Encyclopedic Entry

A channel is a waterway between two landmasses.

Photograph by James P. Blair

Channel Swim
Fifteen-year-old Lynne Cox became the youngest person to swim the English Channel in 1972, and she broke both the men's and women's records a year later with a time of 9 hours, 36 minutes.

A channel is a wide strait or waterway between two landmasses that lie close to each other. A channel can also be the deepest part of a waterway, or a narrow body of water that connects two larger bodies of water.

Some channels were created by glaciers that carved out deep canyons between two landmasses. Channels created by people are usually dug from the bottoms of shallow waterways so large ships can pass through them. These are called navigation channels.

The English Channel runs between the countries of England and France. The English Channel is 560 kilometers (348 miles) long and 34 kilometers (21 miles) wide at its narrowest point, the Strait of Dover. The English Channel has long served as a natural barrier between England and the rest of Europe.

The Ambrose Channel, which leads into New York Harbor, has been artificially deepened so large ships full of cargo can make it into the harbor from the Atlantic Ocean.


Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry



deep, narrow valley with steep sides.

Encyclopedic Entry: canyon



goods carried by a ship, plane, or other vehicle.



waterway between two relatively close land masses.

Encyclopedic Entry: channel

English Channel


strip of the Atlantic Ocean between southeast England and northwest France.



mass of ice that moves slowly over land.

Encyclopedic Entry: glacier



part of a body of water deep enough for ships to dock.

Encyclopedic Entry: harbor



large area of land.



narrow passage of water that connects two larger bodies of water.

Encyclopedic Entry: strait



body of water that serves as a route for transportation.


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Mary Crooks, National Geographic Society


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Jeannie Evers

Educator Reviewer

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Caryl-Sue, National Geographic Society


Dunn, Margery G. (Editor). (1989, 1993). "Exploring Your World: The Adventure of Geography." Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society.

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