Aegean Sea, Gr. Aigaion Pelagos, Turkish Ege Denizi, arm of the Mediterranean Sea, c.400 mi (640 km) long and 200 mi (320 km) wide, off SE Europe between Greece and Turkey; Crete and Rhodes mark its southern limit. Irregular in shape, it is dotted with islands, most of which belong to Greece; they include Évvoia, the Sporades, the Cyclades, Sámos, Khíos, Lesbos, Thásos, and the Dodecanese. The Aegean Sea's greatest depths (more than 11,600 ft/3,540 m) are found E of Crete. The Dardanelles strait connects the Aegean Sea with the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea.
Sardines and sponges taken from the Aegean are economically important. There has been considerable tension between Greece and Turkey since the 1970s over oil deposits and mineral rights in the Aegean. The name Aegean has been variously derived from Aegae, a city of Évvoia; from Aegeus, father of Theseus, who drowned himself in the sea believing his son had been slain by the Minotaur; and from Aegea, an Amazon queen who drowned in it. The sea's ancient name, Archipelago, now applies to its islands and, generally, to any island group.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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