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In general, information available as of 1 January 2002
was used in the preparation of The World Factbook 2002.

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

Map of Indian Ocean

Legend: Definition Definition Field Listing Field Listing
   Introduction    Indian Ocean
Definition Field Listing
The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's five oceans (after the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean, but larger than the Southern Ocean and Arctic Ocean). Four critically important access waterways are the Suez Canal (Egypt), Bab el Mandeb (Djibouti-Yemen), Strait of Hormuz (Iran-Oman), and Strait of Malacca (Indonesia-Malaysia).
   Geography    Indian Ocean
Definition Field Listing
body of water between Africa, the Southern Ocean, Asia, and Australia
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
20 00 S, 80 00 E
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Political Map of the World
Definition Field Listing
total: 68.556 million sq km
note: includes Andaman Sea, Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, Great Australian Bight, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Mozambique Channel, Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Strait of Malacca, and other tributary water bodies
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
about 5.5 times the size of the US
Definition Field Listing
66,526 km
Definition Field Listing
northeast monsoon (December to April), southwest monsoon (June to October); tropical cyclones occur during May/June and October/November in the northern Indian Ocean and January/February in the southern Indian Ocean
Definition Field Listing
surface dominated by counterclockwise gyre (broad, circular system of currents) in the southern Indian Ocean; unique reversal of surface currents in the northern Indian Ocean; low atmospheric pressure over southwest Asia from hot, rising, summer air results in the southwest monsoon and southwest-to-northeast winds and currents, while high pressure over northern Asia from cold, falling, winter air results in the northeast monsoon and northeast-to-southwest winds and currents; ocean floor is dominated by the Mid-Indian Ocean Ridge and subdivided by the Southeast Indian Ocean Ridge, Southwest Indian Ocean Ridge, and Ninetyeast Ridge
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Java Trench -7,258 m
highest point: sea level 0 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
oil and gas fields, fish, shrimp, sand and gravel aggregates, placer deposits, polymetallic nodules
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
occasional icebergs pose navigational hazard in southern reaches
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
endangered marine species include the dugong, seals, turtles, and whales; oil pollution in the Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf, and Red Sea
Geography - note:
Definition Field Listing
major chokepoints include Bab el Mandeb, Strait of Hormuz, Strait of Malacca, southern access to the Suez Canal, and the Lombok Strait

   Economy    Indian Ocean
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
The Indian Ocean provides major sea routes connecting the Middle East, Africa, and East Asia with Europe and the Americas. It carries a particularly heavy traffic of petroleum and petroleum products from the oilfields of the Persian Gulf and Indonesia. Its fish are of great and growing importance to the bordering countries for domestic consumption and export. Fishing fleets from Russia, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan also exploit the Indian Ocean, mainly for shrimp and tuna. Large reserves of hydrocarbons are being tapped in the offshore areas of Saudi Arabia, Iran, India, and western Australia. An estimated 40% of the world's offshore oil production comes from the Indian Ocean. Beach sands rich in heavy minerals and offshore placer deposits are actively exploited by bordering countries, particularly India, South Africa, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

   Transportation    Indian Ocean
Ports and harbors:
Definition Field Listing
Chennai (Madras; India), Colombo (Sri Lanka), Durban (South Africa), Jakarta (Indonesia), Kolkata (Calcutta; India) Melbourne (Australia), Mumbai (Bombay; India), Richards Bay (South Africa)

   Transnational Issues    Indian Ocean
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
some maritime disputes (see littoral states)

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

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