Santa Margherita Ligure bay, between Rapallo and Portofino in northern Italy, offers a typical Mediterranean landscape. Image: Michal Osmenda
About the Mediterranean Sea
The map shows the Mediterranean region with the largest of the semi-enclosed European seas, the Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean lies at the crossroads of three continents: Europe, Africa, and Asia. The Mediterranean Sea is connected with the Atlantic Ocean by the Strait of Gibraltar, with the Red Sea by the Suez Canal, and with the Black Sea by the Sea of Marmara and the Bosporus.
The West Asian (Middle Eastern) countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea are Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestine Gaza Strip and the divided island of Cyprus, which consists of the Greek Cypriot-controlled Republic of Cyprus and the disputed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
The Mediterranean Sea compared in size with the contiguous United States. Montage: kk nationsonline.org
The sea stretches from the Strait of Gibraltar in the west to the Lebanese coast in the east over a length of about 3,750 km (2,330 mi), which is roughly equivalent to the distance from Los Angeles to Baltimore.
With an area of 2.5 million km² (970,000 sq mi), the sea is ten times the size of the United Kingdom or almost six times the size of California.
The Mediterranean Sea offers a staggering 46,000 km (28,600 mi) long coastline and includes 15 marginal seas, such as the Balearic Sea, the Adriatic Sea, the Levantine Sea and the Ionian Sea.
The deepest point in the Mediterranean is known as the Calypso Deep at -5,267 m (-17,280 ft) in the Ionian Sea, west of the Peloponnese peninsula (Greece).
Mediterranean Sea coasts
Famous coasts of the Mediterranean Sea are the Amalfi Coast, Costa Blanca, Costa Smeralda, Cote d'Azur (French Riviera), Italian Riviera or Ligurian Riviera
The population of the Mediterranean region is concentrated near the coast. The population of the coastal regions grew from about 100 million in 1980 to 150 million in 2005 and could reach 200 million by 2030. [UN]
Spoken languages in the Mediterranean are Spanish, Italian, French, Greek, Croatian, Albanian, Turkish, Hebrew, Berber (Amazigh) and several varieties of Arabic.
The Mediterranean region is the birthplace of several religions. From ancient Egyptian gods to pre-Hellenic fertility deities to the main gods of the Greek pantheon, the twelve Olympians, and the gods and goddesses of ancient Roman religion, all originated in this region.
Two of the three Abrahamic monotheistic religions, Christianity and Judaism, originated in the Levant (eastern Mediterranean).
The region is characterized by the prevailing subtropical climate known as the Mediterranean climate, with usually mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers.
Map of the Mediterranean Sea
Political Map of the Mediterranean Sea region
The map shows the Mediterranean region with the Mediterranean Sea, marginal seas, countries, international borders, capitals, largest cities and big islands. The Mediterranean Sea lies between latitudes 30° and 46° N and longitudes 6° W and 36° E.
You are free to use the above map for educational and similar purposes; if you publish it online or in print, you need to credit Nations Online Project as the source.
View from the island of Vulcano to the other Aeolian Islands, a volcanic archipelago north of Sicily. The Aeolian Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, also known as the Lipari Islands, are a group of smaller islands that include Stromboli, an active volcano. Image: kuhnmi
More about the Mediterranean Sea
The female columns of the Caryatid porch of the Erechtheion, the temple of Athena Polias, an Ionic-style temple on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.
Photo: Alex DROP
The Mediterranean region is the historical cradle of the modern civilization of the Occident.
It was the playground for Phoenicians traders who built small colonies along the coast.
In trade, the Mediterranean was the final destination of the ancient Silk Road. The goods delivered from the Far East were distributed throughout the Mediterranean via the trading network of the Phoenicians and Carthaginians. Trade was also associated with cultural exchange, for example, through the use of an alphabet or numbers.
The Mediterranean saw the development of Greek city-states (polis; poleis) and the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, which covered the area of the North African coast and large parts of Western Europe, the Balkans, Persia and much of the Middle East.
