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The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar, Archaic:
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 Classical antiquity, Antiquity to the promo ...
), also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, is a narrow
strait A strait is an Ocean, oceanic landform connecting two Sea, seas or two other large areas of water. The surface water generally flows at the same elevation on both sides and through the strait in either direction. Most commonly, it is a narrow ...
that connects the
Atlantic Ocean The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's five oceans, with an area of about . It covers approximately 20% of Earth's surface and about 29% of its water surface area. It is known to separate the " Old World" of Africa ...
to the
Mediterranean Sea 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 and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa, and on the e ...
and separates the
Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula (), ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a pe ...
in
Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its great physical size and the weight of its history and traditions. Europe is also considered a Continent#Subcontinents, subcontinent of Eurasia ...
from
Morocco Morocco (),, ) officially the Kingdom of Morocco, is the westernmost country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and has land borders with Algeria to A ...
in
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area ...
. The two continents are separated by of ocean at the Strait's narrowest point between 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 Morocco (),, ) officially the Kingdom of Morocco, is the westernmost country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and has land borders with Algeria to A ...
,
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = ''Plus ultra'' (Latin)(English: "Further Beyond") , national_anthem = (English: "Royal March") , i ...
, and the
British overseas territory The British Overseas Territories (BOTs), also known as the United Kingdom Overseas Territories (UKOTs), are fourteen dependent territory, territories with a constitutional and historical link with the United Kingdom. They are the last remna ...
of
Gibraltar ) , anthem = "God Save the King" , 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 = , image_map2 = Gibra ...
. 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 Treaty, international agreement that establishes a legal framework for all marine and maritime activities. ...
, 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 (from the Arabic name Jabel-al-Tariq) is a monolithic limestone promontory located in the British territory of Gibraltar, near the southwestern tip of Europe on the Iberian Peninsula, and near the entrance to the Mediterr ...
, 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 commander who served the Umayyad Caliphate and initiated the Muslim Umayyad conquest of Hispania, Umayyad conquest of Visigothic Hispa ...
. 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 principally designated for naval warfare, naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake-borne, riverine, littoral zone, littoral, or ocean-borne combat operations and ...
use. Another Arabic name is ( ar, باب المغرب, links=no), meaning "Gate of the West" or "Gate of the sunset", and furthermore "Gate of the
Maghreb The Maghreb (; ar, الْمَغْرِب, al-Maghrib, lit=the west), also known as the Arab Maghreb ( ar, المغرب العربي) and Northwest Africa, is the western part of North Africa and the Arab world. The region includes Algeria, ...
" or "Gate of
Morocco Morocco (),, ) officially the Kingdom of Morocco, is the westernmost country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and has land borders with Algeria to A ...
". In the Middle Ages it was called in Arabic (), "the Passage" and by the Romans (Strait of Cadiz). In Latin it has been called , based on the name from antiquity "
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 Classical antiquity, Antiquity to the promo ...
" ( grc, αἱ Ἡράκλειοι στῆλαι, hai Hērákleioi stêlai), referring to the mountains as pillars, such as Gibraltar, flanking the strait.


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 = ''Plus ultra'' (Latin)(English: "Further Beyond") , national_anthem = (English: "Royal March") , i ...
and
Gibraltar ) , anthem = "God Save the King" , 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 = , image_map2 = Gibra ...
(a British overseas territory in the
Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula (), ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a pe ...
), while on the southern side are
Morocco Morocco (),, ) officially the Kingdom of Morocco, is the westernmost country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and has land borders with Algeria to A ...
and
Ceuta Ceuta (, , ; ar, سَبْتَة, Sabtah) is a Spanish Autonomous communities of Spain#Autonomous cities, autonomous city on the north coast of Africa. Bordered by Morocco, it lies along the boundary between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlan ...
(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 Classical antiquity, Antiquity to the promo ...
. Due to its location, the Strait is commonly used for
illegal immigration Illegal immigration is the migration of people into a country in violation of the immigration laws of that country or the continued residence without the legal right to live in that country. Illegal immigration tends to be financially upwar ...
from Africa to Europe.


Extent

The
International Hydrographic Organization The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) is an intergovernmental organisation representing hydrography. , the IHO comprised 98 Member States. A principal aim of the IHO is to ensure that the world's seas, oceans and navigable waters a ...
defines the limits of the Strait of Gibraltar as follows: ::''On the West.'' A line joining Cape Trafalgar to
Cape Spartel Cape Spartel ( ar, رأس سبارطيل; french: Cap Spartel; ary, أشبرتال) is a promontory in Morocco about above sea level at the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar, 12 km West of Tangier. Below the cape are the Caves of Hercules. ...
. ::''On the East.'' A line joining
Europa Point Europa Point (Spanish language, Spanish and Llanito: Punta de Europa or Punta Europa), is the southernmost point of Gibraltar (the southernmost point of the Iberian Peninsula being Punta de Tarifa 25 km southwest of Gibraltar). At the end of ...
to P. Almina.


