Pacific Ocean

Pacific Ocean
Map of the Pacific Ocean
Coordinates0°N 160°W / 0°N 160°W / 0; -160
Surface area165,250,000 km2 (63,800,000 sq mi)
Average depth4,280 m (14,040 ft)
Max. depth10,911 m (35,797 ft)
Water volume710,000,000 km3 (170,000,000 cu mi)
IslandsList of islands
SettlementsAnchorage, Auckland, Brisbane, Busan, Guayaquil, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Lima, Los Angeles, Manila, Melbourne, Osaka, Panama City, Papeete, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Shanghai, Singapore, Suva, Sydney, Tijuana, Tokyo, Valparaíso, Vancouver, Vladivostok

The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to Antarctica) in the south and is bounded by the continents of Asia and Australia in the west and the Americas in the east.

At 165,250,000 square kilometers (63,800,000 square miles) in area (as defined with an Antarctic southern border), this largest division of the World Ocean—and, in turn, the hydrosphere—covers about 46% of Earth's water surface and about one-third of its total surface area, making it larger than all of Earth's land area combined.[1] The centers of both the Water Hemisphere and the Western Hemisphere are in the Pacific Ocean. The equator subdivides it into the North(ern) Pacific Ocean and South(ern) Pacific Ocean, with two exceptions: the Galápagos and Gilbert Islands, while straddling the equator, are deemed wholly within the South Pacific.[2] Its mean depth is 4,000 meters (13,000 feet).[3] The Mariana Trench in the western North Pacific is the deepest point in the world, reaching a depth of 10,911 meters (35,797 feet).[4] The western Pacific has many peripheral seas.

Though 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 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 and Spanish means "peaceful sea".[5]


Early migrations

Universalis Cosmographia, the Waldseemüller map dated 1507, from a time when the nature of the Americas was ambiguous, particularly North America, as a possible part of Asia, was the first map to show the Americas separating two distinct oceans. South America was generally considered a "new world" and shows the name "America" for the first time, after Amerigo Vespucci
Made in 1529, the Diogo Ribeiro map was the first to show the Pacific at about its proper size
Maris Pacifici by Ortelius (1589). One of the first printed maps to show the Pacific Ocean[6]

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 Papuans); and east to the islands of Micronesia, Oceania and Polynesia.[7]

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. By at least 878 when there was a significant Islamic settlement in Canton much of this trade was controlled by Arabs or Muslims. In 219 BC Xu Fu sailed out into the Pacific searching for the elixir of immortality. From 1404 to 1433 Zheng He led expeditions into the Indian Ocean.

European exploration

Map of the Pacific Ocean during European Exploration, circa 1702–1707.
Map of the Pacific Ocean during European Exploration, circa 1754.

The 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,[8][9] and with Jorge Álvares's expedition to southern China in 1513,[10] both ordered by Afonso de Albuquerque from Malacca.

The east 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.[11] 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.

Spanish explorations and routes across the Pacific Ocean.

In 1519, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan sailed the Pacific East to West on a 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.[12] Magellan stopped at one uninhabited Pacific island before stopping at Guam in March 1521.[13] Although Magellan himself died in the Philippines in 1521, Spanish Basque 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 a single expedition in 1522.[14] Sailing around and east of the Moluccas, between 1525 and 1527, Portuguese expeditions discovered the Caroline Islands,[15] the Aru Islands,[16] and Papua New Guinea.[17] In 1542–43 the Portuguese also reached Japan.[18]

In 1564, five Spanish ships carrying 379 explorers crossed the ocean from Mexico led by Miguel López de Legazpi, and sailed to the Philippines and Mariana Islands.[19] For the remainder of the 16th century, Spanish influence was paramount, with ships sailing from Mexico and Peru across the Pacific Ocean to the Philippines via Guam, and establishing the Spanish East Indies. The Manila galleons operated for two and a half centuries, linking Manila and Acapulco, in one of the longest trade routes in history. Spanish expeditions also discovered Tuvalu, the Marquesas, the Cook Islands, the Solomon Islands, and the Admiralty Islands in the South Pacific.[20]

Later, in the quest for Terra Australis ("the [great] Southern Land"), Spanish explorations in the 17th century, such as the expedition led by the Portuguese navigator Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, discovered the Pitcairn and Vanuatu archipelagos, and sailed the Torres Strait between Australia and New Guinea, named after navigator Luís Vaz de Torres. Dutch explorers, sailing around southern Africa, also engaged in discovery and trade; Willem Janszoon, made the first completely documented European landing in Australia (1606), in Cape York Peninsula,[21] and Abel Janszoon Tasman circumnavigated and landed on parts of the Australian continental coast and discovered Tasmania and New Zealand in 1642.[22]

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Spain considered the Pacific Ocean a mare clausum—a sea closed to other naval powers. As the only known entrance from the Atlantic, the Strait of Magellan was at times patrolled by fleets sent to prevent entrance of non-Spanish ships. On the western side of the Pacific Ocean the Dutch threatened the Spanish Philippines.[23]

The 18th century marked the beginning of major exploration by the Russians in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, such as the First Kamchatka expedition and the Great Northern Expedition, led by the Danish Russian navy officer Vitus Bering. Spain also sent expeditions to the Pacific Northwest, reaching Vancouver Island in southern Canada, and Alaska. The French explored and settled Polynesia, and the British made three voyages with James Cook to the South Pacific and Australia, Hawaii, and the North American Pacific Northwest. In 1768, Pierre-Antoine Véron, a young astronomer accompanying Louis Antoine de Bougainville on his voyage of exploration, established the width of the Pacific with precision for the first time in history.[24] One of the earliest voyages of scientific exploration was organized by Spain in the Malaspina Expedition of 1789–1794. It sailed vast areas of the Pacific, from Cape Horn to Alaska, Guam and the Philippines, New Zealand, Australia, and the South Pacific.[20]

