The Pacific Ocean covers more than one-third of the surface of the globe. This area is greater than all the land above sea level on the earth. The northernmost edge of the Pacific is at Bering Strait, which is 56 miles wide and of rather shallow water, the maximum depth being about 300 feet; and here the boundary line between Asia and North America runs between the two Diomede Islands located near the middle of Bering Strait. The eastern border of the Pacific is the coast of the Americas, and the western follows the shorelines of the Asiatic mainland, Indonesia, New Guinea, and Australia. Authorities differ regarding the southern limits of the Pacific Ocean. Some take the latitude of 40° south; others include the Southern Ocean to the Antarctic Circle (latitude 66½°, south) between the longitude of Southeast Cape on Tasmania and the longitude of Cape Horn. The concept of the southern limit as the Antarctic Circle will be followed in this book. Within the boundaries given, the Pacific Ocean encompasses 68,634,000 square miles, inclusive of the seas adjacent. Stopping at latitude 40° south would give an area of 55,624,000 square miles to the Pacific Ocean. This greatest of all seas measures 10,000 land miles across along the equator and about 12,500 miles, half the distance around the earth, from Panama to the Malay Peninsula. The ocean extends 9300 land miles from Bering Strait to the Antarctic Circle, or, if latitude 40° south is considered the southern boundary, the north-south distance becomes 7350 miles. One of the important geographic factors in the Pacific is the great distances involved. Distance affects the migrations and activities of man as well as limits the spread of plants and animals.
The average depth of the Pacific Ocean is about 14,000 feet, with an extreme depth of approximately 35,400 feet between Guam and Mindanao.
The area of those portions of the continents that drain into the Pacific is estimated at 7,500,000 square miles, only a quarter of the area that is tributary to the Atlantic Ocean.