Extent of the Indian Ocean according to The World Factbook
The ocean-floor of the Indian Ocean is divided by spreading ridges and crisscrossed by aseismic structures
|Location||Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Western Asia, Northeast Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa and Australia|
|Max. length||9,600 km (6,000 mi) (Antarctica to Bay of Bengal)|
|Max. width||7,600 km (4,700 mi) (Africa to Australia)|
|Surface area||68,556,000 km2 (26,470,000 sq mi)|
|Average depth||3,741 m (12,274 ft)|
|Max. depth||7,258 m (23,812 ft)|
|Settlements||Durban, Mumbai, Perth, Colombo, Padang, Maputo|
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering 70,560,000 km2 (27,240,000 sq mi) (approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface). It is bounded by Asia on the north, on the west by Africa, on the east by Australia, and on the south by the Southern Ocean or, depending on definition, by Antarctica.
An ocean is a body of water that composes much of a planet's hydrosphere. On Earth, an ocean is one of the major conventional divisions of the World Ocean. These are, in descending order by area, the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Southern (Antarctic), and Arctic Oceans. The word "ocean" is often used interchangeably with "sea" in American English. Strictly speaking, a sea is a body of water partly or fully enclosed by land, though "the sea" refers also to the oceans.
Water is a transparent, tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth's streams, lakes, and oceans, and the fluids of most living organisms. It is vital for all known forms of life, even though it provides no calories or organic nutrients. Its chemical formula is H2O, meaning that each of its molecules contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms, connected by covalent bonds. Water is the name of the liquid state of H2O at standard ambient temperature and pressure. It forms precipitation in the form of rain and aerosols in the form of fog. Clouds are formed from suspended droplets of water and ice, its solid state. When finely divided, crystalline ice may precipitate in the form of snow. The gaseous state of water is steam or water vapor. Water moves continually through the water cycle of evaporation, transpiration (evapotranspiration), condensation, precipitation, and runoff, usually reaching the sea.
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. According to radiometric dating and other sources of evidence, Earth formed over 4.5 billion years ago. Earth's gravity interacts with other objects in space, the Moon, Earth's only natural satellite. Earth orbits around the Sun in 365.26 days, a period known as an Earth year. During this time, Earth rotates about its axis about 366.26 times.
Scientifically, the Indian Ocean remained poorly explored before the International Indian Ocean Expedition in the early 1960s. The Challenger expedition 1872–1876 only reported from south of the polar front. The Valdivia expedition 1898-1899 made deep samples in the Indian Ocean. In the 1930s, the John Murray Expedition mainly studied shallow-water habitats. The Swedish Deep Sea Expedition 1947–1948 also sampled the Indian Ocean on its global tour and the Danish Galathea sampled deep-water fauna from Sri Lanka to South Africa on its second expedition 1950–1952. The Soviet research vessel Vityaz also did research in the Indian Ocean.
The International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE) was a large scale multinational hydrographic survey of the Indian Ocean which took place from 1959 to 1965. It involved over 45 research vessels from 14 countries. It was sponsored by the Scientific Committee on Oceanographic Research, and later by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.
The Challenger expedition of 1872–1876 was a scientific exercise that made many discoveries to lay the foundation of oceanography. The expedition was named after the mother vessel, HMS Challenger.
The Valdivia Expedition, or Deutschen Tiefsee-Expedition, was a scientific expedition organised and funded by the German Empire under Kaiser Wilhelm II and was named after the ship which was bought and outfitted for the expedition, the SS Valdivia. It was led by the marine biologist Carl Chun and the expedition ran from 1898-1899 with the purpose of exploring the depths of the oceans below 500 fathoms, which had not been explored by the earlier Challenger Expedition.
The Indian Ocean is named after India (Oceanus Orientalis Indicus) since at least 1515. India, then, is the Greek/Roman name for the "region of the Indus River".
Called the Sindhu Mahasagara or the great sea of the Sindhu by the Ancient Indians, this ocean has been variously called Hindu Ocean, Indic Ocean, etc. in various languages. The Indian Ocean was also known earlier as the Eastern Ocean.The term was still in use during the mid-18th century. Consequently, when China explored the Indian Ocean in the 15th century they called it the "Western Oceans".
The Ming treasure voyages were the seven maritime expeditions by Ming China's treasure fleet between 1405 and 1433. The Yongle Emperor initiated the construction of the treasure fleet in 1403. The grand project resulted in seven far-reaching ocean voyages to the coastal territories and islands in and around the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean, and beyond. Admiral Zheng He was commissioned to command the treasure fleet for the expeditions. Six of the voyages occurred during the Yongle reign, while the seventh voyage occurred under the Xuande reign. The first three voyages reached up to Calicut on India's Malabar Coast, while the fourth voyage went as far as Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. Afterwards, the fleet made voyages farther away to the Arabian Peninsula and East Africa.
