The Aegean Sea (Greek: Αιγαίον Πέλαγος, Aigaion Pelagos; is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea, located between the Greek peninsula and Anatolia (Asia Minor, now part of Turkey). It is connected to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea by the Dardanelles and Bosporus.
In ancient times there were various explanations for the name "Aegean." It was said to have been named after the town of Aegae; Aegea, a queen of the Amazons who died in the sea; and Aegeus, the father of Theseus, who drowned himself in the sea when he thought his son had died. A possible etymology is from the root Αιγ- (Aeg-) meaning wave, hence wavy sea as per αιγιαλός (aighialos).
In ancient times the sea was the birthplace of two ancient civilizations - the Minoans of Crete, and the Mycenean Civilization of the Peloponnese. Later arose the city-states of Athens and Sparta among many others that constituted the Hellenic Civilization. The Aegean Sea was later inhabited by Persians, Romans, the Byzantine Empire, the Venetians, the Seljuk Turks, and the Ottoman Empire. The Aegean was the site of the original democracies, and it allowed for contact between several diverse civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean.
The Aegean islands can be simply divided into seven groups: the Thracian Sea group, the East Aegean group, the Northern Sporades, the Cyclades, the Saronic Islands (or Argo-Saronic Islands), the Dodecanese and Crete. The word archipelago was originally applied specifically to these islands. Many of the Aegean islands, or chains of islands, are actually extensions of the mountains on the mainland. One chain extends across the sea to Chios, another extends across Euboea to Samos, and a third extends across the Peloponnese and Crete to Rhodes, dividing the Aegean from the Mediterranean. Many of the islands have safe harbours and bays, but navigation through the sea is generally difficult. Many of the islands are volcanic, and marble and iron are mined on other islands. The larger islands have some fertile valleys and plains. There are two islands of considerable size belonging to Turkey on the Aegean Sea: Bozcaada Greek: Τένεδος Tenedos ) and Gökçeada (Greek: Ίμβρος Imvros).
The bays in gulfs counterclockwise includes on Crete, the Mirabelli, Almyros, Souda and Chania bays or gulfs, on the mainland the Myrtoan Sea to the west, the Saronic Gulf northwestward, the Petalies Gulf which connects with the South Euboic Sea, the Pagasetic Gulf which connects with the North Euboic Sea, the Thermian Gulf northwestward, the Chalkidiki Peninsula including the Cassandra and the Singitic Gulfs, northward the Strymonian Gulf and the Gulf of Kavala and the rest are in Turkey, one in Europe and the rest in Asia Minor.
The Aegean Sea has plenty of ports especially on the islands, for ports, see the island chains or its gulfs and bays.