Black Sea

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Black Sea
Satellite image
Satellite image
Art Inland sea
ocean Atlantic Ocean
location between Eastern Europe , Asia Minor and the Caucasus
Tributaries Danube , Dniester , Dnepr
Affiliated seas Sea of ​​Azov , Bosphorus / Sea of ​​Marmara
Cities on the shore Burgas , Varna , Mangalia , Constanța , Sulina , Odessa , Sevastopol , Yalta , Feodossia , Novorossiysk , Sochi , Sukhumi , Batumi , Altınordu , Trabzon , Samsun , Zonguldak , Bartın , Sinop , Giresun , Inebolu
surface 436,400 km²
volume 547,000 km³
Maximum depth 2212 m
Middle deep 1253 m

Coordinates: 43 °  N , 34 °  E

Location of the Black Sea

The Black Sea is an inland sea located between Southeastern Europe , Eastern Europe and the Middle East , which is connected to the Eastern Mediterranean via the Bosporus and the Dardanelles . It is up to 2212 m deep and (excluding the Sea of ​​Azov ) has an area of ​​about 436,400 km². The volume of the Black Sea is 547,000 km³. The average water depth is 1253 meters.


There are two explanations for the derivation of the name Black Sea: The first interpretation refers specifically to the observation of a black coloration of the water, which is mainly visible in the sediment . This can be traced back to sulfate- reducing (sulfidogenic) bacteria , which through their chemical activity form hydrogen sulfide from sulfate; Together with iron ions, this forms iron sulfides. Analogously, the name of the Red Sea can perhaps be derived from the red algae that occur there . This was presumably also the origin of the biblical name "sea of ​​blood".

A second, historical interpretation, however, leads the name back to a system common in antiquity , which symbolically denoted the cardinal points using color words, with "black" standing for the north, just as the name of the south was "red". Speakers who used this system would have had to live south of the Black Sea and north of the Red Sea to give them the appropriate names. However, this does not apply to the Scythians, to whom the term has often been ascribed. Since the designation * Axšaina ("black") as well as the corresponding name of the Red Sea was first used during the Achaimenid period, it is rather obvious to assign the original naming of these seas to the Persians instead .

In ancient Greek , the Persian expression * Axšaina evidently became Πόντος Ἄξε (ι) νος Póntos Áxe (i) nos , "inhospitable sea". Later there was a euphemistic change from “inhospitable” to Πόντος Εὔξεινος Pontos Euxeinos , “hospitable sea”. The name Πόντος Μέλας Póntos Mélas , "Black Sea", was also known to the Greeks. The name probably got its way to Europe through translations of the Greek term. The Turks also adopted this name ( kara "black", deniz "sea"). In the Middle Ages, the terms Khazarian Sea , Russian Sea and Scythian Sea were also common.

The adjective Pontic , which means "belonging to the Black Sea ", is also derived from the Greek term .

In the languages of past and present residents of the Black Sea bears the following names: Adyghe Хы ШӀуцӀ , ancient Greek Πόντος Εὔξεινος Pontos Euxeinos ( Modern Greek Εύξεινος Πόντος Evxinos Pontos and, preferably, Μαύρη Θάλασσα Mavri Thalassa ), Bulgarian Черно море Tscherno more , Georgian შავი ზღვა Schawi sghwa , Laz / megrelian UCA ZUGA or უჩა ზუღა Utscha sugha , Romanian Marea Neagră , russian Чёрное море Tschornoje morje , Turkish Karadeniz , ukrainian Чорне море Tschorne more .


Black Sea catchment area

The Black Sea lies on the western inner Eurasian border between Asia Minor / the Caucasus and Southeastern Europe / Eastern Europe . The neighboring countries are Ukraine , Russia , Georgia , Turkey , Bulgaria and Romania in clockwise order .

Turkey currently has the longest coastline on the Black Sea with 1700 km, the shortest Romania with 256 km. Before the outbreak of the Crimean crisis in 2014 and the subsequent annexation of the Crimean peninsula by Russia, Ukraine had the longest coastline of all neighboring countries at 1,756 km.


There is a connection from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean via the Bosphorus to the Sea of ​​Marmara and another to the Sea of ​​Azov via the Kerch Strait .

Waterways connect the Black Sea via the Don and the Volga-Don Canal to the Volga , the Caspian Sea , the Baltic Sea and the White Sea and via the Danube and the Main-Danube Canal to the North Sea .



The coast of the Black Sea is poorly structured, especially in the eastern and southern areas. Typical of the north-western part is the formation of limanes in the mouth of the Dnepr, Bug , Dniester and some smaller rivers.

