What is the Smallest Sea?

Sea of MarmaraThe Smallest Sea

There is a bit of disagreement over the question of which is the world’s smallest sea. There are many seas in the coastal areas of some parts of the world that are not given proper recognition or regard. Geographers have discrepancies regarding which bodies of water to recognize as a sea or not. There is a difference in opinion regarding which sea is smallest. Nevertheless, many geographers acknowledge and recognize the Sea of Marmara as the world’s smallest sea.

The Sea of Marmara

This sea is classified as an inland sea and is considered by many as the smallest sea in the world. It serves as the connection between the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea. It separates the Asian and European regions of Turkey. It has an area of 11,350 square kilometers and spans 280 kilometers by 80 kilometers. Its maximum depth is at 1,370 meters.

Ancient Name

The Sea of Marmara has been known since antiquity. In fact it even has a name that dates far back into classical antiquity. Its old Greek name is Propontis which is derived from ‘pro’ meaning ‘before’ and ‘pont’ which signifies the sea. The ancient Greeks in those days used to sail through this ancient sea in order to get to the Black Sea.

This sea also has its ancient Greek name immortalized in mythology. It is said that the Argonauts were driven back to the island that they had already left due to a storm that occurred in Propontis. After which, Greek heroes either Jason or Heracles were able to kill a king named Cyzicus after the previous storm. It is said that the king Cyzicus mistook the Argonauts for the enemies from Pelasgia thus precipitating the battle in which he died.


The Sea of Marmara is connected to the Black Sea via the Bosporus Strait. On the other hand, it is connected to the Aegean Sea via the Dardanelles Strait. It has an average salinity of around 22 parts for every thousand. This on average is two-thirds the salinity of most of the world’s oceans. However, as you dive down to the sea bottom the water’s salinity increases to around 38 parts for every thousand. This salinity from the bottom of the sea does not get transferred to the water’s surface.

The Sea of Marmara, though said to be the world’s smallest sea, has two rather distinct island groups. The first group is primarily composed of resort areas known as the Kizil Islands. The second group of islands is used as quarrying sites for marble, slate, and granite. The name Sea of Marmara comes from the Greek marmaros, which is translated as ‘marble’.

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