Piracy is a significant global threat to international sea-borne trade - the life-blood of modern industrial economies and vital for world economic survival. The pirates of today are constantly in the world's news media, preying on private and merchant shipping from small, high-speed vessels. Andrew Palmer here provides the historical background to the new piracy, its impact on the shipping and insurance industries and also considers the role of international bodies like the UN and the International Maritime Bureau, international law and the development of advanced naval and military measures. He shows how this 'new' piracy is rooted in the geopolitics and socio-economic conditions of the late-20th century where populations live on the margins and where weak or 'failed states' can encourage criminal activity and even international terrorism. Somalia is considered to be the nest of piracy, but hotspots include not only the Red Sea region, but also the whole Indian Ocean, West Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia and the South China Seas.