Gulf

Gulf

[guhlf]
Gulf. For names of bodies of water beginning thus, see second part; e.g., for Gulf of Mexico, see Mexico, Gulf of.
Saint Vincent, Gulf, inlet of the Indian Ocean, 90 mi (145 km) long and 45 mi (72 km) wide, SE South Australia state, Australia. Port Adelaide is on the eastern shore.

Any large coastal indentation, similar to a bay but larger. Most existing gulfs were formed or greatly extended as a result of the rise in sea level that accompanied the ending of the last ice age. Some, such as the Gulf of California and the Gulf of Oman, resulted from warping, folding, or downfaulting of the Earth's crust, which caused parts of the shoreline to drop below sea level. Most gulfs are connected with the sea by one or more straits. A gulf may have a group of islands at its mouth or may open into another gulf. Gulfs may differ from the adjoining sea in water properties and sedimentation.

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Arm of the South China Sea, between northern Vietnam and Hainan Island, China. It is 300 mi (500 km) long and 150 mi (250 km) wide. In 1964 the Vietnamese reportedly fired on U.S. ships there, leading the U.S. Congress to adopt the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that supported increased U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

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formerly Gulf of Siam

Inlet of the South China Sea. Mostly bordering Thailand, though Cambodia and Vietnam form its southeastern shore, it is 300–350 mi (500–560 km) wide and 450 mi (725 km) long. Thailand's main harbours lie along its shores, its waters are important fishing grounds, and beaches along its coast are popular tourist attractions.

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or Gulf of Sirte

Inlet of the Mediterranean Sea, north-central coast, Libya. It extends 275 mi (443 km). In August the gulf's water temperature reaches 88 °F (31 °C), the warmest in the Mediterranean. It was the scene of the Battle of Sirte in World War II (1939–45), during which a British naval convoy thwarted attacks by Italian warships and German bombers. In the early 1970s Libya laid claim to the entire gulf, prompting minor clashes with U.S. naval forces in the area.

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Gulf of the Aegean Sea, southeastern coast of Greece. Some 50 mi (80 km) long and 30 mi (50 km) wide, it separates Attica and the Peloponnese and is linked to the Gulf of Corinth by the Corinth Canal. It was the site of a major Athenian victory over the Persians in 480 BC (see Battle of Salamis). Its ports include Piraeus and Mégara.

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Triangular inlet of the Indian Ocean, southeastern Australia. It is on the coast of South Australia between Yorke Peninsula (west) and the mainland (east and southeast). About 90 mi (145 km) long and 45 mi (73 km) wide, it is linked to the ocean by Investigator Strait and Backstairs Passage. Kangaroo Island lies across the gulf's entrance. Adelaide and Port Adelaide Enfield (pop., 2004 est.: 103,830), South Australia's leading port, are on its eastern side.

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Deep gulf of the Atlantic Ocean off eastern Canada. It has an area of about 60,000 sq mi (155,000 sq km). It touches the shores of half of the provinces of Canada, providing a gateway to the interior of the entire North American continent. Its boundaries are the maritime estuary at the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River, the Strait of Belle Isle between Newfoundland and the mainland, and Cabot Strait. It has many islands, including Prince Edward Island and the Magdalen Islands.

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Large gulf of the Baltic Sea. Bounded by Latvia and Estonia, it covers about 7,000 sq mi (18,000 sq km). The gulf, icebound from December to April, has a maximum depth of 177 ft (54 m). The coasts are mostly low and sandy, and several important rivers, including the Western Dvina, reach the sea there. Several ports and resorts, including Riga, line its shores.

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or Gulf War

(1990–91) International conflict triggered by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. Though justified by Iraqi leader Ssubdotaddām Hsubdotussein on grounds that Kuwait was historically part of Iraq, the invasion was presumed to be motivated by Iraq's desire to acquire Kuwait's rich oil fields and expand its power in the region. The United States, fearing Iraq's broader strategic intentions and acting under UN auspices, eventually formed a broad coalition, which included a number of Arab countries, and began massing troops in northern Saudi Arabia. When Iraq ignored a UN Security Council deadline for it to withdraw from Kuwait, the coalition began a large-scale air offensive (Jan. 16–17, 1991). Ssubdotaddām responded by launching ballistic missiles against neighbouring coalition states as well as Israel. A ground offensive by the coalition (February 24–28) quickly achieved victory. Estimates of Iraqi military deaths range up to 100,000; coalition forces lost about 300 troops. The war also caused extensive damage to the region's environment. The Iraqi regime subsequently faced widespread popular uprisings, which it brutally suppressed. A UN trade embargo remained in effect after the end of the conflict, pending Iraq's compliance with the terms of the armistice. The foremost term was that Iraq destroy its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs. The embargo continued into the 21st century and ceased only after the Iraq War started in 2003.

