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The English Channel,, "The Sleeve"; nrf, la Maunche, "The Sleeve" (
Cotentinais Cotentinais is the dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , , "discourse", from , , "through" and , , "I speak") is used in two distinct ways to refer to two different types of Linguistics, linguistic phenomena: * ...
) or (
Jèrriais (french: Jersiais, also known as the Jersey Language, Jersey French and Jersey Norman French in English) is a Romance languages, Romance language and the traditional language of the Jersey people. It is a form of the Norman language spoken in ...
), (
Guernésiais Guernésiais, also known as ''Dgèrnésiais'', Guernsey French, and Guernsey Norman French, is the variety of the spoken in . It is sometimes known on the island simply as "". As one of the , it has its roots in , but has had strong influence f ...
), "The Channel"; br, Mor Breizh, "Sea of Brittany"; cy, Môr Udd, "Lord's Sea"; kw, Mor Bretannek, "British Sea"; nl, Het Kanaal, "The Channel"; german: Ärmelkanal, "Sleeve Channel" also called simply the Channel (french: la Manche), is an arm of the
Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
that separates
Southern England Southern England, or the South of England, also known as the South, is an area of England consisting of its southernmost part, with cultural, economic and political differences from the Midlands The Midlands is the central part of England ...

Southern England
from northern
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning Western Europe and Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Ame ...

France
and links to the southern part of the
North Sea The North Sea is a sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
by the
Strait of Dover The Strait of Dover or Dover Strait, historically known as the Dover Narrows (french: Pas de Calais - ''Strait of Calais''; nl, Nauw van Calais or the lesser used ''Straat van Dover''), is the strait at the narrowest part of the English Chann ...
at its northeastern end. It is the busiest shipping area in the world. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the
Strait of Dover The Strait of Dover or Dover Strait, historically known as the Dover Narrows (french: Pas de Calais - ''Strait of Calais''; nl, Nauw van Calais or the lesser used ''Straat van Dover''), is the strait at the narrowest part of the English Chann ...
."English Channel". ''The Columbia Encyclopedia'', 2004. It is the smallest of the shallow seas around the continental shelf of Europe, covering an area of some ."English Channel." ''Encyclopædia Britannica'' 2007. The Channel was a key factor in
Britain Britain usually refers to: * United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United ...

Britain
becoming a naval superpower and has been utilised by Britain as a natural defence mechanism by which many would-be invasions, such as the
Napoleonic Wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major World war, global conflicts pitting the First French Empire, French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon, Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of Coalition forces of the Napoleonic W ...
and those of
Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler (; 20 April 188930 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who was the dictator , the Kingdom of Italy, Italian dictator from 1922 to 1943 and Adolf Hitler, the Nazi Germany, German dictator from 1933 to 1945 A di ...

Adolf Hitler
in
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, were halted. The population around the English Channel is predominantly located on the English coast and the major languages spoken in this region are and
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
.


Names

The name first appears in Roman sources as (or , meaning The British Ocean or British Sea). Variations of this term were used by influential writers such as
Ptolemy Claudius Ptolemy (; grc-koi, Κλαύδιος Πτολεμαῖος, , ; la, Claudius Ptolemaeus; AD) was a mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes ...
, and remained popular with British and continental authors well into the modern era. Other Latin names for the sea include (The Gaulish Ocean) which was used by
Isidore of Seville Isidore of Seville (; la, Isidorus Hispalensis; c. 560 – 4 April 636) was a Spanish scholar and cleric. For over three decades, he was Archbishop In many Christian denomination, Christian Denominations, an archbishop (, via Latin ...
as early as the sixth century. The term ''British Sea'' is still used in
Cornwall Cornwall (; kw, Kernow ) is a Historic counties of England, historic county and Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county in South West England. It is recognised as one of the Celtic nations, and is the homeland of the Cornish people ...

Cornwall
and
Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula and cultural region in the west of France, covering the western part of what was known as Armorica during the period of Roman occup ...
, with the sea known as in
Cornish Cornish is the adjective and demonym associated with Cornwall, the most southwesterly part of the United Kingdom. It may refer to: * Cornish language, a Brittonic Southwestern Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, spoken in Cornwall ...
and in
Breton Breton most often refers to: *anything associated with Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula and cultural region in the west of France, covering the western part ...
. While it is likely that these names derive from the Latin term, it is possible that they predate the arrival of the Romans in the area. The
Modern Welsh The history of the Welsh language spans over 1400 years, encompassing the stages of the language known as Primitive Welsh, Old Welsh, Middle Welsh, and Welsh language, Modern Welsh. Origins Welsh evolved from British language (Celtic), British, t ...
is often given as (the Lord's/Prince's Sea), however this name originally described both the Channel and the
North Sea The North Sea is a sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
combined. Anglo-Saxon texts make reference to the sea as ('South Sea'), but this term fell out of favour, as later English authors followed the same conventions as their Latin and Norman contemporaries. One English name that did persist was the ''Narrow Seas'', a collective term for the channel and
North Sea The North Sea is a sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
. As England (followed by Great Britain and the United Kingdom) claimed sovereignty over the sea, a Royal Navy Admiral was appointed with maintaining duties in the two seas. The office was maintained until 1822, when several European nations (including the United Kingdom) adopted a three-mile limit to territorial waters.


English Channel

The word ''channel'' was first recorded in
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th century. The English language underwent distinct variations and developments following ...
in the 13th century and was borrowed from
Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular o ...
(a variant form of 'canal'). By the middle of the fifteenth century an Italian map based on Ptolemy's description named the sea as ''Britanicus Oceanus nunc Canalites Anglie'' (British Ocean but now English Channel). The map is possibly the first recorded use of the term ''English Channel'' and the description suggests the name had recently been adopted. In the sixteenth century, Dutch maps referred to the sea as the (English Channel) and by the 1590s,
William Shakespeare William Shakespeare ( 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's and the " of A ...

William Shakespeare
used the word ''Channel'' in his history plays of
Henry VIHenry VI may refer to: * Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor (1165–1197) * Henry VI, Count Palatine of the Rhine (ruled 1212–1214) * Henry VI, Count of Luxembourg (crowned 1281, died 1288) * Henry VI the Older (before 1345 – 1393) * Henry VI, Count o ...
, suggesting that by that time, the name was popularly understood by English people. By the Eighteenth century, the name ''English Channel'' was in common usage in England. Following the
Acts of Union 1707 The Acts of Union ( gd, Achd an Aonaidh) were two Acts of Parliament Acts of parliament, sometimes referred to as primary legislation In parliamentary systems and presidential systems of government, primary legislation and secondary legisl ...
, this was replaced in official maps and documents with ''British Channel'' or ''British Sea'' for much of the next century. However, the term English channel remained popular and was finally in official usage by the nineteenth century.


