EtymologyThough the peoples of Asia and Oceania have traveled the Pacific Ocean since prehistoric times, the eastern Pacific was first sighted by Europeans in the early 16th century when Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama in 1513 and discovered the great "Southern Sea" which he named ''Mar del Sur'' (in Spanish). The ocean's current name was coined by Portugal, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan during the Spanish circumnavigation of the world in 1521, as he encountered favorable winds on reaching the ocean. He called it ''Mar Pacífico'', which in both Portuguese language, Portuguese and Spanish language, Spanish means "peaceful sea".
Biggest seas in Pacific OceanTop large seas: # Australasian Mediterranean Sea – 9.080 million km2 # Philippine Sea - 5.695 million km2 # Coral Sea – 4.791 million km2 # South China Sea – 3.5 million km2 # Tasman Sea – 2.3 million km2 # Bering Sea – 2 million km2 # Sea of Okhotsk – 1.583 million km2 # Gulf of Alaska – 1.533 million km2 # East China Sea – 1.249 million km2 # Mar de Grau – 1.14 million km2 # Sea of Japan – 978,000 km2 # Solomon Sea – 720,000 km2 # Banda Sea – 695,000 km2 # Arafura Sea – 650,000 km2 # Timor Sea – 610,000 km2 # Yellow Sea – 380,000 km2 # Java Sea – 320,000 km2 # Gulf of Thailand – 320,000 km2 # Gulf of Carpentaria – 300,000 km2 # Celebes Sea – 280,000 km2 # Sulu Sea – 260,000 km2 # Gulf of Anadyr – 200,000 km2 # Molucca Sea – 200,000 km2 # Gulf of California – 160,000 km2 # Gulf of Tonkin – 126,250 km2 # Halmahera Sea – 95,000 km2 # Bohai Sea – 78,000 km2 # Bali Sea – 45,000 km2 # Bismarck Sea – 40,000 km2 # Savu Sea - 35,000 km2 # Seto Inland Sea – 23,203 km2 # Seram Sea – 12,000 km2
Early migrationsFile:Carta universal en que se contiene todo lo que del mundo se ha descubierto fasta agora hizola Diego Ribero cosmographo de su magestad, ano de 1529, en Sevilla.jpg, left, Made in 1529, the Diogo Ribeiro map was the first to show the Pacific at about its proper size Important human migrations occurred in the Pacific in prehistoric times. About 3000 BC, the Austronesian peoples on the island of Taiwan mastered the art of long-distance canoe travel and spread themselves and their languages south to the Philippines, Indonesia, and maritime Southeast Asia; west towards Madagascar; southeast towards New Guinea and Melanesia (intermarrying with native Papuan people, Papuans); and east to the islands of Micronesia, Oceania and Polynesia. Long-distance trade developed all along the coast from Mozambique to Japan. Trade, and therefore knowledge, extended to the Indonesian islands but apparently not Australia. In 219 BC Xu Fu sailed out into the Pacific searching for the elixir of immortality. By at least 878 when there was a significant Islamic settlement in Guangzhou, Canton much of this trade was controlled by Arabs or Muslims. From 1404 to 1433 Zheng He led Treasure voyages, expeditions into the Indian Ocean.
