Who Does The English Channel Belong To?

The English Channel off the coast of Brittany, France.

The English Channel is a water body separating the northern part of France from the island of Great Britain. It is found in the Atlantic Ocean. The English Channel has been ranked as one of the busiest seaways in the world. No single state has full governance of this water body.

History Of The English Channel

The English Channel is believed to have been formed as a result of down folding that happened approximately 40 million years ago. For a more significant part of the Pleistocene period, this channel was dry land. The Pleistocene was a geological period that saw a series of repeated glaciations; this period lasted from about 2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago.

This body of water had no specific name until the 18th century. Before the emergence of the modern nations, the British scholars commonly referred to these waters as “Gaulish,” while the French scholars referred to them as “British” or “English.” In the second century, this body of water was often referred to as the Oceanus Britannicus; this name can be found in Italian maps that date back to 1,450 years ago. The word "Channel" was adopted during the 13th century; the name was borrowed from the Old French Chanel which is referred to as a canal. In the 17th century, the French name “la Manche” was used to refer to this body of water. It wasn't until the 18th century that the current name was officially adopted and has remained that way since then.

Ownership Of The English Channel

The current governance of the channel lacks integration between the different countries using it. However, even though there are no states that can claim full ownership of the English Channel, the United Kingdom has more significant control over it. The Defense Secretary of Britain declared that other nations could sail through the English Channel as it is their right as stated under the freedom of navigation of the world’s seas. The British Navy also has a fair track record for managing movements in the channel to avoid sparking wars.

Features Of The English Channel

The English Channel has a maximum length of around 560 km; however, the width of this body of water varies depending on the location. The widest part of the English Channel has an approximate width of about 240 km. On the other hand, the narrowest end measures about 33.3 km.

The population around this water body is not evenly distributed; the English Shore is the most populous region. The important towns around the English Channel have a population of more than 20,000 people each.

The English Channel is approximated to handle more than 500 ships per day and hence is the busiest seaway. However, due to its busy state, the English Channel has experienced numerous accidents that pose a threat to marine life and even the lives of the citizens. To help increase safety at this channel, modern technologies have been introduced to control traffic effectively; some of the common technologies used include marine GPS systems and the use of radars and CCTV systems.


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