English Channel

English Channel
English Channel Satellite.jpg
LocationWestern Europe; between the Celtic Sea and North Sea
Coordinates50°N 02°W / 50°N 02°W / 50; -2
Part ofAtlantic Ocean
Primary inflowsRiver Exe, River Seine, River Test, River Tamar, River Somme
Basin countriesUnited Kingdom
Max. length560 km (350 mi)
Max. width240 km (150 mi)
Surface area75,000 km2 (29,000 sq mi)
Average depth63 m (207 ft)
Max. depth174 m (571 ft)
at Hurd's Deep
Max. temperature15 °C (59 °F)
Min. temperature5 °C (41 °F)
IslandsÎle de Bréhat, Île de Batz, Chausey, Tatihou, Îles Saint-Marcouf, Isle of Wight, Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, Herm
SettlementsBournemouth, Brighton, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Calais, Le Havre

The English Channel (French: la Manche, "The Sleeve"; German: Ärmelkanal, "Sleeve Channel"; Breton: Mor Breizh, "Sea of Brittany"; Cornish: Mor Bretannek, "British Sea"), also called simply the Channel, is the body of water that separates southern England from northern France, and links the southern part of the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. It is the busiest shipping area in the world.

It is about 560 km (350 mi) long and varies in width from 240 km (150 mi) at its widest to 33.3 km (20.7 mi) in the Strait of Dover.[1] It is the smallest of the shallow seas around the continental shelf of Europe, covering an area of some 75,000 km2 (29,000 sq mi).[2]


Map of the English Channel

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the English Channel as follows:[3]

The IHO defines the southwestern limit of the North Sea as "a line joining the Walde Lighthouse (France, 1°55'E) and Leathercoat Point (England, 51°10'N)".[3] The Walde Lighthouse is 6 km east of Calais (50°59′06″N 1°55′00″E / 50°59′06″N 1°55′00″E / 50.98500; 1.91667), and Leathercoat Point is at the north end of St Margaret's Bay, Kent (51°10′00″N 1°24′00″E / 51°10′00″N 1°24′00″E / 51.16667; 1.40000).

The Strait of Dover viewed from France, looking towards England. The white cliffs of Dover on the English coast are visible from France on a clear day.

The Strait of Dover (French: Pas de Calais), at the Channel's eastern end, is its narrowest point, while its widest point lies between Lyme Bay and the Gulf of Saint Malo, near its midpoint.[1] It is relatively shallow, with an average depth of about 120 m (390 ft) at its widest part, reducing to a depth of about 45 m (148 ft) between Dover and Calais. Eastwards from there the adjoining North Sea reduces to about 26 m (85 ft) in the Broad Fourteens where it lies over the watershed of the former land bridge between East Anglia and the Low Countries. It reaches a maximum depth of 180 m (590 ft) in the submerged valley of Hurd's Deep, 48 km (30 mi) west-northwest of Guernsey.[4] The eastern region along the French coast between Cherbourg and the mouth of the Seine river at Le Havre is frequently referred to as the Bay of the Seine (French: Baie de Seine).[5]

Three French river mouths. Top to bottom: the Somme, the Authie and the Canche

There are several major islands in the Channel, the most notable being the Isle of Wight off the English coast, and the Channel Islands, British Crown dependencies off the coast of France. The coastline, particularly on the French shore, is deeply indented; several small islands close to the coastline, including Chausey and Mont Saint-Michel, are within French jurisdiction. The Cotentin Peninsula in France juts out into the Channel, whilst on the English side there is a small parallel strait known as the Solent between the Isle of Wight and the mainland. The Celtic Sea is to the west of the Channel.

The Channel acts as a funnel that amplifies the tidal range from less than a metre as observed at sea[clarification needed] to more than 6 metres as observed in the Channel Islands, the west coast of the Cotentin Peninsula and the north coast of Brittany. The time difference of about six hours between high water at the eastern and western limits of the Channel is indicative of the tidal range being amplified further by resonance.[6]

In the UK Shipping Forecast the Channel is divided into the following areas, from the east:

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Engelse Kanaal
العربية: بحر المانش
aragonés: Canal d'a Manga
azərbaycanca: LaManş
башҡортса: Ла-Манш
беларуская: Ла-Манш
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Ля-Манш
भोजपुरी: इंग्लिश चैनल
български: Ла Манш
bosanski: La Manche
brezhoneg: Mor Breizh
Чӑвашла: Ла-Манш
Cymraeg: Môr Udd
Deutsch: Ärmelkanal
eesti: La Manche
Ελληνικά: Μάγχη
Esperanto: Manika Markolo
français: Manche (mer)
Frysk: It Kanaal
Gaeilge: Muir nIocht
Gàidhlig: Caolas Sasannach
한국어: 영국 해협
Հայերեն: Լա Մանշ
hrvatski: La Manche
Bahasa Indonesia: Selat Inggris
íslenska: Ermarsund
italiano: La Manica
къарачай-малкъар: Ла-Манш
қазақша: Ла-Манш
kernowek: Mor Bretannek
kurdî: La Manche
Кыргызча: Ла-Манш
latviešu: Lamanšs
Lëtzebuergesch: Äermelkanal
Limburgs: 't Kanaal
magyar: La Manche
македонски: Ламанш
مصرى: المانش
Bahasa Melayu: Selat Inggeris
Nederlands: Het Kanaal
нохчийн: Ла-Манш
Nordfriisk: Ingelsk Kanool
norsk nynorsk: Den engelske kanalen
Nouormand: Maunche (mé)
occitan: Marga (mar)
Picard: Manche
Piemontèis: Canal dla Mania
Plattdüütsch: Engelschen Kanal
polski: La Manche
português: Canal da Mancha
русский: Ла-Манш
Seeltersk: Sleeuwekanoal
Simple English: English Channel
slovenčina: Lamanšský prieliv
slovenščina: Rokavski preliv
српски / srpski: Ламанш
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: La Manche
татарча/tatarça: Ла-Манш
тоҷикӣ: Ла манш
Türkçe: Manş Denizi
українська: Ла-Манш
Tiếng Việt: Eo biển Manche
粵語: 英倫海峽