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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)

Regional Sub-Divisions

Available Books


Image Name
The Fish Market : Cutting up Tunny
The Great Eastern (1865)
Belladonna Amaryllis and Hydrangea
A Scene on the Road to Machico
A Carro Stand : Funchal
Cutting Sugar Cane
Forward Deck Cleared for the Final Attempt at Grappling, August 11
Hauling up a Dinghy
Pine Trees at S. Antonio da Serra
Front Cover
A Picnic on the Hills
Looking Up Thorsmork
Peasants Going to Market
In a Madeira Garden
Title Page
Giant Heath Trees
Engineer's House : Faya de Nogueira
Map of Madeira
The Atlantic Telegraph [Map] (1865)
Datura and Bougainvillea : Monte Road
Procession Leaving S. Peter's Church, Funchal
Usual Manner of Travelling in Hammocks
Costume Peculiar to some of the Western inhabitants of the Island
Title Page
Telegraph House, Trinity Bay, Newfoundland : Interior of Mess-Room 1858
Horses Resting at Poiso Paso
Peasants Embroidering
Peasants in Usual Costume
A Market Boat
Valentia in 1857-1858 at the Time of the Laying of the Former Cable
A Procession in the Central Town
Launching Buoy on August 8, in Lat. 51° 25' 30''; Long. 30° 56' (Marking Spot Where Cable had Been Grappled)
An Angel ready for the March
A Terrace of Idylls : Quinta da Levada
Melstad and Reykir
View of Upper Part of Main Street
A Charming Corner
Official Dress of the Members of the Camera or Senate on the Death of the King and Accession of His Successor
Madeira from the Ocean
Paying-Out Machinery
Manner of Cultivating the Ground
Foilhummerum Bay Bay, Valentia, from Cornwall Fort : The Caro-Line and Boats Laying the Earth-Wire, Jul 21
Back Cover
Longwood New House
Front view of Longwood Old House
The Pride of the Family
The Desertas
Peasants Resting by the Wayside
A Cottage Enclosure
"Pride of Madeira"
Funchal Beach : A Morning Toilette
Funchal Bay from the West
A Funchal Boatman
Country Musicians
Festa Day at Camacha
Yoke of Draught Oxen
A Wayside "Venda"
Belladonna Amaryllis Growing Wild
View (Looking Aft) from the Port Paddle-Box of Great Eastern : Showing the Trough for Cable, etc.
Levada de Joao Gomes : Dangerous Spot above a Precipice
Getting Out One of the Large Buoys for Launching, August 2
An Accident Upon the Road
Cabo Girao
A Farmer and His Daughter Going to Town
Foilhummerum Bay, Valentia, Looking Seawards from the Point at Which the Cable Reaches the Shore
Searching for Fault After Recovery of the Cable from the Bed of the Atlantic, July 31
R.M.S.P. "Avon" Saloon, showing portion of Dome
Funchal Urchins
Kongsbakki Bjarnarhsn in the Distance
Wine Shipper's Yard : Funchal
A Franciscan Friar Collecting Donations for His Convent
The Boot Market
"Borachos," or Wine Skins
Manner of Drawing Pipes etc. by Means of the Sledge
Road near S. Antonio da Serra
The Horn at Sunrise
A Shady Corner : Flower and Fruit Market
West View of Loo Fort
Rising Mist : Ribeiro do Inferno
An Ox Carro : Funchal
The Desertas : The Pine Copse
Flower Girl
The Grande Curral
The Cliffs, Foilhummerum Bay : Point of the Landing of the Shore End of Cable, July 22
Easter Sunday at the English Church
A Nun and Her Attendant
The Atlantic Telegraph [Chart] (1865)
Rural Toil
Casino Ballroom
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.
Fishing Boats at Cama de Lobos Bay
Longwood Old House
Procession Approaching the Cathedral
Title Page
The Desertas : Sail Rock


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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