The Black Sea lies southeast of Europe. Clockwise from the west, it borders the following regions:
- Bulgaria (Strandzha, Bulgarian Black Sea Coast)
- Romania (Northern Dobruja)
- Ukraine (Southern Ukraine)
- Crimea (ruled by Russia; claimed by Ukraine)
- Russia (Krasnodar Krai)
- Abkhazia (de facto independent; claimed by Georgia)
- Georgia (Samegrelo, Southwestern Georgia)
- Turkey (Black Sea Turkey, Marmara Region)
Most of the regions above are known for their beaches and resort towns, except for Turkey, where the warmer Mediterranean coast is much more famous.
To the north, the Strait of Kerch connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Azov (bordering Eastern Ukraine and Russia's Rostov Oblast in addition to some of the regions listed above), which may or may not be considered a part of the Black Sea, while to the south, the Black Sea is connected by the Bosphorus to the Sea of Marmara (and the Mediterranean).
The Black Sea had formed a central point of human history and cultural exchange for millenia: The steppelands north of the sea in what is now Ukraine are widely considered to be the ancient homeland of the Indo-European speaking nations. Later on, the Ancient Greek sailors followed a rigorous colonization policy along its coasts during their pursuit of the famed golden fleece, founding many of the cities that line the Black Sea to this day. During the Middle Ages, the ships plying its waters back and forth between Romania and Trebizond provided the link between Europe and Persia (and beyond).
After the end of the Cold War-era restrictions for western travellers (all around the Black Sea except Turkey was either part of the Soviet Union or a Soviet-ally), more and more travellers, including families with children, now attempt to encircle the Black Sea, although it may not be always possible due to the political conflicts in the area (e.g., Transnistria, Crimea, Abkhazia) and the resulting border closures. Jules Verne's 1883 novel Kéraban-the-Inflexible depicts one such journey through the eyes of a Dutchman, lead by his host Kéraban, an Ottoman trader who did not simply hire a boat to take his guest to his home across the narrow Bosphorus, but instead did a full tour around the Black Sea with him.