strait

Tsugaru Strait

[tsoo-gahr-oo]

Strait, northwestern Pacific Ocean. It extends from the Sea of Japan (East Sea) to the open ocean between the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido, Japan. It is 15–25 mi (24–40 km) wide. The Seikan Tunnel linking Aomori and Hakodate cities runs beneath the strait. Completed in 1988, it is the longest railway tunnel in the world; 14.5 mi (23.3 km) of its 33.5 mi (53.9 km) length lie under the strait.

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Passage between the island of New Guinea and Australia's Cape York Peninsula. It connects the Coral Sea and the Arafura Sea. It was discovered in 1606 by Spanish navigator Luis Vaez de Torres. About 80 mi (130 km) wide, it has many reefs, shoals, and islands, including the Torres Strait Islands, and is treacherous to navigate.

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Wide passage in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, connecting the Sea of Japan (East Sea) and the Sea of Okhotsk. Located between Sakhalin Island and Russia's Far East mainland, it is generally shallow, with depths less than 700 ft (210 m). Ice impedes its ports for half the year.

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or Formosa Strait

Arm of the northwestern Pacific Ocean. Lying between the coast of China's Fujian province and the island of Taiwan, it is about 100 mi (160 km) wide. The strait connects the South China Sea and East China Sea.

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ancient Fretum Siculum

Channel between southern Italy and northeastern Sicily. It is 2 to 10 mi (3 to 16 km) wide. The city of Messina lies on its bank in Sicily, opposite Reggio di Calabria. Ferry service across the strait links Messina with the Italian mainland.

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Channel connecting the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. It lies between Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula. It is 500 mi (800 km) long and is funnel-shaped; only 40 mi (65 km) wide in the south, it broadens in the north to 155 mi (249 km). Numerous islets hinder passage at its southern entrance. The shortest sea route between India and China, it is one of the most heavily traveled shipping channels in the world.

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Spanish Estrecho de Magallanes

Strait, linking the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean, between the southern tip of South America and Tierra del Fuego. It extends westward from the Atlantic between Cape Vírgenes and Cape Espíritu Santo and curves northwest at Froward Cape to reach the Pacific. Lying mostly within Chilean territorial waters, it is about 350 mi (560 km) long and 2–20 mi (3–32 km) wide. Named for Spanish navigator Ferdinand Magellan, the first European to pass there (1520), it remained an important shipping route until the Panama Canal opened in 1914.

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ancient Fretum Herculeum

Channel, connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. Lying between southernmost Spain and northwesternmost Africa, it is 36 mi (58 km) long and narrows to 8 mi (13 km) between Point Marroquí (Spain) and Point Cires (Morocco). At the strait's eastern extreme, 14 mi (23 km) apart, stand the Pillars of Hercules, which have been identified as the Rock of Gibraltar and Jebel Musa in Ceuta. It has long been of great strategic and economic importance.

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Channel in the Pacific Ocean, southwestern Canada and northwestern U.S. Located between Vancouver Island, the southwestern mainland of British Columbia, and northwestern Washington state, it is 150 mi (241 km) long and 30 mi (28 km) at its widest. To the north the strait ends in a jumble of islands separating it from Johnstone and Queen Charlotte straits. The southern end is marked by the San Juan Islands of Washington and joins Haro Strait, forming a link in the Inside Passage sea route between Seattle, Wash., and Skagway, Alaska.

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French Pas de Calais ancient Fretum Gallicum.

Channel separating southeastern England from northwestern France. Connecting the English Channel with the North Sea, it is about 20 mi (32 km) wide at its narrowest point. Lined on the British side with the famous White Cliffs, which are composed of soft chalk, it is one of the world's busiest seaways; its chief ports include Dover and Folkestone in England and Calais and Boulogne in France. It was the scene of several historic naval battles, including the repulse by the English of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Allied troops in the Dunkirk Evacuation crossed to Dover in 1940.

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Channel, eastern Canada. The northern entrance from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, it is 90 mi (145 km) long and 10–20 mi (16–32 km) wide. It flows between the northern tip of Newfoundland and southeastern Labrador and is the most direct route from the Saint Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes ports to Europe. The cold Labrador Current flows through the strait, extending the period of ice cover and limiting shipping to between June and late November.

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ancient Fretum Siculum

Channel between southern Italy and northeastern Sicily. It is 2 to 10 mi (3 to 16 km) wide. The city of Messina lies on its bank in Sicily, opposite Reggio di Calabria. Ferry service across the strait links Messina with the Italian mainland.

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Channel of the Irish Sea separating the Isle of Anglesey from the mainland of northern Wales. It extends 15 mi (24 km) and varies in width from 600 ft (180 m) to 2 mi (3 km). Two famous bridges span the strait: Thomas Telford's suspension road bridge of 1827 and Robert Stephenson's Britannia tubular railway bridge of 1849.

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Channel connecting the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. It lies between Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula. It is 500 mi (800 km) long and is funnel-shaped; only 40 mi (65 km) wide in the south, it broadens in the north to 155 mi (249 km). Numerous islets hinder passage at its southern entrance. The shortest sea route between India and China, it is one of the most heavily traveled shipping channels in the world.

Learn more about Malacca, Strait of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Spanish Estrecho de Magallanes

Strait, linking the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean, between the southern tip of South America and Tierra del Fuego. It extends westward from the Atlantic between Cape Vírgenes and Cape Espíritu Santo and curves northwest at Froward Cape to reach the Pacific. Lying mostly within Chilean territorial waters, it is about 350 mi (560 km) long and 2–20 mi (3–32 km) wide. Named for Spanish navigator Ferdinand Magellan, the first European to pass there (1520), it remained an important shipping route until the Panama Canal opened in 1914.

