The Indian Ocean, home to a fifth of the water on earth’s surface, has long been a crossroads for merchants, mariners, and navies. The Indian Ocean is critical to the geopolitical and economic fortunes of its littoral states and outside powers. As they have for centuries, container, passenger, and naval vessels squeeze through its narrow straits and sail into its deep waters, plying busy trade routes that span the globe from Africa to the Middle East, Asia, and Australia.

Today, securing value and supply chains has become a priority for states small and large. As a space where the world’s great powers intersect, the Indian Ocean is one of the most valuable trade and geopolitical regions of the world with over 80% of the world’s oil passes through the Indian Ocean’s waters. It is not only a fulcrum of strategic competition between nations but also of an array of valuable economic and development opportunities. Yet there are few dedicated Indian Ocean programs anywhere in the world. The Carnegie Asia Program’s Indian Ocean Initiative serves as as a hub for research and scholarship related to the Indian Ocean and its island states and territories. 

Interactive Map

The Indian Ocean Strategic Map displays the economic, political, military, and geographic features of the Indian Ocean and how they interact as one continuous theater. Highlighting the region’s maritime prominence and geopolitical importance, the Indian Ocean Strategic Map displays the unique perspectives, trade relationships, and multilateral bodies that dominate regional geopolitics.

Dialogue Series

The annual Indo-Pacific Island Dialogue Series convenes governmental and non-governmental actors to exchange experiences and display the strategic, economic, and diplomatic dynamics between island states and outside partners.

Islands have always played critical roles for great powers jostling for influence on the world stage. Small island nations in the Indo-Pacific are no different. Today, China, the United States, and other regional powers have jockeyed for favor from these island states in the Indian Ocean region. Yet often lost in the shuffle of great power politics are the interests of the island nations themselves.

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