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The bosphorus and the Dardanelles, the narrow straits into the Black Sea, have long been the division between Europe and Asia. Istanbul, founded as Constantinople on these straits, has long been a rival with Rome and Jerusalem as the center of the world. Ever since Jason and the Argonaut's legendary journey to the region, the Black Sea has been a corridor between North and South and Europe and Asia, and an ancient place of trade, culture, and cross-fertilization of ideas. That vigorous trade continues today with about 50,000 cargo ships and 1,500 tankers crossing in and out of the Black Sea annually.

Six different countries—Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and Georgia—along with a narrow access for Moldova, all share the Black Sea coastline. With so many ...

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