What Are the Names of the Five Oceans?

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CC-BY 2.0

The names of the earth’s five oceans are the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Arctic, the Indian and the Southern (or Antarctic) Oceans. Actually, there is only one global ocean, but the various divisions have been recognized historically for geographic, cultural and scientific reasons.

Water makes up 71 percent of the Earth’s surface area and, of all the water in the world, 97 percent is saltwater. Until 2000, there were only four oceans recognized worldwide. The International Hydrographic Organization added the Southern Ocean in 2000, describing its limits as all waters below 60 degrees south, including some areas that (like the Arctic Ocean) are completely frozen.

The Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans are considered the major oceans as they concern human activity and settlement the most. The deepest part of the oceans exists at the Marianas Trench in the Pacific Ocean at a depth of 35,837 feet, while the shallowest greatest depth is in the Arctic Basin at 18,456 feet.

The five oceans vary greatly in size.

  • The Pacific is the largest at 9,667,100 square miles
  • The Atlantic is second at 47,697,695 square miles
  • The Indian Ocean is third at 42,598,700 square miles
  • The Southern Ocean is fourth at 12,630,600 square miles
  • The Arctic Ocean is smallest at 8,733,995 square miles