Atlantic Ocean

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Map of the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean, relief

The Atlantic Ocean , also known as the Atlantic , is the second largest ocean on earth after the Pacific . The boundaries are the polar circles and the meridians through Cape Agulhas in the east and Cape Horn in the west. The area covered by it is 79,776,350 km², with the secondary seas 89,757,830 km² and the Arctic Ocean 106.2 million km², a total of about one fifth of the earth's surface . The average water depth (including all secondary seas) is 3,293 meters.

Origin of name

The name goes back to the term Atlantis thalassa in the ancient Greek language : Ἀτλαντὶς θάλασσα 'Sea of Atlas ' .

In Greek mythology , it was believed that the world ended behind the Pillars of Heracles , west of the Strait of Gibraltar . There the Titan Atlas (Greek Ἄτλας , carrier ' ) supported the celestial vault at the westernmost point. The ocean was named in his honor.


Laurasia and Gondwana in the Triassic

The Atlantic emerged in the Mesozoic era through the division of the geological continents Laurasia in the north and Gondwana in the south. Today it separates Europe and Africa from the American continent . The mid-Atlantic ridge towers above the deep sea floor by up to 3000 meters and separates the west and east Atlantic depressions of the ocean.

The Atlantic Ocean lies almost exclusively in the western hemisphere of the earth . It is surrounded by the Arctic in the north, Europe in the northeast, Africa and the Indian Ocean in the east , Antarctica in the south, South America in the south and North America in the north west . The Atlantic can be divided into North and South Atlantic along the equator ; Occasionally it is also divided into the North, Central and South Atlantic along the tropics .

The Atlantic holds a water volume of around 354.7 million km³. Its greatest width is 9000 km between Senegal and the Gulf of Mexico , the smallest 1500 km between Norway and Greenland . The maximum depth is reached at around 8,400 meters in the Milwaukee Depth, part of the Puerto Rico Trench . The Gulf Stream , which comes from the Caribbean and crosses the Atlantic to Greenland, is responsible for the relatively mild climate on the northern European coasts. Because of the intensive shipping traffic on the neighboring seas (including the Mediterranean , North and Baltic Seas ) and the transit traffic between Europe and North America, the Atlantic is the world's busiest.

Secondary seas

The Atlantic has major Mediterranean , marginal and inland seas :

designation Art Area (km²) Mean depth (m)
European Arctic Ocean Randmeer 1,380,000 ~ 1,750
European Mediterranean Inland sea 2,500,000 1,720
Irmingersee Randmeer 800,000 2,800
North Sea Randmeer 575,000 94
Baltic Sea Inland sea 413,000 52
American Mediterranean Mediterranean Sea 4,354,000 2,216
Baffin Bay Randmeer 689,000 861
Labrador Sea Randmeer 841,000 1,898
Biscay Randmeer 223,000 1744
English Channel Randmeer 75,000 63
Celtic sea Randmeer 300,000 <100
Irish Sea Randmeer 104,000 <175
Scottish Sea Randmeer 43,940 <260
Kattegat Randmeer 22,000 80
Sargasso lake Randmeer 5,300,000 5,000
Scotia Lake Randmeer 900,000
Gulf of Maine Randmeer 93,000
Gulf of Saint Lawrence Randmeer 240,000
Gulf of Guinea Randmeer

Natural connections to the other oceans

North Atlantic

The Denmark Strait between Greenland and Iceland and the Davis Strait with Baffin Bay between Canada and Greenland connect the Atlantic with the Arctic Ocean . To the east of Iceland, the European Arctic Ocean merges into the Arctic Ocean, which on the opposite side is connected to the Bering Sea and thus to the North Pacific . Since the central Arctic Ocean is inaccessible to common seafaring, the routes that run along the northern coasts of Eurasia and North America are of particular importance .

South Atlantic

The largest continuous connection between the Atlantic and the rest of the oceans extends south of Cape Agulhas ( South Africa ). The meridian running through this place separates the Atlantic from the Indian Ocean . In the south, the 60th parallel forms the border with the Southern Ocean that was arbitrarily drawn by the Antarctic Treaty . Natural connections to the Pacific Ocean are the Strait of Magellan , the Beagle Channel and the Drake Strait around Cape Horn .