European explorationThe first contact of European navigators with the western edge of the Pacific Ocean was made by the Portuguese expeditions of António de Abreu and Francisco Serrão, via the Lesser Sunda Islands, to the Maluku Islands, in 1512, and with Jorge Álvares's expedition to southern China in 1513,Porter, Jonathan. (1996). ''Macau, the Imaginary City: Culture and Society, 1557 to the Present''. Westview Press. both ordered by Afonso de Albuquerque from Portuguese Malacca, Malacca. The eastern side of the ocean was discovered by Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa in 1513 after his expedition crossed the Isthmus of Panama and reached a new ocean. He named it ''Mar del Sur'' (literally, "Sea of the South" or "South Sea") because the ocean was to the south of the coast of the isthmus where he first observed the Pacific. In 1520, navigator Ferdinand Magellan and his crew were the first to cross the Pacific in recorded history. They were part of a Magellan–Elcano circumnavigation, Spanish expedition to the Spice Islands that would eventually result in the first world circumnavigation. Magellan called the ocean ''Pacífico'' (or "Pacific" meaning, "peaceful") because, after sailing through the stormy seas off Cape Horn, the expedition found calm waters. The ocean was often called the ''Sea of Magellan'' in his honor until the eighteenth century. Magellan stopped at one uninhabited Pacific island before stopping at Guam in March 1521. Although Magellan himself died in the Philippines in 1521, Spanish navigator Juan Sebastián Elcano led the remains of the expedition back to Spain across the Indian Ocean and round the Cape of Good Hope, completing the first world circumnavigation in 1522."Life in the sea: Pacific Ocean"
New ImperialismGrowing imperialism during the 19th century resulted in the occupation of much of Oceania by European powers, and later Japan and the United States. Significant contributions to oceanographic knowledge were made by the voyages of HMS Beagle, HMS ''Beagle'' in the 1830s, with Charles Darwin aboard; HMS Challenger (1858), HMS ''Challenger'' during the 1870s; the USS Tuscarora (1861), USS ''Tuscarora'' (1873–76); and the German ''Gazelle'' (1874–76). In Oceania, France obtained a leading position as imperial power after making Tahiti and New Caledonia protectorates in 1842 and 1853, respectively.Bernard Eccleston, Michael Dawson. 1998. ''The Asia-Pacific Profile''. Routledge. p. 250. After navy visits to Easter Island in 1875 and 1887, Chilean navy officer Policarpo Toro negotiated the incorporation of the island into Chile with native Rapanui in 1888. By occupying Easter Island, Chile joined the imperial nations.William Sater, ''Chile and the United States: Empires in Conflict'', 1990 by the University of Georgia Press, By 1900 nearly all Pacific islands were in control of Britain, France, United States, Germany, Japan, and Chile. Although the United States gained control of Guam and the Philippines from Spain in 1898, Japan controlled most of the western Pacific by 1914 and occupied many other islands during the Pacific War; however, by the end of that war, Japan was defeated and the United States Navy, U.S. Pacific Fleet was the virtual master of the ocean. The Japanese-ruled Northern Mariana Islands came under the control of the United States. Since the end of World War II, many former colonies in the Pacific have become independent Sovereign state, states.
GeographyThe Pacific separates Asia and Australia from the Americas. It may be further subdivided by the equator into northern (North Pacific) and southern (South Pacific) portions. It extends from the Antarctic region in the South to the Arctic in the north. The Pacific Ocean encompasses approximately one-third of the Earth's surface, having an area of — larger than Earth's entire landmass combined, . Extending approximately from the Bering Sea in the Arctic to the northern extent of the circumpolar Southern Ocean at 60th parallel south, 60°S (older definitions extend it to Antarctica's Ross Sea), the Pacific reaches its greatest east–west width at about 5th parallel north, 5°N latitude, where it stretches approximately from Indonesia to the coast of Colombia—halfway around the world, and more than five times the diameter of the Moon. The lowest known point on Earth—the Mariana Trench—lies below sea level. Its average depth is , putting the total water volume at roughly . Due to the effects of plate tectonics, the Pacific Ocean is currently shrinking by roughly per year on three sides, roughly averaging a year. By contrast, the Atlantic Ocean is increasing in size. Along the Pacific Ocean's irregular western margins lie many seas, the largest of which are the Celebes Sea, Coral Sea, East China Sea (East Sea), Philippine Sea, Sea of Japan, South China Sea (South Sea), Sulu Sea, Tasman Sea, and Yellow Sea (West Sea of Korea). The Geology of Indonesia#Indonesian Seaway, Indonesian Seaway (including the Strait of Malacca and Torres Strait) joins the Pacific and the Indian Ocean to the west, and Drake Passage and the Strait of Magellan link the Pacific with the Atlantic Ocean on the east. To the north, the Bering Strait connects the Pacific with the Arctic Ocean. As the Pacific straddles the 180th meridian, the ''West Pacific'' (or ''western Pacific'', near Asia) is in the Eastern Hemisphere, while the ''East Pacific'' (or ''eastern Pacific'', near the Americas) is in the Western Hemisphere. The Southern Pacific Ocean harbors the Southeast Indian Ridge crossing from south of Australia turning into the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge (north of the South Pole) and merges with another ridge (south of South America) to form the East Pacific Rise which also connects with another ridge (south of North America) which overlooks the Juan de Fuca Ridge. For most of Magellan's voyage from the Strait of Magellan to the Philippines, the explorer indeed found the ocean peaceful; however, the Pacific is not always peaceful. Many tropical storms batter the islands of the Pacific. The lands around the Pacific Rim are full of volcanoes and often affected by earthquakes. Tsunamis, caused by underwater earthquakes, have devastated many islands and in some cases destroyed entire towns. The Martin Waldseemüller map of 1507 was the first to show the Americas separating two distinct oceans. Later, the Diogo Ribeiro map of 1529 was the first to show the Pacific at about its proper size.
