The Gulf of Aden is part of the Arabian Sea and is found between Yemen to its north, on the South Coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and Somalia and Somaliland in the Horn of Africa. It connects with the Red Sea in the north-west, through the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, which is more than 32 kilometres wide. There are several ports along the Gulf, including Aden in Yemen, Djibouti City in Djibouti, Zeila and Berbera in Somaliland and Bosaso in Somalia.
The Gulf of Aden is an important waterway for shipping as it forms part of the Suez Canal shipping route between the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Sea with over 21,000 ships crossing the gulf annually. It is especially vital for Persian Gulf oil, and roughly 11% of the world's seaborne petroleum travels through the Gulf on its way to the Suez Canal or to regional refineries.
In the late 2000s, the Gulf was renowned as a hub of pirate activity. Increased private security and international navy patrols saw attacks decline by 2013, but as India receives USD 50 billion in imports and sends USD 60 billion in exports through this area every year, they now maintain a warship escort in the Gulf.
The Gulf of Aden is a geologically young body of water with a unique rich biodiversity that comprises many varieties of coral, fish, seabirds and invertebrates. Although the Gulf has traditionally benefitted from a relative lack of pollution, environmentalists fear the ecosystem could be in jeopardy if there is not a coordinated effort to control pollution. Commercial hunting and mass illegal hunting by Japan and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 70s has severely reduced the number of Whales, Dolphins and Dugongs. Arabian Humpback Whales also used to be seen in the Gulf in large numbers but are now critically endangered. Only a few large Whales can still be seen in the Gulf, including Bryde's Whales, Blue Whales, and Sperm Whales.