At 615,000 square miles, the Gulf of Mexico is the largest gulf in the world. A gulf is defined as a portion of a larger body of saltwater that is partially enclosed by land. In the case of the Gulf of Mexico, the lands that partially enclose it are Mexico's northeastern coast and the region of the U.S. that is known as the Gulf Coast, which includes the Florida panhandle and the coastal areas of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.
The Gulf of Mexico is also the 10th largest body of water in the world. With more than 3,000 miles of coastline between the United States and Mexico, the Gulf of Mexico is a massive body of water. One of the world's major ocean currents, the gulf stream, originates in the Gulf of Mexico.
In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, creating a major environmental impact in the area. Other major gulfs include the Persian Gulf, which is bordered by the Middle Eastern nations of Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. This gulf has a vital role in shipping oil from the major oil-producing nations of the Middle East to the rest of the world.