Bordering countries and territories
Sovereign nations* Australia * Brunei * Cambodia * Canada * Chile * China * Colombia * Cook Islands * Costa Rica * Ecuador * El Salvador * Federated States of Micronesia * Fiji * Guatemala * Honduras * Indonesia * Japan * Kiribati * Malaysia * Marshall Islands * Mexico * Nauru * New Zealand * Nicaragua * Niue * North Korea * Palau * Panama * Papua New Guinea * Peru * Philippines * Russia * Samoa * Singapore * Solomon Islands * South Korea * Taiwan * Thailand * Timor-Leste * Tonga * Tuvalu * United States * Vanuatu * Vietnam
Territories* American Samoa (US) * Baker Island (US) * Clipperton Island (France) * Coral Sea Islands (Australia) * French Polynesia (France) * Guam (US) * Hong Kong (China) * Howland Island (US) * Jarvis Island (US) * Johnston Island (US) * Kingman Reef (US) * Macau (China) * Midway Atoll (US) * New Caledonia (France) * Norfolk Island (Australia) * Northern Mariana Islands (US) * Palmyra Atoll (US) * Pitcairn Islands (UK) * Tokelau (New Zealand) * Wallis and Futuna (France) * Wake Island (US)
Landmasses and islandsThe Pacific Ocean has most of the islands in the world. There are about 25,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean. The islands entirely within the Pacific Ocean can be divided into three main groups known as Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia. Micronesia, which lies north of the equator and west of the International Date Line, includes the Mariana Islands in the northwest, the Caroline Islands in the center, the Marshall Islands to the east and the islands of Kiribati in the southeast. Melanesia, to the southwest, includes New Guinea, the world's second largest island after Greenland and by far the largest of the Pacific islands. The other main Melanesian groups from north to south are the Bismarck Archipelago, the Solomon Islands, Santa Cruz Islands, Santa Cruz, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia. The largest area, Polynesia, stretching from Hawaii in the north to New Zealand in the south, also encompasses Tuvalu, Tokelau, Samoa, Tonga and the Kermadec Islands to the west, the Cook Islands, Society Islands and Austral Islands in the center, and the Marquesas Islands, Tuamotus, Tuamotu, Mangareva Islands, and Easter Island to the east. Islands in the Pacific Ocean are of four basic types: continental islands, high islands, coral reefs and uplifted coral platforms. Continental islands lie outside the andesite line and include New Guinea, the islands of New Zealand, and the Philippines. Some of these islands are structurally associated with nearby continents. High islands are of volcanic origin, and many contain active volcanoes. Among these are Bougainville Island, Bougainville, Hawaii, and the Solomon Islands. The coral reefs of the South Pacific are low-lying structures that have built up on basaltic lava flows under the ocean's surface. One of the most dramatic is the Great Barrier Reef off northeastern Australia with chains of reef patches. A second island type formed of coral is the uplifted coral platform, which is usually slightly larger than the low coral islands. Examples include Banaba Island, Banaba (formerly Ocean Island) and Makatea in the Tuamotu group of French Polynesia.
Water characteristicsThe volume of the Pacific Ocean, representing about 50.1 percent of the world's oceanic water, has been estimated at some . Surface water temperatures in the Pacific can vary from , the freezing point of sea water, in the poleward areas to about near the equator. Salinity also varies latitudinally, reaching a maximum of 37 parts per thousand in the southeastern area. The water near the equator, which can have a salinity as low as 34 parts per thousand, is less salty than that found in the mid-latitudes because of abundant equatorial precipitation throughout the year. The lowest counts of less than 32 parts per thousand are found in the far north as less evaporation of seawater takes place in these frigid areas. The motion of Pacific waters is generally clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere (the Ocean gyre, North Pacific gyre) and counter-clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. The North Equatorial Current, driven westward along 15th parallel north, latitude 15°N by the trade winds, turns north near the Philippines to become the warm Japan or Kuroshio Current. Turning eastward at about 45th parallel north, 45°N, the Kuroshio forks and some water moves northward as the Aleutian Current, while the rest turns southward to rejoin the North Equatorial Current. The Aleutian Current branches as it approaches North America and forms the base of a counter-clockwise circulation in the Bering Sea. Its southern arm becomes the chilled slow, south-flowing California Current. The South Equatorial Current, flowing west along the equator, swings southward east of New Guinea, turns east at about 50th parallel south, 50°S, and joins the main westerly circulation of the South Pacific, which includes the Earth-circling Antarctic Circumpolar Current. As it approaches the Chilean coast, the South Equatorial Current divides; one branch flows around Cape Horn and the other turns north to form the Peru or Humboldt Current.