Islands and peninsulas

Inceburun, the northernmost point of the Turkish Black Sea coast
The westernmost point with the Burgasseen

The Black Sea is poor in islands and archipelagos. Individual small islands and islets are located off the Turkish and Bulgarian coast, among others, while others are located in the mouth of the larger tributaries (Danube, Dnieper). The largest archipelago in terms of numbers is located in the Bay of Burgas .

The Crimean Peninsula and the Taman Peninsula opposite it separate the Black Sea from the Sea of ​​Azov .

The following islands are located in the Black Sea:

Inland sea

The Sea of ​​Azov is a tributary of the Black Sea, with which it is connected by the Kerch Strait .

Largest bay

The largest bay is Burgas Bay ( Bulgaria ). It extends on the west coast from Cape Emine ( Bulgarian Емине ) in the north to Cape Maslen Nos ( Bulgarian Маслен нос ) in the south. The westernmost point of the sea is also located in the Bay of Burgas and is right next to the city of Burgas.

Geological fluctuations

Map of the Black Sea region

The Black Sea was formed as a relic of the geological marginal sea of ​​the Paratethys 35 million years ago, from which the Caspian Sea and the Aral Sea also emerged . An eventful time with profound changes followed, when the Brackish Pannon Sea was created around 11.5 million years ago in the area of ​​the Black Sea and around 7 million years ago the almost freshwater Pontic Lake.

Until the second cold peak of the last ice age (in Central Europe the Vistula Ice Age ) about 20,000 years ago, the climate was cold and dry, and a lot of fresh water was bound in the glaciers of the Nordic inland glaciation. The sea level was significantly lower, and at times the entire basin had dried out.

Temperatures rose around 17,000 years ago. The melting glacial ice released large amounts of fresh water, which flowed through the already existing river systems of the Danube , Dnieper and Don into the basin of the inland sea. At the beginning of the Holocene , the sea level was still well below that of the Mediterranean. As a result of the permanent Holocene transgression of the world's oceans, the level of the Mediterranean Sea rose to the point at which - according to previous theory - a violent breakthrough through the Bosporus into the Black Sea occurred.

The timing and intensity of this undisputed flooding event have been the subject of scientific controversy since the 1990s. In a study published in 1997, William Ryan and Walter C. Pitman assumed that this break-in was 5500 BC. Took place in a cataclystical manner and was accompanied by a water level rise of more than a hundred meters in a short time. Archaeological finds on the bottom of the Black Sea also indicated that settlements on the previously densely populated shoreline were abandoned quickly. Trenches and washouts at the bottom of the Black Sea matched a computer simulation created by the Swiss scientist Mark Siddall of a huge flood, which the press portrayed more or less directly as a deluge . An investigation of the mud deposits in the Danube Delta by employees of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution , however, suggests an overflow as early as around 7500 BC. The historian Polybius discusses in detail in his historical work that the silting up of the Black Sea will one day lead to its disappearance (Book IV.39–42). The sapropeles of the Danube Delta offer an ideal archive for this, as the deposits steadily accumulated during the Holocene and pushed into the sea. The entry of salt water from the Mediterranean is mainly due to the sudden accumulation of salt water-dwelling mollusks . With the flooding event, the sea level rose locally by five meters within decades, significantly less than Ryan and Pitman assumed for their catastrophe theory. This study, published in 2009 in the geoscientific journal Quaternary Science Reviews, invalidated the torrential drama of the flood event, which William Ryan and Walter Pitman represented.

Since then, the Bosphorus has provided the connection to the Sea of ​​Marmara . It is 760 to 3600 meters wide and at its shallowest point is only 32 to 35 meters deep.

Properties of the sea


The water in the upper layer has a (relatively low) salt content of around 17 per thousand . In the deeper layers of the sea, below about 150 meters, the salinity is much higher. The saline inflow from the Mediterranean (38–39 ‰) is around 300 km³ per year and the surface runoff of less saline water from the Black Sea is around 600 km³ per year.

