The New Student's Reference Work/Mediterranean, The

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Med′iterra′nean, The, is the largest inclosed sea. It is connected with the open ocean (the Atlantic) only by the narrow Strait of Gibraltar, nine miles wide. The name is derived from its being in the midst of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa. It is 2,200 miles long, varies from 500 to 100 miles in width, and has an area of 900,000 square miles. It is connected with the Black Sea by the Dardanelles, Sea of Marmora and the Bosporus. The coasts of Europe and Asia Minor have many bays and gulfs, while the coast of Africa is even, with few indentations. The Tyrrhenian, Ionian, Iberian and Ægean Seas and the Levant are different parts of the Mediterranean. Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, Malta, Cyprus and Crete are among the larger islands. The region is subject to earthquakes, and Vesuvius, Stromboli and Ætna are its most famous volcanoes. The bottom is divided into two parts by a ridge which crosses it from Sicily to Africa, the water being deeper in the eastern basin. The evaporation is greater than the amount of water poured into the Mediterranean by its rivers, and if it were not for the water of the Atlantic which flows in at Gibraltar, above the outflow of the heavier water of the Mediterranean, the sea would become saltier and shrink into two salt-lakes like the Dead Sea. Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean with the Red Sea. The chief rivers that flow into it are the Rhône, Po and Nile. The countries bordering the Mediterranean (Phœnicia, Greece, Egypt and Italy) have been cradles of civilization, and the sea is well-known in history, poetry and ancient story, and to-day is one of the most important water-routes of the world.