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The Red Sea ( ar, البحر الأحمر, translit=al-Baḥr al-ʾAḥmar; or ;
Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northern Afro-Asiatic language spoken in Egypt until at least the 17th century * Coptic alphabet, th ...
: ⲫⲓⲟⲙ `ⲛϩⲁϩ ''Phiom Enhah'' or ⲫⲓⲟⲙ ̀ⲛϣⲁⲣⲓ ''Phiom ̀nšari'';
Tigrinya Tigrinya (ትግርኛ; also spelled Tigrigna) is a Semitic language spoken in Eritrea Eritrea ( ), officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in Eastern Africa, with its capital at Asmara. It is bordered by Ethiopia in the south, Su ...
: ቀይሕ ባሕሪ ''Qeyih Bahri''; ) is a
seawater Seawater, or salt water, is water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of E ...

seawater
inlet An inlet is an indentation of a shoreline, usually long and narrow, such as a small bay or arm, that often leads to an enclosed body of water, body of salt water, such as a Sound (geography), sound, bay, lagoon, or marsh. Overview In sea coasts, ...

inlet
of the
Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's five oceanic divisions, covering or 19.8% of the water on Earth's surface. It is bounded by Asia to the north, Africa to the west and Australia (continent), Australia to the east. To the s ...

Indian Ocean
, lying between
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of i ...

Africa
and
Asia Asia () is 's largest and most populous , located primarily in the and . It shares the continental of with the continent of and the continental landmass of with both Europe and . Asia covers an area of , about 30% of Earth's total lan ...

Asia
. Its connection to the ocean is in the south, through the
Bab el Mandeb The Bab-el-Mandeb (Arabic language, Arabic: ,  'Gate of Tears') is a strait between Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula, and Djibouti and Eritrea in the Horn of Africa. It connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. Name The strait derives ...
strait and the
Gulf of Aden The Gulf of Aden ( ar, خليج عدن, so, Gacanka Cadmeed 𐒅𐒖𐒐𐒕𐒌 𐒋𐒖𐒆𐒗𐒒) also known as the ''Gulf of Berbera Berbera (; so, Barbara, ar, بربرة) is the capital of the Sahil, Somaliland, Sahil region of Somali ...

Gulf of Aden
. To its north lie the
Sinai Peninsula The Sinai Peninsula, or simply Sinai (now usually ) (, ), is a peninsula in Egypt, and the only part of the country located in Asia. It is between the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Red Sea to the south, and is a land bridge between As ...

Sinai Peninsula
, the
Gulf of Aqaba The Gulf of Aqaba ( ar, خَلِيجُ ٱلْعَقَبَةِ, Khalīj al-ʿAqabah) or Gulf of Eilat ( he, מפרץ אילת, Mifrátz Eilát) is a large gulf A gulf is a large inlet from the ocean into the landmass, typically with a narrower ...

Gulf of Aqaba
, and the
Gulf of Suez 282px, Northernmost part of Gulf of Suez with town Suez on the map of 1856 The Gulf of Suez ( ar, خليج السويس, khalīǧ as-suwais; formerly , ', "Sea of Calm") is a gulf A gulf is a large inlet from the ocean into the landmass, t ...
(leading to the
Suez Canal The Suez Canal ( ar, قَنَاةُ ٱلسُّوَيْسِ, ') is an artificial sea-level Mean sea level (MSL) (often shortened to sea level) is an mean, average level of the surface of one or more of Earth's bodies of water from which hei ...
). It is underlain by the
Red Sea Rift The Red Sea Rift is a spreading center between two tectonic plates, the African Plate and the Arabian Plate. It extends from the Dead Sea Transform fault system, and ends at an intersection with the Aden Ridge and the East African Rift, forming the ...
, which is part of the
Great Rift Valley The Great Rift Valley is a series of contiguous geographic trenches, approximately in total length, that runs from the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon Lebanon (), officially known as the Lebanese Republic,''Republic of Lebanon'' is the most co ...

Great Rift Valley
. The Red Sea has a surface area of roughly 438,000 km2 (169,100 mi2), is about 2250 km (1398 mi) long, and — at its widest point — 355 km (220.6 mi) wide. It has an average depth of 490 m (1,608 ft), and in the central ''Suakin Trough'' it reaches its maximum depth of . The Red Sea also has extensive shallow shelves, noted for their marine life and
coral Corals are marine invertebrates Marine invertebrates are the invertebrates that live in marine habitats. Invertebrate is a blanket term that includes all animals apart from the vertebrate members of the chordate phylum. Invertebrates lack a vert ...

coral
s. The sea is the habitat of over 1,000
invertebrate Invertebrates are animals that neither possess nor develop a vertebral column (commonly known as a ''backbone'' or ''spine''), derived from the notochord. This includes all animals apart from the chordata, chordate subphylum vertebrate, Vertebra ...
species and 200 types of soft and hard coral. It is the world's northernmost
tropical The tropics are the region of Earth surrounding the Equator. They are delimited in latitude by the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere at N and the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere at S; these latitudes correspond to ...

tropical
sea, and has been designated a
Global 200 The Global 200 is the list of ecoregions identified by World Wide Fund for Nature, WWF, the global conservation organization, as priorities for conservation. According to WWF, an ecoregion is defined as a "relatively large unit of land or water c ...
ecoregion An ecoregion (ecological region) or ecozone (ecological zone) is an and geographically defined area that is smaller than a , which in turn is smaller than a . Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic ...
.


Extent

The
International Hydrographic Organization The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) is an intergovernmental organisation An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states''), or of other organiza ...
defines the limits of the Red Sea as follows: ::''On the North.'' The Southern limits of the Gulfs of Suez Ràs_Muhammed_(27°43'N)_to_the_South_point_of_Shadwan.html" ;"title="Ras Muhammad National Park">Ràs Muhammed (27°43'N) to the South point of Shadwan">Ras Muhammad National Park">Ràs Muhammed (27°43'N) to the South point of Shadwan Island (34°02'E) and thence Westward on a parallel (27°27'N) to the coast of
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of i ...

Africa
] and Gulf of Aqaba, Aqaba [A line running from Ràs al Fasma Southwesterly to Requin Island () through Tiran Island to the Southwest point thereof and thence Westward on a parallel (27°54'N) to the coast of the
Sinai Peninsula The Sinai Peninsula, or simply Sinai (now usually ) (, ), is a peninsula in Egypt, and the only part of the country located in Asia. It is between the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Red Sea to the south, and is a land bridge between As ...

Sinai Peninsula
]. ::''On the South.'' A line joining Hisn Murad, Husn Murad () and
Ras Siyyan Ras Siyyan or Ras Siyan ( ar, رأس سيان) is a peninsula in the Obock Region of Djibouti, on the Bab-el-Mandeb strait (between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden), about 20 kilometre, km southwest of Perim, Perim Island. The peninsula consists o ...
().


Exclusive economic zone

Exclusive economic zones in Red Sea: Note:
Bir Tawil (; arz, بير طويل, translit=Bīr Ṭawīl, lit=tall water well, ) is a area of land along the border Borders are geographic boundaries of political entities or legal jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin ''Wikt:ius#Latin, juris'' ...
disputed between Sudan and Egypt and calculated for both.


