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Bab al-Mandab Strait

20th December, 2023 Geography

Bab al-Mandab Strait

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  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a telephone discussion on the escalating threats to maritime security in the Red Sea because of the actions of Houthi militants of Yemen.
  • The conversation came soon after the Pentagon announced an international mission to counter the growing number of attacks against Israel-bound international traffic.

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.


Match List-I with List-II and select the correct answer using the code given below the Lists:

List-I (Strait)      List-II (Water Body)
A.Strait of Hormuz 1.Java Sea
B.Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb 2.Andaman Sea
C.Strait of Malacca 3.Red Sea
D.Strait of Sunda  4.Gulf of Persia    


A) A-4 B-2 C-3 D-1

B) A-1 B-3 C-2 D-4

C) A-1 B-2 C-3 D-4

D) A-4 B-3 C-2 D-1

Answer: D