ClimateThe climate patterns of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres generally mirror each other. The trade winds in the southern and eastern Pacific are remarkably steady while conditions in the North Pacific are far more varied with, for example, cold winter temperatures on the east coast of Russia contrasting with the milder weather off British Columbia during the winter months due to the preferred flow of ocean currents. In the tropical and subtropical Pacific, the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) affects weather conditions. To determine the phase of ENSO, the most recent three-month sea surface temperature average for the area approximately to the southeast of Hawaii is computed, and if the region is more than above or below normal for that period, then an El Niño or La Niña is considered in progress. In the tropical western Pacific, the monsoon and the related wet season during the summer months contrast with dry winds in the winter which blow over the ocean from the Asian landmass. Worldwide, tropical cyclone activity peaks in late summer, when the difference between temperatures aloft and sea surface temperatures is the greatest; however, each particular basin has its own seasonal patterns. On a worldwide scale, May is the least active month, while September is the most active month. November is the only month in which all the tropical cyclone basins are active. The Pacific hosts the two most active tropical cyclone basins, which are the northwestern Pacific and the eastern Pacific. Pacific hurricanes form south of Mexico, sometimes striking the western Mexican coast and occasionally the southwestern United States between June and October, while typhoons forming in the northwestern Pacific moving into southeast and east Asia from May to December. Tropical cyclones also form in the South Pacific tropical cyclone, South Pacific basin, where they occasionally impact island nations. In the arctic, icing from October to May can present a hazard for shipping while persistent fog occurs from June to December. A climatological low in the Gulf of Alaska keeps the southern coast wet and mild during the winter months. The Westerlies and associated jet stream within the Mid-Latitudes can be particularly strong, especially in the Southern Hemisphere, due to the temperature difference between the tropics and Antarctica,John P. Stimac
GeologyThe ocean was first mapped by Abraham Ortelius; he called it Maris Pacifici following Ferdinand Magellan's description of it as "a pacific sea" during his circumnavigation from 1519 to 1522. To Magellan, it seemed much more calm (pacific) than the Atlantic. The andesite line is the most significant regional distinction in the Pacific. A petrologic boundary, it separates the deeper, mafic igneous rock of the Central Pacific Basin from the partially submerged continental areas of felsic igneous rock on its margins. The andesite line follows the western edge of the islands off California and passes south of the Aleutian Islands, Aleutian arc, along the eastern edge of the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Kuril Islands, Japan, the Mariana Islands, the Solomon Islands, and New Zealand's North Island. The dissimilarity continues northeastward along the western edge of the Andes American Cordillera, Cordillera along South America to Mexico, returning then to the islands off California. Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, New Guinea, and New Zealand lie outside the andesite line. Within the closed loop of the andesite line are most of the deep troughs, submerged volcanic mountains, and oceanic volcanic islands that characterize the Pacific basin. Here basaltic lavas gently flow out of rifts to build huge dome-shaped volcanic mountains whose eroded summits form island arcs, chains, and clusters. Outside the andesite line, volcanism is of the explosive type, and the Pacific Ring of Fire is the world's foremost belt of explosive volcanism. The Ring of Fire is named after the several hundred active volcanoes that sit above the various subduction zones. The Pacific Ocean is the only ocean which is mostly bounded by subduction zones. Only the Antarctic and Australian coasts have no nearby subduction zones.
Geological historyThe Pacific Ocean was born 750 million years ago at the breakup of Rodinia, although it is generally called the Panthalassa until the breakup of Pangea, about 200 million years ago. The oldest Pacific Ocean floor is only around 180 Mega-annum, Ma old, with older crust subducted by now.
Seamount chainsThe Pacific Ocean contains several long seamount chains, formed by Hotspot (geology), hotspot volcanism. These include the Hawaiian–Emperor seamount chain and the Louisville Ridge.
