See C. A. M. King, Beaches and Coasts (2d ed. 1972).
Coniferous evergreen timber tree (Sequoia sempervirens) of the family Taxodiaceae, found in the fog belt of west-coastal North America. It grows in the coastal range from southwestern Oregon to central California at elevations up to 3,300 ft (1,000 m). The genus name commemorates the Cherokee Indian Sequoyah. The redwood is sometimes called coast redwood to distinguish it from the Sierra redwood (or big tree) and the Japanese redwood (or Japanese cedar). Redwoods are the tallest living trees, often exceeding 300 ft (90 m) in height; one has reached 368 ft (112 m). Typical trunk diameters are 10–20 ft (3–6 m) or more. The redwood tree takes 400–500 years to reach maturity; some are known to be more than 1,500 years old. As the tree ages, the lower limbs fall away, leaving a columnar trunk. Redwood timber has been used for furniture, shingles, fence posts, paneling, and fine wood objects. Today many of the remaining redwood stands are protected (see Redwood National Park; Sequoia National Park). Seealso dawn redwood.
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Coniferous, nonevergreen tree (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), the only living species of the genus Metasequoia, of the family Taxodiaceae, native to remote valleys of central China. Both branchlets and leaves grow out in pairs from points along the stem. The bright green, feathery leaves turn reddish brown in autumn. Though Metasequoia fossils are abundant, the tree was thought to be extinct until living specimens were discovered in the 1940s. Only a few thousand are known to have survived, in central China. Since these stands were discovered, seeds and cuttings have been planted throughout the world.
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National park, northwestern corner of California, U.S. It was established in 1968, expanded in 1978, and designated a World Heritage site in 1980. It preserves virgin groves of ancient redwood trees, including the world's tallest, 367.8 ft (112.1 m) high. It also includes 40 mi (65 km) of scenic Pacific coastline. It covers an area of 172 sq mi (445 sq km), including land in three state parks.
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Broad area of land that borders the sea. The coastlines of the world's continents measure about 193,000 mi (312,000 km). They have undergone shifts in position and changes in shape over geologic time because of substantial changes in the relative levels of land and sea. Other factors that alter coasts are erosion processes such as wave action and weathering, deposition of rock debris by currents, and tectonic activity. Coastal features result largely from the interaction and relative intensity of these processes, though the type and structure of the underlying rocks also play a part.
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Region along the coast of eastern Nicaragua and Honduras. It comprises a lowland about 40 mi (65 km) wide that skirts the Caribbean Sea for about 225 mi (360 km). It was visited by Christopher Columbus in 1502, but Europeans had little contact with the area until the rise of the buccaneers in the 17th century, after which England established a protectorate there. It is named for the Miskito Indians. Spain, Nicaragua, and the U.S. disputed England's protectorate until the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty (1850). In 1894 the region was incorporated into Nicaragua, but the northern part was granted to Honduras in 1960 by the International Court of Justice. The chief town is Bluefields, at the mouth of the Escondido River in Nicaragua.
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Region, southwestern coast of India, stretching from the Western Ghats to the Arabian Sea. It now includes most of Kerala state and the coastal region of Karnataka state. It has sometimes been used to refer to the entire western coast of peninsular India. A large part of it was within the ancient kingdom of Keralaputra. The Portuguese established trading posts there; they were followed by the Dutch in the 17th century and the French in the 18th century. The British gained control of the region in the late 18th century.
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Section of the coast of the Gulf of Guinea, western Africa. Extending approximately from Axim, Ghana, in the west to the Volta River in the east, it was so called because it was an important source of gold. It was an area of intense colonial rivalry from the 17th century. Acquired as a colony by the British in the 19th century and named the Gold Coast, the area achieved independence as the Republic of Ghana in 1957.
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Mediterranean coastal region, North Africa. It extends from Egypt to the Atlantic Ocean. Once part of Roman Africa, the region was overrun by Vandals in the 5th century AD. Reconquered by the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) circa AD 533, it was overcome by Arabs during the 7th century and was eventually broken up into the independent Muslim polities known collectively as the Barbary states (Morocco, Algeria [Algiers], Tunisia [Tunis], and Libya [Tripoli]). For centuries the coast was notorious as a haven for pirates, who ravaged shipping and collected tribute from European states. After the U.S. war with Tripoli (see Tripolitan War), the U.S. expedition to Algiers (1815), and the bombardment of Algiers by the British (1816), the pirates ceased exacting tribute.
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The coast is defined as the part of the land adjoining or near the ocean. A coastline is properly a line on a map indicating the disposition of a coast, but the word is often used to refer to the coast itself. The adjective coastal describes something as being on, near to, or associated with a coast.
Coast is a specific term, and is applied to that part of an island or continent that borders an ocean or its saltwater tributaries. A pelagic coast refers to a coast which fronts the open ocean, as opposed to a more sheltered coast in a gulf or bay. A shore on the other hand, can refer to parts of the land which adjoin any large body of water, including oceans (sea shore) and lakes (lake shore). Similarly, the somewhat related term bank refers to the land alongside or sloping down to a river (river bank) or of a body of water smaller than a lake. Bank is also used in some parts of the world to refer to an artificial ridge of earth intended to retain the water of a river or pond. In other places this may be called a levee.
