Strait of Gibraltar

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The Strait of Gibraltar (Arabic: مضيق جبل طارق, Spanish: Estrecho de Gibraltar) is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain in Europe from Morocco in Africa. The name comes from Gibraltar, which in turn originates from the Arabic Jebel Tariq (meaning "Tariq's mountain"[1]), albeit the Arab name for the Strait is Bab el-Zakat or "Gate of Charity". It is also known erroneously as the Straits of Gibraltar, or STROG (Strait Of Gibraltar), in naval use[2] and as "Pillars of Hercules" (Greek: Ηράκλειες Στήλες)[3] in the ancient world.

Europe and Africa are separated by 7.7 nmi (14.3 km; 8.9 mi) of ocean at the strait's narrowest point. The Strait's depth ranges between 300 and 900 m (980 and 3,000 ft)[4] which possibly interacted with the lower mean sea level of the last major glaciation 20,000 years before present[5] when the level of the sea was believed to be lower by 110–120 m (360–390 ft).[6] Ferries cross between the two continents every day in as little as 35 minutes. The Spanish side of the Strait is protected under El Estrecho Natural Park.

Contents

Location

On the northern side of the Strait is Spain and Gibraltar (a British exclave in the Iberian Peninsula), while on the southern side is Morocco and Ceuta (a Spanish exclave in North Africa). Its boundaries were known in antiquity as the Pillars of Hercules. There are several islets, such as the disputed Isla Perejil, that are claimed by both Morocco and Spain.[7]

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