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Pacific Ocean
Map of Pacific Ocean
Introduction Pacific Ocean
Background:
Pacific Ocean is largest of world's five oceans (followed by Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Southern Ocean, and Arctic Ocean). Strategically important access waterways include La Perouse, Tsugaru, Tsushima, Taiwan, Singapore, and Torres Straits.
Geography Pacific Ocean
Location:
body of water between Southern Ocean, Asia, Australia, and Western Hemisphere
Geographic coordinates:
0 00 N, 160 00 W
Map references:
Political Map of World
Area:
total: 155.557 million sq km
note: includes Bali Sea, Bering Sea, Bering Strait, Coral Sea, East China Sea, Gulf of Alaska, Gulf of Tonkin, Philippine Sea, Sea of Japan, Sea of Okhotsk, South China Sea, Tasman Sea, and other tributary water bodies
Area - comparative:
about 15 times size of US; covers about 28% of globel surface; larger than total land area of world
Coastline:
135,663 km
Climate:
planetary air pressure systems and resultant wind patterns exhibit remarkable uniformity in south and east; trade winds and westerly winds are well-developed patterns, modified by seasonal fluctuations; tropical cyclones (hurricanes) may form south of Mexico from June to October and affect Mexico and Central America; continental influences cause climatic uniformity to be much less pronounced in eastern and western regions at same latitude in North Pacific Ocean; western Pacific is monsoonal - a rainy season occurs during summer months, when moisture-laden winds blow from ocean over land, and a dry season during winter months, when dry winds blow from Asian landmass back to ocean; tropical cyclones (typhoons) may strike southeast and east Asia from May to December
Terrain:
surface currents in northern Pacific are dominated by a clockwise, warm-water gyre (broad circular system of currents) and in southern Pacific by a counterclockwise, cool-water gyre; in northern Pacific, sea ice forms in Bering Sea and Sea of Okhotsk in winter; in southern Pacific, sea ice from Antarctica reaches its northernmost extent in October; ocean floor in eastern Pacific is dominated by East Pacific Rise, while western Pacific is dissected by deep trenches, includes Mariana Trench, which is world's deepest
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Challenger Deep in Mariana Trench -10,924 m
highest point: sea level 0 m
Natural resources:
oil and gas fields, polymetallic nodules, sand and gravel aggregates, placer deposits, fish
Natural hazards:
surrounded by a zone of violent volcanic and earthquake activity occasionally referred to as "Pacific Ring of Fire"; subject to tropical cyclones (typhoons) in southeast and east Asia from May to December (most frequent from July to October); tropical cyclones (hurricanes) may form south of Mexico and strike Central America and Mexico from June to October (most common in August and September); cyclical El Nino/La Nina phenomenon occurs in equatorial Pacific, influencing weather in Western Hemisphere and western Pacific; ships subject to superstructure icing in extreme north from October to May; persistent fog in northern Pacific can be a maritime hazard from June to December
Environment - current issues:
endangered marine species include dugong, sea lion, sea otter, seals, turtles, and whales; oil pollution in Philippine Sea and South China Sea
Geography - note:
major chokepoints are Bering Strait, Panama Canal, Luzon Strait, and Singapore Strait; Equator divides Pacific Ocean into North Pacific Ocean and South Pacific Ocean; dotted with low coral islands and rugged volcanic islands in southwestern Pacific Ocean


Economy Pacific Ocean
Economy - overview:
Pacific Ocean is a major contributor to world economy and particularly to those nations its waters directly touch. It provides low-cost sea transportation between East and West, extensive fishing grounds, offshore oil and gas fields, minerals, and sand and gravel for construction industry. In 1996, over 60% of world's fish catch came from Pacific Ocean. Exploitation of offshore oil and gas reserves is playing an ever-increasing role in energy supplies of US, Australia, NZ, China, and Peru. high cost of recovering offshore oil and gas, combined with wide swings in world prices for oil since 1985, has slowed but not stopped new drillings.

Transportation Pacific Ocean
Ports and harbors:
Bangkok (Thailand), Hong Kong, Kao-hsiung (Taiwan), Los Angeles (US), Manila (Philippines), Pusan (South Korea), San Francisco (US), Seattle (US), Shanghai (China), Singapore, Sydney (Australia), Vladivostok (Russia), Wellington (NZ), Yokohama (Japan)
Transportation - note:
Inside Passage offers protected waters from southeast Alaska to Puget Sound (Washington state)

Transnational Issues Pacific Ocean
Disputes - international:
some maritime disputes (see littoral states)