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The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about 106,400,000 square kilometres (41,100,000 sq mi), it covers approximately twenty percent of the Earth's surface and about twenty-six percent of its water surface area. The first part of its name refers to the Atlas of Greek mythology, making the Atlantic the "Sea of Atlas".
The oldest known mention of this name is contained in The Histories of Herodotus around 450 BC (I 202); see also: Atlas Mountains. Another name historically used was the ancient term Ethiopic Ocean, derived from Ethiopia, whose name was sometimes used as a synonym for all of Africa and thus for the ocean. Before Europeans discovered other oceans, the term "ocean" itself was to them synonymous with the waters beyond Western Europe that we now know as the Atlantic and which the Greeks had believed to be a gigantic river encircling the world; see Oceanus.
The Atlantic Ocean occupies an elongated, S-shaped basin extending longitudinally between the Americas to the west, and Eurasia and Africa to the east. As one component of the interconnected global ocean, it is connected in the north to the Arctic Ocean (which is sometimes considered a sea of the Atlantic), to the Pacific Ocean in the southwest, the Indian Ocean in the southeast, and the Southern Ocean in the south. (Other definitions describe the Atlantic as extending southward to Antarctica.) The equator subdivides it into the North Atlantic Ocean and South Atlantic Ocean.