New Imperialism

The bathyscaphe Trieste, before her record dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, 23 January 1960

Growing 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 in the 1830s, with Charles Darwin aboard;[25] HMS Challenger during the 1870s;[26] the USS Tuscarora (1873–76);[27] and the German Gazelle (1874–76).[28]

Dupetit Thouars taking over Tahiti on 9 September 1842

In Oceania, France obtained a leading position as imperial power after making Tahiti and New Caledonia protectorates in 1842 and 1853, respectively.[29] 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.[30](p53) By 1900 nearly all Pacific islands were in control of Britain, France, United States, Germany, Japan, and Chile.[29]

Although the United States gained control of Guam and the Philippines from Spain in 1898,[31] 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 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.[32] Since the end of World War II, many former colonies in the Pacific have become independent states.

Other Languages
Адыгэбзэ: Щэху Хышхуэ
адыгабзэ: Хышхо Шъэф
Afrikaans: Stille Oseaan
Alemannisch: Pazifischer Ozean
Аҧсшәа: Аокеан ҭынч
aragonés: Ocián Pacifico
azərbaycanca: Sakit okean
Bân-lâm-gú: Thài-pêng-iûⁿ
Basa Banyumasan: Samudra Pasifik
башҡортса: Тымыҡ океан
беларуская: Ціхі акіян
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Ціхі акіян
Bikol Central: Kadagatan Pacifico
Bislama: Pasifik
български: Тихи океан
Boarisch: Pazifik
bosanski: Tihi okean
brezhoneg: Meurvor Habask
Чӑвашла: Лăпкă океан
čeština: Tichý oceán
davvisámegiella: Jaskesáhpi
dolnoserbski: Śichy ocean
Esperanto: Pacifiko
estremeñu: Océanu Pacíficu
euskara: Ozeano Barea
Fiji Hindi: Pacific Ocean
føroyskt: Kyrrahavið
français: Océan Pacifique
Gàidhlig: Cuan Sèimh
ГӀалгӀай: Тийна океан
贛語: 太平洋
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Thai-phìn-yòng
한국어: 태평양
Արեւմտահայերէն: Խաղաղական Ովկիանոս
hornjoserbsce: Ćichi ocean
hrvatski: Tihi ocean
Ilokano: Taaw Pasipiko
Bahasa Indonesia: Samudra Pasifik
interlingua: Oceano Pacific
Interlingue: Pacific Ocean
íslenska: Kyrrahaf
italiano: Oceano Pacifico
къарачай-малкъар: Шош океан
қазақша: Тынық мұхит
kernowek: Mor Cosel
Kiswahili: Pasifiki
Kreyòl ayisyen: Oseyan Pasifik
Кыргызча: Тынч океан
кырык мары: Шӹпӓн океан
latviešu: Klusais okeāns
Lëtzebuergesch: Pazifik
лезги: Лас океан
Limburgs: Sjtille Oceaan
lingála: Pasifíki
Lingua Franca Nova: Mar Pasifica
Livvinkarjala: Tyynimeri
lumbaart: Ucean Pacifich
македонски: Тихи Океан
მარგალური: რჩქალი ოკიანე
مازِرونی: آروم اوقیانوس
Bahasa Melayu: Lautan Pasifik
Minangkabau: Lautan Pasifik
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Tái-bìng-iòng
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ပစိဖိတ် သမုဒ္ဒရာ
Na Vosa Vakaviti: Pasifika Ocean
Nederlands: Grote Oceaan
日本語: 太平洋
Napulitano: Oceano Pacifeco
нохчийн: Тийна океан
Nordfriisk: Pasiifisk Oosean
Norfuk / Pitkern: Pesifik Oshen
norsk nynorsk: Stillehavet
occitan: Ocean Pacific
олык марий: Тыныс тептеҥыз
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Tinch okeani
Pangasinan: Dayat Pacifico
پنجابی: بحرالکاہل
Papiamentu: Oceano Pasifiko
Перем Коми: Лӧнь океан
Piemontèis: Océan Passìfich
Tok Pisin: Solwara Pasifik
Plattdüütsch: Pazifische Ozean
português: Oceano Pacífico
Qaraqalpaqsha: Tınısh okeanı
qırımtatarca: Tınç okean
reo tahiti: Moana Pātitifā
Ripoarisch: Stelle Ozean
română: Oceanul Pacific
rumantsch: Ocean Pacific
русиньскый: Тихый океан
русский: Тихий океан
саха тыла: Чуумпу далай
Gagana Samoa: Vasa Pasefika
Seeltersk: Pazifisken Ozean
Sesotho sa Leboa: Pacific Ocean
Simple English: Pacific Ocean
slovenčina: Tichý oceán
slovenščina: Tihi ocean
ślůnski: Pokojny Uocean
српски / srpski: Тихи океан
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Tihi ocean
suomi: Tyynimeri
svenska: Stilla havet
Taqbaylit: Agaraw Amelwi
tarandíne: Oceane Pacifeche
татарча/tatarça: Тын океан
Türkçe: Büyük Okyanus
Türkmençe: Ýuwaş okean
тыва дыл: Оожум океан
удмурт: Чус океан
українська: Тихий океан
Vahcuengh: Daibingzyangz
vepsän kel’: Tün' valdmeri
Tiếng Việt: Thái Bình Dương
文言: 太平洋
West-Vlams: Stillen Oceoan
吴语: 太平洋
粵語: 太平洋
žemaitėška: Ramosis ondėnīns
中文: 太平洋
kriyòl gwiyannen: Loséyan Pasifik