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Atlantic Ocean

Atlantic Ocean Collection

History Archive - Atlantic Ocean Collection

Atlantic Ocean, so called either from Mt. Atlas or from the fabulous island of Atlantis, which separates the old from the new world. Its greatest width is about 5,000 miles; but between Brazil and the African coast the distance is only about 1,600 miles. It is in open communication both with the Arctic Ocean and the Antarctic or Southern Ocean. The average depth is between two and three miles, though in places it is twice that depth.

It has been sounded in all directions, and it has been found that as a rule the bed of the ocean is a broad, gently undulating plain, though near some of the continental shores and around some of the volcanic cones which rise from this floor there are very steep slopes. Life exists at all depths of the sea, though becoming less abundant at greater depths; while the surface waters from equator to poles swarm with all kinds of plants and animals, many of which give forth a phosphorescent light, causing what is known as the luminosity of the sea.

Though only about half as large as the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic is much more important, as the most civilized nations of the world live on its shores and it is the great highway of trade for the world. Its coasts are better surveyed and better provided with lighthouses than those of any other ocean. It is divided by the equator into the North Atlantic and South Atlantic, with respective areas of 14,000,000 and 10,000,000 square miles. It is estimated that the yearly discharge of rivers into the Atlantic is 3,400 cubic miles of water, equal to about one half of the river discharge of the world.

There are warm and cold currents in the Atlantic, which have an effect on the neighboring lands. The most important is the Gulf Stream. It starts from the Gulf of Mexico and spreads out over the ocean to the south of Newfoundland; one part of it returns to the tropics off the coasts of Spain and Africa; the other passes northward between the British Isles and Iceland and on to the coasts of Norway, which are thus rendered habitable, though the opposite coasts of Greenland are icebound.

The chief inlets of the Atlantic are, on the west, Baffin Bay, Davis and Hudson Straits, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea; and on the east the North and Baltic Seas, Bay of Biscay, Strait of Gibraltar and Gulf of Guinea. The principal islands washed by the ocean are, on the west, Newfoundland, Bermuda, Bahama and West India Islands, Trinidad and the Falkland Islands; and on the east, Iceland, Faroe, Shetland, Orkney and the British Islands, the Azores, Madeira, Canary and Cape Verd Islands, together with St. Paul, Ascension and St. Helena. Some twenty cables now cross the Atlantic floor between the Old World and the New; while the Marconi wireless system, now successfully inaugurated, adds to the facilities of international communication.

The islands of the Atlantic Ocean are - except for those in one concentrated region - scattered far and wide, with little in common but their relative obscurity.

The most numerous group of islands are the so-called West Indies and their neighbors, located southeast of North America, east of Central America, and north of South America. Although part of the Atlantic, this sea forms its own region: the Caribbean.

Geologically, the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Lucayan island chain are in the Atlantic Ocean but are culturally and tourism-wise considered part of the Caribbean (West Indies) and listed as such.

The near-polar islands to the far north and south are covered here among the islands of the Arctic Ocean (Arctic) and Southern Ocean (Antarctica). The remaining islands of the Atlantic run rather intermittently from the southwestern tip of Europe, past West Africa, across the equator, to the open waters of the South Atlantic:

Northern Hemisphere

Southern Hemisphere

Plutarch in his Parallel Lives (Sertorius, 75 AD) referring to the military commander Quintus Sertorius (d. 72 BC), relates that after his return to Cádiz, he met sailors who spoke of idyllic Atlantic islands: "The islands are said to be two in number separated by a very narrow strait and lie 10,000 furlongs (2,011.68 km) from Africa. They are called the Isles of the Blest." Archeological evidence suggests that the islands may have been visited by the Vikings sometime between AD 900 and 1030.


