The term “Mediterranean” refers to the geographic area which includes all of the countries of southern Europe, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, and the Western Mediterranean. The Mediterranean Sea consists of the Mediterranean basin, surrounding by the ocean on all sides: on the west by Western and Southern Europe, on the east by North Africa, and on northern latitudes by the Levant. The Mediterranean area also includes the islands of the Aegean and the Mediterranean Sea. The various cultures and peoples of these countries have a long history of interaction with one another, influencing each other in art, architecture, medicine, and everyday life.
Under the Mediterranean framework directive, the term “mediterranean” is used to refer to all of the Mediterranean countries plus the Middle East. However, the term is often used to refer to a narrower geographic area, including: Greece and the Islands, Iberia, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and the Jordan. Also included in this are parts of Croatia, the former Yugoslavia, and certain North African countries such as Morocco. This “core” of countries is referred to as the Mediterranean Basin.
One of the most distinctive features of the Mediterranean region is its large degree of geographic variability. This geographic variability manifests itself in the country characteristics of the Mediterranean. These include extreme weather differences across the board between countries in different regions of the Mediterranean; an intricate regional climate; and a wide range of geographical attributes including mountain ranges and seas, to name a few. This variation has led to a development of diverse ecosystems within the Mediterranean. These ecosystems are influenced by natural selection acting on genetic variation, climate, and geographic location.
In terms of population density, the Mediterranean Sea region is one of the world’s most densely populated places. Because of this high population density, there is an extraordinarily high burden of land use. The combined effect of this land use and coastal areas on water availability makes the Mediterranean Sea region particularly vulnerable to environmental changes. In particular, changes in sea level have threatened the existence of many of the most populated Mediterranean nations. In addition, the increase in temperatures of the Mediterranean Sea has made it unsuitable for businesses and industries that derive a substantial portion of their revenue from the sale of fossil fuels.
In addition to affecting the amount of available fresh water, changes in the level and type of surface ocean pollution, particularly high levels of dissolved oxygen and carbon dioxide, have threatened the existence of many marine species. The Mediterranean Sea has provided a barrier to incursions by marine species into the land-based ones. Furthermore, the Mediterranean Sea has been a location where large numbers of aquatic insects have been able to survive thanks to its exceptionally high water salinity. A high level of saltiness throughout the Mediterranean Sea has helped to prevent algae from forming and infecting the fresh water system.
Coastal regions of the Mediterranean Sea are particularly susceptible to human activities and consequently they present a special problem for the preservation of the ecological balance. In particular, the overcrowding of people in the coastal areas has led to major deterioration in terms of the quality of the beaches and the quality of the environment that surrounds them. As a result, many abandoned buildings that were once home to hundreds of people have been damaged due to storm surges and other human activities. These empty buildings are the perfect breeding ground for marine life, as they provide the right conditions for a large number of creatures to multiply rapidly. In addition to this, the increased speed of wind in the Mediterranean Sea means that much of the waste that collects on its shores is transported to the open sea instead of being properly disposed of.
While it is true that most of the coastal Mediterranean countries have taken measures to minimize the effects of global warming on their environment, they are still considered to be confronted with significant environmental problems, mainly due to the high level of individual consumption and the increased rate of land-based shipping. As a result, the coastal Mediterranean countries have become an important source of global environmental pollution. This environmental pollution is primarily caused by land-based activities and by the lack of measures taken to control the influx of illegal immigrant and tourist fishing vessels that are using to exploit natural resources in the region.
The situation is further worsened by the fact that most of the countries along the coasts have not yet implemented sustainable development strategies that would contribute positively towards a decrease in the level of marine pollution. Since the major sources of marine pollution are largely contributed to human activities and by the failure of governmental policies to control them, the only way to manage this problem is through the implementation of comprehensive strategies that would, in the long run, contribute positively towards the sustainable development of the coastal areas. Through these strategies, the ability of the Mediterranean countries to preserve the ecosystems and to sustain natural biodiversity will be strengthened, thus ensuring that the ecological balance is maintained and sustained.