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The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar,
Archaic Archaic is a period of time preceding a designated classical period, or something from an older period of time that is also not found or used currently: *List of archaeological periods **Archaic Sumerian language, spoken between 31st - 26th centu ...
:
Pillars of Hercules The Pillars of Hercules ( la, Columnae Herculis, grc, Ἡράκλειαι Στῆλαι, , ar, أعمدة هرقل, Aʿmidat Hiraql, es, Columnas de Hércules) was the phrase that was applied in to the that flank the entrance to the . The ...

Pillars of Hercules
), also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, is a narrow
strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrowing, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. The surface water generally flows at the same elevation on both sides and through the strait in either direction. Most commonly i ...

strait
that connects the
Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
to the
Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , on the south by , and on the east by the . The Sea has played a central role in the . Although the Mediterrane ...
and separates the
Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese Aragonese or Aragones may refer to: * Something related to Aragon, an autonomous community and former kingdom in Spain * the Aragonese people, those originating from or living in the historical region ...

Iberian Peninsula
in
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
from
Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undisputed territory of Morocco.Lighter green: Western Sahara, a United Nations lis ...

Morocco
in
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
. The two continents are separated by of ocean at the Strait's narrowest point between
Point Marroquí
Point Marroquí
in Spain and Point Cires in Morocco. Ferries cross between the two continents every day in as little as 35 minutes. The Strait's depth ranges between which possibly interacted with the lower mean sea level of the last major glaciation 20,000 years ago when the level of the sea is believed to have been lower by . The strait lies in the territorial waters of
Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undisputed territory of Morocco.Lighter green: Western Sahara, a United Nations lis ...

Morocco
,
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
, and the
British overseas territory The British Overseas Territories (BOTs), also known as United Kingdom Overseas Territories (UKOTs), are fourteen dependent territory, territories all with a constitutional and historical link with the United Kingdom. They are remnants of the B ...
of
Gibraltar ) , anthem = "God Save the Queen" , song = "Gibraltar Anthem" , image_map = Gibraltar location in Europe.svg , map_alt = Location of Gibraltar in Europe , map_caption = United Kingdom shown in pale green , mapsize = 290px , image_map2 = ...

Gibraltar
. Under the
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea Treaty, is an international agreement A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in intern ...

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
, foreign vessels and aircraft have the freedom of navigation and overflight to cross the strait of Gibraltar in case of continuous transit.


Names and etymology

The name comes from the
Rock of Gibraltar The Rock of Gibraltar, also known as the Jabel-al-Tariq (named after the Berber commander who conquered Spain), is a monolithic limestone Limestone is a common type of carbonate rock, carbonate sedimentary rock. It is composed mostly o ...

Rock of Gibraltar
, which in turn originates from the Arabic (meaning "Tariq's Mount"), named after
Tariq ibn Ziyad Ṭāriq ibn Ziyād ( ar, طارق بن زياد), also known simply as Tarik in English, was a Berbers, Berber Umayyad commander who initiated the Muslim Umayyad conquest of Hispania, Umayyad conquest of Visigothic Hispania (present-day Spain and ...

Tariq ibn Ziyad
. It is also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, the Gut of Gibraltar (although this is mostly archaic), the STROG (STRait Of Gibraltar) in
naval A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense ...

naval
use, and ( ar, باب المغرب, links=no), "Gate of
Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undisputed territory of Morocco.Lighter green: Western Sahara, a United Nations lis ...
" or "Gate of the West". In the Middle Ages, Muslims called it (), "the Passage", the Romans called it (Strait of Cadiz), and in the ancient world it was known as one of the "
Pillars of Hercules The Pillars of Hercules ( la, Columnae Herculis, grc, Ἡράκλειαι Στῆλαι, , ar, أعمدة هرقل, Aʿmidat Hiraql, es, Columnas de Hércules) was the phrase that was applied in to the that flank the entrance to the . The ...

Pillars of Hercules
" ( grc, αἱ Ἡράκλειοι στῆλαι, hai Hērákleioi stêlai).


Location

On the northern side of the Strait are
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
and
Gibraltar ) , anthem = "God Save the Queen" , song = "Gibraltar Anthem" , image_map = Gibraltar location in Europe.svg , map_alt = Location of Gibraltar in Europe , map_caption = United Kingdom shown in pale green , mapsize = 290px , image_map2 = ...

