The Mediterranean Sea (35 degrees north, 18 degrees east) is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Europe, on the south by Africa, and on the east by Asia. It covers an approximate area of 2.5 million km (965,000 mile), but its connection to the Atlantic (the Strait of Gibraltar) is only 14 km (9 mi) wide.
In oceanography, it is sometimes called the Eurafrican Mediterranean Sea or the European Mediterranean Sea, to distinguish it from mediterranean seas else where
It is linked to the Atlantic Ocean (at the Strait of Gibraltar), Red Sea and Indian Ocean (by the Suez Canal), and the Black Sea (at the Dardanelles and Sea of Marmara).
It was a superhighway of transport in ancient times, allowing for trade and cultural exchange between emergent peoples of the region the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Semitic, Persian, Phoenician, Carthaginian, Greek and Roman cultures. The history of the Mediterranean of western Known as the cradle of civilization, the Mediterranean was opened as a highway for commerce by merchants trading from Phoenicia. Over succeeding centuries Carthage, Greece, Sicily, and Rome were rivals competing for dominance of its shores and trade.
It was later dominated by the Byzantine Empire and the Arabs; between the 11th and 14th centuries, Barcelona and the Italian city trading states, such as Venice and Genoa, dominated the Mediterranean. Control of its islands, coasts, and trade routes was vital during both World Wars, leading to important campaigns.
Since World War II the region has been of great strategic importance to the USA and Western European countries (NATO).