It was the birthplace of ancient Greek philosophy and architecture.
The ancient world was influenced by Greek philosophical concepts and cultural ideas from Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers (present-day Iraq), Persia (today Iran) and Asia Minor (today Türkiye). The Greco-Roman world was home to great thinkers and artists: Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Galileo, to name just some.
The Mediterranean was home to all of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the first ancient Olympics was held here in 776 B.C.E., staged in Olympia, a sacred site in Greece. Since 1989, the Archaeological Site of Olympia has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After the end of the Dark Ages, Renaissance art and culture emerged in Italy, especially in Florence, but quickly spread to other Italian cities and from there throughout Europe. The humanistic movement opened ways out of the Dark Ages into modern times. At its center were flourishing conurbations, Rome, Florence, Venice, Athens, Constantinople, Jerusalem and Cairo.
The Levant region in the Eastern Mediterranean was the birthplace of two world religions, Christianity and Judaism.
Between 661–750 CE, the southern and eastern regions of the Mediterranean, Hispania (Al-Andalus), North Africa and the Levant were under the rule of the Umayyad Caliphate, which was on a Muslim conquest mission and brought Islam to the region.
In wave-like spurts, Oghuz tribes, other Turkic ethnic groups, and Mongols flooded into Anatolia from the 11th century until the 15th century. By the 15th century, the Turks formed an absolute majority in Anatolia.
The Turkish Ottoman Empire existed from about 1299 to 1922 and, in the 15th century, already extended from the Balkans, over Greece, Anatolia and the Levant to parts of the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt and North Africa.
Mediterranean islands The largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea
There are an estimated 10,000 islands and islets in the Mediterranean. The country with the most islands is Greece, with about 6,000 islands, 227 of which are inhabited. [GNTO]
The largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea are:
Sicily (Italy), Sardinia (Italy), Cyprus (Cyprus/Turkey), Corsica (France), Crete (Greece), Euboea (Greece), Mallorca (Spain), and the Greek islands of Lesbos, Rhodes and Chios.
The Doge's Palace with the Ponte della Paglia, the bridge over the Rio del Palazzo canal. The 14th-century palace is one of the most famous landmarks in the city of Venice. The building was, since the 9th century, the seat of the Doge, the acting head of state for life, as well as the governing and judicial bodies of the Republic of Venice. Today, the historic site houses an art museum. The building in the background (left) is the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, one of Italy's oldest surviving public libraries and repositories of manuscripts.
Photo: Matthias Süßen
There are two island countries in the Mediterranean Sea, Malta and Cyprus.
Well-known vacation destinations are the Spanish Balearic Islands, Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera.
Other popular island vacation destinations in the Mediterranean are:
The French island of Corsica, the Tunisian island of Djerba, and Malta, the former island of the Knights Hospitaller.
The most popular vacation islands in Italy are Capri, Elba in the Tuscan Archipelago, Ischia and Procida in the Phlegraean Islands, Sardinia and Sicily.
Popular vacation islands in Greece are Corfu, Crete, Mykonos, Rhodes and Santorini, to name a few.
The largest rivers that flow into the Mediterranean are Rhone (France), Adige, Tiber and Po (Italy), Drin-Buna/Bojana (Albania), Nile (Egypt), Neretva (Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia), Ebro (Spain), Seyhan (Sarus), and Ceyhan (both Anatolia, Türkiye). [GRID]
Aerial view of Barcelona, a major Mediterranean port and the capital of Catalonia on the coast of northeastern Spain. Image: Mike McBey
Influential Cities on the Mediterranean Sea
View of Benidorm, a city on the Costa Blanca in Spain. The economic focus of the city is tourism. Until 1967, mainly high-rise buildings with hotels for mass tourism were built in Benidorm; these still characterize the city, which is known as a vacation destination. Photo: Diego Delso
ports and places of trade like Agathe Tyche (Agde), Massilia (Marseille), Hippo Regius, Carthage, Apollonia, Cyrene , Alexandria, Melita (today Malta), Cirrha (the port of Delphi), Ephesus, Knossos, Smyrna (today Izmir), Syracuse (the birthplace of Archimedes), Troy, Rhodes, Memphis, or Leptis Magna , some of these places have successor cities, other are long gone. Still, they have shaped for centuries the history of the Mediterranean.
