In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin /ˌmɛdɪtəˈreɪniən/ (also known as the Mediterranean region or sometimes Mediterranea) is the region of lands around the Mediterranean Sea that have a Mediterranean climate, with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers, which supports characteristic Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub vegetation.
It has a varied and contrasting topography. The Mediterranean Region offers an ever-changing landscape of high mountains, rocky shores, impenetrable scrub, semi-arid steppes, coastal wetlands, sandy beaches and a myriad islands of various shapes and sizes dotted amidst the clear blue sea. Contrary to the classic sandy beach images portrayed in most tourist brochures, the Mediterranean is surprisingly hilly. Mountains can be seen from almost anywhere.
The Mediterranean Basin extends into Western Asia, covering the western and southern portions of the peninsula of Turkey, excluding the temperate-climate mountains of central Turkey. It includes the Mediterranean climate Levant at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, bounded on the east and south by the Syrian and Negev deserts.
The northern portion of the Maghreb region of northwestern Africa has a Mediterranean climate, separated from the Sahara Desert, which extends across North Africa, by the Atlas Mountains. In the eastern Mediterranean the Sahara extends to the southern shore of the Mediterranean, with the exception of the northern fringe of the peninsula of Cyrenaica in Libya, which has a dry Mediterranean climate.
Europe lies to the north, and three large Southern European peninsulas, the Iberian Peninsula, Italian Peninsula, and the Balkan Peninsula, extend into the Mediterranean-climate zone. A system of folded mountains, including the Pyrenees dividing Spain from France, the Alps dividing Italy from Central Europe, the Dinaric Alps along the eastern Adriatic, and the Balkan and Rhodope mountains of the Balkan Peninsula divide the Mediterranean from the temperate climate regions of Western and Central Europe.
The Mediterranean Basin was shaped by the ancient collision of the northward-moving African-Arabian continent with the stable Eurasian continent. As Africa-Arabia moved north, it closed the former Tethys Sea, which formerly separated Eurasia from the ancient super continent of Gondwana, of which Africa was part. At about the same time, 170 mya in the Jurassic period, a small Neotethys ocean basin formed shortly before the Tethys Sea was closed at the eastern end. The collision pushed up a vast system of mountains, extending from the Pyrenees in Spain to the Zagros Mountains in Iran. This episode of mountain building, known as the Alpine orogeny, occurred mostly during the Oligocene (34 to 23 million years ago (mya)) and Miocene (23 to 5.3 mya) epochs. The Neotethys became larger during these collisions and associated folding and subduction.
About 6 mya during the late Miocene, the Mediterranean was closed at its western end by drifting Africa, which caused the entire sea to evaporate. There followed several (debated) episodes of sea drawdown and re-flooding known as the Messinian Salinity Crisis, which ended when the Atlantic last re-flooded the basin at the end of the Miocene. Recent research has suggested that a desiccation-flooding cycle may have repeated several times  during the last 630,000 years of the Miocene epoch, which could explain several events of large amounts of salt deposition. Recent studies, however, show that repeated desiccation and re-flooding is unlikely from a geodynamic point of view.
The end of the Miocene also marked a change in the Mediterranean Basin's climate. Fossil evidence shows that the Mediterranean Basin had a relatively humid subtropical climate with summer rainfall during the Miocene, which supported laurel forests. The shift to a Mediterranean climate occurred within the last 3.2–2.8 million years, during the Pliocene epoch, as summer rainfall decreased. The subtropical laurel forests retreated, although they persisted on the islands of Macaronesia off the Atlantic coast of Iberia and North Africa, and the present Mediterranean vegetation evolved, dominated by coniferous trees and sclerophyllous trees and shrubs, with small, hard, waxy leaves that prevent moisture loss in the dry summers. Much of these forests and shrublands have been altered beyond recognition by thousands of years of human habitation. There are now very few relatively intact natural areas in what was once a heavily wooded region.
Phytogeographically, the Mediterranean basin together with the nearby Atlantic coast, the Mediterranean woodlands and forests and Mediterranean dry woodlands and steppe of North Africa, the Black Sea coast of northeastern Anatolia, the southern coast of Crimea between Sevastopol and Feodosiya and the Black Sea coast between Anapa and Tuapse in Russia forms the Mediterranean Floristic Region, which belongs to the Tethyan Subkingdom of the Boreal Kingdom and is enclosed between the Circumboreal, Irano-Turanian, Saharo-Arabian and Macaronesian floristic regions.