In Ancient Greek geography the region of the Indian Ocean known to them was called the Erythraean Sea.
The Erythraean Sea was a maritime designation of ancient Greek geography that always included the Gulf of Aden between Arabia Felix and the Horn of Africa and was frequently extended—as in the famous 1st-century Periplus of the Erythraean Sea—to include the present-day Red Sea, Persian Gulf, and Indian Ocean as a single maritime area.
The borders of the Indian Ocean, as delineated by the International Hydrographic Organization in 1953 included the Southern Ocean but not the marginal seas along the northern rim, but in 2000 the IHO delimited the Southern Ocean separately, which removed waters south of 60°S from the Indian Ocean, but included the northern marginal seas.Meridionally, the Indian Ocean is delimited from the Atlantic Ocean by the 20° east meridian, running south from Cape Agulhas, and from the Pacific Ocean by the meridian of 146°49'E, running south from the southernmost point of Tasmania. The northernmost extent of the Indian Ocean (including marginal seas) is approximately 30° north in the Persian Gulf.
The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) is the inter-governmental organisation representing hydrography.
The Southern Ocean, also known as the Antarctic Ocean or the Austral Ocean, and the "Southern Icy Ocean".</ref> comprises the southernmost waters of the World Ocean, generally taken to be south of 60° S latitude and encircling Antarctica. As such, it is regarded as the fourth largest of the five principal oceanic divisions: smaller than the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans but larger than the Arctic Ocean. This oceanic zone is where cold, northward flowing waters from the Antarctic mix with warmer subantarctic waters.
The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest of the world's oceans, with an area of about 106,460,000 square kilometers. It covers approximately 20 percent of the Earth's surface and about 29 percent of its water surface area. It separates the "Old World" from the "New World".
The Indian Ocean covers 70,560,000 km2 (27,240,000 sq mi), including the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf but excluding the Southern Ocean, or 19.5% of the world's oceans; its volume is 264,000,000 km3 (63,000,000 cu mi) or 19.8% of the world's oceans' volume; it has an average depth of 3,741 m (12,274 ft) and a maximum depth of 7,906 m (25,938 ft).
The ocean's continental shelves are narrow, averaging 200 kilometres (120 mi) in width. An exception is found off Australia's western coast, where the shelf width exceeds 1,000 kilometres (620 mi). The average depth of the ocean is 3,890 m (12,762 ft). Its deepest point is Sunda Trench at a depth of 7,450 m (24,442 ft); Diamantina Deep has a depth of 7,079 m (23,225 ft). North of 50° south latitude, 86% of the main basin is covered by pelagic sediments, of which more than half is globigerina ooze. The remaining 14% is layered with terrigenous sediments. Glacial outwash dominates the extreme southern latitudes.
The major choke points include Bab el Mandeb, Strait of Hormuz, the Lombok Strait, the Strait of Malacca and the Palk Strait. Seas include the Gulf of Aden, Andaman Sea, Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, Great Australian Bight, Laccadive Sea, Gulf of Mannar, Mozambique Channel, Gulf of Oman, Persian Gulf, Red Sea and other tributary water bodies. The Indian Ocean is artificially connected to the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal, which is accessible via the Red Sea. All of the Indian Ocean is in the Eastern Hemisphere and the centre of the Eastern Hemisphere, the 90th meridian east, passes through the Ninety East Ridge.
Marginal seas, gulfs, bays and straits of the Indian Ocean include:
Several features make the Indian Ocean unique. It constitutes the core of the large-scale Tropical Warm Pool which, when interacting with the atmosphere, affects the climate both regionally and globally. Asia blocks heat export and prevents the ventilation of the Indian Ocean thermocline. That continent also drives the Indian Ocean monsoon, the strongest on Earth, which causes large-scale seasonal variations in ocean currents, including the reversal of the Somali Current and Indian Monsoon Current. Because of the Indian Ocean Walker circulation there is no continuous equatorial easterlies. Upwelling occurs near the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula in the Northern Hemisphere and north of the trade winds in the Southern Hemisphere. The Indonesian Throughflow is a unique Equatorial connection to the Pacific.
