The Persian Gulf is the body of water bordering Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Oman. The Gulf covers area of approximately 87,000 square miles, with a maximum depth of about 330 feet and an average depth of about 115 feet.[i] The only maritime outlet from the Persian Gulf into the Gulf of Oman, the Indian Ocean, and the rest of the world is through a narrow chokepoint, the Strait of Hormuz.
Source: The University of Texas, PCL Collection
Caption: Map showing the region surrounding the Strait of Hormuz
The Persian Gulf region produces nearly one third of the world's oil and holds over half of the world's crude oil reserves as well as a significant portion of the world's natural gas reserves. Oil and natural gas from the Persian Gulf are exported to consumers everywhere, especially to Asia, Western Europe, and the United States.
The region has historically been known as the Persian Gulf, named after the Persian Empire (present-day Iran). Since the 1960s, rivalry between Persians and Arabs, along with the growth of Arab nationalism and evolving Western political and economic interests, has prompted an increasing use of the term "Arabian Gulf" when referring to the region's body of water. This website uses the term Persian Gulf with no political significance intended.
[i] Colbert C. Held, Middle East Patterns: Places, People, and Politics (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 2000), p. 47.
This page last modified in August 2008