Indian Ocean Facts

  • The Indian Ocean is 10,000 km across at its widest point, between Africa and Australia.
  • The Indian Ocean is the third largest ocean. It is about half the size of the Pacific Ocean and covers one-fifth of the world’s ocean area. It has a total area of 73,426,000 sq km.
  • The average depth of the Indian Ocean is 3890 m.
  • The deepest point is the Java Trench off Java, in Indonesia, which is 7450 m deep. It marks the line where the Australian plate is being subducted (see converging plates) under the Eurasian plate. 364
  • Scientists believe that the Indian Ocean began to form about 200 million years ago when Australia broke away from Africa, followed by India.
  • The Indian Ocean is getting 20 cm wider every year.
  • The Indian Ocean is scattered with thousands of tropical islands such as the Seychelles and Maldives.
  • The Maldives are so low lying that they may be swamped if global warming melts the polar ice.
  • Unlike in other oceans, currents in the Indian Ocean change course twice a year. They are blown by monsoon winds towards Africa in winter, and then in the other direction towards India in summer.
  • The Persian Gulf is the warmest sea in the world; the Red Sea is the saltiest.