What Oceans and Seas Surround Africa?

Fr Maxim Massalitin/CC-BY-SA 2.0

Africa, the world’s second-largest continent, is bounded by the Atlantic, Indian and Southern oceans, as well as by the Red and Mediterranean seas. The continent straddles the equator and sits between the landforms of southern Europe and Asia, giving it a complex coastal geography and a wide range of sea conditions.

Africa’s north coast is met by the warm Mediterranean Sea. This sea reaches from the western coast of Asia to the Strait of Gibraltar, where Africa is nearly in contact with Europe. At the extreme southern end of the continent, Africa is bounded by the Southern Ocean. This ocean stretches around the world at southern latitudes, where it circumnavigates Antarctica. To the west, Africa has its longest coastline with the Atlantic Ocean. Africa borders on both the North and South Atlantic, from roughly the location of Cape Town to Gibraltar.

In the East, Africa faces the Indian Ocean. Tectonic forces are pulling much of East Africa away from the main continent there, and have already separated India and sent it across the ocean to collide with Asia. Between Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, a thin stretch of water known as the Red Sea has been joined with the Mediterranean by the Suez Canal.