Friday, November 04, 2011

The Neglected Ocean

Someone just pointed out to me that Perth, Western Australia, is an Indian Ocean seaport. Heck, so is Adelaide, capital of South Australia. In fact the Indian Ocean stretches from 20°E to 146°55'E, which makes its westernmost port probably Port Elizabeth in South Africa.

Most of human trade and civilisation over the span of our history has traversed this neglected ocean. Egypt's only ocean access is to the Indian Ocean, and the Arabian peninsula is almost entirely surrounded by it. Few know how large the Chinese presence here used to be, still is, and continues to be. There perhaps more than 50,000 Chinese (mostly Cantonese) on Madagascar, and another 35,000 on Mauritius. Singapore is an Indian Ocean city.

This is why geography is both romantic and important. These are the huge stories hidden in plain sight. Or plain sites.

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