The Persian Gulf (Persian: خلیج فارس), in the Southwest Asian region, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula. 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 are recognized internationally.
The Persian Gulf was a focus of the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran War, in which each side attacked the other’s oil tankers. In 1991, the gulf gave its name to the U.S.-led ejection of Iraqi forces from Kuwait, called the Persian Gulf War or the Gulf War even though most of the action took place on land.
The Achaemenid Empire (Persian: هخامنشیان) or Achaemenid Persian Empire (550–330 BCE) Map
The Persian Gulf is rich with good fishing grounds, extensive coral reefs, and abundant pearl oysters, but its ecology has come under pressure from industrialisation, and in particular, repeated petroleum spillages during recent wars.
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 Arvand River (Persian: اروندرود) or Shatt al-Arab (Coast/Beach of the Arabs), which carries the waters of the Euphrates and the Tigris.
Its length is 989 kilometres, with Iran occupying most of the northern coast and Saudi Arabia most of the southern coast.
The Persian 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, 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.
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 the Arvand River or Shatt al-Arab, which carries the waters of the Euphrates and the Tigris Rivers, where the left (East) bank is held by Iran.
Antique map of the Persian Gulf by van Keulen (FIRST EDITION 1753)