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In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez (leading to the Suez Canal). The sea is underlain by the Red Sea Rift which is part of the Great Rift Valley.The Red Sea has a surface area of roughly 438,000 km² (169,100 mi²). It is about 2250 km (1398 mi) long and, at its widest point, 355 km (220.6 mi) wide.
The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden.The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (" Periplus of the Red Sea"), a Greek periplus written by an unknown author around the 1st century AD, contain a detailed description of the Red Sea's ports and sea routes. The Periplus also describes how Hippalus first discovered the direct route from the Red Sea to India.The Red Sea was favored for Roman trade with India starting with the reign of Augustus, when the Roman Empire gained control over the Mediterranean, Egypt, and the northern Red Sea.Yam Suph is traditionally identified as the Red Sea.The account is part of the Israelites' escape from slavery in Egypt. In the 6th century BC, Darius the Great of Persia sent reconnaissance missions to the Red Sea, improving and extending navigation by locating many hazardous rocks and currents.It has a maximum depth of 2211 m (7254 ft) in the central median trench, and an average depth of 490 m (1,608 ft).
However, there are also extensive shallow shelves, noted for their marine life and corals.
However, the Six Day War culminated in the closure of the Suez Canal from 1967 to 1975.
Today, in spite of patrols by the major maritime fleets in the waters of the Red Sea, the Suez Canal has never recovered its supremacy over the Cape route, which is believed to be less vulnerable.
(See also the more recent suggestion that the Yam Suph of the Exodus refers to a Sea of Reeds).
The Red Sea is one of four seas named in English after common color terms — the others being the Black Sea, the White Sea and the Yellow Sea.
Contact between Rome and China depended on the Red Sea, but the route was broken by the Aksumite Empire around the 3rd century AD. During the Middle Ages, the Red Sea was an important part of the Spice trade route.