The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic
divisions. With a total area of about 106,400,000 square kilometres
(41,100,000 sq mi), it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's
surface and about 26% of its water surface area. The first part of its
name refers to Atlas of Greek mythology, making the Atlantic the "Sea
The oldest known mention of "Atlantic" is in The Histories of
Herodotus around 450 BC (Hdt. 1.202.4): Atlantis thalassa (Greek:
Ἀτλαντὶς θάλασσα; English: Sea of Atlas); see also:
Atlas Mountains. The term Ethiopic Ocean, derived from Ethiopia, was
applied to the southern Atlantic ocean as late as the mid-19th
century. Before Europeans discovered other oceans, the term "ocean"
itself was synonymous with the waters beyond the Strait of Gibraltar
that we now know as the Atlantic. The early Greeks believed this ocean
to be a gigantic river encircling the world.
The Atlantic Ocean occupies an elongated, S-shaped basin extending
longitudinally between Europe and Africa to the east, and the Americas
to the west. As one component of the interconnected global ocean, it
is connected in the north to the Arctic Ocean (which is sometimes
considered a sea of the Atlantic), to the Pacific Ocean in the
southwest, the Indian Ocean in the southeast, and the Southern Ocean
in the south. (Other definitions describe the Atlantic as extending
southward to Antarctica.) The equator subdivides it into the North
Atlantic Ocean and South Atlantic Ocean.