The Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean, which was once known as the Eastern Ocean or the Eastern Sea, is the third largest ocean in the world. Covering about 27,240,000 square miles, the Indian Ocean accounts for about 20% of all water on the surface of the Earth. The ocean has a width of about 6,200 miles at its widest point, an average depth of around 12,274 feet, and reaches a depth of about 25,938 feet at its deepest point. The name of the Indian Ocean is derived from the Indian subcontinent. The Indian Ocean is bound by four continents: Asia, Africa, Australia, and Antarctica. Asia and Africa are located to the north and west, respectively, while Australia and Antarctica are located to the east and south, respectively.
With an area of around 17,212,000 square miles and a population of approximately 4,522,036,285 people, Asia is the world's largest and most populated continent. Located primarily in the Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, several countries in Asia border the Indian Ocean. In fact, Asia contains more countries that border the Indian Ocean than the other continents. These countries include India, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Kuwait. Territories in Asia that border the Indian Ocean include the British Indian Ocean Territory, Christmas Island, and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. In addition to its large size and population, the continent also has high population densities, with populations concentrated in certain places, while vast areas of the continent are uninhabited.
While the Indian Ocean is located south of Asia, the continent is also bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Arctic Ocean to the north. The continent's border with Europe has never been officially defined, but instead, there are generally accepted guidelines regarding the border based on a number of factors such as culture and history. These guidelines state that Asia lies to the east of the Turkish Straits, Suez Canal, Ural River, and Ural Mountains. In addition, the guidelines state that the continent lies to the south of the Black and Caspian seas, as well as the Caucasus Mountains. The general boundary to the south separates Asia from Europe, although countries located along these rough borders can have a difficult time identifying with either continent. The sheer size of the continent is reflected in the diversity of its various populations, climates, environments, economies, and histories.
Africa has the second most countries with coastlines along the Indian Ocean. These countries include Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, Comoros, Tanzania, Sudan, Egypt, and Seychelles. In addition to these countries, two territories, namely the French Southern and Antarctic Lands, and Mayotte, are located along the ocean. Africa is the second largest continent in terms of both area and population, after Asia. The continent covers an area of about 11.7 million square miles and a population of approximately 1.2 billion, which represent roughly 6% and 16% of the global totals, respectively.
The continent is surrounded by a number of features, including the Indian Ocean, Isthmus of Suez, Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean. Countries in Africa are located in both the Northern and the Southern Hemispheres, although most lie in the Northern Hemisphere.
The origins of humans are generally traced to Africa, especially the central region of Eastern Africa, based on the discovery of human remains from about seven million years ago. These remains include Australopithecus africanus, Homo erectus, and Homo sapiens. The remains of homo sapiens, who are modern humans, were found in Ethiopia and date as far back as 200,000 years.
Interestingly, Africa is the only continent whose coverage spans from the northern temperate zones to southern temperate zones. In addition, the continent has a wide array of ethnicities, cultures, and languages. During the 19th century, European nations colonized and occupied most parts of Africa.
The continent of Australia, sometimes also known as Sahul, Meganesia, or Australinea to differentiate it from the country of Australia, is made up of mainland Australia, the island of New Guinea, Tasmania, and a few Indonesia islands. Of the world's seven continents, Australia is the smallest, with an area of about 3.3 million square miles. Three of Australia's countries and territories have coastline along the Indian Ocean. These countries are Indonesia and Australia, while the territory is Ashmore and Cartier Islands. As of 2009, the continent had an estimated population of 25 million people.
Several bodies of water subdivide the continent's landmass into smaller pieces. For example, the Torres Strait and the Arafura Sea act as a divide between New Guinea and mainland Australia, while Tasmania and mainland Australia are separated by the Bass Strait. Since the continent is part of the Indo-Australian plate, it is unique in that it is the oldest, flattest, and lowest landmass on the planet. The largest landmass is Australia, while Papua New Guinea is among the world’s most diverse nations in terms of culture and linguistics.
Antarctica is the world’s southernmost continent and contains the South Pole. Only three territories in Antarctica have shorelines along the Indian Ocean: Heard Island and McDonald Islands of Australia, the French Southern and Antarctic Lands of France, and South Africa’s Prince Edward Islands. The continent has an area of about 5.4 million square miles, which ranks fifth among the continents in terms of size. Most of the continent is covered by extremely thick ice with a thickness of about 6,200 feet, which explains why the population of Antarctica is only 1,106 people. In fact, only 2% of the continent is not covered by ice.