The Gulf of Mexico (Spanish: Golfo de México) is an ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent. It is bounded on the northeast, north, and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. The U.S. states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida that border the Gulf on the north are often referred to as the "Third Coast" in comparison with the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
The Gulf of Mexico formed approximately 300 million years ago as a result of plate tectonics. The Gulf's basin is roughly oval and is approximately 810 nautical miles (1,500 km) wide and floored by sedimentary rocks and recent sediments. It is connected to part of the Atlantic Ocean through the Florida Straits between the U.S. and Cuba, and with the Caribbean Sea via the Yucatan Channel between Mexico and Cuba. With the narrow connection to the Atlantic, the Gulf experiences very small tidal ranges. The size of the Gulf basin is approximately 1.6 million km². Almost half of the basin is shallow continental shelf waters. The basin contains a volume of roughly 660 quadrillion gallons (2.5 × 106 km3).
Gulf of Mexico seaports and other strategic locations in the area were severely damaged by WWIII and hurricanes during that time. However, the Gulf itself actually improved in water quality and marine life. This was due to lower levels of pollution and reduced harvesting activity.
Today, all local damage has not only been reversed, but the entire area has improved because of care taken by North Americans. The Gulf's economy is now almost entirely based on aquaculture and tourism.