Geology

The seabed of the Strait is composed of synorogenic Betic-Rif clayey
flysch Flysch () is a sequence of sedimentary rock layers that progress from deep-water and turbidity current, turbidity flow deposits to shallow-water shales and sandstones. It is deposited when a deep basin forms rapidly on the continental side of a mo ...
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, Messinian salinity crisis#Evidence 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 composed of calcium sulfate Hydrate, dihydrate, with the chemical formula . It is widely mined and is used as a fertilizer and as the main constituent in many forms of plaster, blackboard or sidewalk chalk, and ...
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 (dry ...
. In this water chemistry environment, dissolved mineral concentrations, temperature and stilled water currents combined and occurred regularly to
precipitate In an aqueous solution, precipitation is the process of transforming a dissolved chemical substance, substance into an insoluble solid from a Supersaturated solution, super-saturated solution. The solid formed is called the precipitate. In cas ...
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 ...
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 List of tectonic plates#Major plates, major tectonic plate that includes much of the continent of Africa (except for its east Africa, easternmost part) and the adjacent oceanic crust to the west and south. It is bounded by ...
moves northward relative to the
Eurasian Plate The Eurasian Plate is a tectonic plate that includes most of the continent of Eurasia (a landmass consisting of the traditional continents of Europe and Asia), with the notable exceptions of the Indian subcontinent, the Arabian Plate, Arabian sub ...
, 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 birds, bird populations. IBA was developed and sites are identified by BirdLi ...
by
BirdLife International BirdLife International is a global partnership of non-governmental organizations that strives to conserve birds and their habitat In ecology, the term habitat summarises the array of resources, physical and biotic factors that are pre ...
because of the hundreds of thousands of
seabird Seabirds (also known as marine birds) are birds that are adaptation, adapted to life within the marine (ocean), marine environment. While seabirds vary greatly in lifestyle, behaviour and physiology, they often exhibit striking convergent ev ...
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 and the only extant member of the genus ''Alca (bird), Alca'' of the family Alcidae, the auks. It is the closest living relative of the extinct great auk (''Pi ...
s, and
Atlantic puffin The Atlantic puffin ('), also known as the common puffin, is a species of seabird in the auk family (biology), family. It is the only puffin native to the Atlantic Ocean; two related species, the tufted puffin and the horned puffin is found in ...
s. A resident
orca The orca or killer whale (''Orcinus orca'') is a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family, of which it is the largest member. It is the only Extant taxon, extant species in the genus ''Orcinus'' and is recognizable by its black ...
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 ''Homo neanderthalensis'' and erroneously ''Homo sapiens neanderthalensis''), also written as Neandertals, are an Extinction, extinct species or subspecies of archaic humans who lived in Eurasia until about 40,000 years ag ...
s dates back to 125,000 years ago. It is believed that the
Rock of Gibraltar The Rock of Gibraltar (from the Arabic name Jabel-al-Tariq) is a monolithic limestone promontory located in the British territory of Gibraltar, near the southwestern tip of Europe on the Iberian Peninsula, and near the entrance to the Mediterr ...
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
Spanish language Spanish ( or , Castilian) is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family that evolved from colloquial Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European langua ...
, 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 ) is a Semitic languages, Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C ...
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 enclave of the city of
Gibraltar ) , anthem = "God Save the King" , 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 = , image_map2 = Gibra ...
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 Republican Navy tried to
blockade A blockade is the act of actively preventing a country or region from receiving or sending out food, Contraband, supplies, Materiel, weapons, or communications, and sometimes people, by military force. A blockade differs from an embargo or In ...
the Strait of Gibraltar to hamper the transport of Army of Africa troops from
Spanish Morocco Morocco (),, ) officially the Kingdom of Morocco, is the westernmost country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and has land borders with Algeria to A ...
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. During the Age of Sail, they were determined b ...
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 ...
to the
Atlantic The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's five oceans, with an area of about . It covers approximately 20% of Earth's surface and about 29% of its water surface area. It is known to separate the " Old World" of Africa, Europe ...
. There are
ferries A ferry is a ship, watercraft or amphibious vehicle used to carry passengers, and sometimes vehicles and cargo, across a body of water. A passenger ferry with many stops, such as in Venice, Italy, is sometimes called a water bus or water taxi ...
that operate between Spain and Morocco across the Strait, as well as between Spain and
Ceuta Ceuta (, , ; ar, سَبْتَة, Sabtah) is a Spanish Autonomous communities of Spain#Autonomous cities, autonomous city on the north coast of Africa. Bordered by Morocco, it lies along the boundary between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlan ...
and
Gibraltar ) , anthem = "God Save the King" , 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 = , image_map2 = Gibra ...
to
Tangier Tangier ( ; ; ar, طنجة, Ṭanja) is a city in northwestern Morocco. It is on the Moroccan coast at the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar, where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Spartel. The town is the capit ...
.


