Malacca (Malay: Selat Melaka, Indonesian: Selat Malaka;
Jawi: سلت ملاک) or Straits of
Malacca is a narrow, 550 mi
(890 km) stretch of water between the
Malay Peninsula (Peninsular
Malaysia) and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It is named after
Malacca Sultanate that ruled over the archipelago between 1400 and
2 Economic importance
3 Shipping hazards
4 Proposals to relieve the strait
6 See also
7 Further reading
9 External links
International Hydrographic Organization
International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the
Malacca as follows:
On the West. A line joining Pedropunt, the Northernmost point of
Sumatra (5°40′N 95°26′E / 5.667°N 95.433°E / 5.667;
95.433) and Lem Voalan the Southern extremity of Goh Puket [Phuket
Island] in Siam [Thailand] (7°45′N 98°18′E / 7.750°N
98.300°E / 7.750; 98.300).
On the East. A line joining Tanjong Piai (Bulus), the Southern
extremity of the
Malay Peninsula (1°16′N 103°31′E /
1.267°N 103.517°E / 1.267; 103.517) and The Brothers
(1°11.5′N 103°21′E / 1.1917°N 103.350°E / 1.1917;
103.350) and thence to Klein Karimoen (1°10′N 103°23.5′E /
1.167°N 103.3917°E / 1.167; 103.3917).
On the North. The Southwestern coast of the Malay Peninsula.
On the South. The Northeastern coast of
Sumatra as far to the eastward
as Tanjong Kedabu (1°06′N 102°58′E / 1.100°N
102.967°E / 1.100; 102.967) thence to Klein Karimoen.
From an economic and strategic perspective, the
one of the most important shipping lanes in the world.
The strait is the main shipping channel between the
Indian Ocean and
the Pacific Ocean, linking major Asian economies such as India,
Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea.
Over 94,000 vessels pass through the strait each year (2008) making
it the busiest strait in the world, carrying about 25% of the
world's traded goods, including oil, Chinese manufactured products,
coal, palm oil and Indonesian coffee. About a quarter of all oil
carried by sea passes through the Strait, mainly from Persian Gulf
suppliers to Asian markets. In 2007, an estimated 13.7 million barrels
per day were transported through the strait, increasing to an
estimated 15.2 million barrels per day in 2011. In addition, it is
also one of the world's most congested shipping choke points because
it narrows to only 2.8 km (1.5 nautical miles) wide at the
Phillips Channel (close to the south of Singapore).
The maximum size (specifically draught) of a vessel that can pass
Strait is referred to as Malaccamax, that is, for some of
the world's largest ships (mostly oil tankers), the Strait's minimum
depth (25 metres or 82 feet) is not deep enough. The next closest
passageway (the Sunda
Sumatra and Java) is even more
shallow and narrow. Therefore, ships exceeding the
detour a few thousand nautical miles and use the Lombok Strait,
Makassar Strait, Sibutu Passage, or Mindoro
Piracy in the
Strait of Malacca
Piracy has been a problem in the strait.
Piracy had been high in the
2000s, with additional increase after the events of September 11,
2001. After attacks rose again in the first half of 2004, regional
navies stepped up their patrols of the area in July 2004.
Subsequently, attacks on ships in the
Malacca dropped, to 79
in 2005 and 50 in 2006. Recent reports indicate that attacks have
dropped to near-zero levels in recent years.
There are 34 shipwrecks, some dating to the 1880s, in the local
TSS channel (the channel for commercial ships under the global Traffic
Separation Scheme). These pose a collision hazard in the narrow and
On 20 August 2017, the
United States Navy
United States Navy destroyer USS John S.
McCain lost ten of its crew's lives in a collision with the merchant
Alnic MC a short distance east of the strait whilst full steering
capabilities had been lost and making a series of errors in attempted
mitigation, its external lights being changed to "red over red"
("vessel not under command").
Yearly haze from the smoke of raging bush fires, limiting visibility.