The Mediterranean Region was first proposed by German botanist August Grisebach in the late 19th century.
The genera Aubrieta, Sesamoides, Cynara, Dracunculus, Arisarum and Biarum are nearly endemic. Among the endemic species prominent in the Mediterranean vegetation are the Aleppo pine, stone pine, Mediterranean cypress, bay laurel, Oriental sweetgum, holm oak, kermes oak, strawberry tree, Greek strawberry tree, mastic, terebinth, common myrtle, oleander, Acanthus mollis and Vitex agnus-castus. Moreover, many plant taxa are shared with one of the four neighboring floristic regions only. According to different versions of Armen Takhtajan's delineation, the Mediterranean Region is further subdivided into seven to nine floristic provinces: Southwestern Mediterranean (or Southern Moroccan and Southwestern Mediterranean), Ibero-Balearian (or Iberian and Balearian), Liguro-Tyrrhenian, Adriatic, East Mediterranean, South Mediterranean and Crimeo-Novorossiysk.
The Mediterranean Basin is the largest of the world's five Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub regions. It is home to a number of plant communities, which vary with rainfall, elevation, latitude, and soils.
The Mediterranean Basin is home to considerable biodiversity, including 22,500 endemic vascular plant species. Conservation International designates the region as a biodiversity hotspot, because of its rich biodiversity and its threatened status. The Mediterranean Basin has an area of 2,085,292 km2, of which only 98,009 km2 remains undisturbed.
Neanderthals inhabited western Asia and the non-glaciated portions of Europe starting about 230,000 years ago. Modern humans moved into western Asia from Africa less than 100,000 years ago. Modern humans, known as Cro-Magnons, moved into Europe approximately 50-40,000 years ago.
The most recent glacial period, the Wisconsin glaciation, reached its maximum extent approximately 21,000 years ago, and ended approximately 12,000 years ago. A warm period, known as the Holocene climatic optimum, followed the ice age.
Food crops, including wheat, chickpeas, and olives, along with sheep and goats, were domesticated in the eastern Mediterranean in the 9th millennium BCE, which allowed for the establishment of agricultural settlements. Near Eastern crops spread to southeastern Europe in the 7th millennium BCE. Poppy and oats were domesticated in Europe from the 6th to the 3rd millennium BCE. Agricultural settlements spread around the Mediterranean Basin. Megaliths were constructed in Europe from 4500 – 1500 BCE.
A strengthening of the summer monsoon 9000–7000 years ago increased rainfall across the Sahara, which became a grassland, with lakes, rivers, and wetlands. After a period of climatic instability, the Sahara settled into a desert state by the 4th millennium BCE.
Wheat is the dominant grain grown around the Mediterranean Basin. Pulses and vegetables are also grown. The characteristic tree crop is the olive. Figs are another important fruit tree, and citrus, especially lemons, are grown where irrigation is present. Grapes are an important vine crop, grown for fruit and to make wine. Rice and summer vegetables are grown in irrigated areas.
The Albanian wine (Albanian: Vera Shqiptare) is produced in several regions throughout Albania within the Mediterranean Basin. The country has one of the oldest wine making traditions, dating back to the ice and bronze age whereas Ancient Illyrians and Greeks inhabited the country's territory some 3,000 years ago. It belongs chronologically to the old world of wine producing countries.
Albania is a mountainous Mediterranean country and extend within the Mediterranean Basin with the Mediterranean Sea in the west. The country experiences a distinctly Mediterranean climate, which means that the winters are mild and summers usually hot and dry. The favourable climate and fertile soil of the mountainous areas of the country are well suited to viticulture.
