RED SEA

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RED SEA, or ARABIAN GULF (anciently Arabicus Sinus)', an extensive gulf of the Indian ocean, dividing Arabia from the opposite coast of Africa, extending in a northwest direction from the straits of Babehnandel to the isthmus of Suez, where it approaches to within sixty miles of the Mediterranean; lat. 12° to"30° N. Its length is about 1400 miles; breadth, where greatest, about 200. This sea was anciently a greater channel of commerce than in modern times. Its navigation is rendered difficult by frequent obstructions from coral rocks either above or under water, by storms, and by the paucity of safe harbors. The principal harbors are Suez, at its head; Cosseir, Suakem and Massuah on the west side; Jidda, Jambo, Ghunfude, Loheia, Hodeida and Mocha on the east side. This part of the Indian ocean was called by the Greeks the Erythrean sea, according to some accounts, from a king Erythras, of whom, however, nothing is known. The Greek epithet ipvdpaios signifies also red; hence the appellation Mare rubrum, and in English, Red sea, not from any such color in its waters or sands.