Atlantic Ocean

Atlantic Ocean
Map of the Atlantic Ocean
Coordinates0°N 25°W / 0°N 25°W / 0; -25[1]
Basin countriesList of countries, ports
Surface area106,460,000 km2 (41,100,000 sq mi)[2][3]
North Atlantic: 41,490,000 km2 (16,020,000 sq mi),
South Atlantic 40,270,000 km2 (15,550,000 sq mi)[4]
Average depth3,646 m (11,962 ft)[4]
Max. depthPuerto Rico Trench
8,376 m (27,480 ft)[5]
Water volume310,410,900 km3 (74,471,500 cu mi)[4]
Shore length1111,866 km (69,510 mi) including marginal seas[1]
IslandsList of islands
TrenchesPuerto Rico; South Sandwich; Romanche
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.
This video was taken by the crew of Expedition 29 on board the ISS. The pass starts from just northeast of the island of Newfoundland over the North Atlantic Ocean to central Africa, over South Sudan.

The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest of the world's oceans, with an area of about 106,460,000 square kilometers (41,100,000 square miles).[2][3] It covers approximately 20 percent of Earth's surface and about 29 percent of its water surface area. It separates the "Old World" from the "New World".

The Atlantic Ocean occupies an elongated, S-shaped basin extending longitudinally between Europe and Africa to the east, and the Americas to the west. As one component of the interconnected World Ocean, it is connected in the north to the Arctic Ocean, to the Pacific Ocean in the southwest, the Indian Ocean in the southeast, and the Southern Ocean in the south (other definitions describe the Atlantic as extending southward to Antarctica). The Equatorial Counter Current subdivides it into the North(ern) Atlantic Ocean and the South(ern) Atlantic Ocean at about 8°N.[6]

Scientific explorations of the Atlantic include the Challenger expedition, the German Meteor expedition, Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the United States Navy Hydrographic Office.[6]


The Aethiopian Ocean in a 1710 French map of Africa

The oldest known mentions of an "Atlantic" sea come from Stesichorus around mid-sixth century BC (Sch. A. R. 1. 211):[7] Atlantikoi pelágei (Greek: Ἀτλαντικῷ πελάγει; English: 'the Atlantic sea'; etym. 'Sea of Atlantis') and in The Histories of Herodotus around 450 BC (Hdt. 1.202.4): Atlantis thalassa (Greek: Ἀτλαντὶς θάλασσα; English: 'Sea of Atlantis' or 'the Atlantis sea'[8]) where the name refers to "the sea beyond the pillars of Heracles" which is said to be part of the sea that surrounds all land.[9] In these uses, the name refers to Atlas, the Titan in Greek mythology, who supported the heavens and who later appeared as a frontispiece in Medieval maps and also lent his name to modern atlases.[10] On the other hand, to early Greek sailors and in Ancient Greek mythological literature such as the Iliad and the Odyssey, this all-encompassing ocean was instead known as Oceanus, the gigantic river that encircled the world; in contrast to the enclosed seas well known to the Greeks: the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.[11] In contrast, the term "Atlantic" originally referred specifically to the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and the sea off the Strait of Gibraltar and the North African coast.[10] The Greek word thalassa has been reused by scientists for the huge Panthalassa ocean that surrounded the supercontinent Pangaea hundreds of millions of years ago.

The term "Aethiopian Ocean", derived from Ancient Ethiopia, was applied to the Southern Atlantic as late as the mid-19th century.[12] During the Age of Discovery, the Atlantic was also known to English cartographers as the Great Western Ocean.[13]

The term The Pond is often used by British and American speakers in context to the Atlantic Ocean, as a form of meiosis, or sarcastic understatement. The term dates to as early as 1640, first appearing in print in pamphlet released during the reign of Charles I, and reproduced in 1869 in Nehemiah Wallington's Historical Notices of Events Occurring Chiefly in The Reign of Charles I, where "great Pond" is used in reference to the Atlantic Ocean by Francis Windebank, Charles I's Secretary of State.[14][15][16]