The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest and one of the world's most expansive oceans, covering approximately 20% of the Earth's surface. Situated between the Americas to the west and Europe and Africa to the east, it is characterized by its vastness and its crucial role in shaping the planet's climate, geography, and human history.
Spanning a distance of about 41 million square miles (106 million square kilometers), the Atlantic Ocean is home to a wide array of ecosystems and marine life. It features diverse oceanic zones, from the sunlit surface waters to the deep and mysterious abyssal plains. The Atlantic Ocean plays a vital role in global climate regulation, as it helps distribute heat around the Earth, impacting weather patterns and ocean currents.
The ocean's history is intertwined with human exploration, trade, and migration. It served as a bridge between the Old World and the New World during the Age of Exploration, enabling the exchange of cultures, goods, and ideas. The Atlantic Ocean was a crucial route for European exploration and colonization of the Americas, leading to significant historical events like Christopher Columbus's voyages and the transatlantic slave trade.
Today, the Atlantic Ocean remains a critical conduit for international trade, supporting shipping routes that connect North and South America with Europe and Africa. It also hosts numerous environmental challenges, such as ocean pollution and the impact of climate change on sea levels and marine ecosystems. As one of the world's largest and most influential bodies of water, the Atlantic Ocean continues to shape the course of human history and environmental conservation efforts.