Gulf vs Strait
From the earth’s surface, 71% is covered with water and over 91% of that amount is comprised of the ocean. However, because of this ever-present phenomenon of water, various geographical elements exist in the world today. Gulf and strait are two such features that are often discussed when it comes to large bodies of water.
What is a Gulf?
A gulf can be described as a large body of water that is almost encircled by land except for a small mouth that is opened out to the ocean. While it can be described as a large bay, the Gulf of Mexico is considered to be the largest in the world consisting of a total surface area of about 1,554,000 square kilometres. It is surrounded by the southern coast of the United States, Mexico and Cuba while also being comprised of several bays such as the Mobile Bay in Alabama and the Matagorda Bay in Texas. With typically less windy environment than open areas of the coast, gulfs have proved themselves as valuable town areas as they provide easy access to the sea while being protected as well.
What is a Strait?
A strait can be defined as a naturally formed narrow strip of water between two continents, islands or two larger bodies of water. It is usually used for navigational purposes and is sometimes referred to as a channel when it is found between two land masses. Firth is another term often used to refer to straits although sometimes varying in definition according to the context and the nature of the strait. Straits have served a crucial part as shipping routes and wars have been fought over the control of straits due to their paramount importance. The strait of Gibraltar that separates northern Africa from the Rock of Gibraltar on the southernmost point of the Iberian Penninsula is perhaps the world’s most famous strait as this is the shipping route that was the most utilized for all commercial purposes between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
What is the difference between Gulf and Strait?
Gulf and strait are two terms that are often discussed when it comes to geography. As gulfs and straits are both common features in seafaring it is easy to confuse these two words. However, each feature has their own unique characteristics which in turn give them a unique purpose in the history of mankind.
• A gulf is a large body of water almost encircled by land except for a small mouth that opens out to the sea. A strait is a strip of water that separates two lands or two large bodies of water.
• Straits are used for navigational purposes and have played an integral part when it comes to shipping routes. Gulfs are more useful for human settlements, as such areas provide easy access to the ocean while being well protected as well.
• Gulfs can be easily associated with inland bodies of water as well as the ocean. Straits are mostly discussed with regards to the ocean.