Strait of Hormuz

Map of the Strait of Hormuz
Satellite image
Map of Strait of Hormuz with maritime political boundaries (2004)
Historical map of the area (1892)

The Strait of Hormuz /hɔːrˈmz/ Persian: تنگه هرمز‎‎ Tangehyyeh Hormoz About this sound  listen , Arabic: مَضيق هُرمُز‎‎ Maḍīq Hurmuz) is a strait between the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. It provides the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean and is one of the world's most strategically important choke points. On the north coast lies Iran, and on the south coast the United Arab Emirates and Musandam, an exclave of Oman. At its narrowest, the strait has a width of 29 nautical miles (54 km). [1]

About 20% of the world's petroleum (about 35% of the petroleum traded by sea) passes through the strait, making it a highly important strategic location for international trade. [1]

Etymology

The opening to the Persian Gulf was described, but not given a name, in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, a 1st-century mariner's guide:

"At the upper end of these Calaei islands is a range of mountains called Calon, and there follows not far beyond, the mouth of the Persian Gulf, where there is much diving for the pearl-mussel. To the left of the straits are great mountains called Asabon and to the right there rises in full view another round and high mountain called Semiramis; between them the passage across the strait is about six hundred stadia; beyond which that very great and broad sea, the Persian Gulf, reaches far into the interior. At the upper end of this gulf there is a market-town designated by law called Apologus, situated near Charaex Spasini and the River Euphrates."

— Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Chapter 35

In the 10th to 17th centuries AD, the Kingdom of Ormus, which seems to have given the strait its name, was located here. Scholars, historians and linguists derive the name "Ormuz" from the local Persian word هورمغ Hur- mogh meaning date palm. [2][ dubious ] In the local dialects of Hurmoz and Minab this strait is still called Hurmogh and has the aforementioned meaning.[ citation needed] The resemblance of this word with the name of the Persian god هرمز Hormoz (a variant of Ahura Mazda) has resulted in the popular belief[ citation needed][ neutrality is disputed] that these words are related.