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Bab al-Mandab Strait

14th December, 2023 Geography

Bab al-Mandab strait

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  • Yemen's Houthis have begun targeting ships in the Red Sea's southern waterway and the Bab al-Mandab strait.

About Bab al-Mandab Strait

  • It is a strait that connects the Red Sea (northwest) with the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean (southeast).
  • It is located between Arabia (northeast) and Africa (southwest).
  • It is an important strategic connection in the marine commerce route connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.
  • It is one of the world's most important seaborne commodity shipping routes, primarily for crude oil and petroleum.
  • Yemen borders it on the Arabian Peninsula, and Djibouti and Eritrea border it on the African coast.

The following are the most important facts regarding the Red Sea:

  • It is a semi-enclosed inlet (or extension) of the Indian Ocean located between the African and Asian continents. It has one of the hottest waters on the planet.
  • The Sinai Peninsula divides the northern Red Sea into the Gulfs of Aqaba and Suez, where it connects to the Mediterranean Sea via the famed Suez Canal.
  • Yemen and Saudi Arabia share a border with the Red Sea to the east.
  • Egypt borders it to the north and west, and Sudan, Eritrea, and Djibouti border it to the west.

What are straits?

  • A strait is a naturally created, narrow, and usually navigable stream that joins two bodies of water.
  • It is most typically a body of water that connects two geographical masses.
  • Some straits are impassable because they are too shallow, or because of an impassable reef or archipelago.

How do straits form?

  • Straits are feasible as a result of the narrow-shaped isthmus fracture.
  • It connects many bodies of water. Straits, according to folklore, form as a result of plate tectonic action. For example, tectonic action in Africa generated the Strait of Gibraltar.
  • It's a breakdown of the Gibraltar Isthmus. Human action, on the other hand, generates straits known as canals.
  • It directs water flow for home and commercial purposes. Suez Canal, completed in 1869, is one such strait.
  • It acts as a watershed between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.
  • Originally built for commerce, it now functions as a waterway connecting Europe and Asia.
  • Without a watershed, one would have to cross into Africa to deliver products, which lengthens the voyage time.
  • As a result, specific straits are built to boost commercial activity.
  • Straits can also form when bodies of water flood.
  • Straits can also emerge as a result of erosion and landslides.
  • The Bosporus is a waterway that connects the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea.
  • Bosporus formed naturally as a result of weathering and erosion.
  • The Bosporus is important to geologists because it is the only physical barrier between Europe and Asia.

What is the significance of straits?

  • Straits play a vital part in commercial shipping's seaborne trade.
  • They are very essential in
  • For millennia, the straits have been vital to human culture.
  • They are crucial in economic and military affairs.
  • Commercial shipping uses the world's major straits to go from one exclusive zone or sea to another.
  • The Straits of Hormuz are very significant both commercially and strategically. Many ships use the straits as passable routes.
  • The Strait of Hormuz, for example, is critical because it transports one-third of the world's oil commerce.
  • Straits are also used to generate tidal power using turbines. Cook's Strait in New Zealand, for example, generates 5.6 GW of energy.
  • The Strait has an important function in serving as a route through which ocean currents move, aiding in the mortification of the climate in that area.
  • As a result, straits play an important role in both physical and human geography.

Distinctions between the Gulf and the Strait

  • Gulfs and Straits are regarded as geographical features on the earth's surface. The aquatic body includes both gulfs and straits.
  • The term "gulf" refers to a deep inlet within the sea with a limited opening.
  • The term "gulf" refers to the portion of the ocean that penetrates the land. It can differ in shape, depth, and size.
  • A strait is a narrow canal that connects to a larger body of water. Because the connector connects two watersheds, it is formed by an isthmus fracture. Generally, straits form as a result of tectonic movements.
  • The gulf and Straits of Hormuz are both man-made and natural; they serve economic purposes.
  • The Gulf of Mexico and Oman have served as economic hubs for transportation and trade.
  • The Gulf of Mexico is the largest gulf and is used for recreational, commercial, and sporting purposes.
  • The Suez Canal is the world's greatest man-made strait for trade and transit.


  • The gulf is a sea portion that penetrates within the land.
  • It connects both land and sea.
  • The gulf is usually formed naturally.
  • The Gulf is very helpful for harbouring ships.
  • Sometimes, it is also considered a large bay.
  • eg: Gulf of Mannar, Persian Gulf


  • Straits are narrow watersheds that act as a connector between two huge water bodies.
  • It is a connector of water bodies only.
  • It is mostly man-made, like canals.
  • They are very small and cannot be used for harboring purposes.
  • They are very narrow and are used as canals.
  • eg: Hormuz straits, Malacca strait


  • The Gulf and straits are important geological structures formed by biological activity.
  • However, the differences can be detected by their size, shape, and depth, among other things.
  • The gulf is a sea section that penetrates the mainland, whereas straits are enclosed on all sides by water.
  • The Gulf of Mexico has a tiny mouth, and the strait as a whole is narrow. Both are used in business and commerce.


Which one of the following is the correct sequence of the positions in the Bay of Bengal from North to South?

A) Gulf of Manar- Palk Strait-Palk Bay

B) Palk Strait-Gulf of Manar- Palk Bay

C) Palk Strait- Palk Bay- Gulf of Manar

D) Palk Bay- Palk Strait- Gulf of Manar

Answer: C