The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions; with a total area of about 106.4 million square kilometres (41.1 million square miles), it covers approximately one-fifth of the Earth's surface. 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. Before Europeans discovered other oceans, the term "ocean" was 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, called 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. A component of the all-encompassing World 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. (Alternatively, in lieu of it connecting to the Southern Ocean, the Atlantic may be reckoned to extend southward to Antarctica.) The equator subdivides it into the North Atlantic Ocean and South Atlantic Ocean.