Names

''Red Sea'' is a direct translation of the
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
''Erythra Thalassa'' (). The sea itself was once referred to as the
Erythraean Sea The Erythraean Sea ( grc-gre, Ἐρυθρὰ Θάλασσα, ''Erythrà Thálassa'', ."Red Sea") was a former maritime designation that always included the Gulf of Aden and at times other seas between Arabia Felix and the Horn of Africa. Origina ...

Erythraean Sea
by Europeans. As well as ''Mare Rubrum'' in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
(alternatively ''Sinus Arabicus'', literally "Arabian Gulf"), the Romans called it ''Pontus Herculis'' (Sea of Hercules). Other designations include the ar, البحر الأحمر, Al-Baḥr Al-Aḥmar (alternatively بحر القلزم ''Baḥr Al-Qulzum'', literally "the Sea of
Clysma Clysma ( el, Κλῦσμα, Κλειυσμα) was an ancient city and bishopric in Egypt. It was located at the head of the Gulf of Suez 282px, Northernmost part of Gulf of Suez with town Suez on the map of 1856 The Gulf of Suez ( ar, خليج ...
"), the
Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northern Afro-Asiatic language spoken in Egypt until at least the 17th century * Coptic alphabet, th ...
ⲫⲓⲟⲙ ̀ⲛϣⲁⲣⲓ ''Phiom ̀nšari'', ܝܡܐ ܣܘܡܩܐ Yammāʾ summāqā,
Somali Somali refers to an East African tribe (ethnic group) native to Somalia Somalia,; ar, الصومال, aṣ-Ṣūmāl officially the Federal Republic of Somalia, is a country in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, D ...
''Badda cas'' and
Tigrinya Tigrinya (ትግርኛ; also spelled Tigrigna) is a Semitic language spoken in Eritrea Eritrea ( ), officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in Eastern Africa, with its capital at Asmara. It is bordered by Ethiopia in the south, Su ...
''Qeyyiḥ bāḥrī'' (ቀይሕ ባሕሪ). The name of the sea may signify the seasonal blooms of the red-coloured '' Trichodesmium erythraeum'' near the water's surface. A theory favored by some modern scholars is that the name ''red'' is referring to the direction south, just as the
Black Sea , with the skyline of Batumi Batumi (; ka, ბათუმი ) is the second largest city of Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia ( ka, საქართველო; ''Sakartvelo''; ) is a country locat ...

Black Sea
's name may refer to north. The basis of this theory is that some Asiatic languages used color words to refer to the
cardinal directions The four cardinal directions, or cardinal points, are the directions north North is one of the four compass points The points of the compass are the vectors by which planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stella ...
.
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), ge ...
on one occasion uses Red Sea and Southern Sea interchangeably. The name in Hebrew ''
Yam Suph In the Exodus The Exodus (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Jude ...
'' ( he, ים סוף, lit=Sea of Reeds) is of biblical origin. The name in ''Phiom Enhah'' ("Sea of Hah") is connected to
Ancient Egyptian Ancient Egypt was a civilization of Ancient history, ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile, Nile River, situated in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistori ...
root ''ḥ-ḥ'' which refers to water and sea (for example the names of the Ogdoad gods Heh and Hauhet). Historically, it was also known to western geographers as ''Mare Mecca'' (Sea of Mecca), and ''Sinus Arabicus'' (Gulf of Arabia). Some ancient geographers called the Red Sea the Arabian Gulf or Gulf of Arabia. The association of the Red Sea with the
biblical The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Greek ...

biblical
account of the Israelites
crossing the Red Sea The Crossing of the Red Sea, or he, קריעת ים סוף, Kriat Yam Suph, parting of the Yam Suph, Sea of Reeds forms an episode in the biblical narrative of The Exodus. It tells of the escape of the Israelites, led by Moses, from the pursuin ...
is ancient, and was made explicit in the
Septuagint The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint (, ; from the la, septuaginta, lit=seventy; often abbreviated ''70''; in Roman numerals, LXX), is the earliest extant Koine Greek translation of books from the Hebrew Bible and deuterocanonical books. The ...
translation of the
Book of Exodus The Book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah and of the Old Testament. Starting with the deliverance of Moses by Pharaoh's daughter (Exodus), Pharaoh's daughter, it recounts the revelation at the Burning bush where he was called by Yahweh ...
from
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
to
Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Greek language, Greek spoken and written d ...
in approximately the third century B.C. In that version, the ''
Yam Suph In the Exodus The Exodus (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Jude ...
'' ( he, ים סוף, lit=Sea of Reeds) is translated as ''Erythra Thalassa'' (Red Sea). The Red Sea is one of four seas named in English after common
color term A color term (or color name) is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meani ...
s – the others being the
Black Sea , with the skyline of Batumi Batumi (; ka, ბათუმი ) is the second largest city of Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia ( ka, საქართველო; ''Sakartvelo''; ) is a country locat ...

Black Sea
, the
White Sea The White Sea (russian: Белое море, ''Béloye móre''; Karelian language, Karelian and fi, Vienanmeri, lit. Dvina Sea; yrk, Сэрако ямʼ, ''Serako yam'') is a southern inlet of the Barents Sea located on the northwest coast of ...
and the
Yellow Sea The Yellow Sea is a marginal sea This is a list of seas of the World Ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of Saline water, salt water that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of Earth and contains 97% o ...

Yellow Sea
. The direct rendition of the Greek ''Erythra thalassa'' in Latin as Mare Erythraeum refers to the north-western part of the
Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's five oceanic divisions, covering or 19.8% of the water on Earth's surface. It is bounded by Asia to the north, Africa to the west and Australia (continent), Australia to the east. To the s ...

Indian Ocean
, and also to a region on
Mars Mars is the fourth planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydrostatic equilibrium, rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to ...

Mars
.


History


Ancient era

The earliest known exploration of the Red Sea was conducted by
ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization  A civilization (or civilisation) is a that is characterized by , , a form of government, and systems of communication (such as ). Civilizations are intimately associated with additional char ...

ancient Egypt
ians, as they attempted to establish commercial routes to
Punt Punt or punting may refer to: Boats *Punt (boat), a flat-bottomed boat with a square-cut bow developed on the River Thames *Falmouth Quay Punt, a small sailing vessel hired by ships anchored in Falmouth harbour *Norfolk Punt, a type of racing ding ...
. One such expedition took place around 2500 BC, and another around 1500 BC (by
Hatshepsut Hatshepsut (; also Hatchepsut; Egyptian Egyptian describes something of, from, or related to Egypt. Egyptian or Egyptians may refer to: Nations and ethnic groups * Egyptians, a national group in North Africa ** Egyptian culture, a complex an ...

Hatshepsut
). Both involved long voyages down the Red Sea. The biblical
Book of Exodus The Book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah and of the Old Testament. Starting with the deliverance of Moses by Pharaoh's daughter (Exodus), Pharaoh's daughter, it recounts the revelation at the Burning bush where he was called by Yahweh ...
tells the account of the
Israelites The Israelites (; ) were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the history of ancient Israel and Judah, tribal and monarchic peri ...

