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An isthmus ( or ; plural: isthmuses or isthmi; from grc, ἰσθμός, isthmós, neck) is a narrow piece of land connecting two larger areas across an expanse of water by which they are otherwise separated. A
tombolo A tombolo is a sandy isthmus. A tombolo, from the Italian ''tombolo'', meaning 'pillow' or 'cushion', and sometimes translated as '' ayre'', is a deposition landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of the solid surface of the E ...
is an isthmus that consists of a spit or
bar Bar or BAR may refer to: Food *Bar (establishment) A bar is a long raised narrow table or bench designed for dispensing beer or other alcoholic beverage, alcoholic drinks. They were originally chest high, and a bar, often brass, ran the lengt ...
, and a
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
is the sea counterpart of an isthmus.
Canal Canals are waterways channels Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the outline (banks) of the path of a narrow body of water. Australia * ...

Canal
s are often built across isthmuses, where they may be a particularly advantageous shortcut for marine transport. For example, the
Panama Canal The Panama Canal ( es, Canal de Panamá, link=no) is an artificial waterway in Panama Panama ( , ; es, link=no, Panamá ), officially the Republic of Panama ( es, República de Panamá), is a List of transcontinental countries#Nor ...

Panama Canal
crosses the
Isthmus of Panama The Isthmus of Panama ( es, Istmo de Panamá), also historically known as the Isthmus of Darien (), is the narrow strip of land that lies between the Caribbean Sea The Caribbean Sea ( es, Mar Caribe; french: Mer des Caraïbes; ht, Lamè Kara ...
, connecting the North
Atlantic
Atlantic
and
Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's five oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to Antarctica) in the south and is bounded by the continents o ...

Pacific Ocean
s; the
Suez Canal The Suez Canal ( ar, قَنَاةُ ٱلسُّوَيْسِ, ') is an artificial sea-level Mean sea level (MSL) (often shortened to sea level) is an mean, average level of the surface of one or more of Earth's bodies of water from which hei ...
connects 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 the
Red Sea The Red Sea ( ar, البحر الأحمر, translit=al-Baḥr al-ʾAḥmar; or ; Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northe ...

Red Sea
, cutting across the western side of the
Isthmus of Suez The Isthmus of Suez is the 75-mile-wide (125-km) strip of land
, formed by the
Sinai Peninsula The Sinai Peninsula, or simply Sinai (now usually ) (, ), is a peninsula in Egypt, and the only part of the country located in Asia. It is between the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Red Sea to the south, and is a land bridge between As ...

Sinai Peninsula
; and the
Crinan Canal The Crinan Canal between Crinan, Argyll, Crinan and Ardrishaig in Argyll and Bute in the west of Scotland is operated by Scottish Canals. The canal, which opened in 1801, takes its name from the village of Crinan at its western end. Approximately ...
crosses the isthmus between
Loch Crinan Loch Crinan is a seawater loch on the West of Scotland, leading into the Sound of Jura and being the western end of the Crinan Canal. The village of Crinan, Argyll and Bute, Crinan is at the entrance to the canal at the eastern end of the loch. Du ...
and
Loch Gilp Loch Gilp - taken from Poltalloch Street in Lochgilphead Loch Gilp (Scottish Gaelic: "Loch Gilb") is a small inlet on Loch Fyne which gives its name to Lochgilphead. The Crinan Canal extends from the loch across to Crinan, Argyll and Bute, Crinan ...
, which connects the
Kintyre Kintyre ( gd, Cinn Tìre, ) is a peninsula in western Scotland, in the southwest of Argyll and Bute. The peninsula stretches about , from the Mull of Kintyre in the south to East Loch Tarbert, Argyll, East and West Loch Tarbert, Argyll, West Loch ...
peninsula with the rest of Scotland. Another example is the
Welland Canal The Welland Canal is a ship canal A ship canal is a canal Canals are waterways channels Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the ...
in the
Niagara Peninsula The Niagara Peninsula is the portion of Golden Horseshoe, Southern Ontario Southern Ontario is a primary region of the province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the an ...
(technically an isthmus). It connects
Lake Ontario Lake Ontario (french: Lac Ontario) is one of the five Great Lakes The Great Lakes also called the Great Lakes of North America or the Laurentian Great Lakes, is a series of large interconnected freshwater lakes in the mid-east region ...

Lake Ontario
to
Lake Erie Lake Erie (; french: Lac Érié) is the fourth largest lake (by surface area) of the five Great Lakes in North America and the eleventh-largest globally. It is the southernmost, shallowest, and smallest by volume of the Great Lakes and theref ...