The French name has been used since at least the 17th century. The name is usually said to refer to the Channel's sleeve (french: link=no, la manche) shape.
Folk etymology Folk etymology (also known as popular etymology, analogical reformation, reanalysis, morphological reanalysis or etymological reinterpretation) is a change in a word or phrase resulting from the replacement of an unfamiliar form by a more familia ...
has derived it from a
Celtic The words Celt and Celtic (also Keltic) may refer to: Ethno-linguistics *Celts The Celts (, see pronunciation of ''Celt'' for different usages) are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millennium B.C.E. to present ancestry: ...
word meaning 'channel' that is also the source of the name for
the Minch The Minch ( gd, An Cuan Sgitheanach, ', ', '), also called North Minch, is a strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrow, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. Most commonly it is a channel of water that li ...
in Scotland, but this name is not attested before the 17th century, and French and British sources of that time are clear about its etymology. The name in French has been directly adapted in other Romance languages ( es, Canal de la Mancha, pt, Canal da Mancha, it, Canale della Manica, ro, Canalul Mânecii) as well as
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
(''Ärmelkanal'').


Nature


Geography

The
International Hydrographic Organization The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) is an intergovernmental organisation representing hydrography. As of December 2021 the IHO comprised 96 Member States. A principal aim of the IHO is to ensure that the world's seas, oceans and ...
defines the limits of the English Channel as follows: The IHO defines the southwestern limit of the North Sea as "a line joining the Walde Lighthouse (France, 1°55'E) and Leathercoat Point (England, 51°10'N)". The Walde Lighthouse is east of
Calais Calais ( , , traditionally , ; pcd, Calés; vls, Kales) is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia ...

Calais
(), and Leathercoat Point is at the north end of St Margaret's Bay, Kent, some North-East of Dover (). The
Strait of Dover The Strait of Dover or Dover Strait, historically known as the Dover Narrows (french: Pas de Calais - ''Strait of Calais''; nl, Nauw van Calais or the lesser used ''Straat van Dover''), is the strait at the narrowest part of the English Chann ...
(french: Pas de Calais, link=no), at the Channel's eastern end, is its narrowest point, while its widest point lies between
Lyme Bay Lyme Bay is an area of the English Channel off the south coast of England, situated between Start Point, Devon, Start Point in the west and Portland Bill in the east. The south western counties of Devon and Dorset front onto the bay. Geology acr ...

Lyme Bay
and the Gulf of
Saint Malo In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness Sacred describes something that is dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity A deity or god is a supernatural being ...

Saint Malo
, near its midpoint. It is relatively shallow, with an average depth of about at its widest part, reducing to a depth of about between
Dover Dover () is a town and major ferry port in Kent Kent is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edi ...

Dover
and
Calais Calais ( , , traditionally , ; pcd, Calés; vls, Kales) is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia ...

Calais
. Eastwards from there the adjoining North Sea reduces to about in the
Broad Fourteens image:Broad Fourteens delisle 1743.jpg, 200px, The Broad Fourteens on a map by Delisle (1743) The Broad Fourteens is an area of the southern North Sea that is fairly consistently fourteen fathoms (84 feet/26 metres) deep. Thus, on a nautical chart ...
where it lies over the watershed of the former land bridge between
East Anglia East Anglia is a geographical area in the East of England. The area included has varied but the legally defined Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics, NUTS statistical unit comprises the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshi ...
and the
Low Countries The term Low Countries, also known as the Low Lands ( nl, de Lage Landen, french: les Pays-Bas) and historically called the Netherlands ( nl, de Nederlanden), Flanders, or Belgica, refers to a coastal lowland region in Northwestern Europe ...
. It reaches a maximum depth of in the submerged valley of
Hurd's Deep Hurd's Deep (or Hurd Deep) is an underwater valley in the English Channel, northwest of the Channel Islands. Its maximum depth is about 180 m (590 ft; 98 fathoms), making it the deepest point in the English Channel. Etymology It is mos ...
, west-northwest of
Guernsey Guernsey (; Guernésiais Guernésiais, also known as ''Dgèrnésiais'', Guernsey French, and Guernsey Norman French, is the variety of the Norman language Norman or Norman French (', french: Normand, Guernésiais: ''Normand'', Jèrriais: ...

Guernsey
. The eastern region along the French coast between and the mouth of the
Seine river ) , mouth_location = Le Havre/Honfleur , mouth_coordinates = , mouth_elevation = , progression = , river_system = Seine basin , basin_size = , tributaries_left = Yonne (river), Yonne, Loing, Eure (river), ...

Seine river
at
Le Havre Le Havre (, ; nrf, Lé Hâvre) is an urban French commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and co ...

Le Havre
is frequently referred to as the ''Bay of the Seine'' (french: link=no, Baie de Seine). There are several major islands in the Channel, the most notable being the
Isle of Wight The Isle of Wight () is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambers (publisher), Wi ...

Isle of Wight
off the English coast, and the
Channel Islands The Channel Islands ( nrf, Îles d'la Manche; french: îles Anglo-Normandes or ''îles de la Manche'') are an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island ...

Channel Islands
, British
Crown dependencies#REDIRECT Crown Dependencies The Crown dependencies (french: Dépendances de la Couronne; gv, Croghaneyn-crooin) are three island territories off the coast of Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off t ...

Crown dependencies
off the coast of France. The coastline, particularly on the French shore, is deeply indented; several small islands close to the coastline, including
Chausey Chausey () is a group of small islands, islets and rocks off the coast of Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie; from Old French , plural of ''Normant'', originally from the word for "northman" in several Scandinavi ...

Chausey
and
Mont Saint-Michel Le Mont-Saint-Michel (; Norman language, Norman: ''Mont Saint Miché'', ) is a tidal island and mainland Communes of France, commune in Normandy (administrative region), Normandy, France. The island lies approximately one kilometre () off the ...

Mont Saint-Michel
, are within French jurisdiction. The
Cotentin Peninsula The Cotentin Peninsula (, ; nrf, Cotentîn ), also known as the Cherbourg Peninsula, is a peninsula in Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie; from Old French , plural of ''Normant'', originally from the word for "n ...

Cotentin Peninsula
in France juts out into the Channel, whilst on the English side there is a small parallel
strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrowing, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. The surface water generally flows at the same elevation on both sides and through the strait in either direction. Most commonly i ...

strait
known as the
Solent The Solent ( ) is a strait between the Isle of Wight and Great Britain. It is about long and varies in width between , although the Hurst Spit which projects into the Solent narrows the sea crossing between Hurst Castle and Colwell Bay to j ...

