A strait is a narrow waterway that is usually formed through natural means and links two larger bodies of water. Although often navigable, some straits are too narrow or shallow to allow the passage of ships. The Sunda Strait is located between the islands of Java and Sumatra in Indonesia and connects the Java Sea and the Indian Ocean. In addition to its interesting geography, the strait also holds historical significance.
The strait's name comes from the Sunda Kingdom, which was a Hindu kingdom that ruled the western part of Java between 669 and 1579, as well as the Sundanese people indigenous to West Java. The Sunda Strait has a maximum width of approximately 15 miles and a maximum depth of about 65 feet.
The narrowest part of the Sunda Strait is located in the region between Cape Pujat and Cape Tua, on the islands of Java and Sumatra, respectively. The northeastern part of the strait is the shallowest, while the western side is the deepest. However, the strait is relatively shallow overall, which makes navigation extremely difficult. In addition to its shallow depth, navigation is made difficult by sandbanks, unnatural obstructions such as oil platforms, and strong tidal currents. The strait is also not correctly charted. However, historically, especially between 1602 and 1799, the Sunda Strait was an important waterway when the Dutch East India Company used it to access Indonesia’s Spice Islands.
The Sunda Strait contains a number of islands, many of which are volcanic in nature. These islands include Sangiang, Sebuku, Panaitan, and Sebesi. However, Krakatoa, which is a caldera, is the most well known and deadliest volcano in the Sunda Strait. Krakatoa last erupted in 1883, resulting in approximately 36,000 deaths and destroying 300 villages and towns. Additionally, the eruption altered the entire topography of the strait and deposited massive quantities of ignimbrite across a large area. Secondary effects of the eruption also included a destructive tsunami with waves as high as 125 feet. To this day, the eruption is one of the deadliest in modern history.
Battle of Sunda Strait
The Sunda Strait was the site of a major historical event that occurred on March 1, 1942. The battle, which was part of the Battle of the Java Sea, was fought between Japan and the Allied forces of Australia and the United States during the Second World War. The USS Houston (US) and HMAS Perth (Australia) discovered a substantial Japanese force, which included a light cruiser, four heavy cruisers, a light aircraft carrier, and eleven destroyers, attempting to land near the port town of Bantom, Java. The battle resulted in the sinking of two Australian cruisers, while Japan lost two vessels due to friendly fire.
Sunda Strait Bridge
The idea of constructing a bridge across the Sunda Strait has been proposed since the 1960s. After a plan was put together in 2007, as well as the signing of an accord in 2012 with the China Railway Construction Company to build the bridge, the project was canceled in 2014 by Indonesia's incoming president.