- Dover, Strait of
Channel separating southeastern England from northwestern France.Connecting the English Channel with the North Sea, it is about 20 mi (32 km) wide at its narrowest point. Lined on the British side with the famous White Cliffs, which are composed of soft chalk, it is one of the world's busiest seaways; its chief ports include Dover and Folkestone in England and Calais and Boulogne in France. It was the scene of several historic naval battles, including the repulse by the English of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Allied troops in the Dunkirk Evacuation crossed to Dover in 1940.
* * *▪ international waterway, Europea narrow water passage separating England (northwest) from France (southeast) and connecting the English Channel (southwest) with the North Sea (northeast). The strait is 18 to 25 mi (30 to 40 km) wide, and the depth ranges from 120 to 180 ft (35 to 55 m). Until the comparatively recent geologic past (c. 5000 BC), the strait was an exposed river valley, thus making England an extension of the European continent. Because of the prevailing winds, the main flow of water through the strait is from the southwest, but a persistent northeast wind can reverse the current. The White Cliffs on the British side, composed of soft chalk, are receding due to erosion. Although it is one of the world's busiest seaways, a strict system of traffic lanes and navigation information became mandatory only in 1977. The chief ports include Dover and Folkestone (England) and Calais and Boulogne (France). Much of the regular passenger service is carried by hovercraft. A rail-tunnel project across the bottom of the strait, first proposed in 1856, is again under consideration.The Strait of Dover was the scene of several historic naval battles, notably the first major repulse by the English of the Spanish Armada (1588). During World War I, Boulogne was a major army base, and Dover was the headquarters for the “Dover patrol,” which protected shipping in the strait. In 1940, the Allied troops evacuating from Dunkirk (Dunkerque, Fr.) crossed the strait to Dover. The name Dover originally meant “the waters” or “the stream.”
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