The islands of the Indian Ocean, except the coastal areas, were uninhabited until the colonial period. The tectonic plates movements and the volcanic eruption are the reason for jewels under the ocean.
The Indian Ocean expands to the south of the Indian continent and covers one-fifth of the earth’s surface. It connects 18 Asian, 16 African countries, and 57 island groups.
The Indian Ocean is also known as the youngest ocean. It was earlier known as “Eastern Ocean” or “Eastern Star.” There are many facts about Indian Ocean that we are unaware of, as its full of minerals underneath but with a limited marine life system.
The Indian Ocean is the world’s third-largest ocean, after the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. It has about 73,440,000 square km (28,360,000 square miles) and spans more than 10,000 km between the southern tip of Australia and Africa. The Indian Ocean covers roughly 20% of the earth’s entire surface and is almost 5.5 times bigger than America.
The Indian Ocean spreads between Africa and the Arabian Peninsula on the west, Asia (Iran, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) on the north, Australia, Malay Peninsula, Indonesia’s the Sunda Islands on the east, and Antarctica on the east the south.
During the 8th century, African slaves, almost over 1000, were traded annually by the Muslim merchants, who also began spreading Islam all over the western shores of the Indian Ocean. This trade built the connection between Eastern Africa and the Arab World.
The Indian Ocean has maintained historic trade routes for thousands of years, thanks to the monsoon winds. The monsoon dominates the weather patterns and the climate, setting the pace and rhythm of life on the ocean.
The winds travel from the southwest (during April to October) and reverse during the rest of the year. Knowing about the monsoon wind pattern, they utilize the wind to sail their ships to their destinations.
Indian Ocean Facts
The Indian Ocean is full of mystery. Being one of the largest oceans and lying in the equator makes it vulnerable to many natural calamities.
The ocean floor of the Indian Ocean is filled with many minerals and petroleum with abundant natural resources.
Let’s find out some more interesting facts about Indian Ocean!
1. Named after India
This ocean was given the name “Indian,” as the longest coastline of this ocean is connected to India. This name has been known since the 1500s.
According to mythology, they took the name from an ancient Sanskrit Literature word, “Ratnakar,” which means ‘the mine of gems.’
2. It is the warmest ocean in the world
A significant portion of the Indian Ocean falls around or near the equator. Thus, the temperature here is warmer compared to other oceans.
The average annual temperature in the Indian Ocean is 26.4 C (79.5 F). The annual highest temperature is about 29.2 C, and the yearly lowest temperature is 24.4 C.
However, in the southern region of the Indian Ocean, which is nearer to the polar region, the temperature can get as low as 22 degrees Celsius.
The high temperature affects marine species and ecosystems, meaning the Indian Ocean harbors fewer species than other oceanic bodies.
Rising temperature is also responsible for extreme weather conditions such as monsoon, cyclones, strong winds, and tsunamis. These facts about Indian Ocean explain its unpredictive weather conditions.
3. Large number of basins on the ocean floor
Basins in the Indian Ocean cover 21,100,000 square kilometers of area, 30% of its ocean surface. There are about 800 individual basins in the Indian Ocean, 50% located in Asia, 20% in Australasia, and 30% in Africa.
The ocean floor of the Indian Ocean is made by the breakup of the southern super-continent Gondwana(or Gondwanaland), which began 180 million years ago, along with the movement of the northeast of the Indian subcontinent, which began 125 million years ago.
Indian ocean acquires many complex ridge topography, consisting of many basins spreading from 200 miles to 5600 miles.
4. Limited marine life
The Indian Ocean has the largest number of phytoplankton, drifting organisms that live on the water’s surface because of the monsoon winds. However, in recent decades, the concentration of phytoplankton has decreased up to 20%.
The rising oceanic temperature is accountable for the decrease in phytoplankton plus numerous marine species. These facts about Indian ocean explain why marine species struggle and become extinct from the ocean.
5. Rich in petroleum
The Indian Ocean is rich in mineral resources, especially petroleum. The interesting facts about Indian Ocean include 17 million barrels of crude oil are transported in tankers every day.
The Persian Gulf is the largest oil-producing region in the world. Aside from the Persian Gulf, India produces a large amount of oil from its offshore.
Meanwhile, further offshore petroleum exploration activities are going on in other regions, including the northeastern coast of Australia, the Andaman Sea, and Madagascar’s southwestern coast.
