Bab el Mandeb

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The narrow waterway separating Asia and Africa.

Because of its place on the sea-lanes between Europe and the Indian Ocean and points east, the Bab al-Mandab straits have been assigned considerable strategic importance over the centuries, particularly with the building of the Suez Canal, the flowering of the British Empire, and the more recent dependence of Europe on oil from the Persian/Arabian Gulf. The two Yemens meet on the Asian side of the strait, and Ethiopia and Djibouti meet on the African side. This geography helps explain Yemeni interest in the politics of the Horn of Africa.

see also persian (arabian) gulf; suez canal.

Robert D. Burrowes

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Bab el Mandeb (băb ĕl măn´dĕb) [Arab.,= gate of tears], strait, 17 mi (27 km) wide, linking the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and separating the Arabian peninsula from E Africa. It is an important passage on the Indian OceanMediterranean Sea shipping route via the Suez Canal. Control of the strategically located strait was long contested by Britain and France. The island of Perim is in the strait.