Oxygen content

The low-salt surface water of the Black Sea lies like a lid on the denser, more salty deep water. There is thus a stable stratification with only insignificant vertical exchange. Since no oxygen gets deep, large areas of the deep water of the Black Sea are anoxic , i.e. free of unbound oxygen. In fact, the Black Sea is the largest anoxic sea basin on earth. As a result, no organisms can exist in the deeper areas of the sea that operate a metabolism based on oxygen breathing. Instead, other substances like sulfate are used as the final oxidizing agent. This creates hydrogen sulfide and, together with bivalent iron ions, the iron sulfides already mentioned (mainly FeS and FeS 2 as pyrite or marcasite ). The consequence of the lack of oxygen is that organic waste (dead plants, animals, etc.) is not completely oxidized to carbon dioxide and water , as in the air or in oxygen-rich water . Rather, there is incomplete dismantling and the remains collect on the ground. Some geologists and marine chemists assume that the processes in the Black Sea are similar to those that took place in past geological ages when crude oil or oil shale was formed . You speak of Euxinian conditions. In other words: the remains of putrefaction on the bottom of the Black Sea could one day produce crude oil or oil shale.

Methane and methane hydrates

In the anoxic area of ​​the Black Sea, large amounts of methane are also produced by the anaerobic degradation of organic material. In addition, submarine mud volcanoes also emit methane. The Black Sea is also the body of water with the highest concentration of methane hydrates . In certain sections of the coast in the east of the Black Sea, so much methane penetrates upwards that it occasionally starts to burn in the air.


The climate along the coast of the Black Sea is divided into two parts: the coast of Romania in the northwest, the coast of Ukraine in the north and the northern section of the coast of Russia in the northeast of the sea have a distinctly continental climate with very warm summers and cool to cold winters. The amount of precipitation here is relatively low, but distributed fairly evenly over the year, with an increased tendency towards precipitation in the winter and spring months.

The coasts of Georgia, the southern Russian coast, Turkey and Bulgaria on the southern part of the Black Sea have a temperate continental climate and a transitional climate with clear subtropical elements. Nevertheless, the subtropical influence of the Mediterranean area, which is rather minor, is mostly overestimated. Especially on the southern and eastern coasts, rainfall is much higher and also evenly distributed throughout the year, with high rainfall throughout the year. Although the summers are just as warm here (not hot) and the cool and occasionally cold winters are characterized by higher average values, continental ingress of cold air from the central Balkans or the northeastern land mass of Russia and with snowfalls and temperature drops are possible between November and March connected until well below freezing point.

The cultivation of Mediterranean plants, as is often the case in tourist areas of Bulgaria, but also Georgia and the southern part of the Crimean peninsula, is therefore only possible in favorable locations and with winter protection measures. No stretch of coastline of the Black Sea touches the so-called olive tree line or the palm line, which are commonly regarded as indicators of the border between temperate and subtropical-Mediterranean climates.


Underwater world

Pollution and marine conservation

The largest share of pollution-causing substances passes via the Danube and its catchment area in the Black Sea: Among other things, it transports extrapolated probably around 4.2 tonnes of plastic waste daily into the Black Sea.

The ACCOBAMS ("Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area") was signed in 1996 for marine protection and fishing of the Black Sea . It regulates the protection of dolphins and whales (Cetacea). Bottlenose dolphins are particularly threatened here .

In 1992 the Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea from Pollution was passed in Bucharest .

Utility room

Ancient trade relations

Greek colonies on the Black Sea

In the course of the Greek colonization , several colonies, so-called poleis , arose on the coast of the Black Sea , which traded with each other and with other peoples near the coast and with the rest of the ancient world in the Mediterranean. For trade relations between Greeks and native Thracians , but also possibly within the polis itself since the late 6th century BC. As a form of universal equivalent in trade exchanges cast bronze arrowheads, which according existed Manfred Oppermann and Ivan Karayotov in character as small bars to interpret are.

This arrow money was by no means limited to the western pontoons, but was also used in the area of Olbia and Sinope further east. Finds show that Histria was an important manufacturing center for these bars, but it cannot be ruled out that Orgame itself had its own production facility at that time , as there is also a considerable concentration in the area, which indicates trade with the Getic population there. In the south, Apollonia had produced such premonetary arrows. Perhaps even Antheia was such a place of manufacture, as well as Odessos and Tomis in the area of ​​the western pontoon .

Genoese and Venetian trade

Colonies and bases of Genoa
Trade routes of Venice and Genoa

In the area of ​​the Black Sea, real colonies, which were largely dominated by Venice, can only be spoken of in the last third of the 13th century. Grain, especially wheat, with which Venice and Genoa temporarily supplied all of Northern Italy, played a central role in getting there. After the division of the Byzantine Empire in the Fourth Crusade in 1204, important port cities initially fell to rival Venice, but Genoa then prevailed again through an alliance with the Nikaia empire , which was trying to restore. After the Agreement of Nymphaion in 1261, the Genoese settled mainly on the Crimea peninsula and the Sea of ​​Azov. But on the basis of the agreement they founded branches around the Black Sea, including in Trebizond , Amastri , Simisso , Vicina in the Danube Delta , Kilia , Caffa , Cetatea Albă , Tana at the mouth of the Don .

