Covering approximately 20 percent of the Earth’s surface, the Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean basin in the world, following only the Pacific. However, it is only slightly larger than half the size of the Pacific Ocean.
The Atlantic Ocean lies between North and South America on the west and Europe and Africa on the east. Up north, the Atlantic connects to the Arctic Ocean and to the Southern Ocean to the south.
Scientists often divide the Atlantic into two basins: the North Atlantic and the South Atlantic. The North Atlantic, where waters sink after being chilled by arctic temperatures, is the start of the “global ocean conveyor,” a circulation pattern that helps regulate Earth’s climate.
The Atlantic Ocean derives its name from the Greek god, Atlas.