The Mediterranean is a Mer intracontinentale almost entirely closed, located between the Europe, the Africa and the Asia and which extends on a surface from approximately 2,5 million Square kilometers. Its opening towards the Atlantic Ocean by the strait of Gibraltar is broad only 14 kilometers. It owes its name with the fact that it is literally a “sea in the middle of the grounds”, in Latin pond medi will terra (according to Isidore of Seville at the 7th century).
During Antiquity, Méditarranée was an important maritime loader-gate; allowing the commercial exchange and cultural enters the people emergent of the area - the cultures of the Mésopotamie, of the Egypt, Semitic, Persians, phenicians, Carthaginians, Greek and Roman. The history of the Mediterranean is important in the origin and the development of Western civilization.
The Mediterranean east, or, was known under many names through the history of the Man:
- Large-green (Wȝḏ-wr), thus the Egyptien S of the antiquity named it;
- It was generally called Mare Nostrum or occasionally Mare Internum at the time of the Romans;
- In the Old Testament, on the west coast of the Holy Land, it was called the Mer Hinder , sometimes translated like the Mer of the west (Deut. xi. 24; Joel, II. 20), or like the Sea of the Philistines (Exod. xxii. 81), because these people occupied most of the coasts located close to Palestine. However, sometimes it was about the supreme Mer (Num. xxxiv. 6,7; Josh. I. 4, ix. 1, xv. 47; Ezek. xlvii. 10,15,20), or simply the Sea (1 Kings, v. 9; comp. 1 Macc. xiv. 34. xv. 11);
- In Hebrew, it is called " ha-Yam ha-Tikhon" (הַיָּםהַתִּיכוֹן), Sea of the medium, a German literal adaptation of Mittelmeer;
- In Turkish, it is Akdeniz, the white Sea :
- In Arab, it is called Al-Baħr Al-Abyad Al-Muttawasit (البحرالأبيضالمتوسط), the white sea of the medium.
The majority of the Langue S of the countries located around the Mediterranean have a proper name with their culture, often a translation of the sea of the medium or white sea :
The term of “Mediterranean” indicates also sometimes an almost closed sea communicating with the ocean.
Geological historyThe sea Méditerranéenne was formed starting from the primitive sea of Thétys, much larger than the sea current Méditerranéenne. It was closed again gradually with the bringing together of the African plate towards the Eurasian plate. Then, five million years ago, the strait of Gibraltar was closed again reducing the Mediterranean to a very salted lake. One names this episode the Crise of salinity messinienne. Saline deposits at the sea-bed produced during a million years testify to this phenomenon. Then the difference in level between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean because the rupture of the natural dam of rock which blocked the strait. An enormous cascade then filled in 40 years volume with water which had taken hundreds of years to evaporate.
Sea-beds of the Mediterranean change still today because the African and Eurasian plates are in contact. Their movements cause seisms in Italy, Greece, Turkey and Israel and maintain a volcanic activity in Italy with the Etna, the Vesuvius and the Stromboli.
See also: History of the Mediterranean
The Mediterranean basin is rich of a complex and old history. It is the cradle of Western civilization. The Antiquité knows an expansion of various civilizations like the Egyptians or the mésopotamiens. Then, of great empires take the control of the coasts of the Mediterranean. The Greece, Carthage and Rome are well-known for their domination around the Mediterranean basin. They developed the maritime trade and the naval wars.
The geology of the Mediterranean is complex, implying breaks and collisions between the African and Eurasian plates. The crisis of the Méssinien towards the end of Miocène mark the draining of the Mediterranean. Although intercontinental, one finds a basaltic bottom however there off the French coasts, which makes minis Océan of it Languedoc.
The Mediterranean sea has an average depth of 1500 m and the recorded point major is of 5121 meters in Ionian Mer with the hollow of the pit of Matapan. The littoral is held on 46 000 kilometers. The Mediterranean is divided into two basins individualized well, separated by high funds located between the Sicily and the Tunisia: the the Western Mediterranean and the the Eastern Mediterranean , themselves definitely compartmentalized. The first recovers a surface of approximately 0,85 million km ² while the second recovers approximately 1,65 million km ².
In the Western Mediterranean, the Corsica axis - Sardinia isolates the Tyrrhenian Sea from the remainder of the basin. In the Eastern Mediterranean, one distinguishes the Ionian Mer, which reaches more the great depths, and the basin Levantine, separated by a narrow part between the platform from the Aegean Sea limited to the south by the Crete and the high funds with broad of the Cyrénaïque.
Generally, the continental shelf is relatively reduced, except in three zones: the Adriatic Sea, the Aegean Sea, and the platform extending between the Sicily and the Libya with broad from the Tunisia.