Israelites
' crossing of a body of water, which the Hebrew text calls ''
Yam Suph In the Exodus The Exodus (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Jude ...
'' (). ''Yam Suph'' was traditionally identified as the Red Sea. Rabbi
Saadia Gaon Sa'adiah ben Yosef Gaon ( ar, سعيد بن يوسف الفيومي ''Saʻīd bin Yūsuf al-Fayyūmi''; he, סעדיה בן יוסף אלפיומי גאון; alternative English Names: Rabbeinu Sa'adiah Gaon ("our Rabbi heSaadia Gaon"), often a ...
(882‒942), in his Judeo-Arabic translation of the Pentateuch, identifies the crossing place of the Red Sea as ''Baḥar al-Qulzum'', meaning the
Gulf of Suez 282px, Northernmost part of Gulf of Suez with town Suez on the map of 1856 The Gulf of Suez ( ar, خليج السويس, khalīǧ as-suwais; formerly , ', "Sea of Calm") is a gulf A gulf is a large inlet from the ocean into the landmass, t ...
. Darius the Great of Persia sent reconnaissance missions to the Red Sea, improving and extending navigation by locating many hazardous rocks and currents. A canal was built between the
Nile The Nile, , Bohairic , lg, Kiira , Nobiin Nobiin, or Mahas, is a Northern Nubian languages, Nubian language of the Nilo-Saharan languages, Nilo-Saharan language family. "Nobiin" is the genitive case, genitive form of ''Nòòbíí'' ("Nub ...

Nile
and the northern end of the Red Sea at
Suez Suez ( ar, السويس '; ) is a seaport city (population of about 750,000 ) in north-eastern Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries lo ...

Suez
. In the late 4th century BC,
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
sent Greek naval expeditions down the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean. Greek navigators continued to explore and compile data on the Red Sea.
Agatharchides Agatharchides or Agatharchus ( grc-gre, Ἀγαθαρχίδης or , ''Agatharchos'') of Cnidus Knidos or Cnidus (; grc-gre, Κνίδος, , ) was a Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ε ...
collected information about the sea in the 2nd century BC. The ''
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea The ''Periplus of the Erythraean Sea'' ( grc, Περίπλους τῆς Ἐρυθρᾶς Θαλάσσης, ', modern Greek '), also known by its Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of ...
'' (" Periplus of the Red Sea"), a
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
periplus A periplus (), or periplous, is a manuscript document that lists the ports and coastal landmarks, in order and with approximate intervening distances, that the captain of a vessel could expect to find along a shore. In that sense, the periplus wa ...
written by an unknown author around the 1st century, contains a detailed description of the Red Sea's ports and sea routes. The Periplus also describes how
Hippalus Hippalus (Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaea ...
first discovered the direct route from the Red Sea to India. The Red Sea was favored for Roman trade with India starting with the reign of
Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles through ...

Augustus
, when the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
gained control over the Mediterranean,
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
, and the northern Red Sea. The route had been used by previous states but grew in the volume of traffic under the Romans. From Indian ports goods from
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
were introduced to the Roman world. Contact between Rome and China depended on the Red Sea, but the route was broken by the
Aksumite Empire The Kingdom of Aksum ( gez, መንግሥተ አኵስም), also known as the Kingdom of Axum or the Aksumite Empire, was an ancient kingdom, from the 2nd to the 10th century, with its capital at the city of Axum Aksum or Axum (; ti, ኣኽሱ ...
around the 3rd century AD.


Middle Ages and modern era

During the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
, the Red Sea was an important part of the
spice trade The spice trade involved historical civilizations in Asia Asia () is a landmass variously described as part of Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified b ...
route. In 1183,
Raynald of Châtillon Raynald of Châtillon (french: Renaud; 11254 July 1187), also known as Reynald or Reginald, was Prince of Antioch from 1153 to 1160 or 1161, and Lord of Oultrejordain from 1175 until his death. He was born the second son of a French nobility, Fr ...
launched a raid down the Red Sea to attack the Muslim pilgrim convoys to Mecca. The possibility that Raynald's fleet might sack the holy cities of Mecca and Medina caused fury throughout the Muslim world. However, it appears that Reynald's target were the lightly armed Muslim pilgrim convoys rather the well guarded cities of Mecca and Medina, and the belief in the Muslim world that Reynald was seeking to sack the holy cities was due to the proximity of those cities to the areas that Raynald raided. In 1513, trying to secure that channel to Portugal,
Afonso de Albuquerque Afonso de Albuquerque, Duke of Goa (; 1453 – 16 December 1515) (also spelled Aphonso or Alfonso) was a Portuguese general, admiral, and statesman. He served as List of governors of Portuguese India, Governor of Portuguese India from 1509 to 1 ...

Afonso de Albuquerque
laid siege to Aden but was forced to retreat. They cruised the Red Sea inside the
Bab al-Mandab The Bab-el-Mandeb (Arabic language, Arabic: ,  'Gate of Tears') is a strait between Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula, and Djibouti and Eritrea in the Horn of Africa. It connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. Name The strait derives ...
, as the first fleet from Europe in modern times to have sailed these waters. Later in 1524 the city was delivered to Governor Heitor da Silveira as an agreement for protection from the Ottomans. In 1798,
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
ordered General
Napoleon Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader. He rose to prominence during the French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) refers to the period that began with the Estates General o ...

Napoleon
to invade
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
and take control of the Red Sea. Although he failed in his mission, the engineer Jean-Baptiste Lepère, who took part in it, revitalised the plan for a canal which had been envisaged during the reign of the
Pharaoh Pharaoh ( , ; cop, , Pǝrro) is the common title now used for the monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the conte ...

Pharaoh
s. Several canals were built in ancient times from the Nile to the Red Sea along or near the line of the present
Sweet Water Canal Sweetness is a basic BASIC (Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a family of General-purpose programming language, general-purpose, high-level programming languages whose design philosophy emphasizes ease of use. The original ...
, but none lasted for long. The
Suez Canal The Suez Canal ( ar, قَنَاةُ ٱلسُّوَيْسِ, ') is an artificial sea-level Mean sea level (MSL) (often shortened to sea level) is an mean, average level of the surface of one or more of Earth's bodies of water from which hei ...
was opened in November 1869. After the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, the Americans and Soviets exerted their influence whilst the volume of oil tanker traffic intensified. However, the
Six-Day War The Six-Day War (; ar, النكسة, translit=an-Naksah, lit=The Setback or ), also known as the June War, the 1967 Arab–Israeli War or the Third Arab–Israeli War, was an armed conflict fought from 5 to 10 June 1967 between Israel and a ...
culminated in the closure of the Suez Canal from 1967 to 1975. 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 to piracy.


