The name Liguria predates Latin and is of obscure origin, however the Latin adjectives Ligusticum (as in Mare Ligusticum) and Liguscus reveal the original -sc- in the root ligusc-, which shortened to -s- and turned into -r- in the Latin name Liguria according to rhotacism. The formant -sc- (-sk-) is present in the names Etruscan, Basque, Gascony and is believed by some researchers to relate to maritime people or sailors.
Liguria is bordered by France (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur) to the west, Piedmont to the north, and Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany to the east. It lies on the Ligurian Sea. The narrow strip of land is bordered by the sea, the Alps and the Apennines mountains. Some mountains rise above 2,000 m (6,600 ft); the watershed line runs at an average altitude of about 1,000 m (3,300 ft). The highest point of the region is the summit of Monte Saccarello (2,201 m, 7,221 ft).
The winding arched extension goes from Ventimiglia to La Spezia. Of this, 3,524.08 km2 (1,360.65 sq mi) are mountainous (65% of the total) and 891.95 km2 (344.38 sq mi) are hills (35% of the total). Liguria's natural reserves cover 12% of the entire region, or 600 km2 (230 sq mi) of land. They are made up of one national reserve, six large parks, two smaller parks and three nature reserves.
The continental shelf is very narrow, and so steep it descends almost immediately to considerable depths along its 350-kilometre (220 mi) coastline. Except for the Portovenere and Portofino promontories, the coast is generally not very jagged, and is often high. At the mouths of the biggest watercourses are small beaches, but there are no deep bays and natural harbours except at Genoa and La Spezia.
The hills lying immediately beyond the coast together with the sea account for a mild climate year-round. Average winter temperatures are 7 to 10 °C (45 to 50 °F) and summer temperatures are 23 to 24 °C (73 to 75 °F), which make for a pleasant stay even in the dead of winter. Rainfall can be abundant at times, as mountains very close to the coast create an orographic effect. Genoa and La Spezia can see up to 2,000 mm (80 in) of rain in a year; other areas instead show the normal Mediterranean rainfall of 500 to 800 mm (20 to 30 in) annually.