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Arabian Sea

The Arabian Sea is a region of the Indian Ocean bounded on on the north by Pakistan and Iran, on the south by northeastern Somalia, on the east by India and on the west by the Arabian Peninsula. Some of the ancient names of this body of water include Sindhu Sagar (meaning "Sea of Sindh" in Sanskrit)[1] and Erythraean Sea.



Gwadar Bay, located in the Gulf of Oman in the Makran region of Pakistan. It is an inlet of the Arabian Sea indenting the sandy Makran coast at the Iran Pakistan border.

Ancient map (17th century) depicting the locations of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Ancient map (17th century) depicting the locations of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Colva Beach]], Goa The Arabian Sea's surface area is about .[2] The maximum width of the Sea is approximately , and its maximum depth is . The biggest river flowing into the Sea is the Indus River.

The Arabian Sea has two important branches the Gulf of Aden in the southwest, connecting with the Red Sea through the strait of Bab-el-Mandeb; and the Gulf of Oman to the northwest, connecting with the Persian Gulf. There are also the gulfs of Cambay and Kutch on the Indian coast.

The countries with coastlines on the Arabian Sea are Somalia, Djibouti, Yemen, Oman, Iran, Pakistan, India and the Maldives. There are several large cities on the Arabian Sea coast including Karachi, Gwadar, Pasni, Ormara, Aden, Muscat, Mumbai, Mangalore, Kochi, Keti Bandar, Salalah and Duqm.


The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Arabian Sea as follows:[3]

On the West. The Eastern limit of the Gulf of Aden [The meridian of Cape Guardafui (Ras Asir, 51 16'E)].

On the North. A line joining R s al Hadd, East point of Arabia (22 32'N) and R s Jiy ni (61 43'E) on the coast of Pakistan.

On the South. A line running from the South extremity of Addu Atoll (Maldives), to the Eastern extreme of R s Hafun (Africa, 10 26'N).

On the East. The Western limit of the Laccadive Sea [A line running from Sadashivgad Lt. on West Coast of India () to Corah Divh () and thence down the West side of the Laccadive and Maldive Archipelagos to the most Southerly point of Addu Atoll in the Maldives].

Alternative names

The Arabian Sea historically and geographically has had many other different names and it has also been given names by Muslim travelers and European geographers such as: Akhzar Sea, Persian Sea,[4] Sindhu Sagar,[5] Erythraean Sea,[6] and Sindh Sea.[7], Mare Rumrum, Sinus Guzerat(Gujerat),

Trade routes

Names, routes and locations of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Names, routes and locations of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
The Arabian Sea has been an important marine trade route since the era of the coastal sailing vessels from possibly as early as the 3rd millennium BCE, certainly the late 2nd millennium BCE through the later days known as the Age of Sail. By the time of Julius Caesar, several well-established combined land-sea trade routes depended upon water transport through the Sea around the rough inland terrain features to its north.

These routes usually began in the Far East or down river from Madhya Pradesh with transshipment via historic Bharuch (Bharakuccha), traversed past the inhospitable coast of today's Iran then split around Hadhramaut into two streams north into the Gulf of Aden and thence into the Levant, or south into Alexandria via Red Sea ports such as Axum. Each major route involved transhipping to pack animal caravan, travel through desert country and risk of bandits and extortionate tolls by local potentiates.

This southern coastal route past the rough country in the southern Arabian peninsula (Yemen and Oman today) was significant, and the Egyptian Pharaohs built several shallow canals to service the trade, one more or less along the route of today's Suez canal, and another from the Red Sea to the Nile River, both shallow works that were swallowed up by huge sand storms in antiquity. Later the kingdom of Axum arose in Ethiopia to rule a mercantile empire rooted in the trade with Europe via Alexandria.

Major ports

The Port of Karachi in Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, with some of the city's residential areas visible. The port is one of the busiest in the Arabian Sea
The Port of Karachi in Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, with some of the city's residential areas visible. The port is one of the busiest in the Arabian Sea
The Port of Karachi (Urdu: Bandar g h Kar c ) is Pakistan's largest and busiest seaport, handling about 60% of the nation's cargo (25 million tons per annum). It is located between the Karachi towns of Kiamari and Saddar, close to the main business district and several industrial areas. The geographic position of the port places it in close proximity to major shipping routes such as the Strait of Hormuz. The history of the port is intertwined with that of the city of Karachi. Several ancient ports have been attributed in the area including "Krokola", "Morontobara" (Woman's Harbour) (mentioned by Nearchus), Barbarikon (the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, and Debal (a city captured by the Muslim general Muhammad bin Qasim in 712 CE). There is a reference to the early existence of the port of Karachi in the "Umdah", by the Arab navigator Sulaiman al Mahri (AD 1511), who mentions "Ras al Karazi" and "Ras Karashi" while describing a route along the coast from Pasni to Ras Karashi.

