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Persian Gulf

Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf from space
Location Western Asia
Type Gulf
Primary inflows 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)
Surface area 251,000 km2 (97,000 sq mi)
Average depth 50 m (160 ft)
Max. depth 90 m (300 ft)

The Persian Gulf is located in [1] The Shatt al-Arab river delta forms the northwest shoreline.

The Gulf was a battlefield of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers. It is the namesake of the 1991 Gulf War, the largely air- and land-based conflict that followed Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

The Persian Gulf has many fishing grounds, extensive coral reefs, and abundant pearl oysters, but its ecology has been damaged by industrialization and oil spills.

The body of water is historically and internationally known as the "Persian Gulf".[2][3][4] Some Arab governments refer to it as the "Arabian Gulf" or "The Gulf",[5] but neither term is recognized internationally. The name "Gulf of Iran (Persian Gulf)" is used by the

  • Geopolitical importance of Persian Gulf (PressTV 2012)
  • Qatar Digital Library - an online portal providing access to previously undigitised British Library archive materials relating to Gulf history and Arabic science
  • , Encyclopedia IranicaPersian Gulf
  • The Portuguese in the Arabian peninsula and in the Persian Gulf
  • 32 historical map of Persian gulf, at
  • Persian Gulf from 1920

External links

  1. ^ a b c d United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names Working Paper No. 61, 23rd Session, Vienna, 28 March – 4 April 2006. accessed October 9, 2010
  2. ^ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). "The World Fact Book". Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  3. ^ "Political Map of Iran". Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  4. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Cartographic Section (Middle East Map)". 
  5. ^ a b "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition". International Hydrographic Organization. 1953. Retrieved 7 February 2010. 
  6. ^ Persian Gulf Online. "Persian Gulf Oil and Gas Exports Fact Sheet (U.S. Department of Energy)". Retrieved March 4, 2011. 
  7. ^ U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). "Persian Gulf Oil and Gas Export Fact Sheet". EIA/DOE (Energey Information Administration/Department of Energy). 
  8. ^ Touraj Daryaee (2003). "The Persian Gulf Trade in Late Antiquity". Journal of World History 14 (1). 
  9. ^ K Darbandi (Oct 27, 2007). "'"Gulf renamed in aversion to 'Persian. Asia Times. Retrieved 2010-11-30. 
  10. ^ Mahan Abedin (Dec 9, 2004). "'"All at sea over 'the Gulf. Asia Times. Retrieved 2010-11-30. 
  11. ^ Eilts, Hermann F. (Autumn 1980). "Security Considerations in the Persian Gulf". International Security. Vol. 5, No. 2. pp. 79–113.
  12. ^ Abedin, Mahan (4 December 2004). "All at Sea over 'the Gulf'". Asia Times Online. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
  13. ^  
  14. ^ Jeffrey Rose, "New light on human prehistory in the Arabo-Persian Gulf oasis" Current Anthropology 51.6 (December 2010)
  15. ^ M. Th. Houtsma (1993). E.J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam 1913–1936.  
  16. ^ a b c Kaveh Farrokh (2007). Shadows in the desert: ancient Persia at war. Osprey Publishing. p. 68.  
  17. ^ Pierre Briant (2006). From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire. Eisenbrauns. p. 761.  
  18. ^ British Institute of Persian Studies. "Siraf". Retrieved 2010-11-24. 
  19. ^ Juan R. I. Cole (1987). "Rival Empires of Trade and Imami Shiism in Eastern Arabia, 1300–1800". International Journal of Middle East Studies 19 (2): 177–203 [186].  
  20. ^ [1],IRIB,
  21. ^ Martin Blumenson, Robert W. Coakley, Stetson Conn, Byron Fairchild, Richard M. Leighton, Charles V.P. von Luttichau, Martin Blumenson, Robert W. Coakley, Stetson Conn, Byron Fairchild, Richard M. Leighton, Charles V.P. von Luttichau, Charles B. MacDonald, Sidney T. Mathews, Maurice Matloff, Ralph S. Mavrogordato, Leo J. Meyer, John Miller, Jr., Louis Morton, Forrest C. Pogue, Roland G. Ruppenthal, Robert Ross Smith, Earl F. Ziemke. Command Decisions. Government Printing Office. p. 225. 
  22. ^ T. H. Vail Motter (1952). The Persian Corridor and aid to Russia, Volume 7, Part 1. Office of the Chief of Military History, Dept. of the Army. 
  23. ^ "Trucial states". LookLex Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  24. ^  
  25. ^ Peter Beaumont, "Blair was dangerously off target in his condemnation of Iran", The Guardian, December 24, 2006.
  26. ^ "UK-Bahrain sign landmark defence agreement". Foreign & Commonwealth Office. 5 December 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2014. 
  27. ^ "UK to establish £15m permanent Mid East military base". BBC. 6 December 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2014. 
  28. ^ Marco Ramerini. "Portuguese in the Arabia and the Persian Gulf". Retrieved 2010-11-27. 
  29. ^ a b c d e f Jim Krane (2006-07-03). "Development in Persian Gulf Threatens Wildlife". Discovery Channel. Retrieved 30 June 2008. 
  30. ^ SunySB. "Mangals". Retrieved 2010-11-23. 
  31. ^ Akiyo Yamada, Takeo Saitoh, Tetsuro Mimura and Yoshihiro Ozeki (2002-04-30). "Expression of Mangrove Allene Oxide Cyclase Enhances Salt Tolerance in Escherichia coli, Yeast, and Tobacco Cells". 
  32. ^ a b c "Case Study". Retrieved 2009-07-10. 
  33. ^ "Persian Gulf Mermaids Face Environmental Threats". Maurice Picow. 2010-03-04. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  34. ^ a b "Dumping by Construction Crews Killing Bahrain Coral". Maurice Picow. 2010-06-16. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  35. ^ Tim Thomas and Ian Robinson (2001). "Turtles Rehabilitated After Persian Gulf Oil Spills". Retrieved 2010-11-23. 
  36. ^ Mandana Javidinejad (2007). "Dolphins of Persian Gulf are in danger". Payvand News Agency. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  37. ^ Vahid Sepehri (October 3, 2007). "Iran: Spill, Dolphin Deaths Spark Alarm At Persian Gulf Pollution". Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  38. ^ a b Jen/ (2003-06-30). "Fish Species in Persian Gulf". Retrieved 2010-11-24. 
  39. ^ Morteza Aminmansour/Pars Times. "Pollution in Persian Gulf". Retrieved 2010-11-24. 