Gibraltar
(a British overseas territory in the
Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese Aragonese or Aragones may refer to: * Something related to Aragon, an autonomous community and former kingdom in Spain * the Aragonese people, those originating from or living in the historical region ...

Iberian Peninsula
), while on the southern side are
Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undisputed territory of Morocco.Lighter green: Western Sahara, a United Nations lis ...

Morocco
and
Ceuta Ceuta (, , ; ber, Sebta, script=Latn; ar, سَبْتَة, Sabtah) is a on the north coast of . Bordered by , it lies along the boundary between the and the . It is one of the several Spanish territories in Africa and, along with and the ...

Ceuta
(a Spanish autonomous city in northern Africa). Its boundaries were known in antiquity as the
Pillars of Hercules The Pillars of Hercules ( la, Columnae Herculis, grc, Ἡράκλειαι Στῆλαι, , ar, أعمدة هرقل, Aʿmidat Hiraql, es, Columnas de Hércules) was the phrase that was applied in to the that flank the entrance to the . The ...

Pillars of Hercules
. Due to its location, the Strait is commonly used for
illegal immigration Illegal immigration refers to the migration of people into a country in violation of the immigration law Immigration law refers to the national statuteA statute reffers to the body of law that are made by legislature of the nation with instrum ...

illegal immigration
from Africa to Europe.


Extent

The
International Hydrographic Organization The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) is an intergovernmental organisation representing hydrography. As of December 2021 the IHO comprised 96 Member States. A principal aim of the IHO is to ensure that the world's seas, oceans and ...
defines the limits of the Strait of Gibraltar as follows: ::''On the West.'' A line joining
Cape Trafalgar Cape Trafalgar (; es, Cabo Trafalgar ) is a headland in the Province of Cádiz in the south-west of Spain , * gl, Reino de España, * oc, Reiaume d'Espanha, , , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de Espa ...
to
Cape Spartel Cape Spartel ( ar, رأس سبارطيل; french: Cap Spartel; ary, أشبرتال) is a promontory in Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark gr ...
. ::''On the East.'' A line joining
Europa Point Europa Point ( Spanish and Llanito ''Llanito'' or ''Yanito'' (pronounced ) is a form of Andalusian Spanish heavily laced with words from English and other languages, such as Ligurian; it is spoken in the British overseas territory of Gibral ...

Europa Point
to P. Almina.


Geology

The seabed of the Strait is composed of synorogenic Betic-Rif clayey
flysch Flysch () is a sequence of sedimentary rock Sedimentary rocks are types of rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized ...

flysch
covered by Pliocene and/or Quaternary calcareous sediments, sourced from thriving cold water coral communities. Exposed bedrock surfaces, coarse sediments and local sand dunes attest to the strong bottom current conditions at the present time. Around 5.9 million years ago, the connection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean along the Betic and Rifan Corridor was progressively restricted until its total closure, effectively causing the salinity of the Mediterranean to rise periodically within the
gypsum Gypsum is a soft sulfate mineral The sulfate minerals are a class of mineral In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with ...

gypsum
and salt deposition range, during what is known as the
Messinian salinity crisis The Messinian salinity crisis (MSC), also referred to as the Messinian event, and in its latest stage as the Lago Mare event, was a geological event during which the Mediterranean Sea went into a cycle of partial or nearly complete desiccation (dr ...
. In this
water chemistry Water chemistry analyses are carried out to identify and quantify the chemical components and properties of water samples. The type and sensitivity of the analysis depends on the purpose of the analysis and the anticipated use of the water. Chemica ...

water chemistry
environment, dissolved
mineral concentrations
mineral concentrations
, temperature and stilled water currents combined and occurred regularly to
precipitate In aqueous solution, precipitation is the process of transforming a dissolved substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or owner of attributes * Chemical substance, a material with a de ...
many mineral salts in layers on the seabed. The resultant accumulation of various huge salt and mineral deposits about the Mediterranean basin are directly linked to this era. It is believed that this process took a short time, by geological standards, lasting between 500,000 and 600,000 years. It is estimated that, were the Strait closed even at today's higher sea level, most water in the
Mediterranean basin In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin (also known as the Mediterranean region or sometimes Mediterranea) is the region of lands around the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by ...
would evaporate within only a thousand years, as it is believed to have done then, and such an event would lay down mineral deposits like the salt deposits now found under the sea floor all over the Mediterranean. After a lengthy period of restricted intermittent or no water exchange between the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean basin, approximately 5.33 million years ago, the Atlantic-Mediterranean connection was completely reestablished through the Strait of Gibraltar by the Zanclean flood, and has remained open ever since. The erosion produced by the incoming waters seems to be the main cause for the present depth of the Strait ( at the narrows, at the Camarinal Sill). The Strait is expected to close again as the
African Plate The African Plate is a major tectonic plate straddling the Equator The Equator is a circle of latitude, about in circumference, that divides Earth into the Northern Hemisphere, Northern and Southern Hemisphere, Southern hemispheres. It i ...
moves northward relative to the
Eurasian Plate The Eurasian Plate is a tectonic plate This is a list of tectonic plates on Earth's surface. Tectonic plates are pieces of Earth's crust and uppermost mantle, together referred to as the lithosphere. The plates are around thick and consist ...
, but on geological rather than human timescales.