Oceanography

The Red Sea is between arid land,
desert A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to the processes of ...

desert
and
semi-desert A semi-arid climate, semi-desert climate, or steppe climate is the climate Climate is the long-term pattern of weather Weather is the state of the atmosphere, describing for example the degree to which it is hot or cold, wet or dry, c ...
. Reef systems are better developed along the Red Sea mainly because of its greater depths and an efficient water circulation pattern. The Red Sea water mass-exchanges its water with the
Arabian Sea The Arabian Sea ( ar, بحر العرب ''Bahr al-Arab'') is a region of the northern Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering or 19.8% of the water Water is an Inorganic co ...
,
Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's five oceanic divisions, covering or 19.8% of the water on Earth's surface. It is bounded by Asia to the north, Africa to the west and Australia (continent), Australia to the east. To the s ...

Indian Ocean
via the
Gulf of Aden The Gulf of Aden ( ar, خليج عدن, so, Gacanka Cadmeed 𐒅𐒖𐒐𐒕𐒌 𐒋𐒖𐒆𐒗𐒒) also known as the ''Gulf of Berbera Berbera (; so, Barbara, ar, بربرة) is the capital of the Sahil, Somaliland, Sahil region of Somali ...

Gulf of Aden
. These physical factors reduce the effect of high salinity caused by evaporation in the north and relatively hot water in the south. The
climate Climate is the long-term pattern of weather Weather is the state of the atmosphere An atmosphere (from the greek words ἀτμός ''(atmos)'', meaning 'vapour', and σφαῖρα ''(sphaira)'', meaning 'ball' or 'sphere') is a la ...

climate
of the Red Sea is the result of two monsoon seasons; a northeasterly monsoon and a southwesterly monsoon. Monsoon winds occur because of differential heating between the land and the sea. Very high surface temperatures and high salinities make this one of the warmest and saltiest bodies of seawater in the world. The average surface water temperature of the Red Sea during the summer is about in the north and in the south, with only about 2 °C (3.6 °F) variation during the winter months. The overall average water temperature is . Temperature and visibility remain good to around 200 m (656 ft). The sea is known for its strong winds and unpredictable local currents. The
rainfall Rain is liquid water in the form of droplet Rain water flux from a canopy. Among the forces that govern drop formation: cohesion, Van der Waals force">Cohesion_(chemistry).html" ;"title="surface tension, Cohesion (chemistry)">cohesion, ...

rainfall
over the Red Sea and its coasts is extremely low, averaging per year. The rain is mostly short showers, often with thunderstorms and occasionally with dust
storm A storm is any disturbed state of an environment Environment most often refers to: __NOTOC__ * Natural environment, all living and non-living things occurring naturally * Biophysical environment, the physical and biological factors along with t ...

storm
s. The scarcity of rainfall and no major source of fresh water to the Red Sea result in excess evaporation as high as per year and high salinity with minimal seasonal variation. A recent underwater expedition to the Red Sea offshore from
Sudan Sudan ( or ; ar, السودان, as-Sūdān), officially the Republic of the Sudan ( ar, جمهورية السودان, link=no, Jumhūriyyat as-Sūdān), is a country in Northeast Africa. It borders the countries of Central African Republ ...

Sudan
and
Eritrea Eritrea ( ), officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA), also known as the Somali Peninsula, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a ...

Eritrea
found surface water temperatures in winter and up to in the summer, but despite that extreme heat, the coral was healthy with much fish life with very little sign of
coral bleaching Coral bleaching occurs when coral polyp (zoology), polyps expel algae that live inside their tissues. Normally, coral polyps live in an Endosymbiont, endosymbiotic relationship with these algae, which are crucial for the health of the coral and the ...

coral bleaching
, with only 9% infected by '' Thalassomonas loyana'', the 'white plague' agent. ''Favia favus'' coral there harbours a virus, BA3, which kills ''T. loyana''. Plans are afoot to use samples of these corals' apparently heat-adapted
commensal Commensalism is a long-term biological interaction In ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their phy ...
algae Algae (; singular alga ) is an informal term for a large and diverse group of photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to convert Conversion or convert may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Co ...

algae
to salvage bleached coral elsewhere.


Salinity

The Red Sea is one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world, owing to high evaporation and low precipitation; no significant rivers or streams drain into the sea, and its southern connection to the
Gulf of Aden The Gulf of Aden ( ar, خليج عدن, so, Gacanka Cadmeed 𐒅𐒖𐒐𐒕𐒌 𐒋𐒖𐒆𐒗𐒒) also known as the ''Gulf of Berbera Berbera (; so, Barbara, ar, بربرة) is the capital of the Sahil, Somaliland, Sahil region of Somali ...

Gulf of Aden
, an arm of the Indian Ocean, is narrow. Its
salinity Salinity () is the saltiness or amount of salt Salt is a mineral In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fairly well-defined chemical composition and a specific ...

salinity
ranges from between ~36  in the southern part and 41 ‰ in the northern part around the
Gulf of Suez 282px, Northernmost part of Gulf of Suez with town Suez on the map of 1856 The Gulf of Suez ( ar, خليج السويس, khalīǧ as-suwais; formerly , ', "Sea of Calm") is a gulf A gulf is a large inlet from the ocean into the landmass, t ...
, with an average of 40 ‰. (Average salinity for the world's
seawater Seawater, or salt water, is water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of E ...

seawater
is ~35 ‰ on the Practical Salinity Scale, or PSU; that translates to 3.5% of actual dissolved salts.)


Tidal range

In general, tide ranges between in the north, near the mouth of the Gulf of Suez and in the south near the Gulf of Aden, but it fluctuates between and away from the nodal point. The central Red Sea (Jeddah area) is therefore almost tideless, and as such the annual water level changes are more significant. Because of the small tidal range the water during high tide inundates the coastal
sabkha A term typically used by Earth scientists, a sabkha ( ar, سبخة) is a coastal, supratidal mudflat or sandflat in which evaporite An evaporite () is a water-soluble Solubility is the property of a solid, liquid or gaseous chemical s ...
s as a thin sheet of water up to a few hundred metres rather than flooding the
sabkha A term typically used by Earth scientists, a sabkha ( ar, سبخة) is a coastal, supratidal mudflat or sandflat in which evaporite An evaporite () is a water-soluble Solubility is the property of a solid, liquid or gaseous chemical s ...
s through a network of channels. However, south of Jeddah in the Shoiaba area, the water from the lagoon may cover the adjoining sabkhas as far as , whereas north of Jeddah in the Al-Kharrar area the sabkhas are covered by a thin sheet of water as far as . The prevailing north and northeast winds influence the movement of water in the coastal inlets to the adjacent sabkhas, especially during storms. Winter mean sea level is higher than in summer. Tidal velocities passing through constrictions caused by reefs, sand bars and low islands commonly exceed 1–2 m/s (3–6.5 ft/s). Coral reefs in the Red Sea are near Egypt, Eritrea, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan.


Current

Detailed information regarding current data is lacking, partially because the currents are weak and both spatially and temporally variable. The variation of temporal and spatial currents is as low as and are governed all by wind. During the summer, NW winds drive surface water south for about four months at a velocity of 15–20 cm/s (6–8 in/s), whereas in winter the flow is reversed resulting in the inflow of water from the Gulf of Aden into the Red Sea. The net value of the latter predominates, resulting in an overall drift to the north end of the Red Sea. Generally, the velocity of the tidal current is between 50 and 60 cm/s (20–23.6 in/s) with a maximum of at the mouth of the al-Kharrar Lagoon. However, the range of the north-northeast current along the Saudi coast is 8–29 cm/s (3–11.4 in/s).