See also

Dugong mother and its offspring in shallow water. 
A healthy coral is an indication of a viable aquatic environment. 
One variant of the kingfisher bird group. 
Dolphins off the southern shore of Iran, around Hengam Island
Palm and sunset in Minoo Island (Persian Gulf). 
The gulf is the location of many of the region's primary cities, such as Doha in Qatar


The Persian Gulf is also home to over 700 species of fish, most of which are native to the gulf.[39] Of these 700 species, more than 80% are coral reef associated, and directly or indirectly depend on the coral reef for their survival.[39] Overall, the wild life of the Persian Gulf is endangered from both global factors, and regional, local negligence. Most pollution is from ships; land generated pollution counts as the second most common source of pollution,[40] ranging from mercury, to acidic or basic toxins.

Almost no species in the Persian Gulf is spared from the real estate development of UAE and Oman, including the hawksbill turtle, the flamingo, and the booted warblers, mainly due to destruction of the mangrove habitats to make way for towers, hotels, and luxury resorts.[30][36] Even dolphins that frequent the gulf in northern waters, around Iran are at serious risk. Recent statistics and observations show that dolphins are at danger of entrapment in purse seine fishing nets and exposure to chemical pollutants; perhaps the most alarming sign is the "mass suicides" committed by dolphins off Iran's Hormozgan province, which are not well understood, but are suspected to be linked with a deteriorating marine environment from water pollution from oil, sewage, and industrial run offs.[37][38]

The Persian Gulf is also home to many migratory and local birds. There is great variation in color, size, and type of the bird species that call the gulf home. One bird in particular, the kalbaensis, a sub-species of the kingfishers is at the brink of extinction due to real state development by cities such as Dubai and countries such as Oman.[30] Estimates from 2006 showed that only three viable nesting sites were available for this ancient bird, one located 80 miles (129 km) from Dubai, and two smaller sites in Oman, all of which are in the process of becoming real estate developments.[30] Such expansion would prove devastating and could cause this species to become extinct. Unfortunately for the kingfisher, a U.N. plan to protect the mangroves as a biological reserve was blatantly ignored by the emirate of Sharjah, which allowed the dredging of a channel that bisects the wetland and construction of an adjacent concrete walkway.[30] Environmental watchdogs in Arabia are few, and those that do advocate the wildlife are often silenced or ignored by developers of real estate, most of whom have royal family connections and huge energy profits to invest.[30] The end result has been sacrifice of a beautiful yet delicate ecology that has been in harmony for hundreds of years, for structures that are erected only a few years, yet will have a lasting detrimental effect.

Coral is another important inhabitant of the Persian Gulf waters. Corals are vital ecosystems that support multitude of marine species, and whose health directly reflects the health of the gulf. Recent years have seen a drastic decline in the coral population in the gulf, partially owing to global warming but majorly due to irresponsible dumping by Arab states like UAE and Bahrain.[35] Construction garbage such as tires, cement, and chemical by products have found their way to the Persian Gulf in recent years. Aside from direct damage to the coral, the construction waste creates "traps" for marine life in which they are trapped and die.[35] The end result has been a dwindling population of the coral, and as a result a decrease in number of species that rely on the corals for their survival.

