The World’s Top 10 Strategic Straits and Channels


As being able to transport goods easily and quickly throughout the world is a key goal of the shipping industry, we compiled a list of some of the world’s top and most important straits and channels. It is within these straits and channels where a significant volume of maritime trade takes place, due to the locations’ history and strategic positions.

Bosporus Strait

The Bosporus Strait is a natural water route located in northwestern Turkey. Bosporus has always been strategically important. It connects the Black Sea with Sea of Marmara and, by extension via the Dardanelles, the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas.


Strait of Gibraltar

The Strait of Gibraltar has a strategic importance, as it connects the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It separates Gibraltar and Peninsular Spain in Europe from Morocco and Ceuta in Africa.


Bering Strait

The Bering Strait is an important waterway between the easternmost point of Asia and the westernmost point of North America, which separates Russia and Alaska. It is the boundary point of North America and Asia. The Bering Strait is named after Danish explorer Vitus Bering.


Strait of Magellan

The Strait of Magellan is the most-important natural passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The Strait of Magellan is a sea route in southern Chile separating mainland South America to the north and Tierra del Fuego to the south.


Strait of Hormuz

The Strait of Hormuz is a strait between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. It provides the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean. The narrow Strait of Hormuz is considered one of the world’s most-strategic straits of water.  On the north coast lies Iran, and on the south coast the United Arab Emirates and Musandam, an exclave of Oman.


Strait of Messina

The Strait of Messina is located between Calabria and Sicily island in the south of Italy. It connects the Tyrrhenian Sea to the north with the Ionian Sea to the south. The port is situated between the cities of Messina and Reggio di Calabria.


Bab-el Mendeb Strait

The Bab-el Mendeb Strait is a strategic waterway between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. At its narrowest, it is only eighteen miles across. Exports from the Persian Gulf and Asia destined for Western markets must pass through the strait before passing through the Suez Canal.


Strait of Malacca

The Strait of Malacca is a natural water route between Indonesia and Malaysia, with a high commercial importance. The strait is the main shipping channel between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, linking major Asian economies such as India, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, China, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea.


Suez Canal

The Suez Canal is an artificial waterway in Egypt linking the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. It is a 163 km-long waterway in the western part of the Sinai Desert Peninsula. The canal offers watercraft a more direct route between the North Atlantic and northern Indian Oceans via the Mediterranean and Red Seas, thus avoiding the South Atlantic and southern Indian Oceans.


Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is the southernmost country in Central America, located within the territory of Panama and is an artificial waterway connecting the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean. The construction of the canal was one of the biggest and most difficult engineering projects in history.