Interesting facts about the Red Sea

red sea

The Red Sea is an inlet of the Indian Ocean located between Africa and Asia.

The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb sound and the Gulf of Aden.

In the north are the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez (leading to the Suez Canal).

The Red Sea is bordered on its eastern shore by Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and on its western shore by Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti.

The Red Sea, having a length of 2,250 kilometers (1,400 miles) and a width of 355 kilometers (221 miles) at its widest point.

red sea map

The sea has a surface area of 438,000 square kilometers (169,100 square miles).

The water volume of the Red Sea is about 233,000 cubic kilometers (56,000 cubic miles).

The maximum depth is 2,211 meters (7,254 feet) and average depth is 490 meters (1,610 feet) below the sea’s surface.


Approximately 40% of the Red Sea is quite shallow (under 100 m/330 ft), and about 25% is under 50 meters (164 feet) deep.

About 15% of the Red Sea is over 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) depth that forms the deep axial trough.

The average surface water temperature of the Red Sea during the summer is about 26 °C (79 °F) in the north and 30 °C (86 °F) in the south, with only about 2 °C (3.6 °F) variation during the winter months.

The Red sea is the dream destination of many people and is a favored place for the sun and fun lovers from around the world due to its terrific beaches of golden sand with the crystal water and colorful corals.

red sea beach

Its waters cross the Tropic of Cancer, and it is the northernmost tropical sea in the world.

The Red Sea region enjoys hot, sunny days with little rainfall.

In general, tide ranges between 0.6 meters (2 feet) in the north, near the mouth of the Gulf of Suez and 0.9 meters (3 feet) in the south near the Gulf of Aden.

The Red Sea is one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world, owing to high evaporation. Salinity ranges between 3.6 and 4.1 percent.

The Red Sea is a rich and diverse ecosystem. More than 1200 species of fish have been recorded in the Red Sea, and around 10% of these are found nowhere else. There are also over 1,000 invertebrate species and 200 soft and hard corals.

red sea coral reef fish

The rich diversity is in part due to the 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) of coral reef extending along its coastline. These coastal reefs are also visited by pelagic species of Red Sea fish, including some of the 44 species of shark.

The sea is known for its spectacular recreational diving sites such as Ras Mohammed, SS Thistlegorm (shipwreck), Elphinstone Reef, The Brothers, Daedalus Reef, St.John’s Reef, Rocky Island in Egypt.

A number of volcanic islands rise from the center of the sea. Most are dormant. However, in 2007, Jabal al-Tair island in the Bab el Mandeb strait erupted violently. Two new islands were formed in 2011 and 2013 in the Zubair Archipelago, a small chain of islands owned by Yemen.

The Red Sea is part of the sea roads between Europe, the Persian Gulf and East Asia, and as such has heavy shipping traffic.

red sea boats

The Red Sea was formed by the Arabian peninsula being split from the Horn of Africa by movement of the Red Sea Rift. This split started in the Eocene (56 to 34 million years ago) and accelerated during the Oligocene (34 to 23 million years ago).

The earliest known exploration of the Red Sea was conducted by ancient Egyptians, as they attempted to establish commercial routes to Punt. One such expedition took place around 2500 BC, and another around 1500 BC.

The Biblical book of Exodus tells the story of the Israelites’ miraculous crossing of a body of water, which the Hebrew text calls Yam Suph, traditionally identified as the Red Sea. The account is part of the Israelites’ escape from slavery in Egypt, and is told in Exodus 13:17—15:21.

israelites crossing the red sea

In Roman times, the Red Sea was favored for trade with India and China; in medieval times, it was an essential leg of the spice trade route.

In 1798, France charged Napoleon Bonaparte with invading Egypt and capturing the Red Sea. Although he failed in his mission, the engineer J.B. Lepere, who took part in it, revitalized the plan for a canal which had been envisaged during the reign of the Pharaohs.

In 1869, the 101-mile-long Suez Canal opened in Egypt, linking the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. As of 2015, about 7.5 percent of the world’s sea trade travels through the canal.

The name of the sea may signify the seasonal blooms of the red-colored Trichodesmium erythraeum near the water’s surface. A theory favored by some modern scholars is that the name red is referring to the direction south, just as the Black Sea‘s name may refer to north. The basis of this theory is that some Asiatic languages used color words to refer to the cardinal directions.

The Red Sea is one of four seas named in English after common color terms — the others being the Black Sea, the White Sea and the Yellow Sea.

The northern section of the Red Sea has been named as one of the seven wonders of the underwater world, because of its extreme beauty and the biodiversity of marine life there.

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