Gibraltar, Strait of


Gibraltar, Strait of
ancient Fretum Herculeum

Channel, connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean.

Lying between southernmost Spain and northwesternmost Africa, it is 36 mi (58 km) long and narrows to 8 mi (13 km) between Point Marroquí (Spain) and Point Cires (Morocco). At the strait's eastern extreme, 14 mi (23 km) apart, stand the Pillars of Hercules, which have been identified as the Rock of Gibraltar and Jebel Musa in Ceuta. It has long been of great strategic and economic importance.

* * *

Latin  Fretum Herculeum,  
 channel connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean, lying between southernmost Spain and northwesternmost Africa. It is 36 miles (58 km) long and narrows to 8 miles (13 km) in width between Point Marroquí (Spain) and Point Cires (Morocco). The strait's western extreme is 27 miles (43 km) wide between the capes of Trafalgar (north) and Spartel (south), and the eastern extreme is 14 miles (23 km) wide between the Pillars of Hercules—which have been identified as the Rock of Gibraltar (north) and Mount Hacho, just east of Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in Morocco (south). The strait is an important gap, averaging 1,200 feet (365 m) in depth in the arc formed by the Atlas Mountains of North Africa and the high plateau of Spain.

      The winds in the strait tend to be either easterly or westerly. Shallow cold-air masses, invading the western Mediterranean from the north, often stream through as a low-level, high-speed easterly wind, known locally as a levanter. There is also a significant exchange of water through the strait. A two-knot surface current flows eastward through the centre of the channel, except when affected by easterly winds. This surface movement exceeds a westward flow of heavier, colder, and more saline water, which takes place below a depth of about 400 feet (122 m). Thus, only the existence of the strait prevents the Mediterranean from becoming a shrinking salt lake.

      The Pillars of Hercules marked the western end of the classical world. Of great strategic and economic importance, the strait was used by many early Atlantic voyagers and has continued to be vital to southern Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia as a shipping route. Much of the area's history involved rivalry over control of the Rock of Gibraltar.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Gibraltar, Strait of — geographical name channel between Spain & Africa connecting the Atlantic & Mediterranean about 8 miles (12.8 kilometers) wide at narrowest point …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Gibraltar, Strait of — …   Useful english dictionary

  • Gibraltar Tunnel — Infobox tunnel name = Gibraltar Tunnel caption = line = location = Strait of Gibraltar system = Railway tunnel start = 2008 end = 2025 stations = status = Project at planning phase open = close = owner = Spanish and governments operator =… …   Wikipedia

  • Gibraltar — Gibraltarian /ji brawl tair ee euhn, jib rawl /, adj., n. /ji brawl teuhr/, n. 1. a British crown colony comprising a fortress and seaport located on a narrow promontory near the S tip of Spain. 29,934; 17/8 sq. mi. (5 sq. km). 2. Rock of. a.… …   Universalium

  • strait — straitly, adv. straitness, n. /strayt/, n. 1. Often, straits. (used with a sing. v.) a narrow passage of water connecting two large bodies of water. 2. Often, straits. a position of difficulty, distress, or need: Ill and penniless, he was in sad… …   Universalium

  • Gibraltar (disambiguation) — Gibraltar can refer to:* Gibraltar, a British overseas territory on the South of the Iberian Peninsula where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean ** The Strait of Gibraltar, at the western end of the Mediterranean Sea ** The Bay of… …   Wikipedia

  • Strait — Strait, n.; pl. {Straits}. [OE. straight, streit, OF. estreit, estroit. See {Strait}, a.] 1. A narrow pass or passage. [1913 Webster] He brought him through a darksome narrow strait To a broad gate all built of beaten gold. Spenser. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • strait — n 1 Strait, sound, channel, passage, narrows can all denote a long and comparatively narrow stretch of water connecting two larger bodies. Strait, often as the plural straits with either singular or plural construction, denotes a relatively short …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Gibraltar — Gibraltar1 [ji brôl′tər] n. [after the GIBRALTAR2] any strong fortification; unassailable fortress Gibraltar2 [ji brôl′tər] 1. small peninsula at the southern tip of Spain, extending into the Mediterranean: 2.5 sq mi (6.5 sq km); it consists… …   English World dictionary

  • Strait of Gibraltar — The Strait of Gibraltar (Arabic: مضيق جبل طارق, Spanish: Estrecho de Gibraltar ) is the strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain from Morocco. The name comes from Gibraltar, which in turn originates… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.