- a brief history Page 1 -
In order to
better understand the Mediterranean, which literally means the centre of the
world, it is useful to know some of its long and varied history.
Mediterranean was once a deep, dry valley, some five million years ago, dividing the three
continents, Europe, Africa and Asia, until a cataclysmic broach was made in the retaining
wall, which kept out the Atlantic Ocean in the West, towards present-day Gibraltar. A huge
cascade of water began, flooding the whole Mediterranean basin, in a process that lasted
many, many years, and a new sea was born.
the geographical configuration of this new sea more closely, we find that it is rather
formed from a number of seas: the Alboran, the gulf of Lione, the Tirrhennian Sea, the Ionian Sea, the Aegean
Sea, the Adriatic Sea etc, each with its own characteristics. On the whole it is a very
deep sea, from 3000 to 4000 metres deep, allowing several types of whales to thrive there,
as well as sword-fish, tuna and dolphins, which are often encountered by modern yachts
during their cruises.
Mediterranean is a relatively closed sea, with only a slight interchange of waters with
the Atlantic at the Straits of Gibraltar and with the Black Sea at the Bosphorous Straits,
at Istanbul. The Suez Canal at the far Eastern end, provides only an artificial, though
navigable connection with the Red Sea. The African and the Asian shores are very arid and
flat, while the European shores, though not subject to a heavy rainfall, are more
mountainous and greener, with a more temperate climate.
African Continent has been slowly pushing its way towards the European Continent, and this
has been the cause of the uplift of the Alps, there is a fracture in the Earths
crust, resulting in the volcanoes of Etna, Stromboli and Vesuvius in Italy and Santorino
in Greece. It is also the cause of the not uncommon seismic activity in the area.
general climate is mild and temperate, in fact called Mediterranean and it is
influenced by the hot and dry air coming from the Sahara in Summer, making for idyllic
holidays and from the damper and colder air from the Atlantic Ocean in Winter. This type of climate was in fact very suitable for
the development of Mans civilisation.
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Copyright L. Camillo 2000