List of Major Straits of World

What is a Strait ?

A strait is natural narrow water way that connects two large water bodies. In other words it can be also be defined as a thin channel of water way which separates comparatively two enormous water bodies.

Difference between Strait and Isthmus 

Isthmus is just opposite to a Strait. A thin piece of land which connects two bigger lands is called Isthmus. For example Isthmus of Panama connects North America and South America. A canal is generally built across an isthmus artificially to promote navigation from one part to other part by water. Panama canal is such an example which connects Atlantic ocean to Pacific ocean.

Some of the important and major straits of the world are described as follows –

Major Straits of World : Bering Strait

major straits of world

Bering Strait Map

The narrow sea between the Bering strait connects Arctic ocean East Pacific ocean near the countries of USA (Alaska state) and Russia. In other terms it can also be said that this strait connects Asia to the America. It has been named after famous explorer Vitus Bering. At the narrowest point its width is 82 Km. On one side lies Cape Dezhnev, Russia while the other side lies cape Prince of Wales, Alaska, US. The international Date line passes through this states which makes either sides of the strait falling on different calendar dates.

Major Straits of World : Bosporus Strait

Major Straits of World

Map of Bosporus & Dardanelles Strait

This strait connects Black sea to Marmara sea which in turn is connected to Aegean sea and then Mediterranean sea. In other words it can be also said that it provides a passage from Black sea to strategically most important European  Mediterranean sea. This strait partially separates Asia from Europe. It is also the world’s narrowest navigable strait. It is 31 Km long and average 3.3 Km wide. At the narrowest point the width is 800 m which makes this narrowest strait of world. It has average depth of about 65 mt. It is also known as Istanbul Strait and lies completely inside Turkish territory.

Dardanelles Strait 

It is also located in Turkey and lies just opposite to the Bosporus strait. It connects Aegean sea with sea of Marmara. It is around 60 Km long and just 1 km to 5 Km wide. It also forms a boundary line between Europe and Asia just like Bosporus strait.

Hormuz and Bab-el-Mandeb Strait


Major Straits of World

Map of Hormuz and Bab-el-Mandeb Strait

Hormuz strait connects Persian Gulf with Gulf of Oman and separates UAE and Musandam goveronrate of Oman in west to Iran in east. This is to note that Gulf of Oman is just a part of Arabian sea. Gulf of Oman which is itself a strip of water-body can also be called as strait separating Oman from Iran. Hormuz strait which is just 54 Km wide at narrowest point.  It is the strategically most important strait of the world as it controls the oil trade from the Gulf countries.

Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb separates Asia from Africa. In other words it can be said that this strait separates Arabian Peninsula from Somali peninsula. Precisely speaking it separates Yemen from Djibouti and Eritrea and connects Red sea with Gulf of Aden (part of Arabian sea).

Major Straits of World : Strait of Dover

major straits of world

Strait of Dover and English Channel on Europe Map

This strait connects North Sea with English channel. Broadly speaking, it is the narrowest part of English channel which opens near the north sea. It separates Great Britain from France i.e. the mainland Europe. It is 33 Km wide and one can sea the opposite end with naked eye on a clear sunny day. On either sides lies Dover, county of England in north and Cape Gris Nez, Calais, France in south. Most of the swimmers who cross English channel use this strait for swimming across.

Major Straits of World : Gibraltar Straitmajor straits of world

This strait connects the Mediterranean sea with Atlantic ocean. This strait geographically separates Europe from Africa. One side of the strait the strait lies Spain (Europe Continent) and on the other part lies Morocco (African Continent). This strait was called as Pillars of Hercules by Ancient Greeks. This strait is under administrative control of British (British overseas territory). The narrowest width of this strait (distance between Africa and Europe) is just 14.3 Km. Its depth varies between 300 to 900 mt. This is a strategic location as most of the international Cargo ship containers passes from this strait.


Major Straits of World : Malacca Strait

Major Straits of World

Strait of Malacca and Sunda Strait on Oceania Map

This strait separates Peninsular Malaysia from Sumatra island of Indonesia. This strait connects Pacific ocean at its south-east end to Indian ocean at its north-west end. It is about 800 Km long which runs from southern most point of Thailand up to the peninsular Malaysia in east part and Indonesian Sumatra in west. Its width is about 65 Km. It provides a shorter route for ships travelling from Indian Ocean (Andaman sea) to South China sea and saves thousands of kilometers and this is the reason why it is one of the busiest waterways.

Major Straits of World : Palk Strait

It connects Bay of Bengal at northeast end to Gulf of Mannar at western end. It separates Pamban island of Rameshwaram district, India from Mannar island of Sri Lanka. Dhanushkodi (India) and Talaimannar (Sri Lanka) lies on the either points of this strait. This strait is about 60 to 80 km wide. The southwest part contains numerous low-rising islands and reefs which is known as Adam’s Bridge (Ramsetu). These islands makes the navigation of ships virtually impossible. Sethusamudram Project was Proposed to create a channel by cutting out a passage in Adam’s Bridge for easy navigation of Ships from Bay of Bengal to Gulf of Mannar. This project was opposed on religious grounds.