Another risk is the annual haze due to bush fires in Sumatra,
Indonesia. It may reduce visibility to 200 metres (660 ft),
forcing ships to slow down in the busy strait. The strait is
frequently used by ships longer than 350 metres
(1,150 ft).
Proposals to relieve the strait
Further information: Thai Canal
Thailand has developed plans to divert much of the strait's traffic
and hence some of its economic significance to a shorter route: the
Thai government has, several times, proposed to cut a canal through
the Isthmus of Kra, saving around 960 kilometres (600 mi) from
the journey between the two oceans.
China has offered to cover the
costs, according to a report leaked to
The Washington Times
The Washington Times in 2004.
Nevertheless, and despite the support of several Thai politicians, the
prohibitive financial and ecological costs suggest that such a canal
will not be built.
An alternative is to install a pipeline across the
Isthmus of Kra
Isthmus of Kra to
carry oil to ships waiting on the other side. Proponents calculate it
would cut the cost of oil delivery to
Asia by about $0.50/barrel
Myanmar has also made a similar pipeline proposal.
This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help
improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.
Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (March 2017) (Learn
how and when to remove this template message)
Malacca as viewed from the city of Malacca, Malaysia.
Indonesia is visible in the distance.
Early traders from Arabia, Africa, Persia, and the Southern Indian
Kedah before arriving at Guangzhou.
Kedah served as a
western port on the Malay Peninsula. They traded glassware, camphor,
cotton goods, brocades, ivory, sandalwood, perfume, and precious
stones. These traders sailed to
Kedah via the monsoon winds between
June and November. They returned between December and May. Kedah
provided accommodations, porters, small vessels, bamboo rafts,
elephants, and also tax collections for goods to be transported
overland toward the eastern ports of the
Malay Peninsula such as
Langkasuka and Kelantan. After the Tenth Century, ships from China
began to trade at these eastern trading posts and ports.
Funan were famous ports through the 6th century, before shipping began
to utilize the
Malacca itself as a trade route.
In the 7th century the maritime empire of
Srivijaya based on
Palembang, Sumatra, rose to power, and its influence expanded to the
Malay peninsula and Java. The empire gained effective control on two
major choke points in maritime Southeast Asia; the
Strait of Malacca
and the Sunda Strait. By launching a series of conquests and raids on
potentially rival ports on both side of the strait,
its economic and military domination in the region lasted for about
Srivijaya gained a great benefit from the lucrative spice
trade, the tributary trade system with China, and trade with Indian
and Arab merchants. The
Malacca became the important
maritime trade route between
India and China. The importance of the
Malacca in global trade networks continued well into later
centuries with the rise of the
Malacca Sultanate in the 15th century,
the Johor Sultanate, and the rise of the modern city-state of
Since the 17th century, the strait has been the main shipping channel
Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Different major
regional powers managed the straits during different historical
In the early 19th century, the Dutch and British empires drew an
arbitrary boundary line in the strait and promised to hunt down
pirates on their respective sides; that line went on to become today's
Malaysia and Indonesia. The strait was already
established as one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, with
Indonesia controlling the majority of the sea lane.
Early history of Kedah
Mangroves of the Straits of Malacca
Piracy in the
Strait of Malacca
Sultanate of Kedah
Action of 10 September 1782
Battle of Penang
Action of 13 November 1943
Action of 11 January 1944
Action of 14 February 1944
Action of 17 July 1944
Battle of the
Borschberg, Peter, The
Singapore and Melaka Straits: Violence,
Security and Diplomacy in the 17th Century (
Singapore and Leiden: NUS
Press and KITLV Press, 2010). https://www.academia.edu/4302722
Borschberg, Peter, ed., Iberians in the Singapore-Melaka Area and
Adjacent Regions (16th to 18th Century) (Wiesbaden and Lisbon:
Harrassowitz and Fundação Oriente, 2004).
Borschberg, Peter, ed. The Memoirs and Memorials of Jacques de Coutre.
