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AZOV, SEA OF an inland sea of southern Europe, communicating with the Black Sea by the Strait of Yenikale, or Kerch, the ancient Bosporus Cimmerius. To the Romans it was known as the Palus Maeotis, from the name of the neighbouring people, who called it in their native language Temarenda, or Mother of Waters. It was long supposed to possess direct communication with the Northern Ocean. In prehistoric times a connexion with the Caspian Sea existed; but since the earliest historical times no great change has taken place in regard to the character or relations of the Sea of Azov. It lies between 45° 20′ and 47° 18′ N. lat, and between 35° and 39° E. long., its length from south-west to north-east being 230 m., and its greatest breadth 110. The area runs to 14,515 sq. m. It generally freezes from November to the middle of April. The Don is its largest and, indeed, its only very important affluent. Near the mouth of that river the depth of the sea varies from 3 to 10 ft., and the greatest depth does not exceed 45 ft. Of recent years, too, the level has been constantly dropping, for the surface lies 4¾ ft. higher than the surface of the Black Sea. Fierce and continuous winds from the east prevail during July and August, and in the latter part of the year those from the north-east and south-east are not unusual; a great variety of currents is thus produced. The water is for the most part comparatively fresh, but differs considerably in this respect according to locality and current. Fish are so abundant that the Turks describe it as Baluk-deniz, or Fish Sea. To the west, separated from the main basin by the long narrow sand-spit of Arabat, lie the remarkable lagoons and marshes known as the Sivash, or Putrid Sea; here the water is intensely salt. The Sea of Azov is of great importance to Russian commerce; along its shores stand the cities of Taganrog, Berdyansk, Mariupol and Yenikale.
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