The Indian Ocean is the world's third largest ocean, and constitutes about 20 percent of the water on the Earth's surface.
It is bounded on the west by East Africa, on the north by India, on the east by Indochina and Australia, and on the south by the Southern Ocean off the coast of Antarctica.
Department of State Background: U.S. Relations
The Indian Ocean region is one of growing geopolitical importance and is characterized by competition and intense rivalries involving both littoral states and external powers. The strategic environment is volatile and a focus of increasing global attention. Eyes are on the emergence of China as a new and powerful regional player seeking to increase its influence in the region.