The climate north of the equator is affected by a monsoon climate. Strong north-east winds blow from October until April; from May until October south and west winds prevail. In the Arabian Sea the violent Monsoon brings rain to the Indian subcontinent. In the southern hemisphere, the winds are generally milder, but summer storms near Mauritius can be severe. When the monsoon winds change, cyclones sometimes strike the shores of the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. BP; a weak, dry phase 26,000–23,500 BC; and a very weak phase 17,000–15,000 BP, corresponding to a series of dramatic global events: Bølling-Allerød, Heinrich, and Younger Dryas.Some 80% of the total annual rainfall in India occurs during summer and the region is so dependent of this rainfall that many civilisations perished when the Monsoon failed in the past. Huge variability in the Indian Summer Monsoon has also occurred pre-historically, with a strong, wet phase 33,500–32,500
The Indian Ocean is the warmest ocean in the world. 1.2 °C (34.2 °F) (compared to 0.7 °C (33.3 °F) for the warm pool region) during 1901–2012. Research indicates that human induced greenhouse warming, and changes in the frequency and magnitude of El Niño (or the Indian Ocean Dipole), events are a trigger to this strong warming in the Indian Ocean.Long-term ocean temperature records show a rapid, continuous warming in the Indian Ocean, at about
South of the Equator (20-5°S) the Indian Ocean is gaining heat from June to October, during the austral winter, while it is losing heat from November to March, during the austral summer.
The ocean's currents are mainly controlled by the monsoon. Two large gyres, one in the northern hemisphere flowing clockwise and one south of the equator moving anticlockwise (including the Agulhas Current and Agulhas Return Current), constitute the dominant flow pattern. During the winter monsoon (November–February), however, circulation is reversed north of 30°S and winds are weakened during winter and the transitional periods between the monsoons.
Deep water circulation is controlled primarily by inflows from the Atlantic Ocean, the Red Sea, and Antarctic currents. North of 20° south latitude the minimum surface temperature is 22 °C (72 °F), exceeding 28 °C (82 °F) to the east. Southward of 40° south latitude, temperatures drop quickly.
Water circulation in the Indian Ocean is dominated by the Subtropical Anticyclonic Gyre, the eastern extension of which is blocked by the Southeast Indian Ridge and the 90°E Ridge. Madagascar and the Southwest Indian Ridge separates three cells south of Madagascar and off South Africa. North Atlantic Deep Water reaches into the Indian Ocean south of Africa at a depth of 2,000–3,000 m (6,600–9,800 ft) and flows north along the eastern continental slope of Africa. Deeper than NADW, Antarctic Bottom Water flows from Enderby Basin to Agulhas Basin across deep channels (<4,000 m (13,000 ft)) in the Southwest Indian Ridge, from where it continues into the Mozambique Channel and Prince Edward Fracture Zone.
The Indian Ocean drainage basin covers 21,100,000 km2 (8,100,000 sq mi), virtually identical to that of the Pacific Ocean and half that of the Atlantic basin, or 30% of its ocean surface (compared to 15% for the Pacific). The Indian Ocean drainage basin is divided into roughly 800 individual basins, half that of the Pacific, of which 50% are located in Asia, 30% in Africa, and 20% in Australasia. The rivers of the Indian Ocean are shorter in average (740 km (460 mi)) than those the other major oceans. The largest rivers are (order 5) the Zambezi, Ganges-Brahmaputra, Indus, Jubba, and Murray rivers and (order 4) the Shatt al-Arab, Wadi Ad Dawasir (a dried out river system on the Arabian Peninsula) and Limpopo rivers.
The Bay of Bengal contributes more than half (2,950 km3 (710 cu mi)) of the runoff water to the Indian Ocean. Mainly in summer, this runoff flows into the Arabian Sea but also south across the Equator where it mixes with fresher sea water from the Indonesian Throughflow. This mixed freshwater joins the South Equatorial Current in the southern tropical Indian Ocean. Surface water salinity ranges from 32 to 37 parts per 1000, the highest occurring in the Arabian Sea and in a belt between southern Africa and south-western Australia.
There are two amphidromes of opposite rotation in the Indian Ocean, probably caused by Rossby wave propagation.
Icebergs drift as far north as 55° south latitude, similar to the Pacific but less than in the Atlantic where icebergs reach up to 45°S. The volume of iceberg loss in the Indian Ocean between 2004 and 2012 was 24 Gt.
Since the 1960s, anthropogenic warming of the global ocean combined with contributions of freshwater from retreating land ice causes a global rise in sea level. Sea level increases in the Indian Ocean too, except in the south tropical Indian Ocean where it decreases, a pattern most likely caused by rising levels of greenhouse gases.
As the youngest of the major oceans,the Indian Ocean has active spreading ridges that are part of the worldwide system of mid-ocean ridges. In the Indian Ocean these spreading ridges meet at the Rodrigues Triple Point with the Central Indian Ridge, including the Carlsberg Ridge, separating the African Plate from the Indian Plate; the Southwest Indian Ridge separating the African Plate from the Antarctic Plate; and the Southeast Indian Ridge separating the Australian Plate from the Antarctic Plate. The Central Indian Ridge is intercepted by the Owen Fracture Zone.
There are only two trenches in the Indian Ocean: the 6,000 km (3,700 mi)-long Java Trench between Java and the Sunda Trench and the 900 km (560 mi)-long Makran Trench south of Iran and Pakistan.
