The Mediterranean Basin extends into Western Asia, covering the western and southern portions of the peninsula of Turkey, excluding the temperate-climate mountains of central Turkey. It includes the Mediterranean climate 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.
Ceuta's strategic location has made it the crucial waypoint of many cultures' trade and military ventures — beginning with the Carthaginians in the 5th century BC, who called the city Abyla. It was not until the Romans took control in about A.D. 42 that the port city (then named Septem) assumed an almost exclusive military purpose. Approximately 400 years later, the Vandals ousted the Romans for control, and later it fell to the Visigoths of Hispania and the Byzantines. In 710, as Muslim armies approached the city, its Byzantine governor Julian (also described as "king of the Ghomara") changed sides and urged them to invade the Iberian Peninsula. Under the leadership of Berber general Tariq ibn Ziyad, Ceuta was used as a prime staging ground for an assault on VisigothicHispania soon after.