The Indian Ocean is the earth's third largest body of water at 28,350,000 square miles which covers a total of 20% of the earth's surface.
The Indian Ocean is also the world's warmest ocean, the world's only closed ocean, has the lowest oxygenated waters of all the world's oceans,has the most negative water balance of all the world's oceans, the highest concentrations of both floating and dissolved hydrocarbons of all the world's seas and consists of areas of water with both the world's highest and lowest surface, salinity levels.
The Indian Ocean consists of 57 island groups or archipelagos, 16 seas or large gulfs, borders 16 African countries, 18 Asian countries and 1 Australasian state, is home to 40% of the world's offshore oil reserves and covers 5 submerged, oceanic ridges, 5 divergent tectonic plate boundaries and 1 Triple Point.
Because of it's continually warm temperatures, the Indian Ocean also has the highest evaporation level, the lowest resistance to phytoplankton growth and draws the least atmospheric oxygen of all the world's seas, leading to it harbouring the lowest levels of marine life of all the world's oceans.
The Indian Ocean's sea bed is around 12,760 feet deep, but the ocean also consists of two deep trenches which drop to over 25,000 feet deep - the 8,500,000 feet long Java Trench and the Diamantina Trench.
The ocean is also home to a complex system of divergent tectonic plate boundaries, including the Rodrigues Triple Point, the site of the mergence of the African, Indo - Australian and Antarctic continental plates.
The ocean's other continental ridges are the -
Carlsberg Ridge - Site of the mergence of the African and Indo - Australian plates.
South West Indian Ridge - Site of the mergence of the African and Antarctic plates.
South East Indian Ridge - Site of the mergence of the Indo - Australian and Antarctic plates.
Central Indian Ridge - Site of the mergence of the African and Indo - Australian plates.
Ninety East Ridge - A 5,000 km long, underwater mountain range which divides the ocean into distinct east and west regions.
The ocean also harbours two vast underwater, volcanic plateaux - the 2,200 km long Kerguelen Plateau and the 2,000 km long Mascarene Plateau - both of which rise above the ocean's surface to form a myriad of coral islands and volcanic cones.
The ocean consists of 57 other islands, island groups and archipelagos, including the large islands of Madagascar, Mauritius, Socotra, Sri - Lanka and the two large islands that make up Zanzibar, as well as the island groups of the Comoros, Maldives, Nicobar and Seychelles.
The ocean consists of, or feeds, 16 smaller bodies of water, including the Arabian and Red Seas, the Bay of Bengal, The Persian Gulf, the Great Australian Bight and the man made Suez Canal.
The ocean receives 6,000 km of river run off from some of the world's fastest flowing rivers, including the Brahmaputra, Ganges, Indus and Zambesi rivers.
Unlike the world's other large oceans the Indian Ocean is classified as a closed ocean, due to it being land locked to it's north by the continent of Asia.
The ocean also has a higher evaporation level than it receives river run off and precipitation, causing it to have the lowest oxygenated waters of all the world's oceans, the most negative water balance of all the world's seas and least resistance to the growth of marine phytoplanktons, leading to the ocean harbouring the lowest levels of marine life.
These features also lead the ocean to have both the highest and lowest recorded surface, salinity levels ( 32 - 37 parts per thousand ) of all the world's seas.The highest levels occuring at the points of the Arabian and Red Seas, owing to them both being closed, land locked seas.
The ocean consists of two, major water circulation systems, the South Equatorial Current, which consists of the Mozambique Current, The West Wind Drift and the Western Australian Current and the Monsoon Drift, which along with the ocean's all year round warm temperatures, draws moisture from the ocean's surface that goes on to cause the annual, weather phenomena known as the Indian Monsoons.
The Indian Ocean has for centuries been the main shipping passage between the East and the West and to this day is still home to some of the world's busiest cargo ports, including Mumbai and Kolkata in India, Aden in The Yemen, Perth in Western Australia and Karachi in Pakistan.
This busy trade route led to the building of the world famous Suez Canal in 1869, which meant traffic could pass from the Indian Ocean through to the Mediterranean Sea via the Arabian and Red Seas, taking days off an east to west shipping journey.
FACTS ABOUT SOME OF THE WORLD'S OTHER OCEANS AND SEAS.