A series of ridges and seamount chains produced by hotspots pass over the Indian Ocean. The Réunion hotspot (active 70–40 million years ago) connects Réunion and the Mascarene Plateau to the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge and the Deccan Traps in north-western India; the Kerguelen hotspot (100–35 million years ago) connects the Kerguelen Islands and Kerguelen Plateau to the Ninety East Ridge and the Rajmahal Traps in north-eastern India; the Marion hotspot (100–70 million years ago) possibly connects Prince Edward Islands to the Eighty Five East Ridge.These hotspot tracks have been broken by the still active spreading ridges mentioned above.
There are fewer seamounts in the Indian Ocean than in the Atlantic and Pacific. These are typically deeper than 3,000 m (9,800 ft) and located north of 55°S and west of 80°W. Most originated at spreading ridges but some are now located in basins far away from these ridges. The ridges of the Indian Ocean form ranges of seamounts, sometimes very long, including the Carlsberg Ridge, Madagascar Ridge, Central Indian Ridge, Southwest Indian Ridge, Chagos-Laccadive Ridge, 85°E Ridge, 90°E Ridge, Southeast Indian Ridge, Broken Ridge, and East Indiaman Ridge. The Agulhas Plateau and Mascarene Plateau are the two major shallow areas.
The opening of the Indian Ocean began c. 156 Ma when Africa separated from East Gondwana. The Indian Subcontinent began to separate from Australia-Antarctica 135-125 Ma and as the Tethys Ocean north of India began to close 118-84 Ma the Indian Ocean opened behind it.
Among the tropical oceans, the western Indian Ocean hosts one of the largest concentration of phytoplankton blooms in summer, due to the strong monsoon winds. The monsoonal wind forcing leads to a strong coastal and open ocean upwelling, which introduces nutrients into the upper zones where sufficient light is available for photosynthesis and phytoplankton production. These phytoplankton blooms support the marine ecosystem, as the base of the marine food web, and eventually the larger fish species. The Indian Ocean accounts for the second largest share of the most economically valuable tuna catch.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.
Research indicates that increasing ocean temperatures are taking a toll on the marine ecosystem. A study on the phytoplankton changes in the Indian Ocean indicates a decline of up to 20% in the marine plankton in the Indian Ocean, during the past six decades. The tuna catch rates have also declined 50–90% during the past half century, mostly due to increased industrial fisheries, with the ocean warming adding further stress to the fish species.
An Indian Ocean garbage patch was discovered in 2010 covering at least 5 million square kilometres (1.9 million square miles). Riding the southern Indian Ocean Gyre, this vortex of plastic garbage constantly circulates the ocean from Australia to Africa, down the Mozambique Channel, and back to Australia in a period of six years, except for debris that get indefinitely stuck in the centre of the gyre. The garbage patch in the Indian Ocean will, according to a 2012 study, decrease in size after several decades to vanish completely over centuries. Over several millennia, however, the global system of garbage patches will accumulate in the North Pacific.
Endangered marine species include the dugong, seals, turtles, and whales. — coastal areas produce 20 tones/km² of fish. These areas, however, are also being urbanised with populations often exceeding several thousand people/km² and fishing techniques become more effective and often destructive beyond sustainable levels while increase in sea surface temperature spreads coral bleaching.Coral reefs, sea grass beds, and mangrove forests are the most productive ecosystems of the Indian Ocean
In 2016 six new animal species were identified at hydrothermal vents in the Southwest Indian Ridge: a "Hoff" crab, a "giant peltospirid" snail, a whelk-like snail, a limpet, a scaleworm and a polychaete worm.
The Indian Ocean, together with the Mediterranean, has connected people since ancient times, whereas the Atlantic and Pacific have had the roles of barriers or mare incognitum . The written history of the Indian Ocean, however, has been Eurocentric and largely dependent of the availability of written sources from the colonial era. This history is often divided into an ancient period followed by an Islamic period; the subsequent early modern and colonial/modern periods are often subdivided into Portuguese, Dutch, and British periods.
A concept of an "Indian Ocean World" (IOW), similar to that of the "Atlantic World", exists but emerged recently and is not well established. The IOW, nevertheless, is sometimes referred to as the "first global economy" and was based on the monsoon which linked Asia, China, India, and Mesopotamia. It developed independently from the European global trade in the Mediterranean and Atlantic and remained largely independent until European dominance in the 19th century.
With its diverse history, the Indian Ocean is a unique mix of cultures and etnical groups, natural resources and shipping routes. It grew in importance beginning in the 1960s and 1970s and after the Cold War it has undergone periods of political instability, most recently with the emergence of India and China as regional powers.