Solent
between the Isle of Wight and the mainland. The
Celtic Sea The Celtic Sea ; cy, Y Môr Celtaidd ; kw, An Mor Keltek ; br, Ar Mor Keltiek ; french: La mer Celtique is the area of the Atlantic Ocean off the south coast of Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island up ...
is to the west of the Channel. The Channel acts as a funnel that amplifies the tidal range from less than a metre as observed at sea to more than 6 metres as observed in the
Channel Islands The Channel Islands ( nrf, Îles d'la Manche; french: îles Anglo-Normandes or ''îles de la Manche'') are an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island ...

Channel Islands
, the west coast of the
Cotentin Peninsula The Cotentin Peninsula (, ; nrf, Cotentîn ), also known as the Cherbourg Peninsula, is a peninsula in Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie; from Old French , plural of ''Normant'', originally from the word for "n ...

Cotentin Peninsula
and the north coast of
Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula and cultural region in the west of France, covering the western part of what was known as Armorica during the period of Roman occup ...
. The time difference of about six hours between high water at the eastern and western limits of the Channel is indicative of the tidal range being amplified further by
resonance Resonance describes the phenomenon of increased amplitude The amplitude of a Periodic function, periodic Variable (mathematics), variable is a measure of its change in a single Period (mathematics), period (such as frequency, time or Wavelen ...

resonance
. In the UK
Shipping Forecast The Shipping Forecast is a BBC Radio broadcast of weather reports and forecasts for the seas around the coasts of the British Isles The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic off the north-western coast of continent ...
the Channel is divided into the following areas, from the east: *
Dover Dover () is a town and major ferry port in Kent Kent is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edi ...

Dover
*
Wight A wight (Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval ...

Wight
* Portland *
Plymouth Plymouth () is a port city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: ...

Plymouth


Geological origins

The Channel is of geologically recent origin, having been dry land for most of the
Pleistocene The Pleistocene ( , often referred to as the ''Ice Age'') is the geological Epoch (geology), epoch that lasted from about 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the earth’s most recent period of repeated glaciations. Before a change finally ...
period. Before the Devensian glaciation (the most recent
glacial period A glacial period (alternatively glacial or glaciation) is an interval of time (thousands of years) within an ice age that is marked by colder temperatures and glacier A glacier ( or ) is a persistent body of dense ice that is constantly movi ...
, which ended around 10,000 years ago),
Britain Britain usually refers to: * United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United ...

Britain
and
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland), North Channel, the Irish Sea ...

Ireland
were part of
continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical region ...

continental Europe
, linked by an unbroken
Weald–Artois anticline The Weald–Artois anticline is a large anticline, a geological structure running between the regions of the Weald in southern England and Artois in northern France. The fold formed during the Alpine orogeny, from the late Oligocene to middle Mioce ...
, a ridge that acted as a natural dam holding back a large freshwater
pro-glacial lake In geology, a proglacial lake is a lake formed either by the damming action of a moraine during the retreat of a melting glacier A glacier ( or ) is a persistent body of dense ice that is constantly moving under its own weight. A glacier f ...
in the
Doggerland Doggerland (also called Dogger Littoral) was an area of land, now submerged beneath the southern North Sea The North Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located between Great Britain (England and Scotland), Denmark, Norway, Germany, the Nethe ...

Doggerland
region, now submerged under the
North Sea The North Sea is a sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
. During this period the North Sea and almost all of the British Isles were covered by ice. The lake was fed by meltwater from the Baltic and from the Caledonian and Scandinavian
ice sheet In , an ice sheet, also known as a continental glacier, is a mass of that covers surrounding terrain and is greater than . The only current ice sheets are in and ; during the at (LGM) the covered much of , the ice sheet covered and the c ...

ice sheet
s that joined to the north, blocking its exit. The sea level was about lower than it is today. Then, between 450,000 and 180,000 years ago, at least two catastrophic
glacial lake outburst flood , Alaska, squeezes towards Gibert Point on 20 May 2002. The glacier is close to sealing off Russell Fjord (top) from Disenchantment Bay (below). A glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) is a type of outburst flood caused by the failure of a dam con ...
s breached the Weald–Artois anticline. The first flood would have lasted for several months, releasing as much as one million cubic metres of water per second. The flood started with large but localized waterfalls over the ridge, which excavated depressions now known as the ''Fosses Dangeard''. The flow eroded the retaining ridge, causing the rock dam to fail and releasing lake water into the Atlantic. After multiple episodes of changing sea level, during which the ''Fosses Dangeard'' were largely infilled by various layers of sediment, another catastrophic flood carved a large bedrock-floored valley, the Lobourg Channel, some 500 m wide and 25 m deep, from the southern North Sea basin through the centre of the Straits of Dover and into the English Channel. It left streamlined islands, longitudinal erosional grooves, and other features characteristic of catastrophic megaflood events, still present on the sea floor and now revealed by high-resolution sonar. Through the scoured channel passed a river, the Channel River, which drained the combined
Rhine ), Surselva Surselva Region is one of the eleven administrative districts Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many si ...

Rhine
and
Thames The River Thames ( ), known alternatively in parts as the River Isis, is a river that flows through southern England Southern England, or the South of England, also known as the South, is an area of England consisting of its southernm ...

Thames
westwards to the Atlantic. The flooding destroyed the ridge that connected Britain to continental Europe, although a land connection across the southern
North Sea The North Sea is a sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
would have existed intermittently at later times when periods of
glaciation A glacial period (alternatively glacial or glaciation) is an interval of time (thousands of years) within an ice age An ice age is a long period of reduction in the temperature of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the o ...
resulted in lowering of sea levels. At the end of the last glacial period,
rising sea levels Tide gauge measurements show that the current global sea level rise began at the start of the 20th century. Between 1900 and 2017, the globally averaged sea level Mean sea level (MSL) (often shortened to sea level) is an average In colloquia ...

rising sea levels
finally severed the last land connection.