Karachi is also mentioned in the sixteenth century Turkish treatise Mir' t l Mem lik (Mirror of Countries, 1557) by the Ottoman captain Seydi Ali Reis, which is a compilation of sailing directions from the Portuguese island of Diu to Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. It warns sailors about whirlpools and advises them to seek safety in "Kaurashi" harbour if they found themselves drifting dangerously.

The gate facing the sea was called "Kharadar" (salt gate), and the gate facing the Lyari River was called "Mithadar" (sweet gate). The modern neighbourhoods around the location of the gates are called Mithadar and Kharadar. Surrounded by mangrove swamps to the east, the sea to the southwest, and the Lyari River to the north, the town was well defended and engaged in a profitable trade with Muscat and Bahrain.

Gwadar Port, situated at Gwadar in Balochistan, Pakistan. Bird's eye view of Gwadar port
Gwadar Port, situated at Gwadar in Balochistan, Pakistan. Bird's eye view of Gwadar port

The Gwadar Port is a warm-water, deep-sea port situated at Gwadar in Balochistan, Pakistan at the apex of the Arabian Sea and at the entrance of the Persian Gulf, about 460 km west of Karachi and approximately 75 km (47 mi) east of Pakistan's border with Iran. The port is located on the eastern bay of a natural hammerhead-shaped peninsula jutting out into the Arabian Sea from the coastline.

Port of Salalah in Salalah, Oman is also a major port in the area. From a modest start in 1997, the Omani container transhipment port has achieved consistent growth. For a growing number of ships crew, the port of Salalah is a welcome sight after an unpleasant and often prolonged encounter with pirates. The Port of Salalah is a key container transhipment hub on the Arabian Sea and is often used as the first port of call for vessels whose crew have just been released from the clutches of Somali pirates following ransom payments for withheld vessels and crew. The port also plays host as a supply base for the visiting warships that provide protective escorts for merchant shipping in the sea lanes. From that dual role has emerged another, one as an intelligence network both military and civilian to exchange information on possible pirate sightings and near misses. Also, the International Task Force often uses the port as a base. There is a significant number of warships of all nations coming in and out of the port, which makes it a very safe bubble. The port handled just under 3.5m teu in 2009[8]

There are also a few Indian ports in the Arabian Sea such as Kandla Port, Nava Sheva, Mumbai Port, Mormugoa and Kochi Port.[9][10]


There are several islands in the Arabian Sea, with the largest being Socotra (Republic of Yemen), Masirah (Sultanate of Oman), Astola Island (Islamic Republic of Pakistan) and Andrott (Republic of India).

Astola]] is a Pakistani island just off the coast of Balochistan, Pakistan

Astola Island, also known as Jezira Haft Talar () or 'Island of the Seven Hills', is a small, uninhabited island in the northern tip of the Arabian Sea in Pakistan's territorial waters. It is a popular eco-tourism destination in the region.Overnight tourists camp on the island and bring their own provisions. Camping, fishing and scuba-diving expeditions are popular. It is also a site for observing turtle breeding. Endangered animals such as the Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbracata) nest on the beach at the foot of the cliffs. The island is also a very important area for endemic reptiles such as the Astola Viper (Echis carinatus astolae).

Landsat view over Socotra, a Yemeni island. Socotra ( ), also spelled Soqotra, is the largest island, being part of a small archipelago of four islands. It lies some east of the Horn of Africa and south of the Arabian Peninsula. The island is very isolated and through the process of speciation, a third of its plant life is found nowhere else on the planet. It has been described as the most alien-looking place on Earth.

Masirah () is an island off the East coast of Oman. The main industries here are fishing and traditional textile manufacturing. Formerly, traditional ship building was important. The rugged terrain of the island and surrounding rough coastline has led to the appearance of many wrecked dhows on the beaches of the island, most of them well preserved by the salt water and intense heat. The ocean bottom environment surrounding Masirah is hostile as the majority of the area is covered in either sand or hard rock. Despite the poor quality ocean bottom, the area is very productive with marine fisheries, and any hard objects (barrels, engines) are immediately colonized by local fauna.

See also


External links

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