Major Straits of The World l


Major straits of the world are used by commercial shipping to travel from one sea or exclusive economic zone to another and they are of immense strategic and commercial importance. They also serve as a channel through which ocean currents pass modifying the climate of that area. Due to these reasons, they play an important role in physical and human geography.

This is an important topic in Geography for IAS Prelims, as proved by an analysis of previous years’ UPSC Question Papers.  It is important to know the different straits of the world as there can be multiple questions asked about this topic, in the UPSC exam.

IAS 2023 results

Major Straits in News 2023

The probability of getting a question from a specific strait lies more on its recurrence in the news in the preceding or the current year of the examination. For instance, if a candidate is sitting in 2023 examination, hence the straits that were in the news in 2022 and 2023 will be important for the preparation. Hence, we are listing down a few important straits that were in the news in both these years and the reasons:

  1. Strait of Hormuz – Denmark is leading a six-month joint European mission ‘Emasoh’ in the strait. (Jan 2021)
  2. Bab-el-Mandeb Strait – Aman 2021, a multinational exercise of three largest navies (The US, Russia and China) is taking place in the north Arabian Sea. Since the aim of the exercise is to strengthen interoperability between regional and extra-regional navies in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR); Bab-el-Mandeb strait is in the news as its an important maritime chokepoint in IOR. (Feb 2021)
  3. Sunda Strait – A joint naval exercise between Indonesia and France took place in Sunda Strait. (Feb 2021)
  4. Palk Strait – The strait recur in the news because the issue is the status of Kachchativu, a small barren island in the Palk Bay area.

Read similar articles important for geography preparation from the links below:

Now, read about the location of the major straits in the world below.

Major Straits of the world

A strait is a thin channel of a waterway that connects two large water bodies. The following are the main characteristics of a strait:

  • Formed by natural processes
  • Narrower than the seas it connects
  • Navigable

List of Major Straits (UPSC Notes):- Download PDF Here

The following table lists the major straits in the world important for the UPSC IAS Prelims exam:

Strait Contiguous Landmass Joining Seas/Water Bodies
Formosa Strait China and Taiwan The South China Sea and the East China Sea
Strait of Tartary Russia (East Russia-Sakhalin Islands) Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan
Yucatan Strait Mexico and Cuba The Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea
Mesina Strait Italy and Sicily The Tyrrhenian Sea and the Ionian Sea, within the central Mediterranean
Otranto Strait Italy and Albania Adriatic Sea & Ionian Sea
Cook Strait New Zealand The Tasman Sea and South Pacific Ocean
Mozambique Channel Mozambique and Madagascar Indian Ocean
North Channel Ireland and Scotland Irish Sea and Atlantic Ocean
Hormuz Strait Iran and Oman The Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf
Bab-el-Mandeb Djibouti, Yemen, and Eritrea of the Somali Peninsula The Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea
Ten Degree Channel Car Nicobar Islands and Little Andaman Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal
Sunda Strait Java island of Indonesia with its Sumatra island. Java Sea and the Indian Ocean
Florida Strait Cuba and the USA Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean
Bering Strait Asia from America The Arctic Ocean and East Pacific ocean
Strait of Gibraltar Spain and Morocco The Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea
Korea Strait Japan and South Korea The East China Sea and the Sea of Japan
Strait of Malacca Malaysia and Sumatra The Pacific Ocean to the east with the Indian Ocean to the west
Bonifacio Strait Corsica island of France and Sardinia islands of Italy The Tyrrhenian Sea and the Mediterranean Sea
Palk Strait India and Sri Lanka The Bay of Bengal in the northeast with the Palk Bay/Arabian Sea in the southwest
Bosphorus Strait Divides Europe from Asia The Black Sea to Sea of Marmara
Bass Strait Tasmania island and mainland Australia The Great Australian Bight and the Tasman Sea
Davis Strait Between Greenland and Canada The Baffin Bay and the Labrador Sea
Jamaica Channel Jamaica and Hispaniola The Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic
Hudson Strait Baffin Island and Labrador peninsula Hudson Bay and the Labrador Sea

Straits have played an important role in human civilization since millennia. Empires have fallen whenever they failed to retain strategic control of the straits near their domain. Rich states have risen contiguous to these water bodies by taxing the traffic passing through them. They play an important role in economic and military matters to this day.

List of Major Straits (UPSC Notes):- Download PDF Here

This list of important straits can be used as notes for UPSC preparation. IAS aspirants should read more about each strait to be able to answer Geography MCQs for the Civil Services Exam.

Geography preparation for UPSC is a tough task as the syllabus is vast. Reading the NCERT books should be your first starting point.

IAS Exam Books PDF:-Download PDF Here

IAS Exam Preparation


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