One of the more unusual marine mammals living in the Persian Gulf is Dugong dugon, commonly referred to as the dugong. Called "sea cows" for their grazing habits, their mild manner and resemblance to the livestock, dugongs have a life expectancy similar to that of humans and can reach lengths of up to 3 meters. These gentle mammals feed on the sea grass and genetically resemble the land mammals more than the dolphins and the whales.[33] Despite the simplicity of their grass diet, new developments along the Persian Gulf coastline, particularly artificial island development in Arab states, pollution particularly by oil spills caused during the "Persian Gulf war" and also due to occasional oil spills, and uncontrolled hunting has had a negative impact on the survival of the dugongs.[33] After Australian waters with some 80,000 dugong inhabitants, the waters off Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, and Saudi Arabia have some 7,500 dugongs remaining, making the Persian Gulf the second most important habitat for the species. Dugong's current number is dwindling and it is not clear how many are currently alive or what their reproductive trend is.[33][34] Unfortunately, ambitious and uncalculated construction schemes, political unrest and an ever present international conflict, and presence of the most lucrative world supply of oil, along with lack of cooperation between Arab states and Iran, has had a negative impact on the survival of many marine species, including dugongs.

A great example of this symbiosis are the mangroves in the gulf, which require tidal flow and a combination of fresh and salt water for growth, and act as nurseries for many crabs, small fish, and insects; these fish and insects are the source of food for many of the marine birds that feed on them.[30] Mangroves are a diverse group of shrubs and trees belonging to the genus Avicennia or Rhizophora that flourish in the salt water shallows of the gulf, and are the most important habitats for small crustaceans that dwell in them. They are as crucial an indicator of biological health on the surface of the water, as the corals are to biological health of the gulf in deeper waters. Mangroves' ability to survive the salt water through intricate molecular mechanisms, their unique reproductive cycle, and their ability to grow in the most oxygen-deprived waters have allowed them extensive growth in hostile areas of the gulf.[31][32] Unfortunately, however, with the advent of artificial island development, most of their habitat is destroyed, or occupied by man-made structures. This has had a negative impact on the crustaceans that rely on the mangrove, and in turn on the species that feed on them.

The wildlife of the Persian Gulf is diverse, and entirely unique due to the gulf's geographic distribution and its isolation from the international waters only breached by the narrow Strait of Hormuz. The Persian Gulf has hosted some of the most magnificent marine fauna and flora, some of which are near extinction or at serious environmental risk. From corals, to dugongs, Persian Gulf is a diverse cradle for many species who depend on each other for survival.


Doha, Qatar 

Major cities

Eight nations have coasts along the gulf: Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The gulf's strategic location has made it an ideal place for human development over time. Today, many major cities of the Middle East are located in this region.

Cities and population

Persian Gulf is home to many small islands. Bahrain an island in the Persian Gulf, is itself a Persian Gulf Arab state. Geographically the biggest island in the Persian Gulf is Qeshm island located in the Strait of Hormuz and belonging to Iran. Other significant islands in the Persian Gulf include Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Kish administered by Iran, Bubiyan administered by Kuwait, Tarout administered by Saudi Arabia, and Dalma administered by UAE. In recent years, there has also been addition of artificial islands, often created by Arab states such as UAE for commercial reasons or as tourist resorts. Although very small, these artificial islands have had a negative impact on the mangrove habitats upon which they are built, often causing unpredicted environmental issues. Persian Gulf islands are often also historically significant having been used in the past by colonial powers such as the Portuguese and the British in their trade or as acquisitions for their empires.[29]


The United Kingdom maintains a high profile in the region to date; in 2006 alone, over 1 million British nationals visited Dubai.[26] In 2014, the UK announced it will establish its first permanent military base in the Middle East since it formally withdrew from the region in 1971.[27][28]

From 1763 until 1971, the British Empire maintained varying degrees of political control over some of the Persian Gulf states, including the United Arab Emirates (originally called the Trucial States)[24][25] and at various times Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar through the British Residency of the Persian Gulf.

In World War II, the Western Allies used Iran as a conduit to transport military and industrial supply to Russia (USSR), through a pathway known historically as the "Persian Corridor". This path would utilize the Trans-Iranian Railway, but in order for the supply to be transported to Iran, Britain utitlized the Persian Gulf as the entry point for the supply chain.[22] Persian Gulf therefore became a critical maritime path through which the Allies transported equipment, to Russia against the Nazi invasion.[23]

[20] and that date is commemorated as National Persian Gulf day in Iran.[21] 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 the Portuguese, Dutch, French, Spanish and the British merchants, who were granted particular privileges.

