and politically stable countries of the Western Europe (see → Flight and migration across the Mediterranean to the EU and → refugee crisis in Europe 2015 ).
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- Andreas Bärtels: Plants of the Mediterranean area. Ulmer, 2003, ISBN 3-8001-3287-7 .
- Matthias Bergbauer, Bernd Humberg: What lives in the Mediterranean? Franckh-Kosmos, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-440-07733-0 .
- Christian Bromberger: L'anthropologie de la Méditerranée. Maisonneuve et Larose; Aix-en-Provence, Maison méditerranéenne des sciences de l'homme, Paris 2001.
- Robert Hofrichter: The Mediterranean, Volume 1: General part. Spectrum Academic Publishing House, Heidelberg 2002, ISBN 3-8274-1050-9 .
- Robert Hofrichter: The Mediterranean, Volume 2/2: destination guide. Spectrum Academic Publishing House, Heidelberg 2006, ISBN 3-8274-1170-X .
- Robert Hofrichter (Ed.): The Mediterranean. History and future of an ecologically sensitive area. 2nd Edition. Springer Verlag, Heidelberg 2020, ISBN 978-3-662-58928-1 .
- Manfred Leier: World Atlas of the Oceans - with the depth maps of the world's oceans. Frederking and Thaler, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-89405-441-7 , pp. 226-241.
- Horst-Günter Wagner: Mediterranean area. Geography, history, economics, politics. 2nd Edition. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2011, ISBN 978-3-534-23179-9 .
Further content in the
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|Commons||- Media content (category)|
|Wiktionary||- Dictionary entries|
|Wikivoyage||- Travel Guide|
- The largest Mediterranean islands
- Mediterranean Science Commission
- European Commission - Mediterranean Sea basin
- Center for Mediterranean Studies
- Mediterranean . In: Online Etymology Dictionary ; Retrieved August 29, 2011.
- Phase II of Caladan Oceanic's 2020 Expedition Program. In: Calypso Deep Press Release. February 12, 2020. From CaladanOceanic.com, accessed October 16, 2020.
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