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The Aegean Islands are found within its waters, with the following islands delimiting the sea on the south (generally from west to east): Kythera, Antikythera, Crete, Kasos, Karpathos and Rhodes.

The Aegean Islands, which almost all belong to Greece, can be divided into seven groups: The word archipelago was originally applied specifically to the Aegean Sea and its islands.

The Black Sea outflow moves westward along the northern Aegean Sea, then flows southwards along the east coast of Greece.

The physical oceanography of the Aegean Sea is controlled mainly by the regional climate, the fresh water discharge from major rivers draining southeastern Europe, and the seasonal variations in the Black Sea surface water outflow through the Dardanelles Strait.

A line running from Cape Aspro (28°16'E) in Asia Minor, to Cum Burnù (Capo della Sabbia) the Northeast extreme of the Island of Rhodes, through the island to Cape Prasonisi, the Southwest point thereof, on to Vrontos Point (35°33'N) in Skarpanto [Karpathos], through this island to Castello Point, the South extreme thereof, across to Cape Plaka (East extremity of Crete), through Crete to Agria Grabusa, the Northwest extreme thereof, thence to Cape Apolitares in Antikithera Island, through the island to Psira Rock (off the Northwest point) and across to Cape Trakhili in Kithera Island, through Kithera to the Northwest point (Cape Karavugia) and thence to Cape Santa Maria ( Aegean surface water circulates in a counter-clockwise gyre, with hypersaline Mediterranean water moving northward along the west coast of Turkey, before being displaced by less dense Black Sea outflow.

The dense Mediterranean water sinks below the Black Sea inflow to a depth of 23–30 metres (75–98 ft), then flows through the Dardanelles Strait and into the Sea of Marmara at velocities of 5–15 cm/s.

Many of the Aegean Islands, or chains of islands, are actually extensions of the mountains on the mainland.

Before that time, at the peak of the last ice age (c.

16,000 BC) sea levels everywhere were 130 metres lower, and there were large well-watered coastal plains instead of much of the northern Aegean.

When they were first occupied, the present-day islands including Milos with its important obsidian production were probably still connected to the mainland. 7000 BC, with post-ice age sea levels continuing to rise for another 3,000 years after that.

In some South Slavic languages the Aegean is often called White Sea ( The Aegean Sea covers about 214,000 square kilometres (83,000 sq mi) in area, and measures about 610 kilometres (380 mi) longitudinally and 300 kilometres (190 mi) latitudinally.

The sea's maximum depth is 3,543 metres (11,624 ft), east of Crete.


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