Politics

The Major Subdivisions Of The Mediterranean Sea

The International Hydrographic Organization recognizes several waterbodies as subdivisions of the Mediterranean Sea.

9. Aegean Sea

The Aegean Sea with the Greek coast in the background.

An elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea, the Aegean Sea is located between the Anatolian and the Greek peninsulas. The Aegean Sea is connected to the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea in the north. The sea hosts a set of islands called the Aegean Islands. The Aegean Sea occupies an area of about 82,625 square miles and has a maximum depth of 11,624 feet.

8. Adriatic Sea

The Adriatic Sea in Croatia.

The Adriatic Sea is the northernmost arm of the Mediterranean Sea. This body of water separates the Dinaric Alps from the Apennine Mountains. It also divides the Italian and the Balkan Peninsula. Greece, Italy, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina all have coasts on the Adriatic Sea. The sea is divided into three basins. The southern basin is the deepest and the northern one is the shallowest. The maximum depth is 4,045 feet. The Adriatic Sea has a salinity level that is lower than that of the Mediterranean Sea since it receives one-third of the freshwater flowing into the latter. It thus acts as a dilution basin.

7. Ionian Sea

The Ionian Sea in Sicily, Italy.

The Ionian Sea, located south of Adriatic Sea, is an elongated embayment in the Mediterranean Sea. Sicily, Salento, and Calabria of southern Italy border the Ionian Sea to the west. To the north of the Ionian Sea is southern Albania and the west coast of Greece. The islands hosted by the Ionian Sea are all part of Greece and are collectively known as the "Ionian Islands". The Ionian Sea also hosts the deepest point in the Mediterranean Sea, the Calypso Deep that is 17,280 feet deep. The sea is also notable for being one of the world’s most seismically active areas.

6. Tyrrhenian Sea

The Tyrrhenian Sea in Italy.

The Tyrrhenian Sea is located off Italy’s western coast and is a part of the Mediterranean Sea. The Tyrrhenian Sea borders the Italian Peninsula to the east, and the islands of Corsica and Sardinia lie to the west of the sea. To the south, the Tyrrhenian Sea is bounded by the island of Sicily. The sea has a maximum depth of 12,418 feet. Since it is located at the meeting point of the Eurasian and African Plates, the depths of the Tyrrhenian Sea host numerous active volcanoes and mountain chains. The sea also hosts the eight Aeolian Islands and Ustica.

5. Ligurian Sea

The famous Cinque Terre in Italy is on the Ligurian Sea.

The Ligurian Sea is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea that separates the island of Corsica from the Italian Riviera. The sea borders Italy and the island of Corsica. The Ligurian Sea also borders the Tyrrhenian Sea in the east and the Mediterranean Sea proper in the west. The Gulf of Genoa is the northernmost section of this sea. The Ligurian Sea’s northwest coast is famous for its favorable climate and scenic beauty. The maximum depth of the Ligurian Sea is 9,300 feet and it hosts a rich collection of several cetacean species.

4. Balearic Sea

The Balearic Sea in Spain.

The Iberian Sea, also known as the Balearic Sea is part of the Mediterranean Sea between the coast of Spain and the Balearic Islands. The Ebro River joins this body of water.

3. Alboran Sea

The Alboran Sea in Spain.

The Alboran Sea is the Mediterranean Sea’s westernmost portion. It lies between the north of Africa and the Iberian Peninsula. The Strait of Gibraltar lies to the west of this sea. The Alboran Sea has an average depth of 1,461 feet and a maximum depth of 4,920 feet. Several small islands exist on the sea including the Isla de Alborán that is named after the sea. Sine the sea is located in the transition zone between the sea and the ocean, it contains a mix of Atlantic and Mediterranean species.



2. Strait of Gibraltar

The Straight of Gilbraltar from Morocco.

The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow strait linking the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. It separates the African nations of Morocco and Spanish Ceuta from the European nations of Peninsular Spain and Gibraltar. The depth of the strait ranges between 300 and 900 meters. The strait is 7.7 nautical miles wide at its narrowest point. It takes about 35 minutes for a ferry to cross the strait and reach the other continent. The El Estrecho Natural Park protects the Spanish side of the Strait.

1. Other Seas

Several other seas are regarded to be part of the Mediterranean Sea. The list includes:

Sea of Sardinia: It is located between the Italian island of Sardinia and the Spanish Balearic Islands. The deepest point of the Sea of Sardinia is 3,000 meters.

The Strait of Sicily: It is a 145 km wide strait located between Tunisia and Sicily that separates the eastern Mediterranean Sea from the western Mediterranean Sea and the North African country of Tunisia. The maximum depth of the Strait of Sicily is 1,037 feet. The Pantelleria Island is located in the midst of this strait.

The Libyan Sea: The Libyan Sea is a part of the Mediterranean Sea that is located to the north of the African coast. Crete, Gavdos, Chrysi, Gavdopoula, and Koufonisis are some of the islands located on the Libyan Sea.


The Aegean Sea is further subdivided into the Myrtoan Sea, Thracian Sea, Sea of Crete, and the Icarian Sea.

The Cilician Sea and the Levantine Sea are the other minor subdivisions of the Mediterranean Sea.

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