Biodiversity

The Strait has been identified as an
Important Bird Area An Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) is an area identified using an internationally agreed set of criteria as being globally important for the conservation of bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the cl ...
by
BirdLife International BirdLife International is a global partnership of non-governmental organization A non-governmental organization, or simply an NGO, is an organization that is, generally, formed independent from government. They are typically nonprofit organ ...
because of the hundreds of thousands of
seabird Seabirds (also known as marine birds) are bird Birds are a group of s constituting the Aves , characterised by s, toothless beaked jaws, the of eggs, a high rate, a four-chambered , and a strong yet lightweight . Birds live worl ...

seabird
s which use it every year to migrate between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, including significant numbers of Scopoli's and Balearic shearwaters, Audouin's and lesser black-backed gulls,
razorbill The razorbill, razor-billed auk, or lesser auk (''Alca torda'') is a colonial seabird in the Monotypic taxon, monotypic genus ''Alca'' of the family Alcidae, the auks. It is the closest living relative of the extinct great auk (''Pinguinis impen ...

razorbill
s, and
Atlantic puffin The Atlantic puffin ('), also known as the common puffin, is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species ...

Atlantic puffin
s. A resident
killer whale The killer whale or orca (''Orcinus orca'') is a toothed whale The toothed whales (also called odontocetes, systematic name Odontoceti) are a parvorder of cetacea Cetaceans (from la, Cetus (mythology), cetus, lit=whale, from grc, κ ...

killer whale
pod of some 36 individuals lives around the Strait, one of the few that are left in Western European waters. The pod may be facing extinction in the coming decades due to long term effects of PCB pollution.


History

Evidence of the first human habitation of the area by
Neanderthal Neanderthals (, also Neandertals, ''Homo neanderthalensis'' or ''Homo sapiens neanderthalensis'') are an extinct species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an org ...
s dates back to 125,000 years ago. It is believed that the
Rock of Gibraltar The Rock of Gibraltar, also known as the Jabel-al-Tariq (named after the Berber commander who conquered Spain), is a monolithic limestone Limestone is a common type of carbonate rock, carbonate sedimentary rock. It is composed mostly o ...

Rock of Gibraltar
may have been one of the last outposts of Neanderthal habitation in the world, with evidence of their presence there dating to as recently as 24,000 years ago. Archaeological evidence of Homo sapiens habitation of the area dates back years. The relatively short distance between the two shores has served as a quick crossing point for various groups and civilizations throughout history, including Carthaginians campaigning against Rome, Romans travelling between the provinces of Hispania and Mauritania, Vandals raiding south from Germania through Western Rome and into North Africa in the 5th century, Moors and Berbers in the 8th–11th centuries, and Spain and Portugal in the 16th century. Beginning in 1492, the Strait began to play a certain cultural role in acting as a barrier against cross-channel conquest and the flow of culture and language that would naturally follow such a conquest. In that year, the last Muslim government north of the Strait was overthrown by a Spanish force. Since that time, the Strait has come to foster the development of two very distinct and varied cultures on either side of it after sharing much the same culture for over 500 years from the 8th century to the early 13th century. On the northern side, Christian-European culture has remained dominant since the expulsion of the last Muslim kingdom in 1492, along with the
Romance Romance (from Vulgar Latin , "in the Roman language", i.e., "Latin") may refer to: Common meanings * Romance (love) Romance or Romantic love is an emotional feeling of love for, or a strong attraction towards another person, and the Court ...
Spanish language Spanish ( or , ) is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin is a range of inform ...