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Arm of the Arabian Sea. It is about 615 mi (990 km) long and rarely exceeds a depth of 300 ft (90 m). It is connected with the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea through the Strait of Hormuz. It contains the island kingdom of Bahrain and is bordered by Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and Iraq. It has long been a maritime trade route between the Middle East and South Asia; its modern economy is dominated by petroleum production.

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Inlet of the Pacific Ocean, northwestern coast of Costa Rica. It is formed by the protrusion of the Nicoya Peninsula from the mainland and extends north and northwest for about 50 mi (80 km). The Tempisque, Abangares, and Tárcoles rivers empty into the gulf. It has several islands, including Chira, the largest, and San Lucas. The largest town and port on the shores of the gulf is Puntarenas.

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Gulf, southeastern coast of North America, connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the Straits of Florida and to the Caribbean Sea by the Yucatán Channel. Covering an area of 600,000 sq mi (1,550,000 sq km), it is bounded by the U.S., Mexico, and Cuba. It has a maximum depth, in the Mexico Basin, of 17,070 ft (5,203 m). The Gulf Stream enters it from the Caribbean Sea and flows out to the Atlantic. The Mississippi and the Rio Grande are the major rivers draining into the gulf. Its major ports are Veracruz in Mexico, and Galveston, New Orleans, Pensacola, and Tampa in the U.S.

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Gulf of the Mediterranean Sea, extending along the coast of southern France from the Spanish border to Toulon. Major ports along the gulf are Marseille and Sète.

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Arm of the South China Sea, between northern Vietnam and Hainan Island, China. It is 300 mi (500 km) long and 150 mi (250 km) wide. In 1964 the Vietnamese reportedly fired on U.S. ships there, leading the U.S. Congress to adopt the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that supported increased U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

Learn more about Tonkin, Gulf of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

formerly Gulf of Siam

Inlet of the South China Sea. Mostly bordering Thailand, though Cambodia and Vietnam form its southeastern shore, it is 300–350 mi (500–560 km) wide and 450 mi (725 km) long. Thailand's main harbours lie along its shores, its waters are important fishing grounds, and beaches along its coast are popular tourist attractions.

Learn more about Thailand, Gulf of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

or Gulf of Sirte

Inlet of the Mediterranean Sea, north-central coast, Libya. It extends 275 mi (443 km). In August the gulf's water temperature reaches 88 °F (31 °C), the warmest in the Mediterranean. It was the scene of the Battle of Sirte in World War II (1939–45), during which a British naval convoy thwarted attacks by Italian warships and German bombers. In the early 1970s Libya laid claim to the entire gulf, prompting minor clashes with U.S. naval forces in the area.

Learn more about Sidra, Gulf of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Deep gulf of the Atlantic Ocean off eastern Canada. It has an area of about 60,000 sq mi (155,000 sq km). It touches the shores of half of the provinces of Canada, providing a gateway to the interior of the entire North American continent. Its boundaries are the maritime estuary at the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River, the Strait of Belle Isle between Newfoundland and the mainland, and Cabot Strait. It has many islands, including Prince Edward Island and the Magdalen Islands.

Learn more about Saint Lawrence, Gulf of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Large gulf of the Baltic Sea. Bounded by Latvia and Estonia, it covers about 7,000 sq mi (18,000 sq km). The gulf, icebound from December to April, has a maximum depth of 177 ft (54 m). The coasts are mostly low and sandy, and several important rivers, including the Western Dvina, reach the sea there. Several ports and resorts, including Riga, line its shores.

Learn more about Riga, Gulf of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Inlet of the Pacific Ocean, northwestern coast of Costa Rica. It is formed by the protrusion of the Nicoya Peninsula from the mainland and extends north and northwest for about 50 mi (80 km). The Tempisque, Abangares, and Tárcoles rivers empty into the gulf. It has several islands, including Chira, the largest, and San Lucas. The largest town and port on the shores of the gulf is Puntarenas.

