THE TRANSLATION of its Latin name (“in the midst of land”) indicates that the Mediterranean Sea is located between the landmasses of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Some students of geography may view the Mediterranean as a physical separation between Europe and Africa. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Mediterranean, in fact, has been the great unifier and link for cultures from Africa, the MIDDLE SAST, and Europe as well as Central Asia (via the Black Sea passage). Its moderate climate and rich land and sea resources have made the Mediterranean Basin and Sea an historic storehouse of foods as well as a means of commerce. Perhaps a better image is one of a giant mixing bowl that collects and spins out various cultures and economies. Even geologically, the Mediterranean Sea is where the African and European plates meet, their friction creating the rich marble quarries and volcanoes that mark much of Italy and the Sea of Marmara (marble) in Turkey. The sea’s total surface area is 967,000 square mi (2.5 million square km). Acting as a major heatsink, it is an important climate modifier (its latitude is the same as that of the much colder areas of Manchuria and north China). It is approximately 2,400 mi (3,900 km) long, with a maximum width of 1,000 mi (1,600 km), and while relatively shallow at Gibraltar and the Dardanelles, it is over 16,000 ft (5,400 m) deep near Cape Matapan, Greece. Its waters have a higher salinity than the Atlantic Ocean in part because there is so little tidal movement. It also has very few rivers that add fresh water, and its high sunshine creates massive rates and volumes of evaporation. Its rich marine resources include over 400 varieties of fish, along with sponges and corals and recently, oil and natural gas also have been found in several sections. Combined with large and often poor populations, there is much overfishing and pollution. But its mild climate has also created rich agricultural resources, and its geology has added important minerals—especially tin and copper so important to the Bronze Age.