Ecology

As a busy shipping lane, the Channel experiences environmental problems following accidents involving ships with toxic cargo and oil spills. Indeed, over 40% of the UK incidents threatening pollution occur in or very near the Channel. One occurrence was the MSC ''Napoli'', which on 18 January 2007 was beached with nearly 1700 tonnes of dangerous cargo in Lyme Bay, a protected World Heritage Site coastline. The ship had been damaged and was en route to
Portland Harbour The western side of the Harbour with Chesil Beach, Lyme Bay and the Fleet Lagoon in the background. Portland Harbour is located beside the Isle of Portland, Dorset, on the south coast of England. Construction of the harbour began in 1849; whe ...
. The English Channel, despite being a busy shipping lane, remains in part a haven for wildlife. Atlantic oceanic species are more common in the westernmost parts of the channel, particularly to the west of
Start Point, Devon Start Point is a promontory in the South Hams South Hams is a local government district on the south coast of Devon Devon (, also known as Devonshire) is a Counties of England, county of England, reaching from the Bristol Channel in the ...
, but can sometimes be found further east towards Dorset and the Isle of Wight. Seal sightings are becoming more common along the English Channel, with both
Grey Seal The grey seal (''Halichoerus grypus'') is found on both shores of the North Atlantic Ocean. It is a large pinniped, seal of the family (biology), family Phocidae, which are commonly referred to as "true seals" or "earless seals". It is the only ...
and
Harbour Seal The harbour (or harbor) seal (''Phoca vitulina''), also known as the common seal, is a true seal The earless seals, phocids or true seals are one of the three main groups of mammal Mammals (from Latin language, Latin , 'breast') are ...

Harbour Seal
recorded frequently.


Human history

The channel, which delayed human reoccupation of Great Britain for more than 100,000 years, has in historic times been both an easy entry for seafaring people and a key natural defence, halting invading armies while in conjunction with control of the North Sea allowing Britain to blockade the continent. The most significant failed invasion threats came when the Dutch and Belgian ports were held by a major continental power, e.g. from the
Spanish Armada The Spanish Armada ( es, Grande y Felicísima Armada, links=no, lit=Great and Most Fortunate Navy) was a Habsburg Spanish fleet of 130 ships that sailed from Lisbon Lisbon (; pt, Lisboa ) is the capital and the largest city of Portugal ...

Spanish Armada
in 1588,
Napoleon Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader. He rose to prominence during the French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) refers to the period that began with the Estates General o ...
during the
Napoleonic Wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major World war, global conflicts pitting the First French Empire, French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon, Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of Coalition forces of the Napoleonic W ...
, and
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist Germany") officially known as the German Reich from 1933 until 1943, and the Greater German Reich from 1943 to 1945, was ...

Nazi Germany
during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
. Successful invasions include the
Roman conquest of Britain The Roman conquest of Britain was a process that consisted of the conquest of territory located on the island of Great Britain, Britain by occupying Roman Empire, Roman forces. It began in AD 43 under Emperor Claudius, and was largely com ...
, the
Norman Conquest The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England by an army made up of thousands of Normans, Duchy of Brittany, Bretons, County of Flanders, Flemish, and men from other Kingdom of France, French ...
in 1066 and the
Glorious Revolution The Glorious Revolution of November 1688 ( ga, An Réabhlóid Ghlórmhar; gd, Rèabhlaid Ghlòrmhor; cy, Chwyldro Gogoneddus), the invasion also known as the ''Glorieuze Overtocht'' or Glorious Crossing by the Dutch, was the deposition of ...
of 1688, while the concentration of excellent harbours in the Western Channel on Britain's south coast made possible the largest amphibious invasion in history, the
Normandy Landings The Normandy landings were the landing operation Allied invasion of Sicily, 1943 A landing operation is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended fo ...

Normandy Landings
in 1944. Channel
naval battles Naval warfare is human combat in and on the sea, the ocean, or any other battlespace involving a major body of water such as a large lake or wide river. History Mankind has fought battles on the sea for more than 3,000 years. Even in the interi ...
include the
Battle of the Downs The naval Battle of the Downs took place on 21 October 1639 (New Style Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) indicate a dating system from before and after a calendar change, respectively. Usually this is the change from the Julian calen ...
(1639), Battle of Dover (1652), the
Battle of Portland The naval Battle of Portland, or Three Days' Battle took place during 18–20 February 1653 (28 February – 2 March 1653 (Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the calendar used in most of the world. It was introduced in October ...
(1653), the Battle of La Hougue (1692) and the engagement between and CSS ''Alabama'' (1864). In more peaceful times the Channel served as a link joining shared cultures and political structures, particularly the huge
Angevin Empire The Angevin Empire (; french: link=no, Empire Plantagenêt) describes the possessions of the Angevin kings of England The Angevins (; "from Anjou Anjou (, ; ; la, Andegavia) was a French province straddling the lower Loire River. Its cap ...

Angevin Empire
from 1135 to 1217. For nearly a thousand years, the Channel also provided a link between the Modern Celtic regions and languages of
Cornwall Cornwall (; kw, Kernow ) is a Historic counties of England, historic county and Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county in South West England. It is recognised as one of the Celtic nations, and is the homeland of the Cornish people ...

Cornwall
and
Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula and cultural region in the west of France, covering the western part of what was known as Armorica during the period of Roman occup ...
. Brittany was founded by
Britons The British people, or Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed ...
who fled
Cornwall Cornwall (; kw, Kernow ) is a Historic counties of England, historic county and Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county in South West England. It is recognised as one of the Celtic nations, and is the homeland of the Cornish people ...

Cornwall
and
Devon Devon (, archaically known as Devonshire) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Ch ...

Devon
after Anglo-Saxon encroachment. In Brittany, there is a region known as "
Cornouaille 200px, Flag of Cornouaille Cornouaille (; br, Kernev, Kerne) is a historic region on the west coast of Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula and cultural ...
" (Cornwall) in French and "Kernev" in
Breton Breton most often refers to: *anything associated with Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula and cultural region in the west of France, covering the western part ...
. In ancient times there was also a " Domnonia" (Devon) in Brittany as well. In February 1684, ice formed on the sea in a belt wide off the coast of
Kent Kent is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambers (publisher), William and Robert ...

Kent
and wide on the French side.


Route to Britain

Remnants of a mesolithic boatyard have been found on the
Isle of Wight The Isle of Wight () is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambers (publisher), Wi ...

Isle of Wight
. Wheat was traded across the Channel about 8,000 years ago. "... Sophisticated social networks linked the Neolithic front in southern Europe to the Mesolithic peoples of northern Europe." The Ferriby Boats, Hanson Log Boats and the later Dover Bronze Age Boat could carry a substantial cross-Channel cargo. Diodorus Siculus and Pliny both suggest trade between the rebel Celtic tribes of Armorica and Iron Age Britain flourished. In 55 BC Julius Caesar invaded, claiming that the Britons had aided the Veneti (Gaul), Veneti against him the previous year. He was more successful in 54 BC, but Britain was not fully established as part of the Roman Empire until completion of the invasion by Aulus Plautius in 43 AD. A brisk and regular trade began between ports in Roman Gaul and those in Britain. This traffic continued until the end of Roman rule in Britain in 410 AD, after which the History of Anglo-Saxon England, early Anglo-Saxons left less clear historical records. In the power vacuum left by the retreating Romans, the Germanic Angles, Saxons, and Jutes began the next great migration across the North Sea. Having already been used as mercenaries in Britain by the Romans, many people from these tribes crossed during the Migration Period, conquering and perhaps displacing the native Celtic populations.


