How Wide Is the Strait of Gibraltar?

Aerial photo of the Strait of Gibraltar
© Raphael Comber/iStock via Getty Images

Written by Alanna Davis

Published: February 14, 2024

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People have been traveling the Strait of Gibraltar for centuries. Uses for this passage have largely remained the same over time, and each year, more and more people pass through this maritime route. Let’s explore the history of the Strait of Gibraltar and discuss its depth, along with its distance in length and width.

A Brief Overview of the Strait of Gibraltar

Aerial photo of the Strait of Gibraltar

Roughly 100,000 ships pass through the Strait of Gibraltar each year.

©Raphael Comber/iStock via Getty Images

The Strait of Gibraltar is located between Europe and Africa. This strait is an important travel and trade route as it connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. Because this is the only natural path between these two larger bodies of water, it has become one of the most high-traffic waterways on Earth. According to Firmm, “Approximately 300 ships cross the Strait every day, about one ship every 5 minutes.” In addition to its practical uses, many people choose to take tours of the Strait of Gibraltar. Surprisingly, there is an abundant amount of marine life present at this location. The conditions here support whale and dolphin populations well and seeing them while passing through is far from uncommon.

How Wide Is the Strait of Gibraltar Exactly?

Strait of Gibraltar

By boat, it takes about 35 minutes total to pass through the Strait of Gibraltar.

©Javier Garcia Seijas/iStock via Getty Images

The depth of the Strait of Gibraltar sits somewhere between 980 feet and 2,950 feet on average. It is roughly 36 miles in length, 26 miles wide on its western opening, 14 miles wide at its eastern opening, and eight miles wide at its closest point. Surprisingly, several people have swam across the narrowest gap of the Strait of Gibraltar. Swimmers who choose to attempt this incredible feat must span the distance between Tarifa Island in Spain and Punta Cires in Morocco. On average, the completion time is roughly three and a half to four hours. The first person to accomplish this was a woman named Mercedes Gleitze. Although this is one of the athletic feats she is best known for, she had several groundbreaking accomplishments throughout her career as a professional swimmer. Since her time, roughly 600 individuals have followed in her footsteps.

Final Thoughts

The Strait of Gibraltar has played an important role throughout history as an invaluable trade route. It has given people the ability to quickly travel between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean for centuries, and its usefulness only grows day by day. Reasons for traveling here range from practical purposes to tourism and leisure. Regardless of why individuals find themselves at this straight, they can count on a quick, convenient, and beautiful travel experience.


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About the Author

Alanna is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering insects, animals, and travel. In addition to writing, she spends her time tutoring English and exploring the east end of Long Island. Prior to receiving her Bachelor's in Economics from Stony Brook University, Alanna spent much of her time studying entomology and insect biology.

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