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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)

Regional Sub-Divisions

Available Books


Image Name
"Borachos," or Wine Skins
A Bread Seller : Funchal Market
The Great Eastern (1865)
R.M.S.P. "Avon" Saloon, showing portion of Dome
An Accident Upon the Road
Homeward Bound
In the Bows, August 2 : The Cable Broken and Lost : Preparing to Grapple
Mules with Sacks of Wine : Monte Road
Front Cover
Paying-Out Machinery
A Typical Madeira Valley
Beater and One of the Bag
Oak Bank
Engineer's House : Faya de Nogueira
A Running Carro : Monte Road
Wine Shipper's Yard : Funchal
A Roadside Scene
The Cable Passed from the Works into the Hulk Lying in the Thames at Greenwich
Peasants Going to Market
Title Page
A Terrace of Idylls : Quinta da Levada
The Desertas : Landing Provisions
Coiling the Cable in the Large Tanks at the Works at Green-Wich
Road near S. Antonio da Serra
Yoke of Draught Oxen
A Franciscan Friar Collecting Donations for His Convent
The Atlantic Telegraph [Map] (1865)
A Sledge with Pipe of Madeira Wine
Peasants Embroidering
Basket Work : Camacha
Basket Chairs coming into Town
An Ox Carro : Funchal
A Carro Stand : Funchal
The Pride of the Family
Launching Buoy on August 8, in Lat. 51° 25' 30''; Long. 30° 56' (Marking Spot Where Cable had Been Grappled)
General View of Port Magee, &c., from the Heights Below Cora Beg : The Caroline Laying the Shore End of the Cable, July 22
Little Wood Gatherers
The Forge on Deck : Night of August 9 : Preparing the Iron Plating for Capstan
Rural Toil
The Fish Market : A Busy Corner
Funchal Beach : Country Market Boat
R.M.S.P. "Avon" 1st Class Dining Saloon
St. Paul's Church
Wild Blue Hydrangea
Hat Sellers in the Public Square
The Late King of Portugal playing tennis at the Palheiro
Sunrise over the Desertas
Front view of Longwood Old House
Horses Resting at Poiso Paso
The Desertas : Sail Rock
An Upland Lane : Santo da Serra
In the Matade Valley
Trinity Bay, Newfoundland : Exterior View of Telegraph House in 1857-1858
Oxen with their Leading Boy
A Water Carrier
An Angel ready for the March
Fishermen's Wives and Children
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.
Title Page
Inside of a Cottage
A Typical Madeira Cottage
Views of Lower Part of James Town
A Shady Corner : Flower and Fruit Market
Early Morning : Funchal Bay
Title Page
Procession Leaving S. Peter's Church, Funchal
Light, Shade and Blossom
A Prior of the Order of St. Francis and a Lay Brother
En route for the Goats
After Goats in the Desertas
Splicing the Cable (After the First Accident) on Board the Great Eastern, July 25
The Horn at Sunrise
Pico Grande
Casino Ballroom
Interior of One of the Tanks on Board the Great Eastern : Cable Passing Out
Napoleon's Tomb
The Levada de Joao Gomes
Procession Approaching the Cathedral
H.M.S. Agamemnon Laying the Atlantic Telegraph Cable in 1858 : A Whale Crosses the Line
Map of Madeira
The Logberg and Thingvalla Vatn
On the Northern Coast
Peasants Resting by the Wayside
In a Madeira Garden
Longwood Old House
View of Upper Part of Main Street
A Corner at the Casino Gardens
Fishing Village of Cama de Lobos
Casino Terrace
Wood Cutters : The Dinner Hour
A Market Boat


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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