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  Atlantic Ocean  
Geography
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Atlantic Ocean]

Atlantic Ocean

Geography

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Location: body of water between Africa, Europe, Antarctica, and the Western Hemisphere

Geographic coordinates: 0 00 N, 25 00 W

Map references: World

Area:
total: 82.217 million sq km
note: includes Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Caribbean Sea, Davis Strait, Denmark Strait, Drake Passage, Gulf of Mexico, Mediterranean Sea, North Sea, Norwegian Sea, Scotia Sea, Weddell Sea, and other tributary water bodies

Area—comparative: slightly less than nine times the size of the US; second-largest of the world's four oceans (after the Pacific Ocean, but larger than Indian Ocean or Arctic Ocean)

Coastline: 111,866 km

Climate: tropical cyclones (hurricanes) develop off the coast of Africa near Cape Verde and move westward into the Caribbean Sea; hurricanes can occur from May to December, but are most frequent from August to November

Terrain: surface usually covered with sea ice in Labrador Sea, Denmark Strait, and Baltic Sea from October to June; clockwise warm water gyre (broad, circular system of currents) in the northern Atlantic, counterclockwise warm water gyre in the southern Atlantic; the ocean floor is dominated by the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a rugged north-south centerline for the entire Atlantic basin

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Puerto Rico Trench -8,605 m
highest point: sea level 0 m

Natural resources: oil and gas fields, fish, marine mammals (seals and whales), sand and gravel aggregates, placer deposits, polymetallic nodules, precious stones

Natural hazards: icebergs common in Davis Strait, Denmark Strait, and the northwestern Atlantic Ocean from February to August and have been spotted as far south as Bermuda and the Madeira Islands; icebergs from Antarctica occur in the extreme southern Atlantic Ocean; ships subject to superstructure icing in extreme northern Atlantic from October to May and extreme southern Atlantic from May to October; persistent fog can be a maritime hazard from May to September

Environment—current issues: endangered marine species include the manatee, seals, sea lions, turtles, and whales; drift net fishing is hastening the decline of fish stocks and contributing to international disputes; municipal sludge pollution off eastern US, southern Brazil, and eastern Argentina; oil pollution in Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Lake Maracaibo, Mediterranean Sea, and North Sea; industrial waste and municipal sewage pollution in Baltic Sea, North Sea, and Mediterranean Sea

Environment—international agreements:
party to: none of the selected agreements
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography—note: major chokepoints include the Dardanelles, Strait of Gibraltar, access to the Panama and Suez Canals; strategic straits include the Strait of Dover, Straits of Florida, Mona Passage, The Sound (Oresund), and Windward Passage; the Equator divides the Atlantic Ocean into the North Atlantic Ocean and South Atlantic Ocean

Government

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Data code: none; the US Government has not approved a standard for hydrographic codes—see the Cross-Reference List of Hydrographic Data Codes appendix

Economy

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Economy—overview: The Atlantic Ocean provides some of the world's most heavily trafficked sea routes, between and within the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. Other economic activity includes the exploitation of natural resources, e.g., fishing, the dredging of aragonite sands (The Bahamas), and production of crude oil and natural gas (Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and North Sea).

Communications

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Telephone system:
international: numerous submarine cables with most between continental Europe and the UK, between North America and the UK, and in the Mediterranean; numerous direct links across Atlantic via satellite networks

Transportation

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Ports and harbors: Alexandria (Egypt), Algiers (Algeria), Antwerp (Belgium), Barcelona (Spain), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Casablanca (Morocco), Colon (Panama), Copenhagen (Denmark), Dakar (Senegal), Gdansk (Poland), Hamburg (Germany), Helsinki (Finland), Las Palmas (Canary Islands, Spain), Le Havre (France), Lisbon (Portugal), London (UK), Marseille (France), Montevideo (Uruguay), Montreal (Canada), Naples (Italy), New Orleans (US), New York (US), Oran (Algeria), Oslo (Norway), Piraeus (Greece), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Rotterdam (Netherlands), Saint Petersburg (Russia), Stockholm (Sweden)

Transportation—note: Kiel Canal and Saint Lawrence Seaway are two important waterways

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: some maritime disputes (see littoral states)