Colonial era

Following the fall of Achaemenid Empire, and 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, were important trade routes in the Sassanid empire. Many of the trading ports of the Persian empires were located in or around Persian Gulf. Siraf, an ancient Sassanid port that was located on the northern shore of the gulf, located in what is now the Iranian province of Bushehr, is an example of such commercial port. Siraf, was also significant in that it had a flourishing commercial trade with China by the 4th century, having first established connection with the far east in 185 AD.[19]

The Achaemenid high naval command had established major naval bases located along Shatt al-Arab river, Bahrain, Oman, and Yemen. The Persian fleet would soon not only be used for peacekeeping purposes along the Shatt al-Arab but would also open the door to trade with India via Persian Gulf.[17][18]

Between 625 BC and 226 AD, the northern side was dominated by a succession of Persian empires including the Median, Achaemenid, Seleucid and Parthian empires. Under the leadership of the Achaemenid king Darius the Great (Darius I), Persian ships found their way to the Persian Gulf.[17] Persian naval forces laid the foundation for a strong Persian maritime presence in Persian Gulf, that started with Darius I and existed until the arrival of the British East India Company, and the Royal Navy by mid-19th century AD. Persians were not only stationed on islands of the Persian Gulf, but also had ships often of 100 to 200 capacity patrolling empire's various rivers including Shatt-al-Arab, Tigris, and the Nile in the west, as well as Sind waterway, in India.[17]

The world's oldest known civilization (Sumer) developed along the Persian Gulf. The shallow basin that now underlies the Gulf was an extensive region of river valley and wetlands during the transition between the end of the Last Glacial Maximum and the start of the Holocene, which, according to University of Birmingham archaeologist Jeffrey Rose, served as an environmental refuge for early humans during periodic hyperarid climate oscillations, laying the foundations for the legend of Dilmun[15] For most of the early history of the settlements in the Persian Gulf, the southern shores were ruled by a series of nomadic tribes. During the end of the 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 2nd century the Lakhum tribe, who lived in what is now Yemen, migrated north and founded the Lakhmid Kingdom along the southern coast. Occasional ancient battles took place along the Persian Gulf coastlines, between the Sassanid Persian empire and the Lakhmid Kingdom, the most prominent of which was the invasion led by Shapur II against the Lakhmids, leading to Lakhmids' defeat, and advancement into Arabia, along the southern shore lines.[16] During the 7th century the Sassanid Persian empire conquered the whole of the Persian Gulf, including southern and northern shores.

Picture depicting "Persian Corridor" through which the Allies provided supplies to USSR.
Picture depicting the Achaemenid Persian empire in relation to the Persian Gulf.
Picture depicting extent of early civilizations around the Persian Gulf, including Lackhmids, and Sassanids.

Ancient history


The name of the gulf, historically and internationally known as the Persian Gulf after the land of Persia (Iran), has been disputed by some Arab countries since the 1960s.[12] Rivalry between Iran and some Arab states, along with the emergence of pan-Arabism and Arab nationalism, has seen the name Arabian Gulf become predominant in most Arab countries.[13][14] Names beyond these two have also been applied to or proposed for this body of water.

A historical map of the Persian Gulf in a Dubai museum with the word Persian removed[10][11]

Naming dispute

Before being given the present name, the Persian Gulf was called many different names. The classical Greek writers, like Herodotus, called it 'the Red Sea'. In Babylonian texts it was known as 'the sea above Akkad'.

In the travel account of [1]

During the years 550 to 330 BC, coinciding with the sovereignty of the first [1]

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

In 550 BC, 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.[9]

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


In 2002, the Persian Gulf nations of Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, produced about 25% of the world's oil, held nearly two-thirds of the world's crude oil reserves, and about 35% of the world natural gas reserves.[7][8] 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 east bank is held by Iran.

The Persian Gulf and its coastal areas are the world's largest single source of crude oil, and related industries dominate the region. Safaniya Oil Field, 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.

Oil and gas

The Arabia and Ràs al Kuh (25°48'N) on the coast of Iran (Persia)".[6]


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 the subject of territorial disputes between the states of the region.

This inland sea of some 251,000 square kilometres (96,912 sq mi) 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 (615 miles), with Iran covering most of the northern coast and Saudi Arabia most of the southern coast. The Persian Gulf is about 56 km (35 mi) wide at its narrowest, in the Strait of Hormuz. The waters are overall very shallow, with a maximum depth of 90 metres (295 feet) and an average depth of 50 metres (164 feet).



  • Geography 1
    • Extent 1.1
  • Oil and gas 2
  • Etymology 3
  • Naming dispute 4
  • History 5
    • Ancient history 5.1
    • Colonial era 5.2
  • Islands 6
  • Cities and population 7
    • Major cities 7.1
  • Wildlife 8
    • Gallery 8.1
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


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