Wind regime

The north part of the Red Sea is dominated by persistent north-west
winds Wind is the natural movement of air or other gases relative to a planet's surface. Wind occurs on a range of scales, from thunderstorm A thunderstorm, also known as an electrical storm or a lightning storm, is a storm characterized by th ...

winds
, with speeds ranging between and . The rest of the Red Sea and the
Gulf of Aden The Gulf of Aden ( ar, خليج عدن, so, Gacanka Cadmeed 𐒅𐒖𐒐𐒕𐒌 𐒋𐒖𐒆𐒗𐒒) also known as the ''Gulf of Berbera Berbera (; so, Barbara, ar, بربرة) is the capital of the Sahil, Somaliland, Sahil region of Somali ...

Gulf of Aden
are subjected to regular and seasonally reversible winds. The wind
regime In politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status. The branch of social sc ...

regime
is characterized by seasonal and regional variations in
speed In everyday use and in kinematics Kinematics is a subfield of physics, developed in classical mechanics, that describes the Motion (physics), motion of points, bodies (objects), and systems of bodies (groups of objects) without considerin ...

speed
and
direction Direction may refer to: *Relative direction, for instance left, right, forward, backwards, up, and down ** Anatomical terms of location for those used in anatomy *Cardinal direction Mathematics and science *Direction vector, a unit vector that ...
with average speed generally increasing northward. Wind is the driving force in the Red Sea to transport material as suspension or as bedload. Wind-induced currents play an important role in the Red Sea in resuspending bottom sediments and transferring materials from sites of dumping to sites of burial in quiescent environment of deposition. Wind-generated current
measurement Measurement is the quantification (science), quantification of variable and attribute (research), attributes of an object or event, which can be used to compare with other objects or events. The scope and application of measurement are dependen ...

measurement
is therefore important in order to determine the sediment dispersal pattern and its role in the erosion and accretion of the coastal rock exposure and the submerged coral beds.


Geology

The Red Sea was formed by the
Arabian peninsula The Arabian Peninsula (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate. At , the ...
being split from the
Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA), also known as the Somali Peninsula, is a large peninsula of East Africa.Robert Stock, ''Africa South of the Sahara, Second Edition: A Geographical Interpretation'', (The Guilford Press; 2004), p. 26 Located on the ea ...

Horn of Africa
by movement of the
Red Sea Rift The Red Sea Rift is a spreading center between two tectonic plates, the African Plate and the Arabian Plate. It extends from the Dead Sea Transform fault system, and ends at an intersection with the Aden Ridge and the East African Rift, forming the ...
. This split started in the
Eocene The Eocene ( ) Epoch is a geological epoch In chronology 222px, Joseph Scaliger's ''De emendatione temporum'' (1583) began the modern science of chronology Chronology (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the ...
and accelerated during the
Oligocene The Oligocene ( ) is a geologic epoch (geology), epoch of the Paleogene Geologic time scale, Period and extends from about 33.9 million to 23 million years before the present ( to ). As with other older geologic periods, the rock beds that define ...
. The sea is still widening (in 2005, following a three-week period of tectonic activity it had grown by 8m), and it is considered that it will become an ocean in time (as proposed in the model of
John Tuzo Wilson John Tuzo Wilson (October 24, 1908 – April 15, 1993) was a Canadian geophysicist and geologist A geologist is a scientist who studies the solid, liquid, and gaseous matter that constitutes the Earth and other terrestrial planets, as well ...
). In 1949, a deep water survey reported anomalously hot brines in the central portion of the Red Sea. Later work in the 1960s confirmed the presence of hot, 60 °C (140 °F), saline brines and associated metalliferous muds. The hot solutions were emanating from an active subseafloor
rift In geology, a rift is a linear zone where the lithosphere is being pulled apart and is an example of extensional tectonics. Typical rift features are a central linear Fault (geology), downfaulted depression, called a graben, or more commonly ...
. Lake Asal in Djibouti is eligible as an experimental site to study the evolution of the deep hot brines of the Red Sea. By observing the strontium isotope composition of the Red Sea brines, it is possible to deduce how these salt waters found at the bottom of the Red Sea could have evolved in a similar way to Lake Asal, which ideally represents their compositional extreme. The high salinity of the waters was not hospitable to living organisms. Sometime during the
Tertiary Tertiary ( ) is a widely used but obsolete term for the geologic period The geologic time scale (GTS) is a system of chronological dating that classifies Geology, geological strata (stratigraphy) in time. It is used by geologists, paleontology ...

Tertiary
period, the
Bab el Mandeb The Bab-el-Mandeb (Arabic language, Arabic: ,  'Gate of Tears') is a strait between Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula, and Djibouti and Eritrea in the Horn of Africa. It connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. Name The strait derives ...
closed and the Red Sea evaporated to an empty hot dry salt-floored sink. Effects causing this would have been: *A "race" between the Red Sea widening and Perim Island filling the Bab el Mandeb with
lava Lava is magma Magma () is the molten or semi-molten natural material from which all s are formed. Magma is found beneath the surface of the , and evidence of has also been discovered on other and some s. Besides molten rock, magma may al ...

lava
. *The lowering of world
sea level Mean sea level (MSL) (often shortened to sea level) is an average In colloquial, ordinary language, an average is a single number taken as representative of a list of numbers, usually the sum of the numbers divided by how many numbers are in th ...

sea level
during the
Ice Age An ice age is a long period of reduction in the temperature of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents an ...

Ice Age
s because of much water being locked up in the
ice cap In glaciology Lateral moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner Glacier, Zermatt">Gorner_Glacier.html" ;"title="moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner Glacier">moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner Glacier, Zermatt, Swiss Alps. The moraine is ...
s. A number of volcanic islands rise from the center of the sea. Most are dormant. However, in 2007,
Jabal al-Tair island Jabal al-Tair Island (or Jebel Teir, Jabal al-Tayr, Tair Island, Al-Tair Island, Jazirat at-Tair) ( ar, جزيرة جبل الطير ''Jazīrat Jabal aṭ-Ṭayr'', 'Bird Mountain Island') is a roughly oval volcanic island in Yemen ) , image_ ...
in the Bab el Mandeb strait erupted violently. Two new islands were formed in 2011 and 2013 in the Zubair Archipelago, a small chain of islands owned by Yemen. The first island, Sholan Island, emerged in an eruption in December 2011, the second island, Jadid, emerged in September 2013.