Albania produced an estimated 17,500 tonnes of wine in 2009. During communism, the production area expanded to some 20,000 hectares (49,000 acres).Anthemideae
Anthemideae is a tribe of flowering plants in the aster family, Asteraceae, and the subfamily Asteroideae. They are distributed worldwide with concentrations in central Asia, the Mediterranean Basin, and southern Africa.As of 2006 there were about 1800 species classified in 111 genera. in 2007 the tribe was divided into 14 subtribes.Azores High
The Azores High (Portuguese: Anticiclone dos Açores) also known as North Atlantic (Subtropical) High/Anticyclone or the Bermuda-Azores High, is a large subtropical semi-permanent centre of high atmospheric pressure typically found south of the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean, at the Horse latitudes. It forms one pole of the North Atlantic oscillation, the other being the Icelandic Low. The system influences the weather and climatic patterns of vast areas of North Africa and southern Europe, and to a lesser extent, eastern North America. The aridity of the Sahara Desert and the summer drought of the Mediterranean Basin is due to the large-scale subsidence and sinking motion of air in the system. In its summer position (the Bermuda High), the high is centered near Bermuda, and creates a southwest flow of warm tropical air toward the East Coast of the United States. In summer, the Azores-Bermuda High is strongest. The central pressure hovers around 1024 mbar (hPa).
This high-pressure block exhibits anticyclonic nature, circulating the air clockwise. Due to this direction of movement, African eastern waves are impelled along the southern periphery of the Azores High away from coastal West Africa towards the Caribbean, Central America, or the Bahamas, favouring tropical cyclogenesis, especially during the hurricane season.Celeriac
Celeriac (Apium graveolens var. rapaceum), also called turnip-rooted celery, celery root, or knob celery, is a variety of celery cultivated for its edible stem or hypocotyl, and shoots. Despite its name, it is not a close relative of the turnip. Celeriac is like a root vegetable except it has a bulbous hypocotyl with many small roots attached.
In the Mediterranean Basin and in Northern Europe, celeriac is widely cultivated. It is also cultivated in North Africa, Siberia, Southwest Asia, and North America. In North America, the 'Diamant' cultivar predominates. The root is cultivated in Puerto Rico, sold locally at farmers' markets and supermarkets, and is a traditional staple of the Puerto Rican kitchen.Chilean Matorral
The Chilean Matorral (NT1201) is a terrestrial ecoregion of central Chile, located on the west coast of South America. It is in the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome, part of the Neotropic ecozone.
Matorral is typically characterized by a temperate Mediterranean climate, with rainy winters and dry summers. It is one of the world's five Mediterranean climate regions, which are all located in the middle latitudes on the west coast of continents. The Mediterranean Basin, the California chaparral and woodlands ecoregion of California and Baja California, the Cape Province of South Africa, and southwestern corner of Australia are the other Mediterranean climate regions.Cuevas de la Araña
The Cuevas de la Araña (known in English as the Araña Caves or the Spider Caves) are a group of caves in the municipality of Bicorp in Valencia, eastern Spain. The caves are in the valley of the river Escalona and were used by prehistoric people who left rock art. They are known for painted images of a bow and arrow goat hunt and for a scene depicting a human figure.
The dating of such art is controversial, but the famous honey-gathering painting is believed to be epipaleolithic and is estimated to be around 8000 years old.The caves were discovered in the early twentieth century by a local teacher, Jaime Garí i Poch. They are included in the World Heritage Site Rock art of the Iberian Mediterranean Basin.Euphorbiaceae
The Euphorbiaceae, the spurge family, is a large family of flowering plants. In common English, they are sometimes called euphorbias, which is also the name of a genus in the family. Most spurges such as Euphorbia paralias are herbs, but some, especially in the tropics, are shrubs or trees, such as Hevea brasiliensis. Some, such as Euphorbia canariensis, are succulent and resemble cacti because of convergent evolution. This family occurs mainly in the tropics, with the majority of the species in the Indo-Malayan region and tropical America a strong second. A large variety occurs in tropical Africa, but they are not as abundant or varied as in the two other tropical regions. However, Euphorbiaceae also has many species in nontropical areas such as the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East, South Africa, and the southern United States.Great spotted cuckoo
The great spotted cuckoo (Clamator glandarius) is a member of the cuckoo order of birds, the Cuculiformes, which also includes the roadrunners, the anis and the coucals. The genus name clamator is Latin for "shouter" from clamare, "to shout". The specific glandarius is derived from Latin glans, glandis, "acorn".It is widely spread throughout Africa and the Mediterranean Basin. It is a brood parasite that lays its eggs in the nests of corvids, in particular the Eurasian magpie.Mediterranean Lingua Franca
The Mediterranean Lingua Franca or Sabir was a pidgin language used as a lingua franca in the Mediterranean Basin from the 11th to the 19th century.Mediterranean Universities Union
The Mediterranean Universities Union (Italian: Unione delle Università del Mediterraneo, UNIMED) consists of 113 universities from 23 countries of the Mediterranean basin (or that have a specific interest in the Mediterranean region). The association has its head office in Rome.Mediterranean climate
A Mediterranean climate or dry summer climate is characterized by dry summers and mild, wet winters. The climate receives its name from the Mediterranean Basin, where this climate type is most common. Mediterranean climate zones are typically located along the western sides of continents, between roughly 30 and 45 degrees north and south of the equator. The main cause of Mediterranean, or dry summer climate, is the subtropical ridge which extends northwards during the summer and migrates south during the winter due to greater temperature differences.
