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Definition: Dardanelles from Collins English Dictionary


1 the strait between the Aegean and the Sea of Marmara, separating European from Asian Turkey Ancient name: Hellespont

Summary Article: Dardanelles
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Turkish strait connecting the Sea of Marmara with the Aegean Sea; its shores are formed by the Gallipoli peninsula on the northwest and the mainland of Anatolia on the southeast. It is around 65 km/40 mi long and 1.6–6.4 km/1–4 mi wide. Called Hellespont in ancient times, it was the scene of the legend of Hero and Leander; its modern name is derived from Dardanus, an ancient Greek city on its Asian shore. Controlling navigation between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, the Dardanelles and the Bosporus straits have long been of immense commercial and strategic importance.

The Dardanelles was the scene of bitter fighting between Allied and Turkish troops during World War I, most notably the operations at Gallipoli 1915.

Xeres I, king of Persia, crossed (c.481 BC) the strait over a bridge of boats, as did Alexander the Great in 334 BC. The Straits were essential to the defense of Constantinople (Istanbul) throughout the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. By 1402, the Dardanelles were under Ottoman control and the passage remained, with brief interruptions, in Turkish hands until the present. From the 18th century, Russian expansion along the Black Sea became of great concern to Western powers, and in 1841 England, France, Russia, Austria, and Prussia agreed to close the straits to all but Turkish warships; this convention was reaffirmed by the Congress of Paris (1856) at the end of the Crimean War, and remained theoretically in force until World War I.

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