Prelims 2020: Places in News part-1

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Places in News


Place Why in News?
Important Facts

South China Sea



In the middle of the global coronavirus pandemic, China has been busy increasing its presence in the South China Sea.

  • The South China Sea is an arm of the western Pacific Ocean in Southeast Asia.
  • It is south of China, east & south of Vietnam, west of the Philippines and north of the island of Borneo.
  • Bordering states & territories (clockwise from north): 
    the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan), the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam.
  • It is connected by Taiwan Strait with the East China Sea and by Luzon Strait with the Philippine Sea.
  • This sea holds tremendous strategic importance for its location as it is the connecting link between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean (Strait of Malacca).
  • According to the United Nations Conference on Trade And Development (UNCTAD), one-third of the global shipping passes through it, carrying trillions of trade which makes it a significant geopolitical water body.
  • The Paracel Islands and Hoang Sa Archipelago, are a disputed archipelago in the South China Sea, between the People's Republic of China (PRC), the Republic of China (ROC, a.k.a. Taiwan), and Vietnam.
  • The Spratly Islands are also disputed archipelago in the South China Sea between China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Brunei.

Gulf of Oman


On 13 June 2019,  two tankers were damaged by explosions in the Gulf of Oman, a strategic waterway crucial to global energy supplies.

  • The Gulf of Oman connects the Arabian Sea to the Persian Gulf.
  • One of the main trade routes for the oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Bahrain, Qatar etc.
  • Neighbouring countries: Oman, UAE, Pakistan and Iran.
  • Strait of Hormuz: Connects Gulf of Oman to the Persian Gulf.
  • It is a strategic route through which a third of the world's liquefied natural gas and 20% of global oil consumption passes from Middle East producers.

Major ports:

  • Port of Fujairah, Fujairah, United Arab Emirates
  • Khor Fakkan Container Terminal, Khor Fakkan, United Arab Emirates
  • Port of Chabahar, Chabahar, Iran
  • Port Sultan Qaboos, Muttrah, Oman

Gulf of Guinea 

The Gulf of Guinea has overtaken Southeast Asia as the worst area for reported piracy and kidnappings at sea last year (2019), with the number of seafarers seized rising by more than 50%, according to a study.


  • The Gulf of Guinea is the north-easternmost part of the tropical Atlantic Ocean.
  • The intersection of the Equator and Prime Meridian (zero degrees latitude and longitude) is in this gulf.
  • Among the many rivers that drain into the Gulf of Guinea are the Niger and the Volta.
  • The islands that can be found in the Gulf of Guinea include Bobowasi Island, Corsico Island,
  • Bioko Island, Elobey Grande Island, Elobey Chico Island, and Principle Island.
  • The Gulf of Guinea has natural resources such as offshore oil deposits and deposits of hard minerals (Gypsum, Topaz, Quartz, etc.).
  • Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea affects several countries in West Africa.
  • The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has recently described the Gulf of Guinea as the most dangerous area in the world for shipping.


Yellow Sea

On the same day news came out that the US asked China to close its Consulate General in Houston, the US military sent reconnaissance aircraft to the South China Sea and the Yellow Sea, a move likely aimed at gathering intelligence on a possible submarine and aircraft carrier movements by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA),

  • The Yellow Sea is a marginal sea of the Western Pacific Ocean.
  • It is located between mainland China and the Korean Peninsula and can be considered the northwestern part of the East China Sea.
  • It is one of four seas named after common colour terms (the others being the Black Sea, the Red Sea, and the White Sea).
  • Its name is descriptive of the phenomenon whereby fine sand grains from the Gobi Desert sand storms, that descend annually from the north, turn the surface of its waters a golden yellow.
  • There are 3 countries that border the Yellow Sea– China, North Korea, and South Korea. 


Taiwan strait and Luzon Strait

Disputes over the ownership of several islands in the South China Sea between China and its neighbours.

  • The Luzon Strait is the strait between Taiwan and Luzon island of the Philippines.
  • The strait thereby connects the Philippine Sea to the South China Sea in the western Pacific Ocean.
  • The Taiwan Strait, also known as the Formosa Strait separates Taiwan and mainland China.
  • The strait is currently part of the South China Sea and connects to the East China Sea to the north. 

Drake Passage

In a first, six rowers from four countries crossed the Drake Passage (The Impossible Row project), in just under two weeks after pushing off from the southern tip of South America.

  • The Passage is located between Cape Horn at the tip of South America and the Antarctic Peninsula.
  • The passage is named after Sir Francis Drake, who was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe.
  • The Drake Passage is considered one of the roughest waterways in the world.
  • Because here, layers of cold seawater from the south and warm seawater from the north collide to form powerful eddies, which when combined with strong winds and storms can be treacherous for those attempting to navigate it.
  • It is also the narrowest stretch in the Southern Ocean
  • It spans approximately 800 km between the southern tip of South America and the northern tip of the West Antarctic Peninsula.
  • NASA describes the waters of the passage as “notoriously turbulent, unpredictable, and frequented by icebergs and sea ice.

Yongle Blue Hole (YBH)

Carbon more than 8,000 years old lies deep inside a yawning sinkhole in the South China Sea.

  • It is the deepest known marine cavern.
  • Located in the Xisha Islands (or Paracel Islands) of the South China Sea (SCS).
  • It measures roughly 300 meters from top to bottom.
  • Its waters are mostly isolated from the surrounding ocean and receive little fresh water from rainfall, making it a rare spot to study the chemistry of oxygen-deprived marine ecosystems.

Danube-Oder-Elbe Canal 

Environmental organizations from across central and eastern Europe are criticizing this canal project.

  • For centuries Europe’s rulers have dreamed of construction of a huge Y-shaped canal connecting the Elbe, Oder and Danube rivers, most of which would be on Czech territory.
  • The project intends to connect the Danube, Oder and Elbe rivers and thus provide another navigable link from the Black Sea to the North and Baltic Seas.
  • The Main-Danube Canal already provided a navigable connection between the Black Sea and the North Sea.
  • Several hundred kilometres of artificial waterways would have to be built for the canal.

Additional Information:

  • The Black Sea: Bordered by Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, and Russia.
  • North Sea: Bordering by Norway, Denmark, UK (Scotland and England), Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and France, Frisian Islands.
  • Baltic Sea: Bordered by Sweden (a part of the Scandinavian Peninsula), Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, and Denmark and its numerous islands.

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