The Mediterranean area covers portions of three continents: Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Europe lies to the north, and three large Southern European peninsulas, the Iberian Peninsula, Italian Peninsula, and the Balkan Peninsula, extend into 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 Rhodope mountains of the Balkan Peninsula divide the Mediterranean from the temperate climate regions of Western and Central Europe.
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 is an autonomous city of Spain located on the Mediterranean, on the North African side of the Strait of Gibraltar, which separates it from the Spanish mainland. Ceuta, together with the other plazas de soberanía including the African autonomous city of Melilla and a number of Mediterranean islets, is claimed by Morocco. The area of Ceuta is approximately 28 km². Ceuta is dominated by a hill called Monte Hacho, on which there is a fort occupied by the Spanish army. Monte Hacho is one of the possible locations for the southern Pillars of Hercules of Greek Legend, the other possibility being Jebel Musa.
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 Visigothic Hispania soon after.
Tuscany is a region in Central Italy. It has an area of about 23,000 square kilometres (8,900 sq mi) and a population of about 3.7 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence. Tuscany is known for its beautiful landscapes, its rich artistic legacy and vast influence on high culture. Tuscany is widely regarded as the true birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, and has been home to some of the most influential people in the history of arts and science, such as Petrarch, Dante, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, Amerigo Vespucci, Luca Pacioli and Puccini. Due to this, the region has several museums (such as the Uffizi, the Pitti Palace and the Chianciano Museum of Art). Tuscany has a unique culinary tradition, and is famous for its wines (most famous of which are Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Morellino di Scansano and Brunello di Montalcino). Six Tuscan localities have been designated World Heritage Sites: the historic centre of Florence (1982), the historical centre of Siena (1995), the square of the Cathedral of Pisa (1987), the historical centre of San Gimignano (1990), the historical centre of Pienza (1996) and the Val d'Orcia (2004). Furthermore, Tuscany has over 120 protected nature reserves. This makes Tuscany and its capital city Florence very popular tourist destinations, attracting millions of tourists every year. Florence itself receives an average of 10 million tourists a year by placing the city as one of the most visited in the world (in 2007, the city became the world's 46th most visited city, with over 1.715 million arrivals).