Several national capitals are located on or near the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
The capital cities are Athens, the capital of Greece; Algiers, the capital of Algeria; Beirut, the capital of Lebanon; Rome, the capital of Italy; Tripoli, the capital of Libya; Tunis, the capital of Tunisia; Valletta, the capital of Malta and Vatican City (within Rome), the papal state.
Other important cities in the Mediterranean are Alexandria, Antalya, Barcelona, Cannes, Dubrovnik, Gaza, Genoa, Izmir, Latakia, Málaga, Marseilles, Mersin, Monte Carlo (Monaco), Naples, Nice, Palermo, Pisa, Port Said, Tangier, Tel Aviv, Thessaloniki, Valencia, and Venice.
Major Ports in the Mediterranean
Monaco, the principality that forms an enclave within French, with Port Hercules on the Côte d'Azur, seen from the Place du Palais in Monaco-Ville, a district of the city-state. Photo: Spike
Today, the Mediterranean Sea is one of the busiest shipping routes in the world, carrying about a third of all commercial traffic each year. [EEA]
The most important ports in the Mediterranean are:
In Greece, the Port of Piraeus, the largest port in Greece and one of the largest passenger ports in Europe is located south of Athens, the Greek capital.
Major ports in Spain are the Port of Cartagena, the Port of Valencia, one of the busiest ports in the Mediterranean, the Port of Barcelona, one of Europe's major ports in the region, and the Port of Algeciras in the Bay of Gibraltar, one of the busiest transshipment hubs in the world.
The Port of Marseille is France's gateway to Mediterranean trade and transport.
The Mediterranean port of Naples, Italy's southern capital. Seen in the foreground is the Certosa di San Martino, a former monastery, and the Vesuvius, a 1.277 m high active volcano in the background. A violent eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE buried the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Photo: Wolfgang Moroder
The Port of Genoa is Italy's main seaport, and the Port of Gioia Tauro, near the Strait of Messina, is the largest port in Italy for container handling and one of the largest container ports and transshipment hubs in the Mediterranean. The Port of Naples is one of the largest Italian seaports and among the largest seaports in the Mediterranean.
Durrës is Albania's second-largest city and the country's chief port.
The Port of Rijeka on Kvarner Bay in the northern Adriatic Sea is Croatia's main port.
The Port of Koper, just south of the Italian port city of Trieste, is Slovenia's chief port.
Major Western Asian ports in the Mediterranean Sea
The Port of Beirut is the principal port of Lebanon and one of the busiest in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The Port of Haifa is Israel's most important and busiest port.
The Port of Latakia is Syria's main seaport.
The Port of Mersin is the busiest Mediterranean port in Turkey.
African ports in the Mediterranean Sea Morocco Tangier Med is a busy port on the Moroccan side of the Strait of Gibraltar; the port lies opposite the Spanish Port of Algeciras.
The Port of Algiers is the main seaport of Algeria.
The Port of Tunis (La Goulette) is the port of Tunisia's capital and the most important port in the country.
The Port of Tripoli is the most important seaport in Libya, the capital of Libya.
Egypt's most important port is the Port of Alexandria in Alexandria, the country's second city and former capital. Port Said, a seaport at the northern end of the Suez Canal, the artificial waterway that connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea.
Kotor is an ancient Mediterranean trading port city and a cultural center at the end of the Bay of Kotor in the Adriatic Sea in Montenegro. Image: Marcin Szala
The map shows the location of the following countries that have a shoreline at the Mediterranean Sea: