North Sea Arm of the Atlantic Ocean, lying between the e coast of Britain and the European mainland and connected to the English Channel by the Straits of Dover. Generally shallow, it is c.960km (600mi) long, with a maximum width of 640km (400mi). It is a major fishing ground, shipping route, and (since 1970) an important source of oil and natural gas. Area: c.580,000sq km (220,000sq mi).
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