Where Is The Strait Of Bonifacio?

Aerial view of the harbor in Bonifacio, Corsica, an ancient city located directly on the Mediterranean Sea, separated from Sardinia by the Strait of Bonifacio.

Strait Of Bonifacio

The Strait of Bonifacio is a strait between the French island of Corsica and the Italian island of Sardinia, which connects the Tyrrhenian Sea and the western part of the Mediterranean Sea. The strait is named after the town of Bonifacio, the southernmost town of Corsica. The Strait of Bonifacio has a maximum width of 6.8 miles and a maximum depth of 330 feet. The strait also provides passage from the Sea of Sardinia in the west to the Tyrrhenian Sea in the east, and the Gulf of Asinara is located west of Sardinia.

Navigation On The Strait Of Bonifacio

Navigating the Strait of Bonifacio is often difficult due to weather, currents, and various obstacles such as shoals. As a result, the strait is notorious among sailors and has caused numerous accidents. The most well-known disaster in the Strait of Bonifacio occurred on February 15, 1855, and involved the French frigate Sémillante. A storm in the strait caused the frigate to hit a reef, sinking the ship and killing all 750 soldiers on board.

Another disaster involved a tanker in 1993, which led to the prohibition of Italian and French flagships carrying dangerous goods through the strait. Italy and France regulated their use of the strait through the Italian Merchant Marine decree of 26 February 1993 and the Decree No. 84/98 of 3 November 1998, as amended by Decree No. 56/2003, issued by the French Maritime Prefect for the Mediterranean. These regulations were introduced in order to protect the strait and its surrounding area from the threats of international shipping, especially dangerous substances and petroleum products.

However, as an international strait, the ban on carrying dangerous good does not apply to ships sailing under other flags of other countries, although it is strongly discouraged and subject to mandatory marine piloting. Ships must navigate around the reefs of the Archipelago of Lavezzi in the northern part of the strait, which is only possible along a narrow three-mile wide stretch. 


The Strait of Bonifacio features significant marine biodiversity and environmental heritage. The north-eastern side of the Strait of Bonifacio contains two protected areas, the National Park of La Maddalena Archipelago and the Natural reserve of the Strait of Bonifacio, both of which were established during the 1990s. The Strait of Bonifacio also contains four European Union Natura 2000 marine protection areas, located south of Corsica. Therefore, much of the area is regulated to protect the natural habitats and of wild flora and fauna, which is reinforced by the ban on ships carrying dangerous goods implemented by Italy and France. Additionally, the Strait of Bonifacio is a niche tourist destination, known internationally as an ideal location for diving.


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