Norsemen and Normans

The attack on Lindisfarne in 793 is generally considered the beginning of the Viking Age. For the next 250 years the Scandinavian raiders of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark dominated the North Sea, raiding monasteries, homes, and towns along the coast and along the rivers that ran inland. According to the ''Anglo-Saxon Chronicle'' they began to settle in Britain in 851. They continued to settle in the British Isles and the continent until around 1050, with some raids recorded along the channel coast of England, including at Wareham, Portland, near Weymouth and along the river Teign in Devon. The Duchy of Normandy, fiefdom of Normandy was created for the Viking leader Rollo of Normandy, Rollo (also known as Robert of Normandy). Rollo had besieged Paris but in 911 entered vassalage to the king of the Western Francia, West Franks Charles the Simple through the Treaty of St.-Claire-sur-Epte. In exchange for his Homage (feudal), homage and fealty, Rollo legally gained the territory he and his Viking allies had previously conquered. The name "Normandy" reflects Rollo's Viking (i.e. "Northman") origins. The descendants of Rollo and his followers adopted the local Gallo-Romance languages, Gallo-Romance language and intermarried with the area's inhabitants and became the Normans – a Norman language, Norman French-speaking mixture of Scandinavians, Hiberno-Norse, Orkney, Orcadians, Danelaw, Anglo-Danish, and indigenous Franks and Gauls. Rollo's descendant William I of England, William, Duke of Normandy became king of England in 1066 in the
Norman Conquest The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England by an army made up of thousands of Normans, Duchy of Brittany, Bretons, County of Flanders, Flemish, and men from other Kingdom of France, French ...
beginning with the Battle of Hastings, while retaining the fiefdom of Normandy for himself and his descendants. In 1204, during the reign of John of England, King John, mainland Normandy was taken from England by France under Philip II of France, Philip II, while insular Normandy (the
Channel Islands The Channel Islands ( nrf, Îles d'la Manche; french: îles Anglo-Normandes or ''îles de la Manche'') are an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island ...

Channel Islands
) remained under English control. In 1259, Henry III of England recognised the legality of French possession of mainland Normandy under the Treaty of Paris (1259), Treaty of Paris. His successors, however, often fought to regain control of mainland Normandy. With the rise of William the Conqueror the North Sea and Channel began to lose some of their importance. The new order oriented most of England and Scandinavia's trade south, toward the Mediterranean and the Orient. Although the British surrendered claims to mainland Normandy and other French possessions in 1801, the monarch of the United Kingdom retains the title Duke of Normandy in respect to the Channel Islands. The Channel Islands (except for
Chausey Chausey () is a group of small islands, islets and rocks off the coast of Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie; from Old French , plural of ''Normant'', originally from the word for "northman" in several Scandinavi ...

Chausey
) are
Crown dependencies#REDIRECT Crown Dependencies The Crown dependencies (french: Dépendances de la Couronne; gv, Croghaneyn-crooin) are three island territories off the coast of Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off t ...

Crown dependencies
of the The Crown, British Crown. Thus the Loyal toast in the Channel Islands is ''La Reine, notre Duc'' ("The Queen, our Duke"). The British monarch is understood to ''not'' be the Duke of Normandy in regards of the French region of Normandy described herein, by virtue of the Treaty of Paris (1259), Treaty of Paris of 1259, the surrender of French possessions in 1801, and the belief that the rights of succession to that title are subject to Salic Law which excludes inheritance through female heirs. French Normandy was occupied by English forces during the Hundred Years' War in 1346–1360 and again in 1415–1450.


England and Britain: Naval superpower

From the reign of Elizabeth I, English foreign policy concentrated on preventing invasion across the Channel by ensuring no major European power controlled the potential Dutch and Flemish invasion ports. Her climb to the pre-eminent sea power of the world began in 1588 as the attempted invasion of the
Spanish Armada The Spanish Armada ( es, Grande y Felicísima Armada, links=no, lit=Great and Most Fortunate Navy) was a Habsburg Spanish fleet of 130 ships that sailed from Lisbon Lisbon (; pt, Lisboa ) is the capital and the largest city of Portugal ...

Spanish Armada
was defeated by the combination of outstanding naval tactics by the English and the Dutch under command of Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham with Francis Drake, Sir Francis Drake second in command, and the following stormy weather. Over the centuries the Royal Navy slowly grew to be the most powerful in the world. The building of the British Empire was possible only because the Royal Navy eventually managed to exercise unquestioned control over the seas around Europe, especially the Channel and the North Sea. During the Seven Years' War, France attempted to Planned French Invasion of Britain (1759), launch an invasion of Britain. To achieve this France needed to gain control of the Channel for several weeks, but was thwarted following the British naval victory at the Battle of Quiberon Bay in 1759 and was unsuccessful (The last French landing on English soil being in 1690 with a raid on Teignmouth, although the last French raid on British soil was a raid on Fishguard, Wales in 1797). Another significant challenge to British domination of the seas came during the
Napoleonic Wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major World war, global conflicts pitting the First French Empire, French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon, Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of Coalition forces of the Napoleonic W ...
. The Battle of Trafalgar took place off the coast of Spain against a combined French and Spanish fleet and was won by Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, Horatio Nelson, ending Napoleon's plans for a cross-Channel invasion and securing British dominance of the seas for over a century.


First World War

The exceptional strategic importance of the Channel as a tool for blockading was recognised by the First Sea Lord John Fisher, 1st Baron Fisher, Admiral Fisher in the years before World War I. "Five keys lock up the world! Singapore, the Cape, Alexandria, Gibraltar, Dover." However, on 25 July 1909 Louis Blériot made the first Channel crossing from
Calais Calais ( , , traditionally , ; pcd, Calés; vls, Kales) is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia ...

Calais
to
Dover Dover () is a town and major ferry port in Kent Kent is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edi ...