Artificial connections

Canals from the American (Panama Canal, since 1914) and from the European Mediterranean (Suez Canal, since 1869) were built to create a simple connection to the Pacific and Indian Oceans . Both channels separate continental land masses from one another.

Bordering states

To the Atlantic Ocean around and on its marginal seas are many countries that in the east to Ostfeste and west to West Festivals are counted. Through the Mediterranean, he also has access to the Asian continent, which means that the Atlantic has riparian states on five of the seven continents; as much as no other.

East Fortress

Apart from the extreme north of the continent, Europe lies exclusively on the Atlantic and its tributaries. Asia is only connected to the Atlantic via the Mediterranean and the Black Sea . In Africa, the area bordering the Atlantic is limited to the direct coastal states.

State / Territory sea continent annotation
IcelandIceland Iceland Atlantic Europe, North America Island nation
NorwayNorway Norway Atlantic, European Arctic Ocean Europe
SwedenSweden Sweden Baltic Sea , Kattegat Europe
FinlandFinland Finland Baltic Sea Europe
RussiaRussia Russia Gulf of Finland , Baltic Sea, Black Sea Europe, Asia
EstoniaEstonia Estonia Baltic Sea, Gulf of Finland Europe
LatviaLatvia Latvia Baltic Sea Europe
LithuaniaLithuania Lithuania Baltic Sea Europe
PolandPoland Poland Baltic Sea Europe
GermanyGermany Germany Baltic Sea, North Sea Europe
DenmarkDenmark Denmark Baltic Sea, Kattegat, North Sea Europe In addition, Faroe Islands and Greenland with direct access to the Atlantic
NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands North Sea Europe In addition, overseas territories with access to the Atlantic
United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom North Sea, English Channel , Celtic Sea , Irish Sea , Atlantic Europe Island nation; also overseas territories with access to the Atlantic and Mediterranean
IrelandIreland Ireland Irish Sea, Celtic Sea, Atlantic Europe Island nation
BelgiumBelgium Belgium North Sea Europe
FranceFrance France English Channel, Biscay , Mediterranean Europe In addition, overseas territories with access to the Atlantic
SpainSpain Spain Biscay, Atlantic, Mediterranean Europe
PortugalPortugal Portugal Atlantic Europe
MonacoMonaco Monaco Mediterranean Sea Europe
ItalyItaly Italy Mediterranean, Adriatic Europe
MaltaMalta Malta Mediterranean Sea Europe Island nation
SloveniaSlovenia Slovenia Adriatic Europe
CroatiaCroatia Croatia Adriatic Europe
Bosnia and HerzegovinaBosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina Adriatic Europe
MontenegroMontenegro Montenegro Adriatic Europe
AlbaniaAlbania Albania Adriatic Europe
GreeceGreece Greece Aegean , Mediterranean Europe
TurkeyTurkey Turkey Mediterranean, Aegean, Black Sea Europe, Asia
BulgariaBulgaria Bulgaria Black Sea Europe
RomaniaRomania Romania Black Sea Europe
UkraineUkraine Ukraine Black Sea Europe
GeorgiaGeorgia Georgia Black Sea Europe, Asia
Cyprus RepublicRepublic of cyprus Cyprus Mediterranean Sea Europe, Asia Island nation
SyriaSyria Syria Mediterranean Sea Asia
LebanonLebanon Lebanon Mediterranean Sea Asia
IsraelIsrael Israel Mediterranean Sea Asia
Palastina autonomous areasPalestine Palestine Mediterranean Sea Asia Territory of the only partially recognized State of Palestine
EgyptEgypt Egypt Mediterranean Sea Asia, Africa
LibyaLibya Libya Mediterranean Sea Africa
TunisiaTunisia Tunisia Mediterranean Sea Africa
AlgeriaAlgeria Algeria Mediterranean Sea Africa
MoroccoMorocco Morocco Mediterranean, Atlantic Africa Also the Western Sahara claimed by Morocco
MauritaniaMauritania Mauritania Atlantic Africa
Cape VerdeCape Verde Cape Verde Atlantic Africa Island nation
SenegalSenegal Senegal Atlantic Africa
GambiaGambia Gambia Atlantic Africa
Guinea-BissauGuinea-Bissau Guinea-Bissau Atlantic Africa
Guinea-aGuinea Guinea Atlantic Africa
Sierra LeoneSierra Leone Sierra Leone Atlantic Africa
LiberiaLiberia Liberia Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Guinea Africa
Ivory CoastIvory Coast Ivory Coast Gulf of Guinea Africa
GhanaGhana Ghana Gulf of Guinea Africa
TogoTogo Togo Gulf of Guinea Africa
BeninBenin Benin Gulf of Guinea Africa
NigeriaNigeria Nigeria Gulf of Guinea Africa
CameroonCameroon Cameroon Gulf of Guinea Africa
Sao Tome and PrincipeSao Tome and Principe Sao Tome and Principe Gulf of Guinea Africa Island nation
Equatorial GuineaEquatorial Guinea Equatorial Guinea Gulf of Guinea, Atlantic Africa Mainland part of Mbini and the islands of Bioko and Annobón
GabonGabon Gabon Gulf of Guinea, Atlantic Africa
Congo RepublicRepublic of the Congo Republic of the Congo Atlantic Africa
AngolaAngola Angola Atlantic Africa With the Cabinda exclave
Congo Democratic RepublicDemocratic Republic of Congo Democratic Republic of Congo Atlantic Africa
NamibiaNamibia Namibia Atlantic Africa
South AfricaSouth Africa South Africa Atlantic Africa

