The Mediterranean Sea is the body of water that separates Europe from Africa. As the name suggests, it is almost completely encircled by land - the only channels leading out are to the Atlantic Ocean via the Straits of Gibraltar, and to the Black Sea via the Bosphorus. For a fee, it is also possible to reach the Red Sea from the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal.
The Mediterranean's warm waters wash the shores of sundry nations, including Gibraltar, Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel (including the Gaza Strip), Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. Some of its larger islands include Cyprus, Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica and Malta; the first and last of these are nations in their own right.
The Mediterranean has a central role in western history, as for a long period beginning in ancient times, great powers struggled for primacy around its shores. These mighty civilisations include the Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Phonecians and ultimately the Romans, who eventually conquered all the land around the Mediterranean and began a period of dominance of the known world never seen before or since.