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Friday 24th May
Atlantic Facts
Atlantic ports and harbours are Algiers (Algeria), Oran (Algeria), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Antwerp (Belgium), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Montreal (Canada), Copenhagen (Denmark), Alexandria (Egypt), Le Havre (France), Marseille (France), Helsinki (Finland), Hamburg (Germany), Piraeus (Greece), Naples (Italy), Casablanca (Morocco), Rotterdam (Netherlands), Oslo (Norway), Colon (Panama), Gdansk (Poland), Lisbon (Portugal), Saint Petersburg (Russia), Dakar (Senegal), Barcelona (Spain), Las Palmas (Canary Islands, Spain), Stockholm (Sweden), London (UK), Montevideo (Uruguay), New Orleans (USA) and New York (USA).

The Atlantic Ocean is the youngest of the world's oceans - it was formed in the Jurassic Period.

Many of the great rivers of the world flow into the Atlantic, so that it receives water from about half the world's land area.

The name "Atlantic" is connected with the legendary island of Atlantis which was described by ancient writers such as Plato. In his account, Atlantis is said to have been made up of nine rings of land surrounded by nine rings of water.

The Atlantic was the first ocean to be crossed by ship and the first ocean to be crossed by aeroplane.

John Alcock and Arthur Brown made the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1919 taking sixteen and a half hours. In 1928 Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.

The first supersonic flight (Concorde) was across the Atlantic.

In 1833 the Great Western SS built by I.K. Brunel crossed the Atlantic in 15 days convincing the British Admiralty of the advantages of steam ships over sailing ships.

The Cunard Line began carrying passengers across the Atlantic in the 1850s.

In the South Atlantic the wide expanse of ocean between the tips of South Africa and South America generates huge waves and continuous strong winds, known as the "Roaring Forties".

In the winter storms of the Atlantic waves can reach a great size and do untold damage to land. In 1872, at Wick in Scotland, waves carried away concrete and rock weighing no less than 1,350 tons.

The highest tides in the world occur in the Bay of Fundy (Canada), with a rise of around fifty feet in the spring tides.

The Atlantic's warm Gulf Stream helps keep many harbours in the North of Europe free of ice in the winter.

Aircraft fly regular patrols to warn shipping of icebergs floating south from the Arctic.

The Titanic, a great British passenger liner, the largest ship in the world when she was built and said to be unsinkable, sank in 1912 on her maiden voyage to America after hitting an iceberg: 1,589 people died.

Scientists use sonar waves to map the floor of the Atlantic.

The Atlantic Ridge, the underwater mountain range which runs 10,000 miles south from Iceland is twice as wide as the Andes Mountains.

The deepest point in the Atlantic is the Puerto Rico Trench - approximately eight and a half thousand metres.

Iceland, a major Atlantic island, is the result of volcanic action and has a number of active volcanoes.

In 1963 a new volcano appeared in the Atlantic close to Iceland. It grew to become an island called Surtsey. Scientists studying the island, now a World Heritage site, have seen the arrival of seeds carried by ocean currents and the appearance of birds and invertebrates.

The islands of the Azores and Tristan da Cunha are mountain tops of the Ridge. In 1961 a volcanic eruption on Tristan da Cunha forced the people to leave. All 264 inhabitants came to live in Britain but most of them returned in 1963.

Volcanic activity in Montserrat has driven people from their homes.

Diamonds are scooped from the sea bed off the coast of Namibia in southern Africa.

In 1938 fishermen off the Southern coast of Africa caught, alive, a coelacanth, a type of fish that first appeared in the sea some 300 million years ago and had been thought extinct for more than 60 million years.

Modern trawling methods have led to a decline of fish stocks in the Atlantic.

The Cancun reef, off the coast of Yucatan (Mexico) is the world's second largest barrier reef, after the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.

The Battle of Trafalgar, Britain's most famous naval battle, was fought off the south west coast of Spain on 21 October 1805. Lord Nelson, the British commander was killed by the French but the enemy was defeated. After his defeat at Waterloo, the French Emperor, Napoleon, was exiled to St. Helena in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Bermuda Triangle, a triangular area in the Atlantic, is said to be responsible for mysterious shipwrecks, disappearances and air crashes (the apexes of the triangle are Bermuda, Miami, Florida and San Juan, Puerto Rico).

The Mary Celeste was found abandoned in the Atlantic in November 1872. her crew of eight and the captain's wife and daughter had disappeared. No one has ever discovered what happened.

The Great Eastern, then the world's largest ship, laid the first successful telegraph cable under the Atlantic in 1866.

One of the most famous early successes of transatlantic radio was when it led to the arrest of Dr Crippen who was travelling by ship to the USA. He was trying to escape from police after murdering his wife in London.

The Battle of the Atlantic is the name given to the campaign against the U-boat attacks on allied shipping in World War II. 2,828 allied merchant ships were sunk and 782 German ships and 85 submarines.

In World War II the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth carried US troops across the Atlantic to Europe. On one voyage the Queen Mary had over 16,000 people on board. Together they had carried well over 1,000,000 soldiers by the end of the war.

In 1972 a bomb disposal squad parachuted to the QE2 in Mid Atlantic after a telephone caller threatened bombs would be exploded unless he was paid $350,000.

Research by Professor Gregory Ryskin, published in 2009, suggests that the Earth's magnetism may be linked to ocean currents. (The general acceptance has been that Earth's magnetism is generated by molten metals flowing around the Earth's core.)

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