The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant. The sea is sometimes considered a part of the Atlantic Ocean, although it is usually identified as a separate body of water.
The countries with coastlines on the Mediterranean Sea are Albania, Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Monaco, Montenegro, Northern Cyprus (recognized only by Turkey), Palestinian territories, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Turkey, Tunisia, and the United Kingdom (Gibraltar and British Cyprus).
The term Mediterranean derives from the Latin word mediterraneus, meaning "in the middle of earth" or "between lands" (medi-; adj. medius, -um -a "middle, between" + terra f., "land, earth"): as it is between the continents of Africa, Asia and Europe. The Greek name Mesogeios (Μεσόγειος), is similarly from μέσο, "middle" + γη, "land, earth").
The Mediterranean Sea has historically had several names. For example the Romans commonly called it Mare Nostrum (Latin, "Our Sea"), and occasionally Mare Internum (Sallust, Jug. 17).
In the Bible, it was primarily known as the "Great Sea ( Num. 34:6,7; Josh. 1:4, 9:1, 15:47; Ezek. 47:10,15,20), or simply "The Sea" (1 Kings 5:9; comp. 1 Macc. 14:34, 15:11); however, it has also been called the "Hinder Sea" , due to its location on the west coast of the Holy Land, and therefore behind a person facing the east, sometimes translated as "Western Sea", (Deut. 11:24; Joel 2:20). Another name was the "Sea of the Philistines" ( Exod. 23:31), from the people inhabiting a large portion of its shores near the Israelites. The sea is also called the "Great Sea" (Middle English: Grete See) in the General Prologue by Geoffrey Chaucer.
In Modern Hebrew, it has been called HaYam HaTikhon, "the Middle Sea", reflecting the Sea's name in ancient Greek (Mesogeios), Latin (Mare internum), German (Mittelmeer), and modern languages in both Europe and the Middle East (Mediterranean, etc.).
Similarly, in Modern Arabic, it is known as al-Baḥr [al-Abyaḍ] al-Mutawassiṭ , "the [White] Middle Sea", while in Islamic and older Arabic literature, it was referenced as Baḥr al-Rūm, or "the Roman/Byzantine Sea."
In Turkish, it is known as Akdeniz, "the White Sea" since among Turks the white color (ak) represents the west.