Persian Gulf.............................
Persian Gulf - Persian Gulf from space
Persian Gulf from space
Location Southwest Asia
Ocean type Gulf
Primary sources Sea of Oman
Basin countries Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Oman (exclave of Musandam)
Max length 989 km (615 mi)
Max width 56 km (35 mi) (min)
Surface area 251,000 km2 (97,000 sq mi)
Average depth 50 m (160 ft)
Max depth 90 m (300 ft)

The Persian Gulf, in the Southwest Asian region, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.[1] Historically and commonly known as the Persian Gulf, this body of water is sometimes controversially referred to as the Arabian Gulf by certain Arab countries or simply The Gulf, although neither of the latter two terms is recognized internationally.

The Persian Gulf was a focus of the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers. In 1991, the Persian Gulf again was the background for what was called the "Persian Gulf War" or the "Gulf War" when Iraq invaded Kuwait and was subsequently pushed back, despite the fact that this conflict was primarily a land conflict.

The Persian Gulf has many good fishing grounds, extensive coral reefs, and abundant pearl oysters, but its ecology has come under pressure from industrialization, and in particular, petroleum spillages during the recent wars in the region.




This inland sea of some 251,000 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 the Shatt al-Arab, which carries the waters of the Euphrates and the Tigris. Its length is 989 kilometres, with Iran covering most of the northern coast and Saudi Arabia most of the southern coast. The gulf is about 56 kilometres wide at its narrowest, in the Strait of Hormuz. The waters are overall very shallow, with a maximum depth of 90 metres and an average depth of 50 metres.

Countries with a coastline on the Persian Gulf are (clockwise, from the north): Iran, Oman (exclave of Musandam), United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar on a peninsula off the Saudi coast, Bahrain on an island, Kuwait and Iraq in the northwest. Various small islands lie within the Persian Gulf, some of which are subject to territorial disputes by the states of the region.

 Oil and gas

The Persian Gulf and its coastal areas are the world's largest single source of crude oil and related industries dominate the region. Al-Safaniya, the world's largest offshore oilfield, is located in the Persian Gulf. Large gas finds have also been made with Qatar and Iran sharing a giant field across the territorial median line (North Field in the Qatari sector; South Pars Field in the Iranian sector). Using this gas, Qatar has built up a substantial liquified natural gas (LNG) and petrochemical industry.

The oil-rich countries (excluding Iraq) that have a coastline on the Persian Gulf are referred to as the Persian Gulf States. Iraq's egress to the gulf is narrow and easily blockaded consisting of the marshy river delta of the Shatt al-Arab, which carries the waters of the Euphrates and the Tigris Rivers, where the left (East) bank is held by Iran.


Map of the Persian Gulf. The Gulf of Oman leads to the Arabian Sea. Detail from larger map of the Middle East.

In 330 B.C, the Achaemenid Empire established the first Persian Empire in Pars (Persis, or modern Fars) in the southwestern region of the Iranian plateau. Consequently in the Greek sources, the body of water that bordered this province came to be known as the Persian Gulf.[2]

Considering the historical background of the name Persian Gulf, Sir Arnold Wilson mentions in a book, published in 1928 that:

No water channel has been so significant as Persian Gulf to the geologists, archaeologists, geographers, merchants, politicians, excursionists, and scholars whether in past or in present. This water channel which separates the Iran Plateau from the Arabia Plate, has enjoyed an Iranian Identity since at least 2200 years ago.[3]

No written deed has remained since the era before the Persian Empire, but in the oral history and culture, the Iranians have called the southern waters: "Jam Sea", "Iran Sea", "Pars Sea".

