Wednesday, May 04, 2022

The Importance of the Indian Ocean

The Strategic Importance of the Indian Ocean is a new interactive map which seeks to underline the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean as one region, stretching from the eastern coast of Africa to the western coast of Australia. The map provides an interactive tool for exploring the importance of the Indian Ocean to trade & global shipping, and to visualize the territorial claims of countries (some of which may provide barriers to that trade).  

The Indian Ocean holds a fifth of the world's waters and is critical to global shipping and to the economic fortunes of many countries. It is therefore a site of keen economic and strategic competition between many countries. One of the key layers on the interactive map shows the key shipping routes in the Indian Ocean and identifies key 'chokepoints' on these routes. These chokepoints are some of the most strategically important routes for world trade. As such disruptions at these chokepoints can have a dramatic impact on global trade.

The map also features layers on maritime boundaries, the important regional players and current maritime disputes in the ocean. There are currently 15 ongoing territorial disputes in the Indian Ocean. Some of which could have an impact on important shipping routes.

There are a number of territorial disputes on-going in the wider Asia Pacific region. The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative has mapped out all these territorial claims in this larger area on its own interactive map.  The Maritime Claims of the Asia Pacific attempts to provide an as complete, accurate and up-to-date map as possible of all the competing maritime claims in the region.

On the map each country's territorial claims are shown using color-coded borders. The map includes a filter option which allows you to view any combination of countries' claims on the map. By selecting any two countries on the map it is possible to see exactly where they have territorial disputes.

The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative map doesn't show territorial claims for the Spratly and Paracel Islands "due to a lack of clarity about what each country claims". 

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