Dover
in an aeroplane. Blériot's crossing signalled a change in the function of the Channel as a barrier-moat for England against foreign enemies. Because the ''Kaiserliche Marine'' surface fleet could not match the British Grand Fleet, the Germans developed submarine warfare, which was to become a far greater threat to Britain. The Dover Patrol, set up just before the war started, escorted cross-Channel troopships and prevented submarines from sailing in the Channel, obliging them to travel to the Atlantic via the much longer route around Scotland. On land, the German army attempted to capture French Channel ports in the Race to the Sea but although the trenches are often said to have stretched "from the frontier of Switzerland to the English Channel", they reached the coast at the North Sea. Much of the British war effort in Flanders was a bloody but successful strategy to prevent the Germans reaching the Channel coast. At the outset of the war, an attempt was made to block the path of U-boats through the Dover Strait with naval minefields. By February 1915, this had been augmented by a stretch of light steel netting called the Dover Barrage, which it was hoped would ensnare submerged submarines. After initial success, the Germans learned how to pass through the barrage, aided by the unreliability of British mines. On 31 January 1917, the Germans restarted unrestricted submarine warfare leading to dire Admiralty predictions that submarines would defeat Britain by November, the most dangerous situation Britain faced in either world war. The Battle of Passchendaele in 1917 was fought to reduce the threat by capturing the submarine bases on the Belgian coast, though it was the introduction of convoys and not capture of the bases that averted defeat. In April 1918 the Dover Patrol carried out the Zeebrugge Raid against the U-boat bases. During 1917, the Dover Barrage was re-sited with improved mines and more effective nets, aided by regular patrols by small warships equipped with powerful searchlights. A German attack on these vessels resulted in the Battle of Dover Strait (1917), Battle of Dover Strait in 1917. A much more ambitious attempt to improve the barrage, by installing eight massive concrete towers across the strait was called the Admiralty M-N Scheme but only two towers were nearing completion at the end of the war and the project was abandoned. The naval blockade in the Channel and North Sea was one of the decisive factors in the German defeat in 1918.


Second World War

During the Second World War, naval activity in the European Theatre of World War II, European theatre was primarily Battle of the Atlantic, limited to the Atlantic. During the Battle of France in May 1940, the German forces succeeded in capturing both Battle of Boulogne (1940), Boulogne and Siege of Calais (1940), Calais, thereby threatening the line of retreat for the British Expeditionary Force (World War II), British Expeditionary Force. By a combination of hard fighting and German indecision, the port of Dunkirk was kept open allowing 338,000 Allied troops to be evacuated in Operation Dynamo. More than 11,000 were evacuated from
Le Havre Le Havre (, ; nrf, Lé Hâvre) is an urban French commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and co ...

Le Havre
during Operation Cycle and a further 192,000 were evacuated from ports further down the coast in Operation Aerial in June 1940. The early stages of the Battle of Britain featured German air attacks on Channel shipping and ports; despite these early successes against shipping the Germans did not win the air supremacy necessary for Operation Sealion, the projected cross-Channel invasion. The Channel subsequently became the stage for an intensive coastal war, featuring submarines, minesweeper (ship), minesweepers, and Fast Attack Craft. The narrow waters of the Channel were considered too dangerous for major warships until the
Normandy Landings The Normandy landings were the landing operation Allied invasion of Sicily, 1943 A landing operation is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended fo ...

Normandy Landings
with the exception, for the German Kriegsmarine, of the Channel Dash (Operation Cerberus) in February 1942, and this required the support of the Luftwaffe in Operation Donnerkeil, Operation Thunderbolt. Dieppe, Seine-Maritime, Dieppe was the site of an ill-fated Dieppe Raid by Canadian and British armed forces. More successful was the later Operation Overlord (D-Day), a massive invasion of Nazi Germany, German-occupied France by Allies of World War II, Allied troops. Caen, , Carentan, Falaise, Calvados, Falaise and other Norman towns endured many casualties in the fight for the province, which continued until the closing of the so-called Falaise pocket, Falaise gap between Chambois, Orne, Chambois and Montormel, then liberation of
Le Havre Le Havre (, ; nrf, Lé Hâvre) is an urban French commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and co ...

Le Havre
. The Channel Islands were the only part of the Commonwealth of Nations, British Commonwealth German occupation of the Channel Islands, occupied by Germany (excepting the part of Egypt occupied by the Afrika Korps at the time of the Second Battle of El Alamein, which was a protectorate and not part of the Commonwealth). The German occupation of 1940–1945 was harsh, with some island residents being taken for Forced labour under German rule during World War II, slave labour on the Continent; native Jews sent to Nazi concentration camps, concentration camps; partisan (military), partisan resistance and retribution; accusations of collaborationism, collaboration; and slave labour (primarily Russians and eastern Europeans) being brought to the islands to build fortifications. The Royal Navy blockaded the islands from time to time, particularly following the Invasion of Normandy, liberation of mainland Normandy in 1944. Intense negotiations resulted in some Red Cross humanitarian aid, but there was considerable hunger and privation during the occupation, particularly in the final months, when the population was close to starvation. The German troops on the islands surrendered on 9 May 1945, a day after the final surrender in mainland Europe.


Population

The English Channel coast is far more densely populated on the English shore. The most significant towns and cities along both the English and French sides of the Channel (each with more than 20,000 inhabitants, ranked in descending order; populations are the urban area populations from the 1999 French census, 2001 UK census, and 2001 Jersey census) are as follows:


England

* Brighton–Worthing–Littlehampton: 461,181 inhabitants, made up of: ** Brighton: 155,919 ** Worthing: 96,964 ** Hove: 72,335 ** Littlehampton: 55,716 ** Lancing, West Sussex, Lancing–Sompting: 30,360 * Portsmouth: 442,252, including ** Gosport: 79,200 * Bournemouth & Poole: 383,713 * Southampton: 304,400 *
Plymouth Plymouth () is a port city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: ...

Plymouth
: 258,700 * Torbay (Torquay): 129,702 * Hastings–Bexhill-on-Sea, Bexhill: 126,386 * Exeter: 119,600 * Eastbourne: 106,562 * Bognor Regis: 62,141 * Folkestone–Hythe, Kent, Hythe: 60,039 * Weymouth, Dorset, Weymouth: 56,043 *
Dover Dover () is a town and major ferry port in Kent Kent is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edi ...

Dover
: 39,078 * Walmer–Deal, Kent, Deal: 35,941 * Exmouth, Devon, Exmouth: 32,972 * Falmouth, Cornwall, Falmouth–Penryn, Cornwall, Penryn: 28,801 * Ryde: 22,806 * St Austell: 22,658 * Seaford, East Sussex, Seaford: 21,851 * Falmouth, Cornwall, Falmouth: 21,635 * Penzance: 20,255


France

*
Le Havre Le Havre (, ; nrf, Lé Hâvre) is an urban French commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and co ...

Le Havre
: 248,547 inhabitants *
Calais Calais ( , , traditionally , ; pcd, Calés; vls, Kales) is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia ...