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Japanese Sōya-kaikyō Russian Proliv Laperuza

International waterway between the Russian island of Sakhalin and the Japanese island of Hokkaido. The strait, named for the French explorer count de La Pérouse, separates the Sea of Okhotsk from the Sea of Japan (East Sea). It is 27 mi (43 km) wide at its narrowest part, and it varies in depth from 167 to 387 ft (51 to 118 m). Noted for its extremely strong currents, it is closed by ice in the winter.

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Strait, North Pacific Ocean. Located between the Olympic Peninsula of Washington, U.S., and Canada's Vancouver Island, it is 11–17 mi (18–27 km) wide and 80–100 mi (130–160 km) long. It is named for a Greek who sailed in the service of Spain and who may have visited the passage in 1592. It is used by ships bound for Vancouver and Seattle. Settlements along its banks include Victoria, B.C., and Port Angeles, Wash.

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Northern arm of the Singapore Strait between the Republic of Singapore and the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. It is 30 mi (50 km) long and 0.75–3 mi (1.2–5 km) wide. Its eastern portion has a deepwater access channel to Changi naval base on Singapore's northeastern coast. During World War II it was the scene of heavy fighting in 1942, when the Japanese were driving to conquer Singapore. A causeway now links Singapore to the Malaysian mainland.

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ancient Fretum Herculeum

Channel, connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. Lying between southernmost Spain and northwesternmost Africa, it is 36 mi (58 km) long and narrows to 8 mi (13 km) between Point Marroquí (Spain) and Point Cires (Morocco). At the strait's eastern extreme, 14 mi (23 km) apart, stand the Pillars of Hercules, which have been identified as the Rock of Gibraltar and Jebel Musa in Ceuta. It has long been of great strategic and economic importance.

Learn more about Gibraltar, Strait of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Channel in the Pacific Ocean, southwestern Canada and northwestern U.S. Located between Vancouver Island, the southwestern mainland of British Columbia, and northwestern Washington state, it is 150 mi (241 km) long and 30 mi (28 km) at its widest. To the north the strait ends in a jumble of islands separating it from Johnstone and Queen Charlotte straits. The southern end is marked by the San Juan Islands of Washington and joins Haro Strait, forming a link in the Inside Passage sea route between Seattle, Wash., and Skagway, Alaska.

Learn more about Georgia, Strait of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

French Pas de Calais ancient Fretum Gallicum.

Channel separating southeastern England from northwestern France. Connecting the English Channel with the North Sea, it is about 20 mi (32 km) wide at its narrowest point. Lined on the British side with the famous White Cliffs, which are composed of soft chalk, it is one of the world's busiest seaways; its chief ports include Dover and Folkestone in England and Calais and Boulogne in France. It was the scene of several historic naval battles, including the repulse by the English of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Allied troops in the Dunkirk Evacuation crossed to Dover in 1940.

Learn more about Dover, Strait of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Strait, northern Atlantic Ocean. Lying between southeastern Baffin Island and southwestern Greenland, it separates Baffin Bay to the north from the Labrador Sea to the south, and forms part of the Northwest Passage. About 400 mi (650 km) north to south and 200–400 mi (325–650 km) wide, it was explored in 1585 by the English navigator John Davis. Along the coast of Greenland, the Greenland Current carries relatively warm water northward, while the cold Labrador Current transports icebergs southward along Baffin Island's eastern shore.

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Strait, separating North and South islands of New Zealand. Extending from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean, it is about 14 mi (23 km) wide at its narrowest point and averages 420 ft (128 m) in depth. Both shores are lined with steep cliffs, and that of South Island is deeply embayed. Treacherous currents and fierce storms present serious hazards to navigation. Capt. James Cook explored the strait in 1770.

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Channel, eastern Canada. The northern entrance from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, it is 90 mi (145 km) long and 10–20 mi (16–32 km) wide. It flows between the northern tip of Newfoundland and southeastern Labrador and is the most direct route from the Saint Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes ports to Europe. The cold Labrador Current flows through the strait, extending the period of ice cover and limiting shipping to between June and late November.

Learn more about Belle Isle, Strait of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Strait separating mainland Australia from Tasmania. It is some 150 mi (240 km) wide at its widest point, about 185 mi (300 km) long, and 180–240 ft (55–75 m) deep. It was named in 1798 for the British surgeon-explorer George Bass. Development of its offshore petroleum resources began in the 1960s.

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A strait is a narrow, navigable channel of water that connects two larger navigable bodies of water. It most commonly refers to a channel of water that lies between two land masses, but it may also refer to a navigable channel through a body of water that is otherwise not navigable, for example because it is too shallow, or because it contains an unnavigable reef or archipelago. The terms strait, channel, passage, sound, and firth can be synonymous and interchangeable, although each is sometimes differentiated with varying senses. Many straits are economically important. Straits can lie on important shipping routes, and wars have been fought for control of these straits. Numerous artificial channels, called canals, have been constructed to connect two bodies of water over land.

Although rivers and canals often form a bridge between two large lakes or a lake and a sea, and these seem to suit the formal definition of straits, they are not usually referred to as straits. Straits are typically much larger, wider structures.

Straits are the duals of isthmi. That is, while straits lie between two land masses and connect two larger bodies of water, isthmi lie between two bodies of water and connect two larger land masses.

A strait is similar to an inlet although inlets typically pass through island land masses usually from a large body of water such as an ocean to a much smaller body such as a bay while straits pass through much larger land masses and connect much larger bodies of water such as seas and oceans.

Well-known straits

Well-known straits in the world include:

See also

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