Oilfields

The Durwara 2 Field was discovered in 1963, while the Suakin 1 Field and the Bashayer 1A Field were discovered in 1976, on the Egyptian side of the Red Sea. The Barqan Field was discovered in 1969, and the Midyan Field in 1992, both within the Midyan Basin on the Saudi Arabian side of the Red Sea. The 20-m thick
Middle Miocene The Middle Miocene is a sub-epoch of the Miocene The Miocene ( ) is the first Epoch (geology), geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about (Ma). The Miocene was named by Scottish geologist Charles Lyell; its name comes from t ...
Maqna
Formation Formation may refer to: Linguistics * Back-formation, the process of creating a new lexeme by removing or affixes * Word formation, the creation of a new word by adding affixes Mathematics and science * Cave formation or speleothem, a secondary m ...
is an oil source rock in the basin.
Oil seep , California A petroleum seep is a place where natural liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons In organic chemistry, a hydrocarbon is an organic compound , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any ...
s occur near the
Farasan Islands The Farasan Islands ( ar, جزر فرسان; transliterated: ) are a small group of coral islands approximately 40 km off the coast of Jizan in the Red Sea The Red Sea ( ar, البحر الأحمر ''Al Baḥr al aḥmar''; Hebrew Hebr ...

Farasan Islands
, the
Dahlak Archipelago The Dahlak Archipelago is an island group An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of islands, or sometimes a sea containing a small number of scattered islands. Indonesian ...
, along the coast of Eritrea, and in the southeastern Red Sea along the coasts of Saudi Arabia and Yemen.


Mineral resources

In terms of mineral resources the major constituents of the Red Sea sediments are as follows: *Biogenic constituents: :Nanofossils,
foraminifera Foraminifera (; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...
, pteropods, siliceous fossils *Volcanogenic constituents: :
Tuff Tuff is a type of Rock (geology), rock made of volcanic ash ejected from a Volcano, vent during a volcanic eruption. Following ejection and deposition, the ash is lithified into a solid rock. Rock that contains greater than 75% ash is consider ...

Tuff
ites,
volcanic ash Volcanic ash consists of fragments of rock, mineral In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fairly well-defined chemical composition and a specific crystal structure ...
,
montmorillonite Montmorillonite is a very soft phyllosilicate group of minerals that form when they precipitate from water solution as microscopic crystal A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid material whose constituents (such as atoms, molecules, or ...
,
cristobalite Cristobalite is a mineral In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fairly well-defined chemical composition and a specific crystal structure that occurs naturally in pure ...

cristobalite
,
zeolite Zeolites are microporous, aluminosilicate Aluminosilicate mineral In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Ear ...

zeolite
s *Terrigenous constituents: :
Quartz Quartz is a hard, crystalline mineral composed of silica (silicon dioxide). The atoms are linked in a continuous framework of SiO4 silicon-oxygen Tetrahedral molecular geometry, tetrahedra, with each oxygen being shared between two tetrahedra, ...

Quartz
,
feldspar Feldspars are a group of rock-forming aluminium Aluminium (aluminum in and ) is a with the  Al and  13. Aluminium has a density lower than those of other common , at approximately one third that of . It has a great affinity ...
s, rock fragments,
mica Micas ( ) are a group of mineral In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fairly well-defined chemical composition and a specific crystal structure that occurs natural ...

mica
, heavy minerals,
clay minerals Clay minerals are hydrous aluminium Aluminium (aluminum in American English, American and Canadian English) is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Al and atomic number 13. Aluminium has a density lower than thos ...
*Authigenic minerals: :
Sulfide mineral The sulfide minerals are a class of s containing (S2−) or (S22−) as the major . Some sulfide minerals are economically important as metal s. The sulfide class also includes the , the , the , the , the bismuthinides, the s and the s.http://w ...
s,
aragonite Aragonite is a , one of the three most common naturally occurring of , (the other forms being the s and ). It is formed by biological and physical processes, including precipitation from marine and freshwater environments. The of aragonite d ...

aragonite
, Mg-
calcite Calcite is a carbonate mineral Carbonate minerals are those mineral In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid E ...

calcite
, protodolomite,
dolomiteDolomite may refer to: *Dolomite (mineral) Dolomite () is an anhydrous A substance is anhydrous if it contains no water. Many processes in chemistry can be impeded by the presence of water; therefore, it is important that water-free reagents and ...
, quartz,
chalcedony Chalcedony () is a cryptocrystalline form of silica, composed of very fine intergrowths of quartz and moganite. These are both silica minerals, but they differ in that quartz has a trigonal crystal structure, while moganite is monoclinic. Chalced ...

chalcedony
. *Evaporite minerals: :
Magnesite Magnesite is a mineral with the chemical formula (magnesium carbonate). Iron, manganese, cobalt and nickel may occur as admixtures, but only in small amounts. Occurrence Magnesite occurs as veins in and an alteration product of ultramafic rocks ...

Magnesite
,
gypsum Gypsum is a soft sulfate mineral The sulfate minerals are a class of mineral In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with ...

gypsum
,
anhydrite Anhydrite, or anhydrous calcium sulfate Calcium sulfate (or calcium sulphate) is the inorganic compound with the formula CaSO4 and related hydrates. In the form of γ-anhydrite (the anhydrous form), it is used as a desiccant. One particular hyd ...

anhydrite
,
halite Halite (), commonly known as rock salt, is a type of salt Salt is a mineral In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fairly well-defined chemical composition a ...

halite
,
polyhalite Polyhalite is an evaporite evaporated from the Dead Sea, Israel Evaporite () is the term for a water-soluble mineral sediment Sediment is a naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and erosion, and is subs ...
*Brine precipitate: :Fe-montmorillonite,
goethite Goethite (, ) is a mineral of the diaspore group, consisting of iron(III) oxide-hydroxide, specifically the "α" Polymorphism (materials science), polymorph. It is found in soil and other low-temperature environments such as sediment. Goethite ha ...

goethite
,
hematite Hematite (), also spelled as haematite, is a common iron oxide Iron oxides are chemical compounds composed of iron and oxygen Oxygen is the chemical element with the chemical symbol, symbol O and atomic number 8. It is a member o ...

hematite
,
siderite :''Siderite is also the name of a type of iron meteorite Iron meteorites, also known as siderites, or ferrous meteorites, are a type of meteorites that consist overwhelmingly of an iron–nickel alloy known as meteoric iron that usually consists of ...

siderite
,
rhodochrosite Rhodochrosite is a manganese Manganese is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of ...

rhodochrosite
,
pyrite The mineral In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fairly well-defined chemical composition and a specific crystal structure that occurs naturally in pure form.John P. R ...

pyrite
,
sphalerite Sphalerite is a sulfide mineral The sulfide minerals are a class of s containing (S2−) or (S22−) as the major . Some sulfide minerals are economically important as metal s. The sulfide class also includes the , the , the , the , the bi ...

sphalerite
, anhydrite.