West festivals

On the west fortress ( America ) the Atlantic with its American Mediterranean extends far into the continent. Many of the countries from Canada in the north to Panama in Central America to Chile in South America have, in addition to their access to the Atlantic in the east, at the same time access to the Pacific Ocean in the west.

State / Territory sea continent annotation
CanadaCanada Canada Hudson Bay , Labrador Sea ,
Gulf of Saint Lawrence , Atlantic
North America
United StatesUnited States United States Gulf of Maine , Sea of ​​Sargasso ,
Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico
North America In addition, outside areas in the Caribbean
MexicoMexico Mexico Gulf of Mexico North America
BahamasBahamas Bahamas Sargasso Sea, Atlantic Central America ( West Indies ) Island nation
CubaCuba Cuba Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean , Atlantic Central America (West Indies) Island nation
JamaicaJamaica Jamaica Caribbean Central America (West Indies) Island nation
HaitiHaiti Haiti Caribbean, Atlantic Central America (West Indies) Island nation
Dominican RepublicDominican Republic Dominican Republic Caribbean, Atlantic Central America (West Indies) Island nation
Costa RicaCosta Rica Costa Rica Caribbean Central America
BelizeBelize Belize Caribbean Central America
GuatemalaGuatemala Guatemala Caribbean Central America
HondurasHonduras Honduras Caribbean Central America
NicaraguaNicaragua Nicaragua Caribbean Central America
PanamaPanama Panama Caribbean Central America
Antigua and BarbudaAntigua and Barbuda Antigua and Barbuda Caribbean, Atlantic Central America (West Indies) Island nation
Saint Kitts NevisSt. Kitts Nevis St. Kitts and Nevis Caribbean, Atlantic Central America (West Indies) Island nation
DominicaDominica Dominica Caribbean, Atlantic Central America (West Indies) Island nation
Saint LuciaSt. Lucia St. Lucia Caribbean, Atlantic Central America (West Indies) Island nation
Saint Vincent GrenadinesSt. Vincent and the Grenadines St. Vincent and the Grenadines Caribbean, Atlantic Central America (West Indies) Island nation
GrenadaGrenada Grenada Caribbean, Atlantic Central America (West Indies) Island nation
BarbadosBarbados Barbados Caribbean, Atlantic Central America (West Indies) Island nation
Trinidad and TobagoTrinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago Caribbean, Atlantic Central America (West Indies) Island nation
ColombiaColombia Colombia Caribbean South America
VenezuelaVenezuela Venezuela Caribbean, Atlantic South America
GuyanaGuyana Guyana Atlantic South America
SurinameSuriname Suriname Atlantic South America
BrazilBrazil Brazil Atlantic South America
UruguayUruguay Uruguay Atlantic South America
ArgentinaArgentina Argentina Atlantic South America
ChileChile Chile Atlantic Ocean, Strait of Magellan South America


Equator in the Atlantic

In the 15th century the European expansion began with the expeditions of the Portuguese to Africa and the Spaniards to America. It was only after the Suez Canal opened in November 1869 that it became possible to travel through the Mediterranean to Persia, India or Asia. Until then, the ships had to circumnavigate the Cape of Good Hope . The Atlantic is still the busiest ocean.