Security, Trade and Society in 17th Century Southeast
NUS Press, 2013). https://www.academia.edu/4302722
Borschberg, Peter, ed., Journal, Memorials and Letters of Cornelis
Matelieff de Jonge. Security, Diplomacy and Commerce in 17th Century
Asia (Singapore: NUS Press, 2015).
Borschberg, Peter, "The value of Admiral Matelieff's writings for the
history of Southeast Asia, c.1600-1620", Journal of Southeast Asian
Studies, 48(3), pp. 414-435. DOI:
Borschberg P. and M. Krieger, ed., Water and State in
Asia and Europe
(New Delhi: Manohar, 2008). https://www.academia.edu/4311610
^ a b Winn, Patrick (27 Mar 2014). "
Malacca Is World's New
Piracy Hotspot". NBC News. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
^ "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition" (PDF). International
Hydrographic Organization. 1953. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
^ Aljazeera.net (in English)
Malacca - World Oil Transit Chokepoints, Energy
Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy
^ Freeman, Donald B. (2003). The Straits of Malacca: Gateway or
Gauntlet?. McGill-Queen's University Press.
ISBN 0-7735-2515-7. . A book review citing this information
can be found at University of Toronto Quarterly, Volume 74, Number 1,
Winter 2004/5, pp. 528-530
^ World Oil Transit Chokepoints, Energy Information Administration, US
Department of Energy
^ World Oil Transit Chokepoints
^ Raymond, Catherine (2009). "PIRACY AND ARMED ROBBERY IN THE MALACCA
STRAIT: A Problem Solved?". Naval War College Review. 62: 31–42 –
Piracy down 3rd year in row: IMB report, Journal of Commerce Online,
January 23, 2007
^ 34 wrecks in sealane threaten passing ships
^ Pineda, Guillermo (2012). "The
Malacca as one of the most
important geopolitical regions for the People's Republic of China".
Academia.edu – via Academia.edu.
^ "Malay Archipelago". THE MARITIME HERITAGE PROJECT. Retrieved 14 Mar
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Strait of Malacca.
Library resources about
Strait of Malacca
Resources in your library
Resources in other libraries
World oil transit chokepoints
Maritime Security in Southeast Asia: U.S., Japanese, Regional, and
Industry Strategies (National Bureau of Asian Research, November 2010)
BBC News report on the increased security in the Straits
"Going for the jugular" Report on the potential terrorist threat to
the Straits. From the Economist, requires subscription, in the print
edition June 10, 2004
China builds up strategic sea lanes
A report from the International Maritime Organisation on the
implementation of a Straits "Marine Electronic Highway" - a series of
technological measures to ensure safe and efficient use of the busy
Malacca, Singapore, and
Indonesia (1978) by Michael Leifer
Malacca Straits Research and Development Centre homepage
Strait nations plan air patrol
The Strategic Importance of the Straits of
Malacca for World Trade and
Singapore warns of terror threat in
Malacca Strait, 2010-03-04
Earth's oceans and seas
East Siberian Sea
Gulf of Boothia
Prince Gustav Adolf Sea
Queen Victoria Sea
Bay of Biscay
Bay of Bothnia
Bay of Campeche
Bay of Fundy
Gulf of Bothnia
Gulf of Finland
Gulf of Lion
Gulf of Guinea
Gulf of Maine
Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Saint Lawrence
Gulf of Sidra
Gulf of Venezuela
Sea of Åland
Sea of Azov
Sea of Crete
Sea of the Hebrides
Bay of Bengal
Great Australian Bight
Gulf of Aden
Gulf of Aqaba
Gulf of Khambhat
Gulf of Kutch
Gulf of Oman
Gulf of Suez
Gulf of Alaska
Gulf of Anadyr
Gulf of California
Gulf of Carpentaria
Gulf of Fonseca
Gulf of Panama
Gulf of Thailand
Gulf of Tonkin
Mar de Grau
Sea of Japan
Sea of Okhotsk
Seto Inland Sea
King Haakon VII Sea