Important Straits

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02 Sept 2021

A strait is a naturally formed, narrow, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. Most commonly it is a channel of water that lies between two landmasses. Some straits are not navigable, for example, because they are too shallow, or because of an unnavigable reef or archipelago.

  1. Strait of Hormuz
  • It links the Persian Gulf (west) with the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea (southeast).
  • On the north coast lies Iran, and on the south coast the United Arab Emirates and Musandam, an exclave of Oman. 
  • The strait is 35 to 60 miles (55 to 95 km) wide and separates Iran from the Arabian Peninsula.
  • It contains the islands of Qeshm (Qishm), Hormuz, and Hengām (Henjām) and is of great strategic and economic importance, especially as oil tankers collecting from various ports on the Persian Gulf must pass through the strait.
  • OPEC members Saudi Arabia, Iran, the UAE, Kuwait and Iraq export most of their crude via the Strait
  • Qatar, the world’s biggest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter, sends almost all of its LNG through the Strait
  • The UAE and Saudi Arabia have sought to find other routes to bypass the Strait, including building pipelines.

2. Strait of Malacca

  • Strait of Malacca connects the Andaman Sea (Indian Ocean) and the South China Sea (Pacific Ocean).
  • Stretching about 800km, it is the longest straits in the world and facilitates not just shipping and the movement of people in the surrounding communities but is a confluence of trade, cultures, ideas, and knowledge between the East and West.
  • It runs between the Indonesian island of Sumatra to the west and peninsular (West) Malaysia and extreme southern Thailand to the east and has an area of about 25,000 square miles (65,000 square km).
  • The strait derived its name from the trading port of Melaka (formerly Malacca)—which was of importance in the 16th and 17th centuries—on the Malay coast.
  • As the link between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, the Strait of Malacca is the shortest sea route between India and China and hence is one of the most heavily travelled shipping channels in the world.
  • Singapore, one of the world’s most important ports, is situated at the strait’s southern end.
  • The global shift in economic power from the West to the East coupled with burgeoning trade, investments, and production in areas spanning the Indian and Pacific Ocean regions has given increasing importance to this region.

3. Bab-el-Mandab

  • The Bab al-Mandab strait is the narrow waterway that separates the Arabian Peninsula from the Horn of Africa.
  • It links the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.
  • At its narrowest point, the strait is only 29 km wide between Yemen on one side and Djibouti and Eritrea on the other.
  • It is a key strategic channel for commerce and trade, with an estimated 4 percent of global oil supply passing through it.

4. Palk Strait

  • It connects the Bay of Bengal in the northeast with Palk Bay in the southwest.
  • The strait is 40 to 85 miles (64 to 137 km) wide, 85 miles long, and less than 330 feet (100 metres) deep.
  • It receives several rivers, including the Vaigai (India), and it contains many islands on the Sri Lankan side.
  • The Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (SSCP) is a 167 km long shipping canal, and envisages the creation of a navigable canal from the Gulf of. Mannar to the Bay of Bengal to facilitate the movement of ships.
  • The Adam’s Bridge is a series of sand shoals created by sedimentation over a period of time.
  • All islands are made up of a calcareous framework of dead reef and sand.
  • In India, the Gulf of Mannar region in Tamil Nadu is one of the four major coral reef areas and the others are Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat, Lakhsadweep and Andaman and Nicobar islands.
  • With its rich biodiversity of over 4,000 species of various flora and fauna, part of this Gulf of Mannar between Rameswaram and Tuticoirin covering 21 islands and the surrounding shallow coastal waters was declared as a Marine National Park in 1986.

5.Sunda Strait

  • It links the Java Sea (Pacific Ocean) with the Indian Ocean (south).
  • Sunda Strait, Indonesian Selat Sunda, is a channel, 16–70 miles (26–110 km) wide, between the islands of Java (east) and Sumatra.
  • The Sunda Strait is an important passage connecting the Indian Ocean with eastern Asia.
  • The strait stretches in a roughly northeast/southwest orientation, with a minimum width of 24 km (15 mi) at its northeastern end between Cape Tua on Sumatra and Cape Pujat on Java.
  • It is very deep at its western end, but as it narrows to the east it becomes much shallower, with a depth of only 20 m (65 feet) in parts of the eastern end.
  • It is notoriously difficult to navigate because of this shallowness, very strong tidal currents, sandbanks, and man-made obstructions such as oil platforms off the Java coast.
  • The strait’s narrowness, shallowness, and lack of accurate charting make it unsuitable for many modern, large ships, most of which use the Strait of Malacca instead.