The most important and first Genoese colony in the Black Sea region, Pera near Constantinople , held a special position and remained an important and constant base of Genoese trade until the fall of Constantinople in 1453. For the rest of the Black Sea region, Caffa became the main colony in the Crimea. From there, in the course of the fighting with the Mongols of the Golden Horde in 1348, the Black Death , the plague, came to Europe.

Today's relationships

Exclusive economic zones of the Black Sea countries

The six countries bordering the Black Sea - (clockwise from the south :) Turkey , Bulgaria , Romania , Ukraine , Russia and Georgia - entered into a Black Sea economic cooperation with Albania , Armenia , Azerbaijan , Greece , Serbia and the Republic of Moldova in 1992 united. It is intended to promote the region's economic development. A new motorway ring and an electricity network are to connect all of the Black Sea countries. The project of the century was decided in 2007 at the anniversary conference of the Black Sea cooperation of twelve member countries. For Russia, the letter of intent for the construction of the ring highway was signed by Russian President Medvedev in December 2010.


Russian warships in Crimea (2005)

In the early 1840s, the Erste Donau-Dampfschiffahrts-Gesellschaft (DDSG) and Österreichischer Lloyd agreed a weekly connection from the Danube ports to the Black Sea. From there, the Austrian Lloyd operated lines in the Mediterranean area and from there, from the opening of the Suez Canal , to the Middle East and Asia. Weekly connections from Istanbul to Brăila , Odessa , Mykolaiv and Batumi were offered. Before the First World War, the Russian Trade and Steamship Company (ROPiT) based in St. Petersburg and Odessa offered passenger trips. For the 1907 season z. B. weekly services on the sea routes Constantinople-Smyrna-Piraeus-Alexandria, Constantinople-Odessa - the Bulgarian ports Burgas and Varna were also called every fortnight - and Constantinople- Sevastopol . Until 1914 the ROPiT then operated a direct line from Odessa via Constantinople to Alexandria as well as a round line and a Macedonian line there. Pure Black Sea courses (Bulgarian-Anatolian and Anatolian lines) were also offered.

While a free passage across the Mediterranean is possible for merchant ships, for warships the access to the Black Sea as well as the stay of ships that do not belong to countries bordering the Black Sea are regulated by the Treaty of Montreux .


The Blue Stream natural gas pipeline runs in the eastern part of the Black Sea from the Russian coast on the seabed to the Turkish coast. Plans and work on the South Stream , which was supposed to connect Russia with Bulgaria under the seabed, were not continued in December 2014.


Port cities

city country
Batumi Georgia
Burgas Bulgaria
Kherson Ukraine
Constanța Romania
Giresun Turkey
Yuschne Ukraine
Kerch Autonomous Republic of Crimea
Mangalia Romania
Mykolaiv Ukraine
Novorossiysk Russia
Odessa Ukraine
city country
Ordu Turkey
Potentiometer Georgia
Skadovsk Ukraine
Samsun Turkey
Sinop Turkey
Sevastopol Russia
Sukhumi Georgia
Sochi Russia
Sulina Romania
Trabzon Turkey
Varna Bulgaria
Zonguldak Turkey

Bathing and health resorts


  • Neal Ascherson : Black Sea . Berlin Verlag, Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-8270-0201-X .
  • Charles King: The Black Sea, a history . Oxford University Press, New York 2004, ISBN 0-19-924161-9 .
  • Walter H. Edetsberger: A goldfish in the Black Sea - A boat trip from Sulina to the Aegean . BoD, Norderstedt, ISBN 3-8334-2745-0 .
  • Christian Reder , Erich Klein (ed.): Gray Danube, Black Sea. Vienna Sulina Odessa Yalta Istanbul . (Research, discussions, essays), Edition Transfer. Springer, Vienna / New York 2008, ISBN 978-3-211-75482-5 .
  • Rüdiger Schmitt : Considerations on the Name of the Black Sea . In: Hellas and the Greek East . Festschrift Peter Robert Franke . Saarbrücken 1996, pp. 219-224.
  • Petko Dimitrov, Dimitar Dimitrov: The Black Sea, the Flood and the Ancient Myths . Varna, 2004 ( online ).
  • Manfred Oppermann : Thracians, Greeks and Romans. On the west coast of the Black Sea ( Zabern's illustrated books on archeology ). Philip von Zabern, Mainz 2007, ISBN 978-3-8053-3739-7 .
  • Manfred Oppermann: The early Christianity on the west coast of the Black Sea and in the subsequent inland (= writings of the Center for Archeology and Cultural History of the Black Sea Region. Volume 19). Beier & Beran, Langenweißbach 2010, ISBN 978-3-941171-30-5 .
  • Sven Conrad (Ed.): Pontos Euxeinos. Contributions to the archeology and history of the ancient Black Sea and Balkan region. Manfred Oppermann on the 65th birthday of colleagues, friends and students (= writings of the Center for Archeology and Cultural History of the Black Sea Region. Volume 10). Beier & Beran, Langenweißbach 2010, ISBN 978-3-937517-44-5 .
  • Euxeinos . Governance and Culture in the Black Sea Region, Swiss online journal

