Bosphorus is a natural strait connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, thus being a very strategic waterway. It was a river in the valley during the Tertiary period of the continents, which was drowned by the sea at the end of this period. It's length is 32 kilometers (20 miles) in the north to south direction, width varies between 730-3300 meters (800-3600 yards), and depth is between 30-120 meters (100-395 feet). Bosphorus strait separates the European part from the Asian part of Istanbul. The surface current flows always from north to south; however, a strong countercurrent under the surface creates swirls and eddies.
Bosphorus comes from a Thracianword which means "passage of the cow", deriving from the legend of Io who was one of many lovers of Zeus. WhenHera, Zeus' wife, suspected her husband being involved in a love affair with Io, Zeus converted Io in a small cow and tried to send her away from Hera's rage. She (the cow) swam across the strait but Hera discovered it and she sent big flies after the cow to bite and disturb her all the time, ending Io in the Aegean Sea (thus namedIonian sea). Bosphorus in Turkish is known as Bogazici, meaning "inner strait". Since the ancient times it held always an important role because of its strategic location, being the only passage from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean, along with the Dardanelles strait. Especially during the Cold War, the straits were crucial for Soviet navy.
Bosphorus is a very busy waterway with many ships and oil tankers going through it, as well as local fishing and ferries go to the Asian side back and forth. Around 48.000 ships pass through this strait annually, three times denser than the Suez Canal traffic and four times denser than the Panama Canal. --greatistanbul
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