While many scientific experts might agree on a common definition of the term "coast", the delineation of the inland extents of a coast differ according to jurisdiction, with many scientific and government authorities in various countries differing for economic and social policy reasons. This is usually because defining lands as part of a coast may be seen to have environmental implications which would prevent development or attach regulations to their use.
Like the ocean which shapes them, coasts are a dynamic environment with constant change. The earth's natural processes, particularly sea level rise, waves and various weather phenomena, have resulted in the erosion, accretion and reshaping of coasts as well as flooding and creation of continental shelves and drowned river valleys (rias).
The high level of biodiversity creates a high level of biological activity, which has attracted human activity for thousands of years. Due to extraordinary population growth in the 20th century, tremendous pressures have been placed on the planet’s ecosystems. With a larger population we must provide more housing, energy, and food. The problem exists both in the concentration of people in coastal areas and their sheer numbers. In the Mancote Mangroves of St. Lucia, harvesting mangrove for timber and clearing for fishing drove the mangrove forests to dangerously low levels. This disruption resulted in a loss of habitat and spawning ground for marine life that was unique to the area. These mangrove forests also helped to stabilize the coastlines. St. Lucia was faced with a huge mess and fortunately have been able to make great conservation efforts since the 80’s that has partially restored the ecosystem functioning.
Pollution is an ongoing concern along coasts with garbage and industrial debris littering beaches and sometimes entire coasts, requiring government agencies to make frequent use of beach cleaners and other volunteer cleanup efforts. The transportation of petroleum in tankers is a major hazard both for the open ocean and along coasts, particularly when large oil spills occur. Another major hazard for coastal marine life is the large number of small oil spills created by large and small vessels powered by petroleum which flush bilge water directly into the ocean.
A large part of the global population inhabits areas near a coast, partly to take advantage of marine resources such as fish, but more importantly to participate in seaborne trade with other nations. Many of the world's major cities that have developed in recent centuries were built on or near good harbours and have large port facilities to take advantage of marine transportation. Jurisdictions which are landlocked and have no coast are often at an economic disadvantage with overseas trade being more difficult; sometimes being forced to go to extravagant measures such as building canals to permit ocean-going vessels to travel inland.
Coasts, especially those with beaches and warm water are also an important draw for tourists. In many island nations such as those of the Mediterranean, South Pacific and Caribbean, tourism by those who come to enjoy the coast is central to the economy. Coasts are popular destinations because of recreational activities such as swimming, fishing, surfing, boating, and sunbathing. Growth management can be a challenge for coastal local authorities who often struggle to provide the infrastructure required by new residents seeking seachange lifestyles.
Many tourists and residents also enjoy the salt air by the sea coast which some consider to have health benefits. Coastal weather is heavily influenced by the ocean and while this can sometimes result in dangerous storms such as Nor'easters and hurricanes, the coastal climate is often cooler and more temperate than corresponding inland areas. Consequently tourists from areas experiencing extremely warm and humid weather seek coastal areas for these reasons.
Fisheries have lost much of their capacity to produce fish due to habitat degradation, and over-fishing. Overharvesting, trawling, bycatch and climate change are among some of the major pressures on fisheries. Since the growth of the global fishing enterprise since the 1950’s, intensive fishing has gone from a few concentrated areas to encompass nearly all fisheries. Not only is over fishing a problem but the technology involved creates even greater destruction. Trawling, or bottom dragging, is used for catching shrimp and other bottom dwelling species. This scraping of the ocean floor is devastating to coral, sponges and other long-lived species that do not recover quickly. This destruction alters the functioning of the ecosystem and can permanently alter species composition and biodiversity. Bycatch is the result of capturing unintended species in the course of fishing. Of this unintended catch most is discarded back into the ocean and dies from injuries or exposure. Bycatch represents approximately ¼ of all marine catch. In the case of shrimp capture, the amount of bycatch is five times larger than the amount of shrimp caught.
The coast is often a crucial defensive frontier, both for warding off military invaders but also smugglers and illegal migrants. Coastal defenses have thus long been erected in many nations. Most coastal countries also have a navy and some form of coast guard.
An emergent coastline is a coastline which has experienced a fall in sea level, because of either a global sea level change, or local uplift. Emergent coastlines are identifiable by the coastal landforms, which are above the high tide mark, such as raised beaches. Alternatively, a submergent coastline is a coastline which has experienced a rise in sea level, due to a global sea level change, local subsidence, or isostatic rebound. Submergent coastlines are identifiable by their submerged, or "drowned" landforms, such as rias (drowned valleys) and fjords.
A concordant coastline is a coastline where bands of different rock types run parallel to the shore. These rock types are usually of alternating resistance, so the coastline forms distinctive landforms, such as coves. A discordant coastline is a type of coastline formed when rock types of alternating resistance run perpendicular to the shore. Discordant coastlines feature distinctive landforms because the rocks are eroded by ocean waves. The less resistant rocks erode faster, creating inlets or bays; the more resistant rocks erode more slowly, remaining as headlands or outcroppings.