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The Mediterranean Basin

The Mediterranean basin is the largest area where we run the SMOSAR system in order to test and develop processing specifically at large scale by working on thousands of images every year.

The Mediterranean Basin covers portions of three continents: Europe, Africa, and Asia. It is distinct from the drainage basin, which extends much further south and north due to major rivers ending in the Mediterranean Sea, such as the Nile and Rhône. Conversely, the Mediterranean Basin includes regions not in the drainage basin.

It has a varied and contrasting topography. The Mediterranean Region offers an ever-changing landscape of high mountains, rocky shores, impenetrable scrub, semi-arid steppes, coastal wetlands, sandy beaches and a myriad islands of various shapes and sizes dotted amidst the clear blue sea. Contrary to the classic sandy beach images portrayed in most tourist brochures, the Mediterranean is surprisingly hilly. Mountains can be seen from almost anywhere.

By definition, the Mediterranean Basin extends from Macaronesia in the west, to the Levant in the east, although some places may or may not be included depending on the view, as is the case with Macaronesia: some definitions only include Madeira and the Canary Islands while others include the whole Macaronesia (with the Azores and Cape Verde).

In Western Asia, it covers the western and southern portions of the peninsula of Anatolia, as far as Iraq, but excluding the temperate-climate mountains of central Turkey. It includes the Mediterranean Levant at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, bounded on the east and south by the Syrian and Negev deserts.

The northern portion of the Maghreb region of northwestern Africa has a Mediterranean climate, separated from the Sahara Desert, which extends across North Africa, by the Atlas Mountains. In the eastern Mediterranean the Sahara extends to the southern shore of the Mediterranean, with the exception of the northern fringe of the peninsula of Cyrenaica in Libya, which has a dry Mediterranean climate.

Europe lies to the north of the Mediterranean. The European portion of the Mediterranean Basin loosely corresponds to Southern Europe. The three large Southern European peninsulas, the Iberian Peninsula, Italian Peninsula, and the Balkan Peninsula, extend into and comprise much of the Mediterranean-climate zone. A system of folded mountains, including the Pyrenees dividing Spain from France, the Alps dividing Italy from Central Europe, the Dinaric Alps along the eastern Adriatic, and the Balkan and Rila-Rhodope mountains of the Balkan Peninsula divide the Mediterranean from the temperate climate regions of Western, Northwestern or Northern Europe, Central Europe, and Eastern Europe.