These last centuries, humanity modified the geology of the Mediterranean much. Constructions were established all along the littoral, worsening and moving the zones of erosion. Beaches were badly managed, and the abuse the use of the natural resources and navy continues to be a problem. This abuse is done with the detriment of the natural processes. The geography was also modified by the construction of stoppings, channels and the concreting of the coasts.
GeographyThe Mediterranean is connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the Straits of Gibraltar in the west, the Marmara Sea and the Black Sea by the Dardanelles and the the Bosphorus in the east. The Marmara Sea - but not the Black Sea - is often regarded as belonging to the Mediterranean. The Suez Canal in south-east connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea.
See also: Mediterranean Climate
The Mediterranean Climat is characterized by one wet and soft winter and a dry summer. However, them inter seasons leave room to an unquestionable violence of the climate. Very important and very violent rains fall down sometimes whereas the ground drained by periods of dryness cannot absorb these precipitations (sometimes equivalent to 3 months of rain even much more according to the latitude). The frequent floods testify some as for the frequent vidourlades, with Vaison-the-Roman in 1992 and the Aude in 2000. The Marée S are low amplitudes and evaporation is more important there than in the Atlantic Ocean. Precipitations and the relatively small quantity of water brought by the rivers which are thrown to it are largely insufficient to fill this évapotranspirartion (deficit of approximately 3000 million cubic meters); from where a rate of Salinity more raised and water temperatures hotter than in the Atlantic.
Mediterranean islandsThe principal islands of the Mediterranean are:
- Cyprus, the Crete and Rhodos in the east;
- the Sardinia, the Corsica , the Sicily and Malta in the center;
- the Balearic Islands in the west.
Coastal countriesThe countries which border the Mediterranean are:
- in north: the France, Monaco, the Italy, the Slovenia, the Croatia, the Bosnia-Herzégovine, the Serbia, the Montenegro, the Albania, the Greece and the Turkey;
- in the east: the Lebanon, the Syria, Israel, and the Palestinian territory of Gaza;
- in the south: the Egypt, the Libya, the Tunisia, the Algeria and the Morocco;
- in the west: the Spain;
- in the center: Malta and Cyprus.
Mediterranean cantonsThe Mediterranean is divided into two basins quite separated by shallow waters between Sicily and Tunisia. Each basin is divided into various compartments bearing the name of seas, basins or gulfs, sometimes themselves divided into geographical areas of lower size:
Several Détroit S connects these various parts of the Mediterranean:
- the Dardanelles
- the Channel of Otranto
- the Strait of Messine
- the Channel of Corsica
- the Strait of Sicily
- the Mouths of Bonifacio
EcologyBecause of the draining of the Mediterranean during the crisis of the Méssinien, the marine biotope of the Mediterranean is mainly resulting from the Atlantic Ocean. The North Atlantic is much colder and richer in food than the Mediterranean, and the Mediterranean sea life had to adapt to conditions changeantes during the 5 million years which followed its filling.
The boring of the Suez Canal in 1869 created the first sea water passage between the Mediterranean sea and the Red Sea. The latter is higher than the oriental party of the Mediterranean. Also, the channel formed a salt water river of the Red Sea which flowed in sea water of the Mediterranean. The Amer big lakes, which are very salted normal lakes, form the Suez channel and blocked the migration of the species of the Red Sea towards the Mediterranean during several decades, but as the salinity of the lakes was equalized gradually with that of the Red Sea, the migratory barrier rose, and the plants and the animals of the Red Sea started to colonize the Eastern Mediterranean.
The Mediterranean is salted and lower in nutrients than the Atlantic Ocean because the Straits of Gibraltar blocks the large currents of the Atlantic. The animal species and vegetable of the Red Sea take the advantage on the species of the Atlantic Ocean in the Eastern Mediterranean environment salted and low in food. The construction of the Barrage of Aswan through the river the Nile in the years 1960 reduced the fresh water contribution rich in nutrients in the Eastern Mediterranean, which returns the environment of the Mediterranean close to that of the Red Sea. This exchange of species is known under the name of migration of Lesseps, according to Ferdinand de Lesseps, the name of the engineer who supervised the construction of the channel.
EconomyThe Mediterranean basin concentrates 150 million inhabitants and attracts some 200 million visitors each year. 20% of the tankers 30% of the trading vessels of the world circulate in the Mediterranean, for a total traffic of: 120000 boats
- Perimeter : 46.000 km of littoral.
- Depths : average: 1.500 m, maximum: 5.150 m
- Renewal of water : approximately 90 years
- Contribution of fishing : roughly 2% of world fishing
- average Salinity : in the neighborhoods of 3,8%
- Fleuves which throw to it: 69
- most important Rivers : Po, the Rhone, the Nile, Èbre, Moulouya.
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