Web links

Commons : Black Sea  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. The Black Sea: facts and figures ( Memento of November 11, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  2. Black Sea Geography on , accessed on 13 June 2016th
  3. See Rüdiger Schmitt : Considerations on the Name of the Black Sea. In: Wolfgang Leschhorn u. a. (Ed.): Hellas and the Greek East. Saarbrücken 1996, pp. 219-224.
  4. Cf. Lev Vladimir Cerepnin , Die Rus' from the 10th to the 14th century, in: Handbuch der Europäische Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte, Vol. 2. Stuttgart 1980, 682–702 ( online ). For example in Ekkehardi chronicon universale. Ed. Georg Waitz , in: Georg Heinrich Pertz (Ed.), Chronica et annales aevi Salici. (MGH SS 6.) Hannover 1844, 33–231, online: p. 216 , accessed August 4, 2013.
  5. ^ For example, Ottonis Episcopi Frisingensis Chronica sive historia de duabus civitatibus. Ed. Adolf Hofmeister . (MGH SS rer. Germ. 45.) Hannover / Leipzig 2 1912, online: p. 311 , accessed on August 4, 2013.
  6. Hristo Stanchev, Margarita Stancheva, Atanas Palazov, A. Apostolov: Determination of the Black Sea coastline length / area using GIS methods and LandSat 7 Satellite Images . In: Geo-Eco-Marina 17/2011 . 2011 ( [accessed September 18, 2019]).
  7. ^ WBF Ryan, Pitman III, WC, et al. 1997. An abrupt drowning of the Black Sea shelf . Marine Geology Vol. 138, pp. 119-126 (German translation: William Ryan and Walter Pitman: Sintflut. A riddle is deciphered , Lübbe, 1999, ISBN 3-7857-0878-5 )
  8. Summary in Ian Morris : Who Rules the World? - Why civilizations rule or are ruled . ISBN 978-3-593-38406-1 , p. 88.
  9. According to Haarmann (2003), the overflow is around 6700 BC. Dated: Harald Haarmann, History of the Flood. On the trail of early civilization . Beck, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-406-49465-X .
  10. ^ "The waterfall on the Bosporus" , , January 2, 2006.
  11. Axel Tillemans: “News about the Flood” , Bild der Wissenschaft , March 2005, last accessed on May 27, 2019.
  12. a b c Liviu Giosan, Florin Filip, Stefan Constatinescu: Was the Black Sea catastrophically flooded in the early Holocene? In: Quaternary Science Reviews , Volume 28, Issue 1–2, 2009, pp. 1–6, doi: 10.1016 / j.quascirev.2008.10.012 .
  13. Oguz et al., 2000; Ozsoy and Unluata, 1997
  14. Dieter Thierbach: What moves the world: How high is the salt content in the Mediterranean? In: November 26, 2007, accessed February 28, 2015 .
  16. More plastic than young fish . Badische Zeitung ( dpa ), March 7, 2014, accessed on March 22, 2014.
  17. Manfred Pittioni: Genua The Hidden World Power , pp. 48–49
  18. New boost for the ring highway around the Black Sea
  19. Moscow approves the construction of the Black Sea ring road . From:, December 28, 2010, accessed January 8, 2011
  20. ^ Meyer's travel books . The Mediterranean . Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig and Vienna 1907, preliminary remarks: “Steamer connections in the Mediterranean 1907”, p. VIII
  21. Baedeker's Constantinople and Asia Minor , Verlag Karl Baedeker , Leipzig 1914, preliminary remarks: “Steamship Overview”, p. LXIX f.
  22. Conflict with the EU: Russia abandons the South Stream pipeline project. Spiegel Online , December 2, 2014, accessed December 5, 2014 .