Homo sapiens evolved inland from the western shores of the Indian Ocean and had settled in Australia c. 50,000 years ago. Since then, waves of migration have resettled people and, clearly, the Indian Ocean littoral had been inhabited long before the first civilisations emerged. 5000-6000 years ago six distinct cultural centres had evolved around the Indian Ocean: East Africa, the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent, South East Asia, the Malay World, and Australia; each interlinked to its neighbours.
At least eleven prehistoric tsunamis have struck the Indian Ocean coast of Indonesia between 7400 and 2900 years ago. Analysing sand beds in caves in the Aceh region, scientists concluded that the intervals between these tsunamis have varied from series of minor tsunamis over a century to dormant periods of more than 2000 years preceding megathrusts in the Sunda Trench. Although the risk for future tsunamis is high, a major megathrust such as the one in 2004 is likely to be followed by a long dormant period.
A group of scientists have argued that two large-scale impact events have occurred in the Indian Ocean: the Burckle Crater in the southern Indian Ocean in 2800 BCE and the Kanmare and Tabban craters in the Gulf of Carpentaria in northern Australia in 536 CE. Evidences for these impacts, the team argue, are micro-ejecta and Chevron dunes in southern Madagascar and in the Australian gulf. Geological evidences suggest the tsunamis caused by these impacts reached 205 m (673 ft) above sea level and 45 km (28 mi) inland. They must have disrupted human settlements and possibly caused major climate changes (see extreme weather events of 535–536).
The history of the Indian Ocean is marked by maritime trade; cultural and commercial exchange probably date back at least seven thousand years. BCE, however, cultures on its shores were only loosely tied to each other; bronze, for example, was developed in Mesopotamia c. 3000 BCE but remained uncommon in Egypt before 1800 BCE. During this period, independent, short-distance oversea communications along its littoral margins evolved into an all-embracing network. The début of this network was not the achievement of a centralised or advanced civilisation but of local and regional exchange in the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and Arabian Sea. Sherds of Ubaid (2500–500 BCE) pottery have been found in the western Gulf at Dilmun, present-day Bahrain; traces of exchange between this trading centre and Mesopotamia. The Sumerians traded grain, pottery, and bitumen (used for reed boats) for copper, stone, timber, tin, dates, onions, and pearls. Coast-bound vessels transported goods between the Indus Valley Civilisation (2600–1900 BCE) in the Indian subcontinent (modern-day Pakistan and Northwest India) and the Persian Gulf and Egypt.Human culture spread early on the shores of the Indian Ocean and was always linked to the cultures of the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf. Before c. 2000
During Egypt's first dynasty (c. 3000 BCE), sailors were sent out onto the Indian Ocean, journeying to Punt, thought to be part of present-day Somalia. Returning ships brought gold and slaves. The earliest known maritime trade between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley (c. 2500 BCE) was conducted along the Indian Ocean. Phoenicians of the late 3rd millennium BCE may have entered the area, but no settlements resulted.
The Rub' al Khali desert isolates the southern parts of the Arabic Peninsula and the Indian Ocean from the Arabic world. This encouraged the development of maritime trade in the region linking the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf to East Africa and India. The monsoon (from mawsim, the Arabic word for season), however, was used by sailors long before being "discovered" by Hippalus in the 1st century. Indian wood have been found in Sumerian cities, there is evidence of Akkad coastal trade in the region, and contacts between India and the Red Sea dates back to the 2300 B.C.. The archipelagoes of the central Indian Ocean, the Laccadive and Maldive islands, were probably populated during the 2nd century B.C. from the Indian mainland. They appear in written history in the account of merchant Sulaiman al-Tajir in the 9th century but the treacherous reefs of the islands were most likely cursed by the sailors of Aden long before the islands were even settled.
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea , an Alexandrian guide to the world beyond the Red Sea — including Africa and India — from the first century CE, not only gives insights into trade in the region but also shows that Roman and Greek sailors had already gained knowledge about the monsoon winds. The contemporaneous settlement of Madagascar by Austronesian sailors shows that the littoral margins of the Indian Ocean were being both well-populated and regularly traversed at least by this time. Albeit the monsoon must have been common knowledge in the Indian Ocean for centuries.
The Indian Ocean's relatively calmer waters opened the areas bordering it to trade earlier than the Atlantic or Pacific oceans. The powerful monsoons also meant ships could easily sail west early in the season, then wait a few months and return eastwards. This allowed ancient Indonesian peoples to cross the Indian Ocean to settle in Madagascar around 1 CE.