EconomyThe exploitation of the Pacific's mineral wealth is hampered by the ocean's great depths. In shallow waters of the continental shelves off the coasts of Australia and New Zealand, petroleum and natural gas are extracted, and pearls are harvested along the coasts of Australia, Japan, Papua New Guinea, Nicaragua, Panama, and the Philippines, although in sharply declining volume in some cases.
FishingFish are an important economic asset in the Pacific. The shallower shoreline waters of the continents and the more temperate islands yield herring, salmon, sardines, Australasian snapper, snapper, swordfish, and tuna, as well as shellfish. Overfishing has become a serious problem in some areas. For example, catches in the rich fishing grounds of the Sea of Okhotsk, Okhotsk Sea off the Russian coast have been reduced by at least half since the 1990s as a result of overfishing.
Nuclear wasteFrom 1946 to 1958, Marshall Islands served as the Pacific Proving Grounds for the United States and was the site of 67 nuclear tests on various atolls. Several nuclear weapons were lost in the Pacific Ocean, including one-megaton bomb lost during the 1965 Philippine Sea A-4 incident. In 2021, the Discharge of radioactive water of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, dumping of radioactive water of the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean over a course of 30 years was finally approved by the Japanese Cabinet. The Cabinet asserted the radioactive water would have been diluted to drinkable standard. Apart from dumping, Leakage of radioactive water of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, leakage of tritium into the Pacific was estimated to be between 20 to 40 trillion becquerel, Bqs from 2011 to 2013, according to the Fukushima plant.
Environmental issuesThe quantity of small plastic fragments floating in the north-east Pacific Ocean increased a hundredfold between 1972 and 2012. The ever-growing Great Pacific garbage patch between California and Japan is three times the size of France. An estimated 80,000 metric tons of plastic inhabit the patch, totaling 1.8 trillion pieces. Marine pollution is a generic term for the harmful entry into the ocean of chemicals or particles. The main culprits are those using the rivers for disposing of their waste. The rivers then empty into the ocean, often also bringing chemicals used as fertilizers in agriculture. The excess of oxygen-depleting chemicals in the water leads to hypoxia (environmental), hypoxia and the creation of a dead zone (ecology), dead zone.Gerlach: Marine Pollution, Springer, Berlin (1975) Marine debris, also known as marine litter, is human-created waste that has ended up floating in a lake, sea, ocean, or waterway. Oceanic debris tends to accumulate at the center of gyres and coastlines, frequently washing aground where it is known as beach litter. In addition, the Pacific Ocean has served as the crash site of satellites, including Mars 96, Fobos-Grunt, and Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite.
Major ports and harbors
See also* Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation * Pacific Alliance * Pacific coast * Pacific Time Zone * Seven Seas * Trans-Pacific Partnership * War of the Pacific * Natural delimitation between the Pacific and South Atlantic oceans by the Scotia Arc
Further reading* * * * * * * Jones, Eric, Lionel Frost, and Colin White. ''Coming Full Circle: An Economic History of the Pacific Rim'' (Westview Press, 1993) * * * * * Paine, Lincoln. ''The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World'' (2015). * * Samson, Jane. ''British imperial strategies in the Pacific, 1750–1900'' (Ashgate Publishing, 2003). * * *
Historiography* Calder, Alex, et al. eds. '' Voyages and Beaches: Pacific Encounters, 1769–1840'' (U of Hawai‘i Press, 1999) * Davidson, James Wightman. "Problems of Pacific history." ''Journal of Pacific History'' 1#1 (1966): 5–21. * Dirlik, Arif. “The Asia-Pacific Idea: Reality and Representation in the Invention of a Regional Structure,” ''Journal of World History'' 3#1 (1992): 55–79. * Dixon, Chris, and David Drakakis-Smith. “The Pacific Asian Region: Myth or Reality?” ''Geografiska Annaler. Series B, Human Geography'' 77#@ (1995): 75+ * Dodge, Ernest S. ''New England and the South Seas'' (Harvard UP, 1965). * Flynn, Dennis O., Arturo Giráldez, and James Sobredo, eds. ''Studies in Pacific History: Economics, Politics, and Migration'' (Ashgate, 2002). * Gulliver, Katrina. "Finding the Pacific world." ''Journal of World History'' 22#1 (2011): 83–100