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A strait is a narrow channel of water that connects two larger bodies of water, and thus lies between two land masses. The terms strait, channel, passage and firth can be synonymous and interchangeable, although channel and firth have other meanings too. 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. Well-known straits in the world include the Strait of Dover, between England and France, which connects the North Sea with the English Channel; the Strait of Gibraltar, the only natural passage between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea; the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, which connect the Mediterranean and the Black Sea; the Strait of Magellan, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans north of Tierra del Fuego, the Bering Strait between Alaska and Siberia which connects the Pacific and Arctic Oceans; and the Strait of Malacca, which lie between Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra and connect the Indian Ocean with the South China Sea.

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 that do not have water running in a single direction, and normally connect two seas.

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

[edit] See also

ar:مضيق bg:Проток cs:Průliv da:Stræde (farvand) de:Meerenge et:Väin es:Estrecho eo:Markolo fa:تنگه fr:Détroit ko:해협 ku:Tengav id:Selat io:Stretajo is:Sund he:מצר nl:Zeestraat ja:海峡 os:Донкъубал pl:Cieśnina pt:Estreito ru:Пролив fi:Salmi sv:Sund vi:Eo biển zh:海峡


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