The resulting vegetation of Mediterranean climates are the garrigue or maquis in the Mediterranean Basin, the chaparral in California, the fynbos in South Africa, the mallee in Australia, and the matorral in Chile. Areas with this climate are where the so-called "Mediterranean trinity" of agricultural products have traditionally developed: wheat, vine and olive.
Most large, historic cities of the Mediterranean basin lie within Mediterranean climatic zones, including Algiers, Athens, Beirut, İzmir, Jerusalem, Marseille, Naples, Rome, Tunis, and Valencia. Examples of major cities with Mediterranean climates that lie outside of the Mediterranean basin include cities such as Adelaide, Cape Town, Casablanca, Dushanbe, Los Angeles, Lisbon, Perth, San Francisco, Santiago and Victoria.Mediterranean race
The Mediterranean race (also Mediterranid race) is one of the multiple sub-races into which the Caucasian race was categorised by most anthropologists in the late 19th to mid-20th centuries. According to various definitions, it was said to be prevalent in the Mediterranean Basin and areas near the Mediterranean, especially in Southern Europe, North Africa, most of Western Asia, the Middle East or Near East; western Central Asia, parts of South Asia, and parts of the Horn of Africa. To a lesser extent, certain populations of people in parts of Great Britain, western Ireland, and Southern Germany, despite living far from the Mediterranean, were deemed as potentially having some minority Mediterranean elements in their population, such as Bavaria, Wales and Cornwall.It is characterized by shorter or medium (not tall) stature, long (dolichocephalic) or moderate (mesocephalic) skull, a narrow and often slightly aquiline nose, prevalence of dark hair and eyes, and cream to tan or dark brown skin tone; olive complexion being especially common and epitomizing the supposed Mediterranean race.Messinian salinity crisis
The Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC), also referred to as the Messinian Event, and in its latest stage as the Lago Mare event, was a geological event during which the Mediterranean Sea went into a cycle of partly or nearly complete desiccation throughout the latter part of the Messinian age of the Miocene epoch, from 5.96 to 5.33 Ma (million years ago). It ended with the Zanclean flood, when the Atlantic reclaimed the basin.Sediment samples from below the deep seafloor of the Mediterranean Sea, which include evaporite minerals, soils, and fossil plants, show that the precursor of the Strait of Gibraltar closed tight about 5.96 million years ago, sealing the Mediterranean off from the Atlantic. This resulted in a period of partial desiccation of the Mediterranean Sea, the first of several such periods during the late Miocene. After the strait closed for the last time around 5.6 Ma, the region's generally dry climate at the time dried the Mediterranean basin out nearly completely within a thousand years. This massive desiccation left a deep dry basin, reaching 3 to 5 km (1.9 to 3.1 mi) deep below normal sea level, with a few hypersaline pockets similar to today's Dead Sea. Then, around 5.5 Ma, less dry climatic conditions resulted in the basin receiving more freshwater from rivers, progressively filling and diluting the hypersaline lakes into larger pockets of brackish water (much like today's Caspian Sea). The Messinian Salinity Crisis ended with the Strait of Gibraltar finally reopening 5.33 Ma, when the Atlantic rapidly filled up the Mediterranean basin in what is known as the Zanclean flood.Even today, the Mediterranean is considerably saltier than the North Atlantic due to its near isolation by the Strait of Gibraltar and its high rate of evaporation. If the Strait of Gibraltar closes again (which is likely to happen in the near future on a geological time scale), the Mediterranean would mostly evaporate in about a thousand years, after which continued northward movement of Africa may obliterate the Mediterranean altogether.