In the 2nd or 1st century BCE, Eudoxus of Cyzicus was the first Greek to cross the Indian Ocean. The probably fictitious sailor Hippalus is said to have learnt the direct route from Arabia to India around this time. CE. Among these trading settlements were Mosylon and Opone on the Red Sea littoral.During the 1st and 2nd centuries AD intensive trade relations developed between Roman Egypt and the Tamil kingdoms of the Cheras, Cholas and Pandyas in Southern India. Like the Indonesian people above, the western sailors used the monsoon to cross the ocean. The unknown author of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea describes this route, as well as the commodities that were traded along various commercial ports on the coasts of the Horn of Africa and India circa 1
Unlike the Pacific Ocean where the civilization of the Polynesians reached most of the far flung islands and atolls and populated them, almost all the islands, archipelagos and atolls of the Indian Ocean were uninhabited until colonial times. Although there were numerous ancient civilizations in the coastal states of Asia and parts of Africa, the Maldives were the only island group in the Central Indian Ocean region where an ancient civilization flourished.Maldivians, on their annual trade trip, took their oceangoing trade ships to Sri Lanka rather than mainland India, which is much closer, because their ships were dependent of the Indian Monsoon Current.
Arabic missionaries and merchants began to spread Islam along the western shores of the Indian Ocean from the 8th century, if not earlier. A Swahili stone mosque dating to the 8th-15th centuries have been found in Shanga, Kenya. Trade across the Indian Ocean gradually introduced Arabic script and rice as a staple in Eastern Africa.
From 1405 to 1433 admiral Zheng He said to have led large fleets of the Ming Dynasty on several treasure voyages through the Indian Ocean, ultimately reaching the coastal countries of East Africa.
In 1497 Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope and became the first European to sail to India (with the help of an Indian sailor) and later the Far East. The European ships, armed with heavy cannon, quickly dominated trade. Portugal achieved pre-eminence by setting up forts at the important straits and ports. Their hegemony along the coasts of Africa and Asia lasted until the mid 17th century. Later, the Portuguese were challenged by other European powers.
The Ottoman Empire began its expansion into the Indian Ocean in 1517 with the conquest of Egypt under Sultan Selim I. Although the Ottomans shared the same religion as the trading communities in the Indian Ocean the region was unexplored by them. Maps that included the Indian Ocean had been produced by Muslim geographers centuries before the Ottoman conquests; Muslim scholars, such as Ibn Battuta in the 14th Century, had visited most parts of the known world; contemporarily with Vasco da Gama, Arab navigator Ahmad ibn Mājid had compiled a guide to navigation in the Indian Ocean; the Ottomans, neverhteless, began their own parallel era of discovery which rivaled the European expansion.
The Dutch East India Company (1602–1798) sought control of trade with the East across the Indian Ocean. France and Britain established trade companies for the area. From 1565 Spain established a major trading operation with the Manila Galleons in the Philippines and the Pacific. Spanish trading ships purposely avoided the Indian Ocean, following the Treaty of Tordesillas with Portugal. By 1815, Britain became the principal power in the Indian Ocean.
The Suez Canal opened in 1869 when the Industrial Revolution dramatically changed global shipping — the sailing ship declined in importance as did the importance of European trade in favour of trade in East Asia and Australia.The construction of the canal introduced many non-indigenous species into the Mediterranean. For example, the goldband goatfish ( Upeneus moluccensis ) has replaced the red mullet ( Mullus barbatus ); since the 1980s huge swarms of scyphozoan jellyfish ( Rhopilema nomadica ) have affected tourism and fisheries along the Levantian coast and clogged power and desalination plants. Plans announced in 2014 to build a new, much larger Suez Canal parallel to the 19th century canal will most likely boost economy in the region but also cause ecological damage in a much wider area.
Throughout the colonial era, islands such as Mauritius were important shipping nodes for the Dutch, French, and British. Mauritius, an inhabited island, became populated by slaves from Africa and indenture labour from India. The end of World War II marked the end of the colonial era. The British left Mauritius in 1974 and with 70% of the population of Indian descent, Mauritius became a close ally of India. In the 1980s, during the Cold War, the South African regime acted to destabilise several island nations in the Indian Ocean, including the Seychelles, Comoros, and Madagascar. India intervened in Mauritius to prevent a coup d'état, backed-up by the United States who feared the Soviet Union could gain access to Port Louis and threaten the U.S. base on Diego Garcia.Iranrud is an unrealised plan by Iran and the Soviet Union to build a canal between the Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf.
Testimonies from the colonial era are stories of African slaves, Indian indentured labourers, and white settlers. But, while there was a clear racial line between free men and slaves in the Atlantic World, this delineation is less distinct in the Indian Ocean — there were Indian slaves and settlers as well as black indentured labourers. There were also a string of prison camps across the Indian Ocean, from Robben Island in South Africa to Cellular Jail in the Andamans, in which prisoners, exiles, POWs, forced labourers, merchants, and people of different faiths were forcefully united. On the islands of the Indian Ocean, therefore, a trend of creolisation emerged.