Lake Erie
. The city of
Auckland Auckland ( mi, Tāmaki Makaurau) is a large metropolitan city in the North Island of New Zealand. The List of New Zealand urban areas by population, most populous urban area in the country, Auckland has an urban population of about It is locate ...

Auckland
in the
North Island The North Island, also officially named Te Ika-a-Māui, is one of the two main islands of New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ''Aotearoa'' (; commonly pronounced by English English usually refers to: * English language ...

North Island
of
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ''Aotearoa'' (; commonly pronounced by English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon Engl ...

New Zealand
is situated on an isthmus.


Isthmus vs land bridge vs peninsula

''Isthmus'' and ''land bridge'' are related terms with isthmus having a broader meaning. A
land bridge In biogeography Biogeography is the study of the distribution of 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 sp ...
is an isthmus connecting the Earth's major landmasses. The term ''land bridge'' is usually used in
biogeology Biogeology is the study of the interactions between the Earth's biosphere The biosphere (from Greek βίος ''bíos'' "life" and σφαῖρα ''sphaira'' "sphere"), also known as the ecosphere (from Greek οἶκος ''oîkos'' "environment" ...
to describe land connections that used to exist between continents at various times and were important for migration of people, and various species of animals and plants, e.g.
Bering Land Bridge Beringia is defined today as the land and maritime area bounded on the west by the Lena River The Lena (russian: link=no, Ле́на, ; evn, Елюенэ, ''Eljune''; sah, Өлүөнэ, ''Ölüöne''; bua, Зүлхэ, ''Zülkhe''; mn, З ...
and
Doggerland Doggerland (also called Dogger Littoral) was an area of land, now submerged beneath the southern North Sea The North Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located between Great Britain (England and Scotland), Denmark, Norway, Germany, the Nethe ...

Doggerland
. An isthmus is a land connection between two bigger landmasses, while a
peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from 'almost' and 'island') is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of the solid surface of the Earth or other planetary body A planet is an astronomical body Astronomy (from el ...

peninsula
is rather a land protrusion which is connected to a bigger landmass on one side only and surrounded by water on all other sides. Technically, an isthmus can have
canal Canals are waterways channels Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the outline (banks) of the path of a narrow body of water. Australia * ...

canal
s running from coast to coast (e.g. the
Panama Canal The Panama Canal ( es, Canal de Panamá, link=no) is an artificial waterway in Panama Panama ( , ; es, link=no, Panamá ), officially the Republic of Panama ( es, República de Panamá), is a List of transcontinental countries#Nor ...

Panama Canal
), and thus resemble two peninsulas; however, canals are artificial features distinguished from
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
s.


Major isthmuses

Major isthmuses include the
Isthmus of Panama The Isthmus of Panama ( es, Istmo de Panamá), also historically known as the Isthmus of Darien (), is the narrow strip of land that lies between the Caribbean Sea The Caribbean Sea ( es, Mar Caribe; french: Mer des Caraïbes; ht, Lamè Kara ...
and the
Isthmus of Tehuantepec File:1852 Andrews Map of Florida, Cuba and the Gulf of Mexico - Geographicus - StraitsofFlorida-andrews-1852.jpg, 300px, Map of the Straits of Florida and Gulf of Mexico. To accompany a report from the United States Department of the Treasury, U. ...

Isthmus of Tehuantepec
in the
Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North America, North and South America. The Americas make up most of the land in Earth's Western Hemisphere and comprise the New World. Along with th ...

Americas
, the
Isthmus of Kra The Kra Isthmus ( th, คอคอดกระ, ) in Thailand is the narrowest part of the Malay Peninsula The Malay Peninsula (Malay language, Malay: ''Semenanjung Tanah Melayu'') is a peninsula in Southeast Asia. The land mass runs approxim ...
in
South-East Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...
, the
Isthmus of Suez The Isthmus of Suez is the 75-mile-wide (125-km) strip of land
between
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
and
Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the cont ...

Asia
, and the
Karelian Isthmus#REDIRECT Karelian Isthmus border further South. The Karelian Isthmus (russian: Карельский перешеек, Karelsky peresheyek; fi, Karjalankannas; sv, Karelska näset) is the approximately wide stretch of land, situated between t ...

Karelian Isthmus
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
. Of historic importance were the
Isthmus of Corinth The Isthmus of Corinth (Greek language, Greek: Ισθμός της Κορίνθου) is the narrow land bridge which connects the Peloponnese peninsula with the rest of the mainland of Greece, near the city of Corinth. The word "isthmus" comes ...

Isthmus of Corinth
in Greece and the Isthmus of Catanzaro in Italy.


See also

* * *


Notes

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