6.Mozambique Channel

  • It is located between the island nation of Madagascar on the east and Mozambique on the African mainland (west).
  • About 1,000 miles (1,600 km) long, it varies in width from 250 to 600 miles (400 to 950 km) and reaches a maximum depth of 10,000 feet (3,000 m).
  • The Comoro Archipelago marks the northern entrance, and the islands of Bassas da India and Europa lie in the south.
  • An important route for shipping in eastern Africa, it receives all major Madagascar rivers and has the ports of Mahajanga (Majunga) and Toliary (Tuléar) on the same coast.
  • Along the opposite coast are the mouth of the Zambezi River and the ports of Maputo (formerly Lourenço Marques), Moçambique, and Beira.
  • The Mozambique Current passes through the strait.

7.Gibraltar Strait

  • It is a channel connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean, lying between southernmost Spain and northwesternmost Africa.
  • It is 36 miles (58 km) long and narrows to 8 miles (13 km) in width between Point Marroquí (Spain) and Point Cires (Morocco).
  • It is one of the most significant global sea lanes because it provides a means of seaborne transit for shipping between the Atlantic and Mediterranean, and via the Suez Canal into the Indian Ocean and beyond.
  • After the English Channel, the Strait is the world’s busiest shipping lane.

8. Bosphorus strait and Dardanelles strait

  • Bosphorus,also known as the Strait of Istanbul, is a narrow, natural strait and an internationally significant waterway located in northwestern Turkey.
  • The Bosporus connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara, and, by extension via the Dardanelles, the Aegean and Mediterranean seas.
  • It is the world’s narrowest strait used for international navigation.
  • Dardanelles is a narrow, natural strait and internationally significant waterway in northwestern Turkey that forms part of the continental boundary between Europe and Asia, and separates Asian Turkey from European Turkey.
  • The Dardanelles connects the Sea of Marmara with the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, while also allowing passage to the Black Sea by extension via the Bosphorus.
  • The Dardanelles is 61 kilometres (38 mi) long, and 1.2 to 6 kilometres (0.75 to 3.73 mi) wide, averaging 55 metres (180 ft) deep with a maximum depth of 103 metres (338 ft) at its narrowest point abreast the city of Çanakkale

9. Yucatan Strait

Joining seas/ Water Bodies : Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea

Location: Mexico-Cuba

10. Mesina Strait  

Joining seas/ Water Bodies : Mediterranean Sea

Location: Italy-Sicily

11. Otranto Strait

Joining seas/ Water Bodies :Adriatic Sea & Ionian Sea

Location: Italy-Albania

12. Cook Strait 

Joining seas/ Water Bodies :South Pacific Ocean

Location:  New Zealand (North & South Islands)

13. North Channel

Joining seas/ Water Bodies :Irish Sea & Atlantic Ocean

Location: Ireland-England

14. Hudson strait     

Joining seas/ Water Bodies : Gulf of Hudson & Atlantic Ocean

Location: Canada

15. Magellan strait   

Join: Pacific and South Atlantic Ocean

Location: Chile

16. Makassar Strait

Joining seas/ Water Bodies: the Java Sea & Celebes Sea

Location: Indonesia

17. Tsugaru Strait 

Joining seas/ Water Bodies: Japan Sea and Pacific Ocean

Location: Japan (Hokkaido-Honshu Island)

18. Tatar Strait  

Joining seas/ Water Bodies: Japan Sea & Okhotsk Sea

Location: Russia (East Russia-Sakhalin Islands)

19. Fovex Strait 

Joining seas/ Water Bodies: South Pacific Ocean

Location: New Zealand (South Island- Stewart Island)

20. Formosa Strait  

Joining seas/ Water Bodies: the South China Sea & East China Sea

Location: China-Taiwan

21. Taurus Strait

Joining seas/ Water Bodies:Arafura Sea & Gulf of Papua

Location: Papua New Guinea — Australia

22. Bass Strait

Joining seas/ Water Bodies: the Tasman Sea & South Sea

Location: Australia

23. Bering Strait

Joining seas/ Water Bodies: the Bering Sea & Chukchi Sea

Location: Alaska-Russia

24. Bonne-Fasio Strait

Joining seas/ Water Bodies: Mediterranean Sea

Location: Corsica — Sardinia

25. Davis Strait  

Joining seas/ Water Bodies : the Baffin Bay & Atlantic Ocean

Location: Greenland-Canada

26. Denmark Strait 

Joining seas/ Water Bodies: North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean

Location: Greenland-Iceland

27. Dover strait  

Joining seas/ Water Bodies: The English Channel & North Sea

Location: England-France

28. Florida Strait

Joining seas/ Water Bodies: Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean

Location: USA-Cuba

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