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Definition: English Channel from Philip's Encyclopedia

Arm of the Atlantic Ocean between France and Britain, joining the North Sea at the Strait of Dover. A cross-channel train-ferry service was started in 1936, and the Channel Tunnel was completed in 1994. Width: 30-160km (20-100mi); length: 564km (350mi).

Summary Article: English Channel
from The Encyclopedia of Tourism and Recreation in Marine Environments

The English Channel is the narrow arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates the UK from mainland Europe. In French it is referred to as La Manche (the sleeve). It is 180 km (112 miles) wide at its western entrance between Lands End and Ushant. The channel is narrowest at the Straits of Dover near the eastern entrance to the channel between Dover and Cape Gris-Nez, where it is 34 km (21 miles) wide. The Channel is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, connecting northern European ports to the Atlantic, while there are also cross-channel ferry services between English and French/Belgian ports that carry leisure travellers as well as cars, buses and freight. The most significant ferry connection for tourism is the Dover-Calais route, although other ports include Newhaven, Poole, Portsmouth, Plymouth and Weymouth in England and Caen, Cherbourg, Dieppe, Le Havre, Saint Malo and Roscoff in France.

Because of their relatively cheap and easy access, ferry services have also been a significant element in the development of English-owned second homes in northern France, as well as cross-border shopping. The opening of the channel tunnel train service in 1994 had only a marginal effect on ferry services, although budget airline connections between the UK and Europe have had a greater impact on cross-channel leisure travel. The Channel coastline has been significant for beach resort development since Victorian times, with resorts such as Bournemouth, Brighton, Broadstairs, Eastbourne, Exmouth, Folkstone, Lyme Regis and Ramsgate atrracting holidaymakers and daytrippers to the present day.

C. Michael Hall
© CAB International 2008.

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