Learn more about Nicoya, Gulf of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Gulf, southeastern coast of North America, connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the Straits of Florida and to the Caribbean Sea by the Yucatán Channel. Covering an area of 600,000 sq mi (1,550,000 sq km), it is bounded by the U.S., Mexico, and Cuba. It has a maximum depth, in the Mexico Basin, of 17,070 ft (5,203 m). The Gulf Stream enters it from the Caribbean Sea and flows out to the Atlantic. The Mississippi and the Rio Grande are the major rivers draining into the gulf. Its major ports are Veracruz in Mexico, and Galveston, New Orleans, Pensacola, and Tampa in the U.S.

Learn more about Mexico, Gulf of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Gulf of the Mediterranean Sea, extending along the coast of southern France from the Spanish border to Toulon. Major ports along the gulf are Marseille and Sète.

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Great inlet of the Atlantic Ocean on the western African coast. It includes the Bights of Benin and Biafra, and its major tributaries are the Volta and Niger rivers. Its natural resources include offshore oil deposits and metal ore deposits. Its coastline forms part of the western edge of the African tectonic plate and corresponds remarkably to the continental margin of South America from Brazil to the Guianas, providing one of the clearest confirmations of the theory of continental drift.

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Inlet of the Pacific Ocean, Central America. Bounded by El Salvador to the northwest, Honduras to the northeast, and Nicaragua to the southeast, it reaches inland about 40 mi (65 km) and widens to about 50 mi (80 km). Its entrance, marked by Cape Amapala in El Salvador and Cape Cosigüina in Nicaragua, is about 20 mi (32 km) across. The shores are covered by mangrove swamps except where Conchagua Volcano rises sharply in the west.

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Gulf, northeastern Australia. An inlet of the Arafura Sea, it is bordered by the Northern Territory and by Cape York Peninsula and extends north-south about 375 mi (600 km) and east-west 310 mi (500 km). It was explored by the Dutch 1605–28; its western coasts were discovered by Abel Janszoon Tasman in 1644. Neglected for centuries, it became economically significant from the late 20th century for its bauxite and manganese deposits and for its prawn-rich waters.

Learn more about Carpentaria, Gulf of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

or Sea of Cortés

Gulf separating Baja California from the rest of Mexico. Its area is about 59,000 sq mi (153,000 sq km). Its waters were coloured by red plankton when 16th-century Spanish explorers named it Mar Bermejo (“Vermilion Sea”). Some geologists hold that the gulf is structurally part of the Pacific Ocean; others claim Baja California is pulling away from the continent as it moves north along the San Andreas Fault, allowing the gulf to form.

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Northern arm of the Baltic Sea. Extending between Sweden and Finland, it covers about 45,200 sq mi (117,000 sq km). It is 450 mi (725 km) long and 50–150 mi (80–240 km) wide, with an average depth of 200 ft (60 m). Because many rivers drain into it, its salinity is very low; annual ice cover consequently lasts up to five months.

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Northeastern arm of the Red Sea, between Saudi Arabia and the Sinai Peninsula. It varies in width from 12 to 17 miles (19 to 27 km) and is 100 miles (160 km) long. Its head touches Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Its only sheltered harbour is Dhahab (Dahab), Egypt; Jordan and Israel created the ports of Al-aynAqabah and Elat, respectively, as outlets to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

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Arm of the Indian Ocean between the Arabian Peninsula and Somalia. To the west, it narrows into the Gulf of Tadjoura; its eastern limit is the meridian of Cape Guardafui. In these terms it is about 550 mi (885 km) long; geologically, it extends a total of 920 mi (1,480 km), to the eastern limits of the continental shelf beyond the Khuriyyā Muriyyā islands to the north and the island of Socotra to the south. Its marine life is rich in quantity and variety. Its coastline lacks large-scale fishing facilities but supports many fishing towns, as well as the major ports Aden and Djibouti.

Learn more about Aden, Gulf of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Cluster of illnesses in veterans of the Persian Gulf War (1990–91). These illnesses are characterized by variable and nonspecific symptoms such as fatigue, muscle and joint pains, headaches, memory loss, and posttraumatic stress reactions. It is believed to be caused by exposure to chemicals called anticholinesterases, which are found in nerve toxins, insecticides, and prophylactic anti-nerve toxin drugs. The disorder does not appear to be fatal but can be associated with considerable distress and disability.

