What is an Isthmus? What are the features of the Isthmus? How Isthmus is different from land bridges and peninsulas? Which are the major Isthmus around the world? Read here to know more.
Through the Panama Canal, ships can cross the Panama Isthmus in about 8 to 10 hours. Each year, 14,000 ships travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
What is an Isthmus?
An isthmus is a long, thin strip of land that connects two land masses and separates two bodies of water. It has water on both sides.
An isthmus, isthmuses, or isthmi is a thin stretch of land that connects two bigger regions that are otherwise separated by a major body of water (from the Ancient Greek: isthmós, “neck”).
Tombolos include certain isthmuses. A tombolo is a sand, gravel, or silt coastal sedimentary deposit that links an island to the mainland.
When a coastal island and the mainland are separated by a narrow strip of land, a tombolo develops. A linked island is one that is joined to the mainland by a tombolo. The island is “tied” to the mainland by a built-up sandbar.
Read more about straits here.
Important features of Isthmus
- Isthmuses are important geographic features. Although some are made of land and others of more granular particles, such as sand, they all link two land masses together and have water on both sides.
- Isthmuses have been strategic locations for centuries. They are natural sites for ports and canals linking terrestrial and aquatic trade routes.
- Isthmuses are also key sites for communications and cultural exchange, as well as military outposts.
Isthmus vs land bridge vs peninsula
- Isthmus and land bridge are related terms, with isthmus having a broader meaning.
- An isthmus bridging the largest geographic masses on Earth is known as a land bridge. The phrase “land bridge” is typically used in biogeology to refer to land linkages that once existed across continents and were significant for human migration as well as that of numerous animal and plant species, such as Beringia and Doggerland.
- A peninsula is more of a land protrusion that is connected to a larger landmass on one side alone and completely surrounded by the ocean on the other. An isthmus is a land connection between two larger land masses.
- Technically, an isthmus can resemble two peninsulas because of canals that stretch from coast to coast (such as the Panama Canal), but canals are man-made features as opposed to straits.
Major isthmuses in the world
Isthmus of Panama:
- The Pacific and Atlantic Oceans are divided by the Isthmus of Panama in Panama, which also connects the continents of North and South America.
- The Panama Canal, which spans the isthmus for 77 kilometres (48 miles), enables freight ships to pass directly from eastern to western North America without having to sail around South America.
- The Panama Canal revolutionised shipping and travel in the 20th century by making it possible for goods and people to be transported more quickly and effectively.
Isthmus of Suez:
- The Mediterranean and Red Seas are divided by the Isthmus of Suez, which is located in eastern Egypt.
- The 192 km (119 mi) long Suez Canal allows cargo ships to pass through Africa and directly transit between Europe, North Africa, Western Asia (through the Mediterranean Sea in the north), and Eastern and Southern Asia.
- In the 19th century, the Suez Canal boosted trade and travel; it still shapes the oil trade today.
The city of Seattle:
- Seattle, Washington, is situated on an isthmus that connects Lake Washington and Puget Sound, a region of the Pacific Ocean.
- Over 4,000 years have passed since there has been continuous habitation in the area. The Duabish and the Hachuabish were the first people to settle in the region, respectively, close to the seashore and a freshwater lake.
- These Native Americans were collectively known as the Duwamish by European settlers who saw the isthmus’ potential for trade both across the Pacific and along North America’s west coast.
Mount Maunganui- A tombolo town:
- The tombolo town of Mount Maunganui, New Zealand, is situated on a sandbar that connects the mainland to the volcanic island of Mauao.
- An extinct volcano, Mauao is a well-liked location for beach hopping and climbing. Because of the tombolo formation, such beaches have a variety of alternatives.
- The beaches facing Tauranga Harbor on the isthmus of Mount Maunganui are tranquil and safe. Beaches on the opposite side of Mount Maunganui face the Pacific Ocean, which has imposing waves that are well-liked by surfers.
Rock of Gibraltar- Most famous tombolo:
- The Rock of Gibraltar, a linked island that is just barely connected to the southwest tip of Europe’s Iberian Peninsula, is arguably the most well-known tombolo.
- The “Pillars of Hercules,” which make up the confined western entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, are joined at their northernmost points by the Rock of Gibraltar.
- Since the Phoenicians, the Rock of Gibraltar has been a vital location for traders and explorers due to its advantageous location.
- Although it is now a part of British Gibraltar, the Rock of Gibraltar borders Spain.
Some other major Isthmus in the world :
- The world’s major Isthmus of Tehuantepec is in Middle America.
- Of historic importance were the Isthmus of Corinth in Greece and the Isthmus of Catanzaro in Italy.
- The Isthmus of Mansheya connects Egypt’s island of Pharos to the city of Alexandria on the country’s mainland.
- The Isthmus of Kra links the Malay Peninsula with mainland of Asia.
- The Isthmus of Kushimoto in Japan joins Cape Shiono-Misaki and Honshū.
- In the Quezon Province of Luzon in the Phillippines, the Tayabas Isthmus unites the mainland of Luzon with the Bicol Peninsula.
- Adam’s Bridge, also known as Rama’s Bridge, is an isthmus that connects Sri Lanka and India.
- The Karelian Isthmus is found between Lake Ladoga and the Gulf of Finland (the Baltic Sea).
- In the northern portion of Russia, Olonets Isthmus is located between Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega, and Onega Isthmus lies between Lake Onega and the White Sea.
Canals built across the major Isthmus in the world
- It is common practice to construct canals across isthmuses, where they may provide a particularly useful marine transportation shortcut.
- For instance, the Panama Canal connects the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans by passing through the Panama Isthmus;
- By traversing the western side of the Sinai Peninsula-created Isthmus of Suez, the Suez Canal links the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea; & the Crinan Canal connects the Kintyre peninsula to the rest of Scotland by spanning the isthmus between Loch Crinan and Loch Gilp.
- The Welland Canal in the Niagara Peninsula serves as another illustration (technically an isthmus). It links Lake Ontario and Lake Erie together. On New Zealand’s North Island, the city of Auckland is located on an isthmus.
Article written by: Aseem Muhammed