During the years: 550 to 330 B.C. coinciding with sovereignty of the first Persian Empire on the Middle East area, especially the whole part of Persian Gulf and some parts of the Arabian Peninsula, the name of "Pars Sea" has been widely written in the compiled texts.[4]

In the travel account of Pythagoras, several chapters are related to description of his travels accompanied by Darius the Great, to Susa and Persepolis, and the area is described. From among the writings of others in the same period, there is the inscription and engraving of Darius the great, installed at junction of waters of Arabian Gulf (Ahmar Sea = Red sea) and Nile river and Rome river (current Mediterranean) which belongs to the 5th century BC where, Darius, the king of Achaemenid Empire has named the Persian Gulf Water Channel: Pars Sea.[5]

 Naming dispute

A historical map of the Persian Gulf in a Dubai museum, United Arab Emirates with the word Persian removed.[citation needed]

With the rise of Arab nationalism (Pan-Arabism) in the 1960s, some Arab states of the region started adopting the term "Arabian Gulf" (in Arabic: الخلیج العربی al-ḫalīǧ al-ʻarabi) to refer to the waterway.[6] However, this naming has not found much acceptance outside of the Arab world, and is not recognized by the United Nations[7][8][9][6] or any other international organization.[10][6] The United Nations Secretariat on many occasions has requested that only "Persian Gulf" be used as the official and standard geographical designation for the body of water.[11] Historically, "Arabian Gulf" has been a term used to indicate the Red Sea.[12][13][14][15][16] At the same time, the historical veracity of the usage of "Persian Gulf" can be established from the works of many medieval historians.[17][18][19][20][21]

At the Twenty-third session of the United Nations in March-April 2006, the name "Persian Gulf" was confirmed again as the legitimate and official term to be used by members of the United Nations.[22]


 Pre-Islamic era

For most of the history of human settlement in the Persian Gulf the southern side was ruled by nomadic tribes. During the end of fourth millennium BC the southern part of the Persian Gulf was dominated by the Dilmun civilization. For a long time the most important settlement on the southern coast of the Persian Gulf was Gerrha. In the second century the Lakhum tribe, who lived in Yemen, migrated north and founded the Lakhmid Kingdom along the southern coast. During the 7th century the Sassanid Empire conquered the whole of the Persian Gulf.

Between 625 BC and 226 AD the northern side was dominated by the Median, Achaemenid, Seleucid and Parthian empires. After the fall of the Parthian Empire, the Sassanid empire ruled the northern half and at times the southern half of the Persian Gulf. the Persian Gulf, along with the Silk Road was very important to trade in the Sassanid empire. Siraf was an ancient Sassanid port that was located on the north shore of the Persian Gulf in what is now the Iranian province of Bushehr.

Colonial era

Portuguese expansion into the Indian Ocean in the early sixteenth century following Vasco da Gama's voyages of exploration saw them battle the Ottomans up the coast of the Persian Gulf. In 1521, a Portuguese force led by commander Antonio Correia invaded Bahrain to take control of the wealth created by its pearl industry. IIn April 29 of 1602, Shāh Abbās, the Persian emperor of Safavid Persian Empire expelled the Portuguese from Bahrain.[23][24], and that date is commemorated as National Persian Gulf day in Iran[25]. With the support of the British fleet, in 1622 'Abbās took the island of Hormuz from the Portuguese: much of the trade was diverted to the town of Bandar 'Abbās which he had taken from the Portuguese in 1615 and had named after himself. The Persian Gulf was therefore opened by Persians to a flourishing commerce with Portuguese, Dutch, French, Spanish and British merchants, which were granted particular privileges.

From 1763 until 1971, the British Empire maintained varying degrees of political control over some Persian Gulf states, including the United Arab Emirates (originally called the "Trucial Coast States"[citation needed]) and at various times Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar through the British Residency of the Persian Gulf.

The United Kingdom maintains a high profile in the region; in 2006, over 1 million Britons visited Dubai alone.[26]


Mangroves in the Persian Gulf, which are thought to require tidal flow and a combination of fresh and salt water, are nurseries for crabs, small fish and insects - and the birds that eat them.[27]

 See also