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Warm ocean current, part of a general clockwise-rotating system of currents in the North Atlantic. A major contribution of the Gulf Stream is its warming effect on the climates of adjacent land areas. In winter, the air over the ocean west of Norway is more than 40°F (22°C) warmer than the average for that latitude, one of the greatest temperature anomalies in the world. Winters in southwestern England are extraordinarily mild for this northern latitude because of the Gulf Stream. Regions of the Gulf Stream, such as the Grand Banks, have been among the most productive commercial fishing grounds in the world.

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Triangular inlet of the Indian Ocean, southeastern Australia. It is on the coast of South Australia between Yorke Peninsula (west) and the mainland (east and southeast). About 90 mi (145 km) long and 45 mi (73 km) wide, it is linked to the ocean by Investigator Strait and Backstairs Passage. Kangaroo Island lies across the gulf's entrance. Adelaide and Port Adelaide Enfield (pop., 2004 est.: 103,830), South Australia's leading port, are on its eastern side.

Learn more about Saint Vincent, Gulf with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Great inlet of the Atlantic Ocean on the western African coast. It includes the Bights of Benin and Biafra, and its major tributaries are the Volta and Niger rivers. Its natural resources include offshore oil deposits and metal ore deposits. Its coastline forms part of the western edge of the African tectonic plate and corresponds remarkably to the continental margin of South America from Brazil to the Guianas, providing one of the clearest confirmations of the theory of continental drift.

Learn more about Guinea, Gulf of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Inlet of the Pacific Ocean, Central America. Bounded by El Salvador to the northwest, Honduras to the northeast, and Nicaragua to the southeast, it reaches inland about 40 mi (65 km) and widens to about 50 mi (80 km). Its entrance, marked by Cape Amapala in El Salvador and Cape Cosigüina in Nicaragua, is about 20 mi (32 km) across. The shores are covered by mangrove swamps except where Conchagua Volcano rises sharply in the west.

Learn more about Fonseca, Gulf of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Gulf, northeastern Australia. An inlet of the Arafura Sea, it is bordered by the Northern Territory and by Cape York Peninsula and extends north-south about 375 mi (600 km) and east-west 310 mi (500 km). It was explored by the Dutch 1605–28; its western coasts were discovered by Abel Janszoon Tasman in 1644. Neglected for centuries, it became economically significant from the late 20th century for its bauxite and manganese deposits and for its prawn-rich waters.

Learn more about Carpentaria, Gulf of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

or Sea of Cortés

Gulf separating Baja California from the rest of Mexico. Its area is about 59,000 sq mi (153,000 sq km). Its waters were coloured by red plankton when 16th-century Spanish explorers named it Mar Bermejo (“Vermilion Sea”). Some geologists hold that the gulf is structurally part of the Pacific Ocean; others claim Baja California is pulling away from the continent as it moves north along the San Andreas Fault, allowing the gulf to form.

Learn more about California, Gulf of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Northern arm of the Baltic Sea. Extending between Sweden and Finland, it covers about 45,200 sq mi (117,000 sq km). It is 450 mi (725 km) long and 50–150 mi (80–240 km) wide, with an average depth of 200 ft (60 m). Because many rivers drain into it, its salinity is very low; annual ice cover consequently lasts up to five months.

Learn more about Bothnia, Gulf of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Northeastern arm of the Red Sea, between Saudi Arabia and the Sinai Peninsula. It varies in width from 12 to 17 miles (19 to 27 km) and is 100 miles (160 km) long. Its head touches Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Its only sheltered harbour is Dhahab (Dahab), Egypt; Jordan and Israel created the ports of Al-aynAqabah and Elat, respectively, as outlets to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

Learn more about Aqaba, Gulf of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Arm of the Indian Ocean between the Arabian Peninsula and Somalia. To the west, it narrows into the Gulf of Tadjoura; its eastern limit is the meridian of Cape Guardafui. In these terms it is about 550 mi (885 km) long; geologically, it extends a total of 920 mi (1,480 km), to the eastern limits of the continental shelf beyond the Khuriyyā Muriyyā islands to the north and the island of Socotra to the south. Its marine life is rich in quantity and variety. Its coastline lacks large-scale fishing facilities but supports many fishing towns, as well as the major ports Aden and Djibouti.

Learn more about Aden, Gulf of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

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  • The Gulf is also used to refer to the Gulf War

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