The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Persian Gulf

The Persian Gulf (Persian: خلیج فارس, pronounced "khalij-e fārs", IPA:/χaliːdʒɛfaːrs/, Arabic: الخليج الفارسي) is an extension of the Gulf of Oman in between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. It is also referred to by some as "The Gulf" or "The Arabian Gulf" (latter name was used widely until the end of the 19th century for the Red Sea), but historically, the most commonly used term is The Persian Gulf (See also Dispute over the name of the Persian Gulf).

This inland sea of some 233,000 km² is connected to the Gulf of Oman in the east by the Strait of Hormuz, and its western end is marked by the major river delta of Arvand/Shatt al-Arab river, which carries the waters of the Euphrates and the Tigris. Its length is 989 kilometres separating mainly Iran from Saudi Arabia with the shortest divide of about 56 kilometres in the Strait of Hormuz. The waters are overall very shallow and do not exceed anywhere 60 metres in depth.

Countries with a coastline on the Persian Gulf, called the Persian Gulf States, are (clockwise, from the southeast): United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar on a peninsula off the Saudi coast, Bahrain on an island, Kuwait and Iraq in the northwest, and Iran in the north. Various small islands lie within the Persian Gulf and some are contested between neighbouring states.

The Persian Gulf and its coastal areas are the largest single source of crude oil and related industries dominate the region.

The Persian Gulf was among the scenes of the Iraq-Iran War that lasted from 1980 to 1988, as with each side attacking the other's oil tankers. In 1991 the Persian Gulf again was the background for a Persian Gulf War as Iraq invaded Kuwait and was subsequently pushed back during what is now predominantly known as the Persian Gulf War, despite the fact that this conflict did not focus primarily on the Persian Gulf.

The natural environment of the Persian Gulf is very rich with good fish grounds, extensive coral reefs and pearl oysters in abundance, but has become increasingly under pressure due to the heavy industrialisation and in particular the repeated major oil spillages associated with the variuous recent wars fought in the region.

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Last updated: 09-12-2005 02:39:13