The second largest of the world's four oceans is located between the continents of North and South America, Europe, Africa and Antarctica. It is also the youngest of the oceans and probably did not exist 100 million years ago. It covers about 20% of the Earth's surface, with an area of 82,362,000 sq km. It has an average depth of 3,926 m. The deepest spot is the Puerto Rico Trench which is 8,381 m. Other notable trenches in the Atlantic are the South Sandwich Trench (8,428 m) and the Romanche Trench (7,760 m). The farthest distance across the Atlantic occurs between the United States and North Africa at 4,830 km. The shortest distance is between Senegal and Brazil at 2,575 km. The "S" shape of the Atlantic ocean results in two distinct basins with their own circulation systems. In the Northern Atlantic currents flow in a clockwise direction, while in the Southern Atlantic currents flow in a counterclockwise direction. This is a result of the Coriolis force.
The Atlantic is separated from the Arctic Ocean by a ridge that runs between Greenland and Scotland which is often called telegraph plateau because of the numerous cables laid along the ridge. It is separated from the Pacific Ocean by the Drake Passage which runs between South American and Antarctica. The boundary between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans is the 20° E meridian. The northern and southern basins are separated at roughly 8° N latitude. The Atlantic is also split down by the middle by the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge also contains a rift that is constantly widening and filling with molten lava which is pushing North and South America away from Europe and Africa. There are few islands in the Atlantic. Most are concentrated around the Caribbean. Most of the islands are structurally part of continents or exposed peaks of subterranean mountain ridges.
The Atlantic ocean is the busiest shipping ocean. The Atlantic ocean is the major artery between the Western and Eastern hemisphers. Economic activities include fishing, dredging of aragonite sands in The Bahamas, and production of crude oil and natural gas in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and North Sea.