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Indian Ocean Geography

    Location: body of water between Africa, Antarctica, Asia, and Australia

    Geographic coordinates: 30 00 S, 80 00 E

    Map references: World

    Area:
    total: 73.6 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: slightly less than eight times the size of the US; third-largest ocean (after the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean, but larger than the Arctic Ocean)

    Coastline: 66,526 km

    Climate: 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

    Terrain: 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:
    lowest point: Java Trench -7,258 m
    highest point: sea level 0 m

    Natural resources: oil and gas fields, fish, shrimp, sand and gravel aggregates, placer deposits, polymetallic nodules

    Natural hazards: ships subject to superstructure icing in extreme south near Antarctica from May to October

    Environment—current issues: endangered marine species include the dugong, seals, turtles, and whales; oil pollution in the Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf, and Red Sea

    Environment—international agreements:
    party to: none of the selected agreements
    signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

    Geography—note: major chokepoints include Bab el Mandeb, Strait of Hormuz, Strait of Malacca, southern access to the Suez Canal, and the Lombok Strait

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Revised 1-Mar-99
Copyright © 1999 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)