Calais
: 104,852 * Saint-Malo: 50,675 * Lannion–Perros-Guirec: 48,990 * Saint-Brieuc: 45,879 * Boulogne-sur-Mer: 42,537 * : 42,318 * Dieppe, Seine-Maritime, Dieppe: 42,202 * Morlaix: 35,996 * Dinard: 25,006 * Étaples–Le Touquet-Paris-Plage: 23,994 * Fécamp: 22,717 * Eu, Seine-Maritime, Eu–Le Tréport: 22,019 * Trouville-sur-Mer–Deauville: 20,406


Channel Islands

* Saint Helier, Jersey: 28,310 inhabitants * Saint Peter Port,
Guernsey Guernsey (; Guernésiais Guernésiais, also known as ''Dgèrnésiais'', Guernsey French, and Guernsey Norman French, is the variety of the Norman language Norman or Norman French (', french: Normand, Guernésiais: ''Normand'', Jèrriais: ...

Guernsey
: 16,488 inhabitants * Saint Anne, Alderney, Saint Anne, Alderney: 2,200 inhabitants * Sark: 600 inhabitants * Herm: 60 inhabitants


Culture and languages

The two dominant cultures are English on the north shore of the Channel, French on the south. However, there are also a number of minority languages that are or were found on the shores and islands of the English Channel, which are listed here, with the Channel's name in the specific language following them. ;Celtic Languages : br, Mor Breizh, Sea of Brittany : kw, Mor Bretannek : ga, Muir nIocht, Merciful Sea ;Germanic languages : English : nl, het Kanaal, the Channel. (Dutch previously had a larger range, and extended into parts of modern-day France as French Flemish.) ;Romance languages : french: La Manche : Gallo language, Gallo: ''Manche'', ''Grand-Mè'', ''Mè Bertone'' : Norman language, Norman, including the Channel Island vernaculars: :* Anglo-Norman language, Anglo-Norman (extinct, but fossilised in certain English law phrases) :* Auregnais (extinct) :*
Cotentinais Cotentinais is the dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , , "discourse", from , , "through" and , , "I speak") is used in two distinct ways to refer to two different types of Linguistics, linguistic phenomena: * ...
: ''Maunche'' :*
Guernésiais Guernésiais, also known as ''Dgèrnésiais'', Guernsey French, and Guernsey Norman French, is the variety of the spoken in . It is sometimes known on the island simply as "". As one of the , it has its roots in , but has had strong influence f ...
: :*
Jèrriais (french: Jersiais, also known as the Jersey Language, Jersey French and Jersey Norman French in English) is a Romance languages, Romance language and the traditional language of the Jersey people. It is a form of the Norman language spoken in ...
: :* Sercquais : Picard language, Picard Most other languages tend towards variants of the French and English forms, but notably Welsh language, Welsh has .


Economy


Shipping

The Channel has traffic on both the UK–Europe and North Sea–Atlantic routes, and is the world's busiest seaway, with over 500 ships per day. Following an accident in January 1971 and a series of disastrous collisions with wreckage in February, the Dover TSS, the world's first radar-controlled traffic separation scheme, was set up by the International Maritime Organization. The scheme mandates that vessels travelling north must use the French side, travelling south the English side. There is a separation zone between the two lanes. In December 2002 the MV Tricolor, MV ''Tricolor'', carrying £30m of luxury cars, sank northwest of Dunkirk after collision in fog with the container ship ''Kariba''. The cargo ship ''Nicola'' ran into the wreckage the next day. There was no loss of life. The shore-based long-range traffic control system was updated in 2003 and there is a series of traffic separation systems in operation. Though the system is inherently incapable of reaching the levels of safety obtained from aviation systems such as the traffic collision avoidance system, it has reduced accidents to one or two per year. Marine GPS systems allow ships to be preprogrammed to follow navigational channels accurately and automatically, further avoiding risk of running aground, but following the fatal collision between Dutch Aquamarine and Ash in October 2001, Britain's Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) issued a safety bulletin saying it believed that in these most unusual circumstances GPS use had actually contributed to the collision. The ships were maintaining a very precise automated course, one directly behind the other, rather than making use of the full width of the traffic lanes as a human navigator would. A combination of radar difficulties in monitoring areas near cliffs, a failure of a CCTV system, incorrect operation of the anchor, the inability of the crew to follow standard procedures of using a GPS to provide early warning of the ship dragging the anchor and reluctance to admit the mistake and start the engine led to the MV ''Willy'' running aground in Cawsand Bay,
Cornwall Cornwall (; kw, Kernow ) is a Historic counties of England, historic county and Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county in South West England. It is recognised as one of the Celtic nations, and is the homeland of the Cornish people ...

Cornwall
, in January 2002. The MAIB report makes it clear that the harbour controllers were informed of impending disaster by shore observers before the crew were themselves aware. The village of Kingsand was evacuated for three days because of the risk of explosion, and the ship was stranded for 11 days.


Ferry

The ferry routes crossing the English Channel, include (have included):- * Port of Dover, Dover–
Calais Calais ( , , traditionally , ; pcd, Calés; vls, Kales) is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia ...

Calais
* Dover–Dunkirk * Newhaven, East Sussex, Newhaven–Dieppe, Seine-Maritime, Dieppe *
Plymouth Plymouth () is a port city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: ...

Plymouth
–Roscoff * Poole– * Poole–Jersey and
Guernsey Guernsey (; Guernésiais Guernésiais, also known as ''Dgèrnésiais'', Guernsey French, and Guernsey Norman French, is the variety of the Norman language Norman or Norman French (', french: Normand, Guernésiais: ''Normand'', Jèrriais: ...

Guernsey
* Poole–
Saint Malo In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness Sacred describes something that is dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity A deity or god is a supernatural being ...

Saint Malo
* Portsmouth–Cherbourg * Portsmouth–Jersey and Guernsey * Portsmouth–
Le Havre Le Havre (, ; nrf, Lé Hâvre) is an urban French commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and co ...

Le Havre
* Portsmouth–Ouistreham * Portsmouth–Saint Malo * Rosslare Europort, Rosslare–Cherbourg * Rosslare–Roscoff * Weymouth, Dorset, Weymouth–Saint Malo


Channel Tunnel

Many travellers cross beneath the Channel using the Channel Tunnel, first proposed in the early 19th century and finally opened in 1994, connecting the UK and France by rail. It is now routine to travel between Paris or Brussels and London on the Eurostar train. Freight trains also use the tunnel. Cars, coaches and lorries are carried on Eurotunnel Shuttle trains between Folkestone and
Calais Calais ( , , traditionally , ; pcd, Calés; vls, Kales) is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia ...

Calais
.


Tourism

The coastal resorts of the Channel, such as Brighton and Deauville, inaugurated an era of aristocratic tourism in the early 19th century. Short trips across the Channel for leisure purposes are often referred to as Booze cruise, Channel Hopping.


Renewable energy

The Rampion Wind Farm is an offshore wind farm located in the Channel, off the coast of West Sussex. Other offshore wind farms planned on the French side of the Channel.