Ecosystem

The Red Sea is a rich and diverse
ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the syst ...

ecosystem
. More than 1200 species of fish have been recorded in the Red Sea, and around 10% of these are found nowhere else. This also includes 42 species of deepwater fish. The rich diversity is in part due to the of
coral reef A coral reef is an underwater ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient c ...

coral reef
extending along its
coastline The coast, also known as the coastline or seashore, is defined as the area where land meets the sea or ocean, or as a line that forms the boundary between the land and the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body ...

coastline
; these
fringing reef A fringing reef is one of the three main types of coral reef. It is distinguished from the other main types, barrier reefs and atolls, in that it has either an entirely shallow backreef zone (lagoon) or none at all. If a fringing reef grows direct ...
s are 5000–7000 years old and are largely formed of stony
acropora ''Acropora'' is a genus of small polyp stony coral Corals are marine invertebrates within the class (biology), class Anthozoa of the phylum Cnidaria. They typically live in compact Colony (biology), colonies of many identical individual polyp ( ...

acropora
and
porites Small colony of ''Porites porites'' ''Porites'' is a genus of Scleractinia, stony coral; they are small polyp stony (SPS) corals. They are characterised by a finger-like morphology (biology), morphology. Members of this genus have widely spaced ...
corals. The reefs form platforms and sometimes
lagoon A lagoon is a shallow body of water separated from a larger body of water by a narrow landform, such as reefs, barrier islands, barrier peninsulas, or isthmuses. Lagoons are commonly divided into ''coastal lagoons'' and ''atoll lagoons''. They ...

lagoon
s along the coast and occasional other features such as cylinders (such as the
Blue Hole (Red Sea) The Blue Hole is a diving location on the southeast Sinai, a few kilometres north of Dahab Dahab ( arz, دهب, , "gold") is a new-constructed Egypt Egypt ( ; ar, مِصر ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinenta ...
at
Dahab Dahab ( arz, دهب, , "gold") is a small Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent i ...

Dahab
). These coastal reefs are also visited by
pelagic The pelagic zone consists of the water column A water column is a concept Concepts are defined as abstract ideas A mental representation (or cognitive representation), in philosophy of mind Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy ...
species of Red Sea fish, including some of the 44 species of shark. It contains 175 species of
nudibranch Nudibranchs () are a group of soft-bodied marine Marine is an adjective meaning of or pertaining to the sea or ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface ...

nudibranch
, many of which are only found in the Red Sea. The Red Sea also contains many offshore reefs including several true atolls. Many of the unusual offshore reef formations defy classic (i.e., Darwinian) coral reef classification schemes, and are generally attributed to the high levels of tectonic activity that characterize the area. The special
biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Genetics, genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near ...

biodiversity
of the area is recognized by the
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
ian government, who set up the in 1983. The rules and regulations governing this area protect local marine life, which has become a major draw for
diving Diving usually refers to: * Diving (sport), the sport of jumping into deep water * Underwater diving, human activity underwater for recreational or occupational purposes Diving or Dive may also refer to: Sports * Dive (American football), a typ ...

diving
enthusiasts. and snorkellers should be aware that although most Red Sea species are innocuous, a few are hazardous to humans.Lieske, E. and Myers, R.F. (2004) ''Coral reef guide; Red Sea'' London, HarperCollins Other marine habitats include
sea grass Seagrasses are the only flowering plants which grow in marine (ocean), marine environments. There are about 60 species of fully marine seagrasses which belong to four Family (biology), families (Posidoniaceae, Zosteraceae, Hydrocharitaceae and C ...
beds,
salt pansSalt pans can refer to: *Salt pan (geology), a flat expanse of ground covered with salt and other minerals, usually found in deserts **Sabkha, a phonetic translation of the Arabic word for a salt pan (geology) *Salt evaporation pond, a method of pr ...

salt pans
,
mangrove A mangrove is a shrub A shrub (often called a bush) is a small- to medium-sized perennial A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Pl ...

mangrove
s and
salt marsh A salt marsh or saltmarsh, also known as a coastal salt marsh or a tidal marsh A tidal marsh (also known as a type of "tidal wetland") is a marsh found along rivers, coasts and estuary, estuaries which floods and drains by the tide, tidal move ...

salt marsh
es.


Desalination plants

There is extensive demand for desalinated water to meet the needs of the population and the industries along the Red Sea. There are at least 18 desalination plants along the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia which discharge warm
brine Brine is a high-concentration solution of salt (NaCl) in water (H2O). In different contexts, ''brine'' may refer to salt solutions ranging from about 3.5% (a typical concentration of seawater, on the lower end of solutions used for brining food ...

brine
and treatment chemicals (
chlorine Chlorine is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemica ...

chlorine
and anti-scalants) that
bleach Bleach is the generic name for any chemical product that is used industrially and domestically to remove color from a fabric or fiber or to clean or to remove stains in a process called bleaching. It often refers, specifically, to a dilute so ...

bleach
and kill
coral Corals are marine invertebrates Marine invertebrates are the invertebrates that live in marine habitats. Invertebrate is a blanket term that includes all animals apart from the vertebrate members of the chordate phylum. Invertebrates lack a vert ...

coral
s and cause diseases in the fish. This is only localized, but it may intensify with time and profoundly impact the fishing industry. The water from the Red Sea is also used by
oil refineries An oil refinery or petroleum refinery is an industrial process Industrial processes are procedures involving chemical A chemical substance is a form of matter having constant chemical composition and characteristic properties. Some referenc ...
and
cement A cement is a binder (material), binder, a substance used for construction that solidification, sets, hardens, and adheres to other materials to bind them together. Cement is seldom used on its own, but rather to bind sand and gravel (constru ...
factories for cooling.


Security

The Red Sea is part of the sea roads between
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
, the
Persian Gulf The Persian Gulf ( fa, خلیج فارس, translit=xalij-e fârs, lit=Gulf of , ) is a in . The body of water is an extension of the () through the and lies between to the northeast and the to the southwest.United Nations Group of Exper ...
and
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. ...

East Asia
, and as such has heavy . Government-related bodies with responsibility to police the Red Sea area include the Port Said Port Authority,
Suez Canal Authority Suez Canal Authority (SCA) is a state-owned authority which owns, operates and maintains the Suez Canal. It was set up by the Egyptian government to replace the Suez Canal Company in the 1950s which resulted in the Suez Crisis. After the United N ...
and Red Sea Ports Authority of
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
, Jordan Maritime Authority, Israel Port Authority,
Saudi Ports Authority Saudi Ports Authority is a government agency that supervises the ports of Saudi Arabia. It was founded in 1976 as an independent agency of the Prime Minister's office, to bring together the governance and operations of the multiple ports of the co ...
and Sea Ports Corporation of
Sudan Sudan ( or ; ar, السودان, as-Sūdān), officially the Republic of the Sudan ( ar, جمهورية السودان, link=no, Jumhūriyyat as-Sūdān), is a country in Northeast Africa. It borders the countries of Central African Republ ...

Sudan
.