Spanish language
, while on the southern side, Muslim-Arabic/Mediterranean has been dominant since the spread of Islam into North Africa in the 700s, along with the
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
language. For the last 500 years, religious and cultural intolerance, more than the small travel barrier that the Strait presents, has come to act as a powerful enforcing agent of the cultural separation that exists between these two groups. The small
British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencies. ** Britishness, the British identity and common culture * British English, ...

British
enclave of the city of
Gibraltar ) , anthem = "God Save the Queen" , song = "Gibraltar Anthem" , image_map = Gibraltar location in Europe.svg , map_alt = Location of Gibraltar in Europe , map_caption = United Kingdom shown in pale green , mapsize = 290px , image_map2 = ...

Gibraltar
presents a third cultural group found in the Strait. This enclave was first established in 1704 and has since been used by Britain to act as a surety for control of the sea lanes into and out of the Mediterranean. Following the
Spanish coup of July 1936 The Spanish coup of July 1936 ( es, Golpe de Estado de España de julio de 1936) was a nationalist and military uprising that was designed to overthrow the Spanish Second Republic but precipitated the Spanish Civil War The Spanish Civil Wa ...
the Spanish Republican Navy tried to
blockade A blockade is an effort to cut off Contraband, supplies, Materiel, war material or communications from a particular area by force, either in part or totally. A blockade is not an embargo or International sanctions, sanctions, which are legal b ...
the Strait of Gibraltar to hamper the transport of Army of Africa troops from
Spanish Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A con ...
to Peninsular Spain. On 5 August 1936 the so-called Convoy de la victoria was able to bring at least 2,500 men across the Strait, breaking the republican blockade.


Communications

The Strait is an important
shipping route A sea lane, sea road or shipping lane is a regularly used navigable route for large water vessels (ships) on wide waterways such as oceans and large lakes, and is preferably safe, direct and economic. In the Age of Sail, they were not only determi ...
from the
Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa ...

Mediterranean
to the . There are
ferries at Samothrace island, Northern Aegean, Aegean Sea. File:Spirit of America - Staten Island Ferry.jpg, The commuters between Manhattan and Staten Island">commuting">commuters between Manhattan and Staten Island in New York City. A ferry is a ...
that operate between Spain and Morocco across the Strait, as well as between Spain and
Ceuta Ceuta (, , ; ber, Sebta, script=Latn; ar, سَبْتَة, Sabtah) is a on the north coast of . Bordered by , it lies along the boundary between the and the . It is one of the several Spanish territories in Africa and, along with and the ...

Ceuta
and
Gibraltar ) , anthem = "God Save the Queen" , song = "Gibraltar Anthem" , image_map = Gibraltar location in Europe.svg , map_alt = Location of Gibraltar in Europe , map_caption = United Kingdom shown in pale green , mapsize = 290px , image_map2 = ...

Gibraltar
to
Tangier Tangier ( ; ar, طنجة, ber, ⵟⴰⵏⵊⴰ, Ṭanja, es, Tánger) is a city in northwestern Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in n ...

Tangier
.


Tunnel across the Strait

Discussion between Spain and Morocco of a tunnel under the strait began in the 1980s. In December 2003, both countries agreed to explore the construction of an
rail Rail or rails may refer to: Rail transport *Rail transport and related matters *Rail (rail transport) or railway lines, the running surface of a railway Film *Rails (film), ''Rails'' (film), a 1929 Italian film by Mario Camerini *Rail (1967 fil ...

rail
tunnel A tunnel is an underground passageway, dug through the surrounding soil/earth/rock and enclosed except for entrance and exit, commonly at each end. A pipeline Pipeline may refer to: Electronics, computers and computing * Pipeline (comput ...

tunnel
to connect their rail systems across the Strait. The gauge of the rail would be to match the proposed construction and conversion of significant parts of the existing broad gauge system to
standard gauge A standard-gauge railway is a railway Rail transport (also known as train transport) is a means of transferring passengers and goods on wheeled vehicle A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) is a machine that transports people or cargo. V ...
. While the project remained in a planning phase, Spanish and Moroccan officials met to discuss it occasionally, including in 2012. Those talks led to nothing constructive happening but in April 2021 ministers from both countries agreed to a joint intergovernmental meeting to be held in
Casablanca Casablanca ( ar, الدار البيضاء, ad-dār al-bayḍāʾ; ber, ⴰⵏⴼⴰ, anfa) is the largest city of Morocco. Located in the central-western part of Morocco bordering the Atlantic Ocean, it is the second largest city in the Maghreb ...

