Fast Facts: Things You May Not Know about the Mediterranean Diet and the Region it Calls Home 1. There are 21 countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, but the countries on the northern border (Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, and the South of France) are home to the foods and traditions most typically referred to as “Mediterranean” cuisine. 2. The Mediterranean basin covers 28,580 miles of shoreline and connects three continents: Africa, Asia and Europe. 3. Olive trees, producing the fruit used to make olive oil, are native to the Mediterranean region and are one of the oldest known cultivated trees in the world, grown before written language was invented. 4. The climate around the Mediterranean—mild, rainy winters and dry, hot summers—is ideal for producing the wide variety of fruits, vegetables, pulses and wheat that are traditional to the diet. 5. The Mediterranean Sea has been given a variety of different names by different people through history, including “Our Sea,” “Great Sea,” “Western Sea” and “White Sea.” The name Mediterranean Sea comes from the Latin word mediterraneus, meaning “inland” sea. 6. Wine making has been an important part of Mediterranean life for at least 5,000 years, and today Italy, France and Spain lead the world in wine production.