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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, and passage are synonymous and are usually interchangeable. Many straits are economically important. Straits usually lie on important shipping routes, and many wars have been fought for control of these straits. Artificial straits, called canals, have been constructed to connect two bodies of water over land.

Well-known straits in the world include the English Channel, between England and France, and connects the North Sea with the Atlantic Ocean; the Strait of Gibraltar, which is the only passage between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea; the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, which connects the Mediterranean and the Black Sea; and the Straits of Malacca, which lies between Malaysia and Sumatra and connects the Indian Ocean with the South China Sea.

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

See also physical geography.

Straits of the World

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