On 26 December 2004 fourteen countries around the Indian Ocean were hit by a wave of tsunamis caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. The waves radiated across the ocean at speeds exceeding 500 km/h (310 mph), reached up to 20 m (66 ft) in height, and resulted in an estimated 236,000 death.
In the late 2000s the ocean evolved into a hub of pirate activity. By 2013, attacks off the Horn region's coast had steadily declined due to active private security and international navy patrols, especially by the Indian Navy.
Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, a Boeing 777 airliner with 239 persons on board, disappeared on 8 March 2014 and is alleged to have crashed into the southeastern Indian Ocean about 2,000 km (1,200 mi) from the coast of southwest Western Australia. Despite an extensive search, the whereabouts of the remains of the aircraft are unknown.
The sea lanes in the Indian Ocean are considered among the most strategically important in the world with more than 80 percent of the world's seaborne trade in oil transits through Indian Ocean and its vital choke points, with 40 percent passing through the Strait of Hormuz, 35 percent through the Strait of Malacca and 8 percent through the Bab el-Mandab Strait.
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 oil fields of the Persian Gulf and Indonesia. 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, Pakistan, South Africa, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
Chinese companies have made investments in several Indian Ocean ports, including Gwadar, Hambantota, Colombo and Sonadia. This has sparked a debate about the strategic implications of these investments.(See String of Pearls)
The Arabian Sea is a region of the northern Indian Ocean bounded on the north by Pakistan and Iran, on the west by the Gulf of Aden, Guardafui Channel and the Arabian Peninsula, on the southeast by the Laccadive Sea, on the southwest by the Somali Sea, and on the east by India. Its total area is 3,862,000 km2 (1,491,000 sq mi) and its maximum depth is 4,652 metres (15,262 ft). The Gulf of Aden in the west connects the Arabian Sea to the Red Sea through the strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, and the Gulf of Oman is in the northwest, connecting it to the Persian Gulf.
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. To the north lie the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez. The Red Sea is a Global 200 ecoregion. The sea is underlain by the Red Sea Rift which is part of the Great Rift Valley.
Monsoon is traditionally defined as a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation, but is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea. Usually, the term monsoon is used to refer to the rainy phase of a seasonally changing pattern, although technically there is also a dry phase. The term is sometimes incorrectly used for locally heavy but short-term rains, although these rains meet the dictionary definition of monsoon.
The Gulf of Aden, formerly known as the Gulf of Berbera, is a gulf amidst Yemen to the north, the Arabian Sea and Guardafui Channel to the east, Somalia to the south, and Djibouti to the west. In the northwest, it connects with the Red Sea through the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, and in the southeast, it connects with the Indian Ocean through the Guardafui Channel.
Dhow is the generic name of a number of traditional sailing vessels with one or more masts with settee or sometimes lateen sails, used in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean region. Historians are divided as to whether the dhow was invented by Arabs or Indians. Typically sporting long thin hulls, dhows are trading vessels primarily used to carry heavy items, such as fruit, fresh water, or other heavy merchandise, along the coasts of Eastern Arabia, East Africa, Yemen and coastal South Asia. Larger dhows have crews of approximately thirty, smaller ones typically around twelve.
Eudoxus of Cyzicus was a Greek navigator who explored the Arabian Sea for Ptolemy VIII, king of the Hellenistic Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt.
The spice trade refers to the trade between historical civilizations in Asia, Northeast Africa and Europe. Spices such as cinnamon, cassia, cardamom, ginger, pepper, and turmeric were known and used in antiquity for commerce in the Eastern World. These spices found their way into the Middle East before the beginning of the Christian era, where the true sources of these spices were withheld by the traders and associated with fantastic tales.
The trade winds are the prevailing pattern of surface winds from the east toward the west (easterly) found in the tropics, within the lower portion of the Earth's atmosphere, in the lower part of the troposphere near the Earth's equator. The trade winds blow predominantly from the northeast in the Northern Hemisphere and from the southeast in the Southern Hemisphere, strengthening during the winter and when the Arctic oscillation is in its warm phase. Trade winds have been used by captains of sailing ships to cross the world's oceans for centuries, and enabled colonial expansion into the Americas and trade routes to become established across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Hippalus was a Greek navigator and merchant who probably lived in the 1st century BCE. He is sometimes conjectured to have been the captain of the Greek explorer Eudoxus of Cyzicus' ship.
The Incense trade route included a network of major ancient land and sea trading routes linking the Mediterranean world with eastern and southern sources of incense, spices and other luxury goods, stretching from Mediterranean ports across the Levant and Egypt through Northeastern Africa and Arabia to India and beyond. The incense land trade from South Arabia to the Mediterranean flourished between roughly the 7th century BC and the 2nd century AD. The Incense trade route served as a channel for the trading of goods such as Arabian frankincense and myrrh; from Southeast Asia Indian spices, precious stones, pearls, ebony, silk and fine textiles; and from the Horn of Africa, rare woods, feathers, animal skins, Somali frankincense, and gold.
