Isthmus Landforms


Isthmus Landforms Have 3 Main Characteristics:

  1. A narrow portion of land
  2. Water on each side
  3. Connects two larger land areas

Example of an Isthmus Landform:

Isthmus of Panama
The Isthmus picture above is of one land mass to the next.

What is an Isthmus Landform?

An isthmus is a strip of narrow land with water on each side, connecting two greater land masses.

How are Isthmuses Formed?

An isthmus can be formed by volcanic activity, creating a chain of islands that block a channel and collect sediment, forming an isthmus. This is how the Isthmus of Panama was formed. A drop in sea level can form an isthmus as more land is exposed above the water.

How Large is an Isthmus?

An isthmus may be only a few miles wide, or in some cases much more. The Isthmus of Tehuantepec separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Pacific Ocean by 119 miles at its narrowest point.

Where Can an Isthmus Be Found?

An isthmus can be found where two land masses join through a narrow portion of land.

Famous Isthmuses

• Isthmus of Panama
• Isthmus of Suez, Egypt
• Isthmus of Perekop, Ukraine
• Isthmus of Cap Cod, Massachusetts, USA

The Isthmus of Panama is a narrow strip of land, 30 miles wide at its narrowest point, joining the North and South American Continents. It was formed approximately 3 million years ago, dividing the waters of the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other.

This created enormous changes in ocean currents and wind patterns, increasing temperatures in the North Atlantic and Europe. The Panama Canal was completed across the isthmus in 1914, connecting the two bodies of water for shipping and passengers.

The Isthmus of Suez in Egypt is 75 miles wide and connects the African and Asian continents, separating the Meditarranean Sea and Red Sea. The Suez Canal was completed in 1869, linking these two bodies of water and providing passage to the Indian Ocean.

The Isthmus of Perekop is only 3 miles wide at one point and links the Ukrainian mainland to the Crimean Peninsula. Like the Isthmus of Suez, it has been an historically critical strategic point in order to control passage through the isthmus and the land beyond.

The Isthmus of Cape Cod on the east coast of Massachusetts is 4 1/2 miles wide at its narrowest point. The Cape Cod Canal was built just south of here and is 7 miles long.

Isthmus definition:

A narrow portion of land with water on each side, connecting two larger land areas

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