Facts and figures

:* Length: ~ - 79% of the eastern Red Sea with numerous coastal inlets :* Maximum Width: ~ 306–355 km (190–220 mi)– Massawa (Eritrea) :* Minimum Width: ~ 26–29 km (16–18 mi)-
Bab el Mandeb The Bab-el-Mandeb (Arabic language, Arabic: ,  'Gate of Tears') is a strait between Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula, and Djibouti and Eritrea in the Horn of Africa. It connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. Name The strait derives ...
Strait (Yemen) :* Average Width: ~ :* Average Depth: ~ :* Maximum Depth: ~ :* Surface Area: 438-450 x 102 km2 (16,900–17,400 sq mi) :* Volume: 215–251 x 103 km3 (51,600–60,200 cu mi) :* Approximately 40% of the Red Sea is quite shallow (under 100 m/330 ft), and about 25% is under deep. :* About 15% of the Red Sea is over depth that forms the deep axial trough. :* Shelf breaks are marked by coral reefs :* Continental slope has an irregular profile (series of steps down to ~) :* Centre of Red Sea has a narrow trough (''Suakin Trough'') (~ ; with maximum depth )


Tourism

The sea is known for its
recreational diving Recreational diving or sport diving is Underwater diving, diving for the purpose of leisure and enjoyment, usually when using Scuba set, scuba equipment. The term "recreational diving" may also be used in contradistinction to "technical diving" ...
sites, such as ,
SS Thistlegorm SS ''Thistlegorm'' was a British armed Merchant Navy ship built in 1940 by Joseph Thompson & Son in Sunderland Sunderland () is a port city and the main settlement of the metropolitan borough of the City of Sunderland in Tyne and Wear, North ...
(shipwreck), Elphinstone Reef, The Brothers, Egypt, The Brothers, Daedalus Reef, St.John's Reef, Rocky Island (Egypt), Rocky Island in
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
and less known sites in
Sudan Sudan ( or ; ar, السودان, as-Sūdān), officially the Republic of the Sudan ( ar, جمهورية السودان, link=no, Jumhūriyyat as-Sūdān), is a country in Northeast Africa. It borders the countries of Central African Republ ...

Sudan
such as Sanganeb, Abington, Sudan, Abington, Angarosh and Shaab Rumi. The Red Sea became a popular destination for diving after the expeditions of Hans Hass in the 1950s, and later by Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Popular tourist resorts include El Gouna, Hurghada, Safaga, Marsa Alam, on the west shore of the Red Sea, and Sharm-el-Sheikh,
Dahab Dahab ( arz, دهب, , "gold") is a small Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent i ...

Dahab
, and Taba, Egypt, Taba on the
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
ian side of Sinaï, as well as Aqaba in Jordan and Eilat in Israel in an area known as the Red Sea Riviera. The popular tourist beach of Sharm el-Sheikh was closed to all swimming in December 2010 due to several serious 2010 Sharm El Sheikh shark attacks, shark attacks, including a fatality. As of December 2010, scientists are investigating the attacks and have identified, but not verified, several possible causes including over-fishing which causes large sharks to hunt closer to shore, tourist boat operators who chum offshore for shark-photo opportunities, and reports of ships throwing dead livestock overboard. The sea's narrowness, significant depth, and sharp drop-offs, all combine to form a geography where large deep-water sharks can roam in hundreds of meters of water, yet be within a hundred meters of swimming areas. The Red Sea Project is building highest quality accommodation and a wide range of facilities on the coast line in Saudi Arabia. This will allow people to visit the coastline of the Red Sea by the end of 2022 but will be fully finished by 2030. Tourism to the region has been threatened by occasional terrorist attacks, and by incidents related to food safety standards.


Bordering countries

The Red Sea may be geographically divided into three sections: the Red Sea proper, and in the north, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Gulf of Suez. The six countries bordering the Red Sea proper are: * Eastern shore: ** Saudi Arabia ** Yemen * Western shore: **
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
**
Sudan Sudan ( or ; ar, السودان, as-Sūdān), officially the Republic of the Sudan ( ar, جمهورية السودان, link=no, Jumhūriyyat as-Sūdān), is a country in Northeast Africa. It borders the countries of Central African Republ ...

Sudan
**
Eritrea Eritrea ( ), officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA), also known as the Somali Peninsula, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a ...

Eritrea
** Djibouti The Gulf of Suez is entirely bordered by Egypt. The Gulf of Aqaba borders Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. In addition to the standard geographical definition of the six countries bordering the Red Sea cited above, areas such as Somaliland are sometimes also described as Red Sea territories. This is primarily due to their proximity to and geological similarities with the nations facing the Red Sea and/or political ties with said areas.


Towns and cities

Towns and cities on the Red Sea coast (including the coasts of the Gulfs of Aqaba and Suez) include: * Al Hudaydah, Yemen (الحديدة) * Al Lith, Saudi Arabia (الليِّث) * Al Qunfudhah, Saudi Arabia (القنفذة) * Al-Qusayr, Egypt, Al-Qusair, Egypt (القصير) * Al Wajh, Saudi Arabia (الوجه) * Aqaba, Jordan (العقبة) * Asseb, Eritrea (عصب/ዓሰብ) *
Dahab Dahab ( arz, دهب, , "gold") is a small Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent i ...

Dahab
, Egypt (دهب) * Duba, Saudi Arabia, Duba, Saudi Arabia (ضباء) * Eilat, Israel (אילת/ايلات) * El Gouna, Egypt (الجونة) * Suez, El Suweis, Egypt (السويس) * Hala'ib, Egypt and Sudan (حلايب) (disputed) * Haql, Saudi Arabia (حقل) * Hirgigo, Eritrea (حرقيقو/ሕርጊጎ) * Hurghada, Egypt (الغردقة) * Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (جدة) * Jizan, Jazan, Saudi Arabia (جازان) * Marsa Alam, Egypt (مرسى علم) * Massawa, Eritrea (مصوع/ምጽዋዕ) * Moulhoule, Djibouti (مول هولة ) * Nuweiba, Egypt (نويبع) * Port Safaga, Egypt (ميناء سفاجا) * Port Sudan, Sudan (بورت سودان) * Rabigh, Saudi Arabia (رابغ) * Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt (شرم الشيخ) * Soma Bay, Egypt (سوما باي) * Suakin, Sudan (سواكن) * Taba (Egypt), Taba, Egypt (طابا) * Thuwal, Saudi Arabia (ثول) * Yanbu, Saudi Arabia (ينبع)


See also

* Benjamin Kahn * ferry disaster * Parting of the Red Sea, a Biblical tale from the
Book of Exodus The Book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah and of the Old Testament. Starting with the deliverance of Moses by Pharaoh's daughter (Exodus), Pharaoh's daughter, it recounts the revelation at the Burning bush where he was called by Yahweh ...
* Red Sea Dam * Robert Moresby


References


Further reading

* * Miran, Jonathan. (2018). "The Red Sea," in David Armitage, Alison Bashford and Sujit Sivasundaram (eds.), ''Oceanic Histories'' (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 156–181.


External links


Red Sea Coral Reefs


* {{Authority control Red Sea, Tourist attractions in Egypt Egypt–Sudan border Eritrea–Sudan border Great Rift Valley Marine ecoregions Saudi Arabia–Yemen border Suez Canal Underwater diving sites Marginal seas of the Indian Ocean Gulfs of the Indian Ocean Geography of East Africa Geography of North Africa Geography of the Middle East Geography of Western Asia Horn of Africa Seas of Africa Seas of Asia Bodies of water of Egypt Bodies of water of Eritrea Bodies of water of Israel Bodies of water of Jordan Bodies of water of Saudi Arabia Bodies of water of Sudan Seas of Yemen Inlets of Asia Articles containing video clips