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Mediterranean Sea

Mediterranean Sea, intercontinental sea between Europe, Asia, and Africa (over 965,000 sq mi—2,500,000 sq km). It opens into the Atlantic Ocean in the west through the Strait of Gibraltar, and into the Black Sea through the Dardanelles and Bosporus. The Suez Canal provides the Mediterranean Sea's link with the Red Sea and on to the Indian Ocean. Peninsular Italy, Sicily, Malta, and Pantelleria and Tunisia's Cape Bon mark the dividing narrows between the eastern and western basins. The many islands of the western basin include Sicily, Sardinia, Elba, Corsica and the Balearics. Crete, Cyprus, Rhodes, and the numerous Aegean islands are included in the eastern basin. Geologically the Mediterranean Sea is a relic of a sea that separated Eurasia from Africa about 200 million years ago, and was partially uplifted to form the Alps, South Europe, and the Atlas Mountains. The name (Latin, “middle [of the] land”), reflects the sea's central position and importance in the ancient world. Limited access from the Atlantic Ocean and confined entries to both the Black and Red seas have given the Mediterranean Sea great strategic importance throughout history.

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