Pacific Ocean Facts

Pacific means ‘peaceful’

The word comes from the Latin ‘pace’ for peace and the Pacific Ocean got its name from the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 who called its waters ‘mar pacifico’ which means peaceful sea.


The Pacific Ocean covers more than 30% of the earth’s surface

It is the biggest ocean on earth, has a surface area of over 65 million square miles and provides almost half of the earth’s water area.  The size of the Pacific Ocean is bigger than the total size of the landmass of all the continents together.


The average depth of the Pacific is 3,800m

It is the deepest ocean with the deepest trenches.  The Challenger Deep is the lowest point on earth and is located in the Pacific to the West of the Philippines and north of New Guinea.  It is the lowest part of the earth crust and was formed by the collision of two tectonic plates.  It is called Challenger Deep because it was researched by the HMS Challenger in 1875.


At its greatest width the Pacific stretches approximately 19,800 kilometres.   This point is at 5°N latitude between Indonesia and the coast of Colombia and the distance is halfway across the world and more than five times the diameter of the Moon.


75% of the earth’s volcanoes are located in the Pacific Ocean basin.  The volcanoes form a ring around the basin and are known as the ring of fire.  Many earthquakes happen in this area due to volcanic activity. Tsunamis, which cause terrible destruction when hitting the land, also happen in this area.


The temperatures of the Pacific Ocean depend on the location. The nearer to the Equator the warm the water tends to be. So some regions the water is up to 30degC/86F, while near to the poles the water temperature decreases to freezing point. The lowest temperature measured was -2degC.


Most of the Islands of the world are found in the Pacific Ocean. There are more than 25,000 islands in the Pacific and most of them are found south of the Equator in the Southern Pacific.  The four largest countries consisting mainly of archipelagos or clusters of islands are located in the Pacific Ocean: These are Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines and New Zealand.


Most of the world’s supply of fish is caught in the Pacific.  Overfishing is one of the biggest threats facing the Pacific Ocean and has a severe impact on both the environment and society.