Key Facts about Strait of Gibraltar

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Overview:

Iran has recently threatened to close the Strait of Gibraltar and the Mediterranean Sea unless Israel stops bombing Gaza.

About Strait of Gibraltar

  • It is a narrow waterway separating Europe from Africa and connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Until the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, the Strait of Gibraltar served as the only access point to the Mediterranean Sea. 
  • Borders: It is bordered by Spain and the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar in the north, and by the African country of Morocco and the Spanish exclave of Ceuta in the south.
  • It is about 58 km long and has a width of about 13 km at its narrowest point.
  • Its depth ranges from 300 to 900 meters, and it forms a significant gap between the high plateau of Spain and the Atlas Mountains of Northern Africa.
  • Geological studies have revealed that the strait was formed due to the northward movement of the African Plate towards the European Plate.
  • It is one of the busiest waterways in the world. Approximately 300 ships cross the Strait every day, about one ship every 5 minutes. 
  • An important port located on the strait is the Moroccan port of Tanger-Med, near Tangier.
  • Pillars of Heracles:
    • The strait’s eastern end, located between the Rock of Gibraltar in the north and Mount Hacho or Jebel Moussa in the south, has a width of about 23 km.
    • These two land features on the strait’s eastern extremity are known as the Pillars of Heracles. 

Q1) What is a Strait?

A strait can be defined as a naturally formed narrow strip of water between two continents, islands or two larger bodies of water. It is usually used for navigational purposes and is sometimes referred to as a channel when it is found between two land masses.

Source: Iran threatens to shut Strait of Gibraltar as tensions ramp up