Only the inflow of Atlantic water maintains the present Mediterranean level. When that was shut off sometime between 6.5 to 6 MYBP, net evaporative loss set in at the rate of around 3,300 cubic kilometers yearly. At that rate, the 3.7 million cubic kilometres of water in the basin would dry up in scarcely more than a thousand years, leaving an extensive layer of salt some tens of meters thick and raising global sea level about 12 meters.Palearctic realm
The Palearctic or Palaearctic is one of the eight biogeographic realms on the Earth's surface, first identified in the 19th century, and still in use today as the basis for zoogeographic classification. The Palearctic is the largest of the eight realms. It stretches across all of Europe, Asia north of the foothills of the Himalayas, North Africa, and the northern and central parts of the Arabian Peninsula.
The realm consists of several ecoregions: the Euro-Siberian region; the Mediterranean Basin; the Sahara and Arabian Deserts; and Western, Central and East Asia. The Palaearctic realm also has numerous rivers and lakes, forming several freshwater ecoregions. Some of the rivers were the source of water for the earliest recorded civilizations that used irrigation methods.Peñas de Cabrera
The archaeological site Peñas de Cabrera, containing numerous rock shelters, is located in the municipality of Casabermeja (Spain). The entire surrounding area of Las Peñas de Cabrera, rife with natural minerals, rocks and fossils, is named after one of its districts of the same name. The entire complex of mountains and valleys consists of many shelters revealing rock art of paintings and engravings.
In the early 1970s the University of Málaga began research in Peñas de Cabrera, focusing particularly on its rock and cave paintings. Thereafter the area became well known to the scientific community, as the University had laid the groundwork for all subsequent exploration. The shelters and caves were later studied by eminent researchers who carried out archaeological surveys, tracings, and topographical mappings and drew up an inventory of rock and cave paintings. One hundred and thirty five cave paintings spread out over twenty shelters were discovered.
As of 2016 thirty-two rock shelters featuring paintings, engravings and archaeological material, mainly ceramic and flint (Silex), have been recorded. Alongside these are also a number of shelters being studied that show scientific potential, but which are pending investigation depending upon the results of further archaeological surveys.Roca dels Moros
The Roca dels Moros or Caves of El Cogul is a rock shelter containing paintings of prehistoric Levantine rock art. The site is in El Cogul, in the autonomous community of Catalonia, Spain. Since 1998 the paintings have been protected as part of the Rock art of the Iberian Mediterranean Basin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Inscriptions in Northeastern Iberian script and in Latin alphabet indicate that the place was used as a sanctuary into Iberian and Roman times.Rock art of the Iberian Mediterranean Basin
The group of over 700 sites of prehistoric Rock art of the Iberian Mediterranean Basin, also known as Levantine art, were collectively declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1998. The sites are in the eastern part of Spain and contain rock art dating to the Upper Paleolithic or (more likely) Mesolithic periods of the Stone Age. The art consists of small painted figures of humans and animals, which are the most advanced and widespread surviving from this period, certainly in Europe, and arguably in the world, at least in the earlier works. It is notable for the number of places included, the largest concentration of such art in Europe. Its name refers to the Mediterranean Basin; however, while some sites are located near the sea, many of them are inland in Aragon and Castilla–La Mancha; it is also often referred to as Levantine Art (meaning "from Eastern Spain", not the Levant region).Ruins
Ruins (from Latin ruina, meaning 'a collapse') are the remains of human-made architecture: structures that were once intact have fallen, as time went by, into a state of partial or total disrepair, due to lack of maintenance or deliberate acts of destruction. Natural disaster, war and population decline are the most common root causes, with many structures becoming progressively derelict over time due to long-term weathering and scavenging.
There are famous ruins all over the world, from ancient sites in China, the Indus valley and Judea to Zimbabwe in Africa, ancient Greek, Egyptian and Roman sites in the Mediterranean basin, and Incan and Mayan sites in the Americas. Ruins are of great importance to historians, archaeologists and anthropologists, whether they were once individual fortifications, places of worship, ancient universities, houses and utility buildings, or entire villages, towns and cities. Many ruins have become UNESCO World Heritage Sites in recent years, to identify and preserve them as areas of outstanding value to humanity.Villar del Humo
Villar del Humo is a municipality located in the province of Cuenca, Castile-La Mancha, Spain. According to the 2004 census (INE), the municipality has a population of 372 inhabitants.
It is an important location for prehistoric rock art. A cultural park has been designated to conserve the sites and they have also been included in the World Heritage Site Rock Art of the Iberian Mediterranean Basin.
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