The World Factbook (1990)/Indian Ocean

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The World Factbook (1990)
United States Central Intelligence Agency
Indian Ocean

page 144

Indian Ocean

World Factbook (1990) Indian Ocean.jpg


Total area: 73,600,000 km²; Arabian Sea, Bass Strait, Bay of Bengal, Java Sea, Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Strait of Malacca, Timor Sea, and other tributary water bodies

Comparative area: slightly less than eight times the size of the US; third-largest ocean (after the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean, but larger than the Arctic Ocean)

Coastline: 66,526 km

Climate: northeast monsoon (December to April), southwest monsoon (June to October); tropical cyclones occur during May/June and October/November in the north Indian Ocean and January/February in the south Indian Ocean

Terrain: surface dominated by counter-clockwise gyre (broad, circular system of currents) in the south Indian Ocean; unique reversal of surface currents in the north Indian Ocean low pressure over southwest Asia from hot, rising, summer air results in the southwest monsoon and southwest-to-northeast winds and currents, while high pressure over northern Asia from cold, falling, winter air results in the northeast monsoon and northeast-to-southwest winds and currents; ocean floor is dominated by the Mid-Indian Ocean Ridge and subdivided by the Southeast Indian Ocean Ridge, Southwest Indian Ocean Ridge, and Ninety East Ridge; maximum depth is 7,258 meters in the Java Trench

Natural resources: oil and gas fields, fish, shrimp, sand and gravel aggregates, placer deposits, polymetallic nodules

Environment: endangered marine species include the dugong, seals, turtles, and whales; oil pollution in the Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf, and Red Sea

Note: major choke points include Bab el Mandeb, Strait of Hormuz, Strait of Malacca, southern access to the Suez Canal, and the Lombok Strait; ships subject to superstructure icing in extreme south near Antarctica from May to October


Overview: The Indian Ocean provides a major transportation highway for the movement of petroleum products from the Middle East to Europe and North and South American countries. Fish from the ocean are of growing economic importance to many of the bordering countries as a source of both food and exports. Fishing fleets from the USSR, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan also exploit the Indian Ocean for mostly shrimp and tuna. 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, South Africa, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

Industries: based on exploitation of natural resources, particularly marine life, minerals, oil and gas production, fishing, sand and gravel aggregates, placer deposits


Ports: Bombay (India), Calcutta (India), Madras (India), Colombo (Sri Lanka), Durban (South Africa), Fremantle (Australia), Jakarta (Indonesia), Melbourne (Australia), Richard's Bay (South Africa)

Telecommunications: no submarine cables