The New Student's Reference Work (1914)

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Available Books


Image Name
Oak Bank
Levada de Joao Gomes : Dangerous Spot above a Precipice
The Cable Passed from the Works into the Hulk Lying in the Thames at Greenwich
Coiling the Cable in the Large Tanks at the Works at Green-Wich
The Fall of Oxara
A Typical Madeira Cottage
Wild Blue Hydrangea
Foilhummerum Bay, Valentia, Looking Seawards from the Point at Which the Cable Reaches the Shore
Wood Cutters : The Dinner Hour
R.M.S.P. "Avon" 1st Class Dining Saloon
H.M.S. Agamemnon Laying the Atlantic Telegraph Cable in 1858 : A Whale Crosses the Line
Costume Peculiar to some of the Western inhabitants of the Island
Palm Tree and Wistaria : Quina da Levada
View of Upper Part of Main Street
Rural Occupations
The Hansom Cab of Madeira
Back Cover
Title Page - Weighing Anchor off the Maplin Sands, Nore, July 15, 1865
Getting Out One of the Large Buoys for Launching, August 2
Peasants Going to Market
A Scene on the Road to Machico
Telegraph House, Trinity Bay, Newfoundland : Interior of Mess-Room 1858
Priests in Different Attire
Belladonna Amaryllis and Hydrangea
St. Paul's Church
A Shady Corner : Flower and Fruit Market
Kongsbakki Bjarnarhsn in the Distance
Manner of Cultivating the Ground
Front Cover
A Nun and Her Attendant
The Camp
A Mist in the Mountains
The Atlantic Telegraph [Map] (1865)
The Great Eastern Under Weight, July 23 : Escort and Other Ships Introduced Being the Terrible, the Sphinx, the Hawk, and the Caroline
A Cottage Enclosure
Beater and One of the Bag
Madeira : From an Ancient French Map
On the Northern Coast
View (Looking Aft) from the Port Paddle-Box of Great Eastern : Showing the Trough for Cable, etc.
An Officer and Private of the Garrison of Funchal
Hauling up a Dinghy
The Fish Market : Cutting up Tunny
At the Top of Pico Arriero
A Market Boat
A Fruit Shop : Funchal
West View of Loo Fort
The Grande Curral
A Wayside "Venda"
The Reels of Gutta-Percha-Covered Conducting-Wire Conveyed into Tanks at the Works at Greenwich
A Corner at the Casino Gardens
"Jardim da Serra"
The Great Eastern (1865)
Rural Toil
A Carro Stand : Funchal
Inland Scenery : Torres Mountains
Usual Manner of Travelling in Hammocks
A Mountain Path : Ribeiro Frio
Title Page
Country Musicians
The Washerwomen's Corner
Peasants Grinding Maize
Funchal Beach : Country Market Boat
In the Sugar Cane Fields
A Roadside Scene
The Pig Market : The Lowest Price!
A Madeira Garden Party
Mules with Sacks of Wine : Monte Road
The Old Frigate with Her Freight of Cable Alongside the Great Eastern at Sheerness
Peasants Resting by the Wayside
Funchal Bay from the West
Funchal : The Old Town Gate
A Veteran Beater
The Horn at Sunrise
A Typical Madeira Valley
A Franciscan Friar on a Journey
Chart, Showing the Track of the Steam-Ship Great Eastern on Her Voyage from Valentia to Newfoundland
A Procession in the Central Town
Peasants in Usual Costume
Forward Deck Cleared for the Final Attempt at Grappling, August 11
Road Leading to Casino
A Funchal Boatman
Coiling the Cable in the After-Tank on Board the Great Eastern at Sheerness : Visit of H.R.H. The Prince of Wales on May 24.
Trinity Bay, Newfoundland : Exterior View of Telegraph House in 1857-1858
In a Madeira Garden
A Country House at the Mount
An Angel ready for the March
The Boot Market
Views of Lower Part of James Town
Basaltic Rocks on the Way to Pico Ruiro
Festa Day at Camacha
View from Pico Arreiro
Back Cover
Pine Trees at S. Antonio da Serra
A Bright Garden Corner


Map Name
The Atlantic Telegraph - Chart, Showing the Track of the Steam-Ship Great Eastern on Her Voyage from Valentia to Newfoundland (1865)


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