Indian maritime history begins during the 3rd millennium BCE when inhabitants of the Indus Valley initiated maritime trading contact with Mesopotamia. The Roman historian Strabo mentions an increase in Roman trade with India following the Roman annexation of Egypt. Strabo reports that during the time when Aelius Gallus was Prefect of Egypt, he saw 120 ships ready to leave for India at the Red Sea port of Myos Hormos. As trade between India and the Greco-Roman world increased spices became the main import from India to the Western world, bypassing silk and other commodities. Indians were present in Alexandria while Christian and Jewish settlers from Rome continued to live in India long after the fall of the Roman Empire, which resulted in Rome's loss of the Red Sea ports, previously used to secure trade with India by the Greco-Roman world since the Ptolemaic dynasty. The Indian commercial connection with South East Asia proved vital to the merchants of Arabia and Persia during the 7th–8th century. A study published in 2013 found that some 11 percent of Aboriginal DNA is of Indian origin and suggests these immigrants arrived about 4,000 years ago, possibly at the same time dingoes first arrived in Australia.
Pre-Islamic Arabia is the Arabian Peninsula prior to Muhammad's preaching of Islam in the early 7th century CE.
Indo-Roman trade relations was trade between the Indian subcontinent and the Roman Empire in Europe and the Mediterranean. Trade through the overland caravan routes via Asia Minor and the Middle East, though at a relative trickle compared to later times, antedated the southern trade route via the Red Sea and monsoons which started around the beginning of the Common Era (CE) following the reign of Augustus and his conquest of Egypt in 30 BCE.
The Owen Fracture Zone (OFZ), though misnamed a fracture zone, is a transform fault in the northwest Indian Ocean that separates the Arabian and African Plates from the Indian Plate. Extending north-northeast from where the Carlsberg Ridge meets the Sheba ridge in the south to the Makran Subduction Zone in the north, it represents the port side of the northward motion of the Indian subcontinent during the Late Cretaceous–Palaeogene break-up of Gondwana. Slip along the Owen Fracture Zone is occurring at 2 mm (0.079 in)/yr, the slowest rate on Earth, which means the Arabian Plate moves northward faster than the Indian Plate.
The Western Indo-Pacific is a biogeographic region of the Earth's seas, comprising the tropical waters of the eastern and central Indian Ocean. It is part of the larger Indo-Pacific, which includes the tropical Indian Ocean, the western and central Pacific Ocean, and the seas connecting the two in the general area of Indonesia. The Western Indo-Pacific may be classified as a marine realm, one of the great biogeographic divisions of the world's ocean basins, or as a subrealm of the Indo-Pacific.
Maritime history of Somalia refers to the seafaring tradition of the Somali people. It includes various stages of Somali navigational technology, shipbuilding and design, as well as the history of the Somali port cities. It also covers the historical sea routes taken by Somali sailors which sustained the commercial enterprises of the historical Somali kingdoms and empires, in addition to the contemporary maritime culture of Somalia.
Indian Ocean Trade has been a key factor in East–West exchanges throughout history. Long distance trade in dhows and sailboats made it a dynamic zone of interaction between peoples, cultures, and civilizations stretching from Java in the East to Zanzibar and Mombasa in the West. Cities and states on the Indian Ocean rim focused on both the sea and the land.
The Climate of Asia is wet across southeast sections, and dry across much of the interior. Some of the largest daily temperature ranges on Earth occur in western sections of Asia. The monsoon circulation dominates across southern and eastern sections, due to the presence of the Himalayas forcing the formation of a thermal low which draws in moisture during the summer. Southwestern sections of the continent experience low relief as a result of the subtropical high pressure belt; they are hot in the summer, warm to cool in winter, and may snow at higher altitudes. Siberia is one of the coldest places in the Northern Hemisphere, and can act as a source of arctic air masses for North America. The most active place on Earth for tropical cyclone activity lies northeast of the Philippines and south of Japan, and the phase of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation modulates where in Asia landfall is more likely to occur.
The monsoon of South Asia is among several geographically distributed global monsoons. It affects the Indian subcontinent, where it is one of the oldest and most anticipated weather phenomena and an economically important pattern every year from June through September, but it is only partly understood and notoriously difficult to predict. Several theories have been proposed to explain the origin, process, strength, variability, distribution, and general vagaries of the monsoon, but understanding and predictability are still evolving.
ocean E of Africa, S of Asia, W of Australia, & N of Antarctica area ab 73,427,795 square kilometres (28,350,630 sq mi)
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