Casablanca
in the coming months. This was in order to resume discussions on a tunnel. Earlier, in January 2021, the UK government had studied plans for a tunnel to link Gibraltar with
Tangiers Tangier, ( ar, طنجة, ṭanja; ber, ⵟⴰⵏⵊⴰ, ṭanja) is a city in northwestern Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undispu ...
that would replace the Spanish-Moroccan project that until then had had no tangible results after over 40 years of discussions.


Special flow and wave patterns

The Strait of Gibraltar links the Atlantic Ocean directly to the Mediterranean Sea. This direct linkage creates certain unique flow and wave patterns. These unique patterns are created due to the interaction of various regional and global evaporative forces, water temperatures, tidal forces, and wind forces.


Inflow and outflow

Water flows through the Strait more or less continuously eastwards and westwards. A smaller amount of deeper saltier and therefore denser waters continually work their way westwards the Mediterranean outflow, while a larger amount of surface waters with lower salinity and density continually work their way eastwards the Mediterranean inflow. These general flow tendencies may be occasionally interrupted for brief periods by temporary tidal flows, depending on various lunar and solar alignments. Still, on the whole and over time, the balance of the water flow is eastwards, due to an evaporation rate within the Mediterranean basin higher than the combined inflow of all the rivers that empty into it. At the Strait's far western end is the Camarinal Sill, the Strait's shallowest point which limits mixing between the cold, less saline Atlantic water and the warm Mediterranean waters. The Mediterranean waters are so much saltier than the Atlantic waters that they sink below the constantly incoming water and form a highly saline (''
thermohaline 350px, A summary of the path of the thermohaline circulation. Blue paths represent deep-water currents, while red paths represent surface currents. Thermohaline circulation (THC) is a part of the large-scale ocean circulation An ocean curr ...

thermohaline
'', both warm and salty) layer of bottom water. This layer of bottom-water constantly works its way out into the Atlantic as the Mediterranean outflow. On the Atlantic side of the Strait, a density boundary separates the Mediterranean outflow waters from the rest at about depth. These waters flow out and down the continental slope, losing salinity, until they begin to mix and equilibrate more rapidly, much farther out at a depth of about . The Mediterranean outflow water layer can be traced for thousands of kilometres west of the Strait, before completely losing its identity. During the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, German
U-boats U-boats were naval submarines operated by Germany, particularly in the First First or 1st is the ordinal form of the number one (#1). First or 1st may also refer to: *World record A world record is usually the best global and most importa ...
used the currents to pass into the Mediterranean Sea without detection, by maintaining silence with engines off. From September 1941 to May 1944 Germany managed to send 62 U-boats into the Mediterranean. All these boats had to navigate the British-controlled Strait of Gibraltar where nine U-boats were sunk while attempting passage and 10 more had to break off their run due to damage. No U-boats ever made it back into the Atlantic and all were either sunk in battle or scuttled by their own crews.


Internal waves

Internal wave and made visible by sea surface roughness enhance sunlight backscatter Internal waves are gravity waves that oscillate within a fluid medium, rather than on its surface. To exist, the fluid must be stratified: the density must change (continuous ...
s (waves at the density boundary layer) are often produced by the Strait. Like traffic merging on a highway, the water flow is constricted in both directions because it must pass over the Camarinal Sill. When large tidal flows enter the Strait and the high tide relaxes, internal waves are generated at the Camarinal Sill and proceed eastwards. Even though the waves may occur down to great depths, occasionally the waves are almost imperceptible at the surface, at other times they can be seen clearly in satellite imagery. These ''internal waves'' continue to flow eastward and to refract around coastal features. They can sometimes be traced for as much as , and sometimes create interference patterns with refracted waves.


Territorial waters

Except for its far eastern end, the Strait lies within the
territorial waters The term territorial waters is sometimes used informally to refer to any area of water over which a state has jurisdiction, including internal waters, the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and potentially the ...
of Spain and Morocco. The
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
claims around Gibraltar on the northern side of the Strait, putting part of it inside British territorial waters. As this is less than the maximum, it means, according to the British claim, that part of the Strait lies in
international waters The terms international waters or trans-boundary waters apply where any of the following types of bodies of water (or their drainage basin A drainage basin is any area of land where precipitation collects and drains off into a common ou ...

international waters
. The ownership of Gibraltar and its territorial waters is
disputed Controversy is a state of prolonged public dispute or debate, usually concerning a matter of conflicting opinion or point of view. The word was coined from the Latin ''controversia'', as a composite of ''controversus'' – "turned in an opposite di ...
by Spain. Similarly, Morocco disputes Spanish sovereignty over
Ceuta Ceuta (, , ; ber, Sebta, script=Latn; ar, سَبْتَة, Sabtah) is a on the north coast of . Bordered by , it lies along the boundary between the and the . It is one of the several Spanish territories in Africa and, along with and the ...