World trade

World trade has increased sharply since 1945 ; In the course of globalization , the division of labor between economies has changed significantly. Large parts of world trade are carried out by ship ( merchant shipping ). The average size of merchant ships has increased sharply; Since the 1960s, the container has made general cargo ships largely unnecessary and made the transport of general cargo much more efficient and cheaper (see also containerization , container ship ). Large ships usually have a great draft and need deep water harbors .

Parts of the Atlantic are considered overexploited .

Strategic importance

In the 19th century, the British Empire was the undisputed naval power . From 1914 to 1918, throughout the First World War , the Royal Navy practiced a naval blockade of the German Empire ; the Reich government responded with submarine attacks.

Research history

The German Atlantic Expedition explored the southern part of the Atlantic (and the atmosphere above) from mid-1925 to mid-1927 with the research vessel Meteor . It drove thirteen times at different latitudes from east to west and back, using an echo sounder to create depth profiles of the sea floor.

Airplanes collected large amounts of weather data. Since the advent of satellites , they have been the main source of data for exploring the Atlantic.

Seabed, water

On the floor of the Atlantic there except ocean basins , deep-sea trenches and marine lows and some lower thresholds than most striking structure the Mid-Atlantic Ridge . This is a jagged elevation on a diverging plate boundary that runs through the Atlantic roughly in the middle from north to south. Here lava rises constantly, pushing the two adjacent oceanic plates apart, thereby widening the Atlantic and driving the continents behind it ever further apart; the sequence is proven by dating the rocks on the ocean floor, which are the farther away from the ridge, the older.

One of the deep sea ​​lows is the Puerto Rico Trench with the Milwaukee Depression, which is 9219 m below sea level and the deepest point in the entire Atlantic.

Numerous rivers flow into the Atlantic Ocean:

  • from the east coast of the United States or Canada (see North American Continental Divide )
  • from Central America (Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama)
  • from South America (Colombia, Venezuela, Guiana, Suriname, French Guiana, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina)
  • from Europe (if they do not flow into the Mediterranean, the Baltic Sea or the North Sea; see European main watershed )

With their water, they also transport numerous pollutants and nutrients into the Atlantic.


The Atlantic Ocean has an average salinity of around 3.54%, while the value in the Pacific is 3.45% and the Indian Ocean is 3.48%. In the Randmeer North Sea , the salt content is noticeably lower at 3.2–3.5%. In the vicinity of river mouths it falls to 1.5–2.5% and only reaches 0.2–2.0% in the Baltic Sea , which is almost completely surrounded by the mainland and has little water exchange with the Atlantic.


Some of the largest islands on earth are in the Atlantic Ocean: the British Isles , Greenland , Ireland , Iceland and Newfoundland . Archipelagos are the Azores , the Bahamas , the Bermuda , the Falkland Islands , the Brazilian Fernando de Noronha archipelago , the Greater Antilles , the Cameroonian archipelago around São Tomé and Príncipe , the Canary Islands , the Lesser Antilles , the uninhabited Sankt-Peter-und - Saint Pauls Rocks , the Isles of Scilly and the island state of Cape Verde . Isolated islands are Annobón , Ascension , Bioko , Bouvet Island , Gough Island , Madeira , St. Helena , Trindade and Tristan da Cunha .


Famous regattas are sailed on the Atlantic :


Web links

Wiktionary: Atlantik  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Atlantic Ocean  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Atlantic Ocean  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Brockhaus 1904
  2. Ulrich Franke: NATO after 1989: The riddle of its continued existence. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2010. p. 129.
  3. International Hydrographic Organization (1953): Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition (PDF; 994 kB), p. 19. Accessed June 23, 2021.
  4. ^ ISAF