The Earth is comprised of seven continents or large land masses including North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Antarctica. Our globe also features five major oceans; the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic, and Southern oceans. The Pacific Ocean holds the distinction of being the largest of the world’s oceans covering 63,784,077 square miles and with approximately 84,300 miles of coastline. Every continent, apart from Africa, borders the Pacific Ocean.
This major body of water received its name from Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese born explorer who lived from 1480 to 1521 and successfully circumnavigated the Earth with a journey that began in Spain during 1519. The Strait of Magellan, a sea route situated in the South American nation of Chile between South America and the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, is also named after this famed explorer. According to history, after sailing around Cape Horn in the southern tip of South America, the famed explorer came upon the large ocean and was awed not only by its beauty but also by its peaceful waters. Magellan named this stunning body of water Mar Pacifico in his native Portuguese which translates to “peaceful sea” in English.
The Pacific Ocean is also noteworthy because it is the site of the deepest point on Earth, the Challenger Deep, which is located in the Marianas Trench. This crescent-shaped channel has been measured to descend to a maximum depth of about seven miles or slightly over 36,089 feet under the ocean floor. The trench was initially discovered by the HMS Challenger in 1875 and is situated close to the Pacific island of Guam.
Another interesting feature of the Pacific Ocean is that it is home to the Ring of Fire which is made up of 452 volcanoes. This area, which occupies some 25,000 miles, includes over 75% of the world’s volcanoes; both dormant and active. The Ring of Fire is known for being the site of regular volcanic eruptions as well as frequent earthquake activity.
As the only continent without a border on the Pacific Ocean, Africa occupies a unique position in terms of global geography. The continent shares a coastline with a variety of bodies of water including the Atlantic and Indian Oceans as well as the Red and Mediterranean Seas. Africa is second only to Asia in terms of total land area as well as population. Made up of 11.7 million square miles of land, the African continent is home to approximately 16% of the Earth’s inhabitants or approximately 1.2 billion people. This southern land mass is made up of 54 nations, the island of Madagascar, nine territories, several archipelagos, and two so-called independent states.
Although technically the continent of Europe doesn’t border the Pacific Ocean, this land mass is actually part of the much larger Eurasian continent which does edge the Pacific on its western coast. Europe is the smallest of the world’s seven continents; measuring a total of about 3,930,000 square miles of land. The continent is home to some fifty countries and according to statistics from 2016 has a population estimated to be approximately 741,447,158 people.
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