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
undersea The underwater environment is the region below the surface of, and immersed in, liquid water in a natural or artificial feature (called a Water#Taste and odor, body of water), such as an ocean, sea, lake, pond, reservoir, river, canal, or aqui ...
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 Arts and media Film *Rails (film), ''Rails'' (film), a 1929 Italian film by Mario Camerini ...
tunnel A tunnel is an underground passageway, dug through surrounding soil, earth or rock, and enclosed except for the entrance and exit, commonly at each end. A Pipeline transport, pipeline is not a tunnel, though some recent tunnels have used ...
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 with a track gauge of . The standard gauge is also called Stephenson gauge (after George Stephenson), International gauge, International Union of Railways, UIC gauge, uniform gauge, normal gauge and Europea ...
. 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, also known in Arabic as Dar al-Bayda ( ar, الدَّار الْبَيْضَاء, al-Dār al-Bayḍāʾ, ; ber, ⴹⴹⴰⵕⵍⴱⵉⴹⴰ, ḍḍaṛlbiḍa, : "White House") is the largest city in Morocco and the country's econom ...
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) is a city in northwestern Morocco Morocco (),, ) officially the Kingdom of Morocco, is the westernmost country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the nort ...
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 Thermohaline circulation (THC) is a part of the large-scale ocean circulation An ocean current is a continuous, directed movement of sea water generated by a number of forces acting upon the water, including wind, the Coriolis effect, wav ...
'', 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 world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
, German
U-boats U-boats were Submarine#Military, naval submarines operated by Germany, particularly in the World War I, First and Second World War, Second World Wars. Although at times they were efficient fleet weapons against enemy naval warships, they were ...
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 Internal waves are gravity waves that oscillation, oscillate within a fluid medium, rather than on its surface. To exist, the fluid must be stratification (water), stratified: the density must change (continuously or discontinuously) with depth/he ...
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 sovereign state has jurisdiction, including internal waters, the #Territorial sea, territorial sea, the #Contiguous zone, contiguous zone, the e ...
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, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the European mainland, continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotlan ...
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 transboundary waters apply where any of the following types of bodies of water (or their drainage basins) transcend international boundaries: oceans, large marine ecosystems, enclosed or semi-enclosed regiona ...
. The ownership of Gibraltar and its territorial waters is disputed by Spain. Similarly, Morocco disputes Spanish sovereignty over
Ceuta Ceuta (, , ; ar, سَبْتَة, Sabtah) is a Spanish Autonomous communities of Spain#Autonomous cities, autonomous city on the north coast of Africa. Bordered by Morocco, it lies along the boundary between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlan ...
on the southern coast. There are several islets, such as the disputed Isla Perejil, 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 Treaty, international agreement that establishes a legal framework for all marine and maritime activities. ...
, vessels passing through the strait do so under the regime of
transit passage Transit 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 between one part of the International waters, hig ...
, 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 of another state, subject to certain restrictions. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea Article 19 d ...
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 Tidal power or tidal energy is harnessed by converting energy from tides into useful forms of power, mainly electricity using various methods. Although not yet widely used, tidal energy has the potential for future electricity generation. Ti ...
generating stations within the Strait, to be powered from the predictable current at the Strait. In the 1920s and 1930s, the 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 straits *
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 ...
* Vendavel, Westerly wind * Floating suspension bridge


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, The National Library of Israel
HOW TO SWIM ACROSS THE STRAIT OF GIBRALTAR
By ACNEG The Straits of Gibraltar Swimming Association. {{DEFAULTSORT:Gibraltar
Strait of Gibraltar The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar, Archaism, Archaic: Pillars of Hercules), also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to ...
Strait of Gibraltar The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar, Archaism, Archaic: Pillars of Hercules), also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to ...
Strait of Gibraltar The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar, Archaism, Archaic: Pillars of Hercules), also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to ...
Strait of Gibraltar The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar, Archaism, Archaic: Pillars of Hercules), also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to ...
Strait of Gibraltar The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar, Archaism, Archaic: Pillars of Hercules), also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to ...
International straits
Strait of Gibraltar The Strait of Gibraltar ( ar, مضيق جبل طارق, Maḍīq Jabal Ṭāriq; es, Estrecho de Gibraltar, Archaism, Archaic: Pillars of Hercules), also known as the Straits of Gibraltar, is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to ...
Straits of Africa Straits of Europe Straits of the Mediterranean Sea Geography of Southern Europe Geography of North Africa