Ceuta
on the southern coast. There are several islets, such as the
disputed Controversy is a state of prolonged public dispute or debate, usually concerning a matter of conflicting opinion or point of view. The word was coined from the Latin ''controversia'', as a composite of ''controversus'' – "turned in an opposite di ...

disputed
Isla Perejil Perejil Island ( es, Isla de Perejil, Berber Berber or Berbers may refer to: Culture * Berbers Berbers or ''Imazighen'' ( ber, translit=Imaziɣen, ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵏ, ⵎⵣⵗⵏ; singular: , ) are an ethnic group mostly concentr ...
, that are claimed by both Morocco and Spain. Under the
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea Treaty, is an international agreement A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in intern ...

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
, vessels passing through the strait do so under the regime of
transit passageTransit passage is a concept of the law of the sea, which allows a vessel or aircraft the freedom of navigation or overflight solely for the purpose of continuous and expeditious transit of a strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrow, typic ...
, rather than the more limited
innocent passage Innocent passage is a concept in the law of the sea that allows for a vessel to pass through the archipelagic and territorial waters The term territorial waters is sometimes used informally to refer to any area of water over which a state has ...
allowed in most territorial waters. Therefore, a vessel or aircraft has the freedom of navigation or overflight for the purpose of crossing the strait of Gibraltar.


Power generation

Some studies have proposed the possibility of erecting
tidal power#REDIRECT Tidal power Tidal power or tidal energy is harnessed by converting energy from tide (U.S.), low tide occurs roughly at moonrise and high tide with a high Moon, corresponding to the simple gravity model of two tidal bulges; at most ...
generating stations within the Strait, to be powered from the predictable current at the Strait. In the 1920s and 1930s, the
Atlantropa Atlantropa, also referred to as Panropa, was a gigantic engineering and colonisation idea that was devised by the Germany, German architect Herman Sörgel in the 1920s and promoted by him until his death, in 1952. The project was devised to contai ...

Atlantropa
project proposed damming the Strait to generate large amounts of electricity and lower the sea level of the Mediterranean by several hundreds of meters to create large new lands for settlement."Atlantropa: A plan to dam the Mediterranean Sea"
Xefer blog. 16 March 2005. Retrieved on 13 August 2012.
This proposal would however have devastating effects on the local climate and ecology and would dramatically change the strength of the West African Monsoon.


See also

*
List of straitsThis list of straits is an appendix to the article ''strait 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 land masses. ...
*
Mediterranean Basin In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin (also known as the Mediterranean region or sometimes Mediterranea) is the region of lands around the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by ...
* Vendavel, Westerly wind *


References


External links


Climate Control Requires a Dam at the Strait of Gibraltar
American Geophysical Union, 1997. Accessed 26 February 2006. Gone 12 February 2010. Dam design at http://www.agu.org/sci_soc/eosrjohnsonf3.gif Building the dam and letting the Mediterranean Sea completely evaporate would raise Sea Level 15 meters over 1,000 years. Evaporating the first 100 meters or so would raise Sea Level 1 meter in about 100 years.
Project for a Europe-Africa permanent link through the Strait of Gibraltar
United Nations Economic and Social Council, 2001. Accessed 26 February 2006.

La Universidad de Tetuán and La Universidad de Sevilla. Accessed 26 February 2006. * *
Old maps of the Strait of Gibraltar
Eran Laor Cartographic Collection, {{DEFAULTSORT:Gibraltar
Strait of Gibraltar The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar, : ), also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, is a narrow that connects the to the and separates the in from in . The two continen ...
Bodies of water of Morocco, Strait of Gibraltar Bodies of water of Spain, Strait of Gibraltar Gibraltar–Spain border, Strait of Gibraltar Important Bird Areas of Gibraltar, Strait of Gibraltar International straits Morocco–Spain border, Strait of Gibraltar Straits of Africa Straits of Europe Straits of the Mediterranean Sea