THE MEDITERRANEAN REGION 540. Location and surface.—The Mediter ranean Region lies in three continents. Name them. Name the regions that touch it. Beginning at the Strait of Gibraltar (Fig. 445) follow the fringe of land, and name all the countries or parts of countries that are included. It seems strange to find a small part of the shores of the Black Sea included here, but there is a good reason for it.
We can think of this region as a fringe of land around the edge of the great blue Mediterranean Sea—a land which receives both heat and moisture from the warm water which it surrounds. Every country and almost every island included in it is mountainous, and the region is one of great natural beauty. The mountains seem to be purple, or blue, or green. The blue sea is dotted with beautiful islands.
Examine the physical maps (Figs. 445, 319) and see if you can tell why many peoples have entered the Mediterranean Region, and why many nations are there now.
541. Interesting lands for travelers.—In a region that has been the home of so many races, and that has had so many empires, kingdoms, and civilizations, many interesting ruins tell the story of the past. Beautiful Greek temples still stand, not only in Greece itself, but also in Sicily and in Asia Minor. Roman arches stand in the south of France, and wonderful ruins of Roman cities are to be seen in the goat and camel pastures of Tunis, Algeria, and Syria, and beyond Jordan.
542. Ancient capitals.—In this region many cities, both large and small, are rich with the remains of ancient glory. Five of them were ancient capitals and four are still capitals.
(1) Rome was the seat of the ancient Roman Empire for many centuries. Next to Paris and London, Rome is the greatest center of travel in the old world. The palaces of the Pope and of the King of Italy are here. Rome has many modern and ancient churches. Pal aces, temples, theaters, tombs, prisons, and many other buildings are left from the time when Rome ruled all of the world that was then thought worth hav lg people who are interested in seeing sacred places mentioned in the Bible.
(3) Athens was once the most famous city of the world—famous for its learned men, for the books they wrote, and for the sculptures and buildings that they made. The modern
Greeks want to make Athens a great city again. The Olympic games, which were the great sport events of the ancient Greeks, were revived in 1896, and are held every four years, in different countries of the world.
(4) Constantinople has long been one of the great cities of the world. For many centuries it was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, and later of the Turkish Empire. At the beginning of the World War, it was the fourth city of Europe in size. Its greatness arises from its location, which is at one of the great crossroads of the world. All traffic between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean passes through the crooked straits of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles. Across these narrow straits, travel and trade between Europe and Asia are easy.
Many races mingle in Constantinople. Men of many lands go there to trade. Con stantinople is famous for its bazaars and for the workshops where the oriental craftsmen make their artistic wares of cotton, wool, and silk, wood, leather, and iron and other metals.
This great city is coveted by a hundred million Christians of the Greek Church and by two hundred million Mohammedans. The head church of the Mohammedan world is the Mosque of St. Sophia in Con stantinople. Before the Turks took the city, in 1453, St. Sophia had been for hundreds of years the most important church of the Greek Catholics. The Mohammedans cling to this mosque, and the Christians of eastern Europe want to get it back.
(5) Venice, the island city, with canals for streets, is one of the most glorious of cities to visit. She has not been pillaged or ruined for six hundred years. As the capital of the Republic of Venice, she was to the Mediter ranean world what London has been to Europe for so many years. (Sec. 433.) Her palaces, churches, and public buildings are among the most beautiful in the world. To-day she supports herself largely from the tourists who visit the city. She also manufactures cotton and "Venetian" glass.