Major Straits of World : Sunda Strait

This strait connects Java sea to Indian Ocean and separates Java island of Indonesia with its Sumatra island. On either sides of this strait lies Cape Tua on Sumatra and Cape Pujat on Java island. The eastern part of the straight is very shallow and depth is nearly 20 m only making it very difficult for navigating large ships.

Strait of Tartary

Major Straits of World

Strait of Tartar in East Asia Map

Strait of Tartary is also called as Tartar or Tatar strait. This is located in East Asia (north Pacific ocean). This strait separates Sakhalin island from mainland Russia. This strait connects Okhotsk sea and sea of Japan.

Interesting Facts about Straits of World

  1. Longest strait of world – Strait of Malacca which separates Malay peninsula from Sumatra island of Indonesia. It is 800 Km long.
  2. Widest strait of world – Denmark strait (or Greenland strait) which separates Greenland from Iceland. It is 290 km wide at the narrowest point.
  3. Narrowest strait of world – Bosphorus strait, at the narrowest point the width is 800 m.
  4. Shallowest strait of world – Sunda strait, at the eastern part the depth decreases to about 20 mt making it very difficult for navigation.
  5. Strait that separates Asia from America – Bering strait.
  6. Strait that separates Australia from Tasmania – Bass strait
  7. Strait that separates Europe from Africa – Gibraltar strait

List of other major Straits of Africa

StraitJoining SeaSeparating Lands
Mozambique channelIndian ocean Madagascar and Mozambique (mainland Africa)
Tiran straitGulf of Aqaba and Red seaSinai and Arabian peninsula
Zanzibar straitIndian ocean Zanzibar (Unguja) island from Tanzania (mainland Africa)

List of other major Straits of America

StraitJoining SeaSeparating Lands
Florida StraitGulf of Mexico and Atlantic oceanFlorida Keys and Cuba
Yuctan ChannelCaribbean sea with Gulf of MexicoMexico and Cuba
Mona PassageCaribbean sea and Atlantic oceanPuerto Rico
Jamaica ChannelCaribbean sea and north AtlanticJamaica and Hispaniola
Davis straitBaffin bay and Labrador seaGreenland and Baffin island
Hudson straitHudson bay and Labrador seaBaffin island and Labrador peninsula
Denmark straitGreenland sea and Irminger seaIceland and Greenland
Nares strait (Smith sound)Baffin bay and Lincoln sea (Arctic ocean)Greenland and Ellesmere Island of Canada
Belle Isle straitGulf of St Lawrence and Atlantic oceanLabrador peninsula and Newfoundland

List of other major Straits of Asia

StraitJoining seaSeparating Lands
Bab-el-MandebRed sea and Gulf of AdenYemen (Arabian Peninsula) and Djibouti, Eritrea of Smali Peninsula
Hormuz straitGulf of Oman and Persian GulfIran and UAE
Duncan PassageBay of Bengal and Andaman seaRutland island of Great Andaman and Little Andaman
Korea StraitEast China sea and sea of JapanJapan and South Korea
Ten Drgree ChannelBay of Bengal and Andaman seaLittle Andaman and Car Nicobar Islands
Taiwan (Formosa or Black Ditch) StraitEast China sea and North China seaTaiwan island from mainland Asia
Qiongzhou (Hainan) StraitGulf of Tonkin and South China seaHainan island and Leizhou peninsula

List of other major Straits of Europe

StraitJoining seaSeparating Lands
Bonifacio straitTyrrhenian sea and Mediterranean seaCorsica island of France and Sardina islands of Italy
Corfu straitAdriatic sea and Ionian seaAlbania and Greece
North Channel(Moyle strait)Irish sea and Atlantic oceannortheast Ireland and southwest Scotland
Otranto StraitItaly and AlbaniaAdriatic sea and Ionian sea
St George's channel (Irish Channel)Irish sea and Celtic seaIreland and Great Britain
Strait of SicilyWest and East Mediterranean seaSicily island of Italy and Tunisia (Africa)

List of other major Straits of Oceania

StraitJoining SeaSeparating Lands
Bali straitIndian ocean and Bali seaJava and Bali islands of Indonesia
Bass straitGreat Australian Bight and Tasman seaTasmania island and mainland Australia
Cook StraitTasman sea and south PacificNortha and South Island of New Zealand
Karimata straitSouth China sea and Java seaSumatra and Borneo islands of Indonesia
Singapore straitStrait of Malacca and South China seaSingapore and Indonesia
Torres straitArafura sea and Gulf of PapuaAustralia and Melanesian island of New Guinea
Vitiaz straitBismark sea and Soloman seaHuon peninsula and New Britain of New Guinea