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The Sunda Strait

The Sunda Strait (Indonesian: Selat Sunda) is the strait between the Indonesianmarker islands of Javamarker and Sumatramarker. It connects the Java Seamarker to the Indian Oceanmarker. The name comes from the Indonesian term Pasundan, meaning "West Java."


The strait stretches in a roughly north-east/south-west orientation, with a minimum width of 24 km (15 miles) at its north-eastern end between Cape Tua on Sumatra and Cape Pujat on Java. It is very deep at its western end but as it narrows to the east it becomes much shallower, with a depth of only 20 m (65 feet) in parts of the eastern end. This makes it notoriously difficult to navigate, with sandbanks, very strong tidal flows and man-made obstructions such as oil platforms off the Java coast. It has been an important shipping route for centuries, especially during the period when the Dutch East India Company used it as the gateway to the Spice Islandsmarker of Indonesia (1602-1799). The strait's narrowness, shallowness and lack of accurate charting make it unsuitable for many modern large ships, most of which use the Strait of Malaccamarker instead.

The strait is dotted by a number of strait islands, including Sangiangmarker (Thwart-the-Way), Sebesi, Sebuku, Panaitanmarker (Prince's) and most notably, the Krakatoa Islands: Lang (Panjang or Rakata Kecil), Verlaten (Sertung), Krakatoamarker, and Anak Krakatoamarker. Many of these (including Sebesi and Panaitanmarker) are volcanic in origin, but the best known volcano is Krakatoamarker. The islands in the strait and the nearby surrounding regions of Java and Sumatra were devastated by the eruption of Krakatoamarker in 1883, primarily due to intense pumice fall and huge tsunamis caused by the collapse of the volcano. The eruption drastically altered the topography of the strait, with as much as 18-21 km³ of ignimbrite being deposited over an area of 1.1 million km² around the volcano. Some areas have never been resettled (such as the coastal region of Java now incorporated into the Ujung Kulon National Parkmarker), but much of the coastline is now very densely populated.

The Battle of Sunda Strait

On March 1, 1942, the Battle of Sunda Strait - part of the larger Battle of the Java Sea - took place when the Allied cruisers HMAS Perth and USS Houston encountered a Japanesemarker amphibious landing force near Bantammarker commanded by Rear Admiral Kenzaburo Hara, which included aircraft carriers, three cruisers and ten destroyers. The two Allied cruisers were sunk but a Japanese minesweeper and a transport vessel were sunk by friendly fire.

Planned bridge

In the 1960s proposals were made for a bridge across the Sunda Strait, and in the 1990s further suggestions arose. A new plan was announced in October 2007, which would entail utilising the islands of Ular, Sangiangmarker and Prajurit to create a four-part suspension bridge reaching above sea level with a maximum span of 3 kilometers, nearly 50% longer than the current record holder, the Akashi Kaikyo Bridgemarker. Construction may be begin as early as 2012 if funding, estimated at US$10 billion, can be secured.


  1. "Sunda Islands". Concise Dictionary of World Place-Names. John Everett-Heath. Oxford University Press 2005. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.
  2. Donald B. Freeman, The Straits of Malacca: Gateway Or Gauntlet?. McGill-Queen's Press, 2006.
  3. Bridge plan to link Java and Sumatra - World -

See also

Islands in the Strait



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