History of Channel crossings

As one of the narrowest and most well-known international waterways lacking dangerous currents, the Channel has been the first objective of numerous innovative sea, air, and human powered crossing technologies. Pre-historic people sailed from the mainland to England for millennia. At the end of the last glacial period, last Ice Age, lower sea levels even permitted Doggerland, walking across.


By boat

Pierre Andriel crossed the English Channel aboard the ''Steam ship Élise, Élise'', ex the Scottish p.s. "Margery" in March 1816, one of the earliest seagoing voyages by steamboat, steam ship. The paddle steamer ''Defiance'', Captain William Wager, was the first steamer to cross the Channel to Holland, arriving there on 9 May 1816. On 10 June 1821, English-built paddle steamer ''Rob Roy'' was the first passenger ferry to cross channel. The steamer was purchased subsequently by the French postal administration and renamed ''Henri IV'' and put into regular passenger service a year later. It was able to make the journey across the Straits of Dover in around three hours. In June 1843, because of difficulties with Dover harbour, the South Eastern Railway company developed the Boulogne-sur-Mer-Folkestone route as an alternative to Calais-Dover. The first ferry crossed under the command of Captain Hayward. In 1974 a Welsh coracle piloted by Bernard Thomas of Llechryd crossed the English Channel to France in 13½ hours. The journey was undertaken to demonstrate how the Bull Boats of the Mandan Indians of North Dakota could have been copied from coracles introduced by Prince Madog in the 12th century. The Mountbatten class hovercraft (MCH) entered commercial service in August 1968, initially between Dover and Boulogne but later also Ramsgate (Pegwell Bay) to Calais. The journey time Dover to Boulogne was roughly 35 minutes, with six trips per day at peak times. The fastest crossing of the English Channel by a commercial car-carrying hovercraft was 22 minutes, recorded by the ''Princess Anne'' MCH SR-N4 Mk3 on 14 September 1995,


By air

The first aircraft to cross the Channel was a balloon (aircraft), balloon in 1785, piloted by Jean-Pierre Blanchard, Jean Pierre François Blanchard (France) and John Jeffries (US).Blanchard, Jean-Pierre-François
" ''Encyclopædia Britannica'' Online. Retrieved 17 October 2009.
Louis Blériot (France) piloted the first airplane to cross in 1909. On Friday, 26 September 2008, Swiss Yves Rossy aka ''Jetman'' became the first person to cross the English Channel with a Jet-powered wingsuit, Jet Powered Wing, He jumped from a Pilatus Porter over Calais, France, Rossy crossed the English Channel where he deployed his parachute and landed in
Dover Dover () is a town and major ferry port in Kent Kent is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edi ...

Dover
The first flying car to have crossed the English Channel is a Pégase designed by the French company Vaylon on Wednesday, 14 June 2017. It was piloted by a Franco-Italian pilot Bruno Vezzoli. This crossing was carried out as part of the first road and air trip from Paris to London in a flying car. Pegase is a 2 seats road approved dune buggy and a Paramotor, powered paraglider. The takeoff was at 8:03 a.m. from Ambleteuse in the North of France and landing was at East Studdal, near Dover. The flight was completed in 1 hour and 15 minutes for a total distance covered of including over the English Channel at an altitude of . On 4 August 2019, Frenchman Franky Zapata became the first person to cross the English Channel on a jet-powered Flyboard Air. The board was powered by a kerosene-filled backpack. Zapata made the journey in 22 minutes, having landed on a boat half-way across to refuel.


By swimming

The sport of Channel swimming traces its origins to the latter part of the 19th century when Captain Matthew Webb made the first observed and unassisted swim across the Strait of Dover, swimming from England to France on 24–25 August 1875 in 21 hours 45 minutes. In 1927, fewer than ten swimmers (including the first woman, Gertrude Ederle in 1926) had managed to successfully swim the English Channel, and many dubious claims were being made. The Channel Swimming Association (CSA) was founded to authenticate and ratify swimmers' claims to have swum the Channel and to verify crossing times. The CSA was dissolved in 1999 and was succeeded by two separate organisations: CSA Ltd (CSA) and the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation (CSPF), both observe and authenticate cross-Channel swims in the Strait of Dover. The Channel Crossing Association was also set up to cater for unorthodox crossings. The team with the most Channel swims to its credit is the The Serpentine, Serpentine Swimming Club in London, followed by the international Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team. As at 2005, 811 people had completed 1,185 verified crossings under the rules of the CSA and the CSPF. The number of swims conducted under and ratified by the Channel Swimming Association to 2005 was 982 by 665 people. This includes 24 two-way crossings and three three-way crossings. The number of ratified swims to 2004 was 948 by 675 people (456 men, 214 women) and there have also been 16 two-way crossings (9 by men and 7 by women). There have been three three-way crossings (2 by men and 1 by a woman). The Strait of Dover is the busiest stretch of water in the world. It is governed by International Law as described in ''Unorthodox Crossing of the Dover Strait Traffic Separation Scheme''. It states: "[In] exceptional cases the French Maritime Authorities may grant authority for unorthodox craft to cross French territorial waters within the Traffic Separation Scheme when these craft set off from the British coast, on condition that the request for authorisation is sent to them with the opinion of the British Maritime Authorities." The fastest verified swim of the Channel was by the Australian Trent Grimsey on 8 September 2012, in 6 hours 55 minutes, beating the previous record set in 2007 by Bulgarian swimmer Petar Stoychev. There may have been some unreported swims of the Channel, by people intent on entering Britain in circumvention of immigration controls. A failed attempt to cross the Channel by two Syrian refugees in October 2014 came to light when their bodies were discovered on the shores of the North Sea in Norway and the Netherlands.


By car

On 16 September 1965, two Amphicars crossed from Dover to Calais.Autocar article entitled Cars Ahoy published 10 December 1965


Other types

PLUTO was war-time fuel delivery project of "pipelines under the ocean" from England to France. Though plagued with technical difficulties during the Battle of Normandy, the pipelines delivered about 8% of the fuel requirements of the allied forces between D-Day and VE-Day.


See also

* France–UK border * Anguilla Channel * Booze cruise * Guadeloupe Passage * List of firsts in aviation * Phoenix breakwaters * English Channel migrant crossings (2018–present)


Explanatory notes


References


External links


Full Channel swim lists and swimmer information

Oceanus Britannicus or British Sea

Channel swimmers website

Archives of long distance swimming

Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation

Channel Swimming Association


Air Battle over the English Channel (1940) {{Authority control English Channel, English coast European seas France–United Kingdom border Landforms of Brittany Landforms of Normandy Landforms of Hauts-de-France Marginal seas of the Atlantic Ocean Bodies of water of the North Sea Bays of England Bays of Metropolitan France Southern England