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( Red Sea is also the name of two states, one in Sudan, and one in Egypt)
Location of the Red Sea
Location of the Red Sea
Image:Red Seaimage.png
Red Sea
The Red Sea ( Arabic البحر الأحمر al-Bahr al-Ahmar; Hebrew ים סוף Yam Suf; Tigrigna ቀይሕ ባሕሪ QeyH baHri) is a gulf or basin of the Indian Ocean between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb sound and the Gulf of Aden. In the north is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Gulf of Suez (leading to the Suez Canal). The sea is roughly 1,200 miles (1,900 km) long and at its widest is over 190 miles (300 km). The sea floor has a maximum depth of 8,200 feet (2,500 m) in the central median trench and an average depth of 1,640 feet (500 m), but it also has extensive shallow shelves, noted for their marine life and corals. The sea has a surface area of roughly 174,000 square miles (450,000 km²). The sea is the habitat of over 1,000 invertebrate species and 200 soft and hard corals. The sea occupies a part of the Great Rift Valley. The Red Sea is the world's most northern tropical sea.

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Physical properties
Bordering countries
Towns and cities

Name - Contents

The sea was called the "Arabian Gulf" in most European sources up to the 20th century. This was derived from older Greek sources. Herodotus, Straban and Ptolemy all call the waterway "Arabicus Sinus", while reserving the term "Sea of Erythrias" (Red Sea) for the waters around the southern Arabian Peninsula, now known as Indian Ocean.The name of the sea does not indicate the colour of the water. It may signify the seasonal blooms of the red-coloured cyanobacteria Trichodesmium erythraeum near the water surface. Some suggest that it refers to the mineral-rich red mountains nearby which are called "הרי אדום" (harei edom). Edom, meaning "ruddy complexion", is also an alternative Hebrew name for the red-faced biblical character Esau (brother of Jacob), and the nation descended from him, the Edomites, which in turn provides yet another possible origin for Red Sea.There is also speculation that the name Red Sea came from a mistranslation of what should have been the Reed Sea in the Biblical story of the Exodus. The Sea of Reeds (in Hebrew Yâm-Sûph) is often mistranslated as the "Red Sea".One hypothesis is the name comes from the Himarites, a local group whose own name means "red." Another theory favored by some modern scholars is the name "red" is referring to the direction "south," the same way the Black Sea's name may refer to "north." The basis of this theory is that some Asiatic languages used colour words to refer to points on the compass.

History - Contents

The Egyptians were the first to attempt a mission of exploration in the Red Sea. However, it was a Greek sailor, Hippalus, who conferred an international dimension upon the Red Sea in his manifesto on the voyage of the Eritrea Sea and thus opened it up to an immense and exclusive trade with Asia. It was only from the 15th century onwards that Europe began to show interest in this area. In 1798, France charged General Bonaparte with invading Egypt and capturing the Red Sea. Although he failed in his mission, the engineer J.B. Lepere, who took part in it revitalised the plan for a canal which had been envisaged during the reign of the Pharaohs. The Suez Canal was opened in November 1869. At the time, the British, French, and Italians shared the trading posts. The European Empire was gradually dismantled following the First World War. After the Second World War, the Americans and Soviets exerted their influence whilst the volume of oil tanker traffic intensified. However, the Six Day War culminated in the closure of the Suez Canal from 1967 to 1975. Still today, in spite of patrols by the major maritime fleets in the waters of the Red Sea, the Suez Canal has never recovered its supremacy over the Cape route, which is believed to be less vulnerable.

Physical properties - Contents

Dust storm over the Red Sea
Dust storm over the Red Sea
Surface water temperatures remain relatively constant at 70-77 °F (21-25 °C) and temperature and visibility remain good to around 660 feet (200 m), but the sea is known for its strong winds and tricky local currents. The sea was created by the division of Africa from the Arabian peninsula, a movement which began around 30 million years ago. The sea is still widening and there are small volcanic features in the deeper parts, it is considered that the sea will become an ocean in time (as proposed in the model of Tuzo Wilson).Sometimes during the Tertiary period the Bab el Mandeb was closed and the Red Sea was an empty hot dry salt-floored sink.

Tourism - Contents

The sea is known for its spectacular dive sites such as Ras Mohammed, SS Thistlegorm (ship wreck), Elphinstone, The Brothers and Rocky Island in Egypt, and less known sites in Sudan such as Sanganeb, Abington, Angarosh and Shaab Rumi (see photo above).The Red Sea was "discovered" as a diving destination by Hans Hass in the 1950s, and by Jacques-Yves Cousteau later. Popular tourist resorts include Sharm-El-Sheikh and Hurghada in Egypt, in an area known as the Red Sea Riviera.

Bordering countries - Contents

Bordering countries are:

Towns and cities - Contents

Towns and cities on the Red Sea coast include: Assab عصب , Massawa مصوع , Hala'ib حلايب , Marsa Alamمرسى علم , Port Sudan بورت سودان , Port Safaga ميناء سفاجا , Hurghada الغردقة , El Suweis السويس , Sharm el Sheikh شرم الشيخ , Dahabدهب , Eilat אילת , Aqaba العقبة , Jeddahجدة , Al Hudaydah الحديدة.
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