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 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 completely separate body of water.
The name Mediterranean is derived from the Latinmediterraneus, meaning "inland" or "in the middle of the land" (from medius, "middle" and terra, "land"). It covers an approximate area of 2.5 million km² (965,000 sq mi), but its connection to the Atlantic (the Strait of Gibraltar) is only 14 km (8.7 mi) wide. In oceanography, it is sometimes called the Eurafrican Mediterranean Sea or the European Mediterranean Sea to distinguish it from mediterranean seas elsewhere.
The Mediterranean Sea has an average depth of 1,500 m (4,900 ft) and the deepest recorded point is 5,267 m (17,280 ft) in the Calypso Deep in the Ionian Sea.
It was an important route for merchants and travelers of ancient times that allowed for trade and cultural exchange between emergent peoples of the region. The history of the Mediterranean region is crucial to understanding the origins and development of many modern societies. "For the three quarters of the globe, the Mediterranean Sea is similarly the uniting element and the centre of World History."
The soil and rocks of the range are of volcanic origin, composed mainly of porphyry, which gives the hills a red color. The terrain is rugged, with deep ravines and oak forests. The highest point of the massif is Mont Vinaigre (618 metres).
The massif covers an area of 320 km², of which 130 km² are officially protected in the Forêt domaniale de l'Esterel. The nature reserve offers excellent hiking and mountain biking trails including the GR 49 and GR 51. The Esterel mountains also host the Pierre et Vacances holiday village "Cap Estérel".