The Black Sea in southeastern Europe is bordered by Ukraine to the north, Russia and Georgia to the east, Turkey to the south and Romania and Bulgaria to the west. This 168,500-square-mile inland sea separates Eastern Europe from Western Asia, and is one of the four bodies of water that are named after English terms for common colors. There are more than 10 islands situated within the Black Sea.
Free passage for civilian ships across the international waters of the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea was provided by the terms of the 1936 Montreux Convention. Turkey maintains exclusive control over the straits that connect the two bodies of water. Amendments that were made to the Montreux Convention in 1982 permit Turkey to close the connecting straits during war or peacetime and to do so at its own discretion. The Strait of the Dardanelles, the Bosphorus Strait and the Sea of Marmara are collectively referred to as the Turkish Straits, and represent an important means of access to the Mediterranean Sea by Black Sea shipping.
Throughout history, the Black Sea has been a busy and vital link accommodating trade between Eastern Europe and Western Asia throughout history. The oldest artifacts made from gold, which are believed to have been left there by Old Europeans, were found in the city of Varna on the Bulgarian coast of the Black Sea. There are about 2,400 commercial ships in operation in the Black Sea, as reported by a 2013 study prepared by the International Transport Workers' Federation.