6. Islands of volcanic origin
There are many islands which are resulted from the volcanic eruption. Christmas, Cocos, Farquhar, Prince Edward, and Amsterdam; Comoros, Lakshadweep, Mauritius, and Reunion are the island of volcanic origin. Likewise, Amirante, Andaman, Nicobar, Chagos, Crozet, Kerguelen, and Sunda groups.
7. Low-level oxygen
The level of oxygen is relatively low in the Indian Ocean compared to other oceans. As it lies in the line of the equator, the evaporation rate will be higher. This is also the reason for the depletion of marine species.
8. Two largest rivers
One of the amazing facts about Indian Ocean is the Ganges and Brahmputra- the two largest rivers, which are the river that runs off from the ocean and is about 6000km.
9. Deepest point is java trench
Java Trench, located near the Sunda Islands, is the deepest point in the Indian Ocean. It is about 24,442 feet (7460 meters) deep. At the same time, the highest point is at sea level. The average depth of the Indian Ocean is 12,990 feet (3,960 meters).
10. Connects major ports and waterways
The Indian Ocean is one of the world’s busiest trading routes. It is no wonder that it contributes to half of the world’s container traffic and 80% of the maritime oil shipments. The Indian Ocean is home to some key hubs such as:
- Port of Colombo, Sri Lanka
- Port of Djibouti, Djibouti
- Port of Victoria, Seychelles
- Gwadar Port, Pakistan
- Chabahar Port, Pakistan
- Durban Bay, South Africa
- Melbourne, Australia
And, the Indian Ocean has some major waterways, such as the Suez Canal (Egypt), Strait of Hormuz (Iran-Oman), Bab El Mandeb (Djibouti-Yemen), Lombok Strait (Indonesia), and the Straits of Malacca (Indonesia-Malaysia).
The most important global maritime routes connecting Far East with Europe pass through the South China Sea, Suez Canal, and the Mediterranean, carrying ultra-large containerships. The connectivity to the various waterways is one of the amazing facts about Indian Ocean.
11. Giant tectonic plates are breaking into two
According to a study published by Geophysical Research Letters, a giant tectonic plate, the India-Australia-Capricorn plate, is breaking into two pieces.
However, the process itself will take more than a couple of decades to occur. This slow-paced division results from two high-magnitude earthquakes in the Wharton Basin, an area under the Indian Ocean.
Two earthquakes, one of magnitude 8.2 and the other of 8.6 hit Indonesia, in April 2012. Researchers found that these earthquakes did not originate from along a subduction zone, where one tectonic plate slides over the other plate but instead from the middle of the plate.
12. Lost Continent
The explorers found the piece of the continent covered with lava under the poplar island Mauritius. The study reveals that may be the leftover piece of crust from the breakup of Gondwanaland, a super-continent that existed more than 200 million years ago. They have named the landmass “Mauritia.”
13. Rich, invaluable resources
Apart from petroleum, the Indian Ocean possesses high concentrations of minerals such as manganese, Ilmenite (a mixture of iron and titanium oxide), Chromite, Monazite, Tin, and Zircon.
India, China, Germany, and South Korea have exploration contracts for polymetallic sulfides in the Indian Ocean.
14. Natural disaster
The world witnessed one of the biggest natural disasters, the tsunami in 2004 due to the movement of the Indian tectonic plate below the Burmese plate. In this incident, over 200,000 people lost their lives, and about 1 million were homeless.
The Indian Ocean is always vulnerable to natural disasters, including cyclones, floods, earthquakes, and tsunamis. The evaporated vapor, converting to rain, and the tectonic plates beneath are the factors. The increased rate of natural calamities by 470 percent since 1970 can also be considered as the facts about Indian Ocean.
15. Polluted environment
The Indian Ocean has been used as the trade route for many economic activities as it connects the landmasses around the world. The oil extraction and transportation resulting in the oil spills pollute the Indian Ocean every year. The Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Arabian Sea are the most polluted area of the Indian Ocean.
16. The Garbage Patch
There are over one trillion pieces of rubbish floating in the Indian Ocean. In 2010, the garbage patch was discovered in the Indian Ocean, which spans over 5 million square kilometers. This patch is a plastic garbage gyre that spreads from Australia via the Mozambique Channel.
All the above facts about Indian Ocean will give you little knowledge about why and how it is related to being the supreme power in world politics.
All the rich, valuable minerals to the waterways used by the ships and traders to the oil depositing capacity make it one of the economic giants’ biggest targets, whether it may be any business corporation or country.(Last Updated On: June 1, 2022)