Interesting facts about the Indian Ocean

indian ocean

The Indian Ocean reaches from the western coast of Africa, along the southern edge of India, Australia and Asia, all the way down to where it meets the Southern ocean.

It covers approximately 14% of the Earth’s surface and about 20% of the water on the Earth’s surface.

The Indian Ocean covers an area of approximately 70,560,000 square kilometers (27,240,000 square miles).

indian ocean map

The Indian Ocean is the third largest ocean in the world, after the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean.

The Indian Ocean has a volume of 264,000,000 cubic kilometers (63,000,000 cubic miles) or 19.8% of oceans volume.

The average depth of the ocean is 3,741 meters (12,274 feet).

ocean underwater

Its deepest point is Diamantina Deep in Diamantina Trench, at 8,047 meters (26,401 feet) deep; also sometimes considered is Sunda Trench, at a depth of 7,725 meters (25,344 feet).

The Indian Ocean is the warmest ocean in the world. The northern part of the ocean has an average surface temperature of 22°C (72°F) while the southern end sees temperatures as high as 28°C (82°F). While sections of the ocean are relatively warm, there are parts that are extremely cold. For instance, the belt between southern Africa and southwestern Australia is cold enough that icebergs form throughout the year.

The Indian Ocean is the youngest of the world’s major oceans.

The ocean receives 6,000 kilometers (3,728 miles) of river run off from some of the world’s fastest flowing rivers, including the Brahmaputra, Ganges, Indus and Zambesi rivers.

bengal delta

The ocean’s continental shelves are narrow, averaging 200 kilometers (120 miles) in width. An exception is found off Australia’s western coast, where the shelf width exceeds 1,000 kilometers (620 miles).

The Indian Ocean connects 57 islands groups, 16 African countries, 23 Asian countries and Australia together and is a very important transport hub.

Island nations within the ocean are Madagascar (the world’s fourth largest island), Bahrain, Comoros, Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles and Sri Lanka.

Marginal seas, gulfs, bays and straits of the Indian Ocean include: the Arabian and Red Seas, the Bay of Bengal, the Persian Gulf and the Great Australian Bight.

Major port cities on the Indian Ocean include Singapore [photo below] , the largest on the ocean, Mumbai in India, Aden in the Yemen, Durban in South Africa, Muscat in Oman, Jakarta in Indonesia and Perth in Western Australia.


The Kerguelen Plateau is an oceanic plateau and a large igneous province in the southern Indian Ocean. It is also a microcontinent and submerged continent. It is about 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) to the southwest of Australia and is nearly three times the size of Japan. The plateau extends for more than 2,200 km (1,367 miles) in a northwest-southeast direction and lies in deep water.

kerguelen plateau

The Indian Ocean is divided into east and west by a 5000 kilometers (3,100 miles) mountain range named the Ninety East Ridge.

The sea bed of the ocean is home to the area where the African, Indian and Antarctic continental plates meet, at the point known as the Rodriguez Point.

Unlike the world’s other large oceans the Indian Ocean is classified as a closed ocean, due to it being land locked to it’s north by the continent of Asia.

The Indian Ocean is artificially connected to the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal, which is accessible via the Red Sea. The canal was constructed by the Suez Canal Company between 1859 and 1869.

suez canal

A monsoon is a seasonal change in the direction of the prevailing, or strongest, winds of a region. Monsoons cause wet and dry seasons throughout much of the tropics. Monsoons are most often associated with the Indian Ocean.

It is named after the country of India. The Indian Ocean is known as Ratnākara “the mine of gems” in ancient Sanskrit literature, and as Hind Mahāsāgar “the great Indian sea”, in Hindi.


In the 2nd or 1st century BCE, Eudoxus of Cyzicus was the first Greek to cross the Indian Ocean.

In 1497 Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope and became the first European to sail to India and later the Far East.

It is estimated that approximately 40% of the world’s oil 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.

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.

On 26 December 2004 the countries surrounding the Indian Ocean were hit by a tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. The waves resulted in more than 226,000 deaths and over 1 million people were left homeless.

An Indian Ocean garbage patch was discovered in 2010 covering at least 5 million square kilometres
(1.9 million square miles).

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