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Gulf.For names of bodies of water beginning thus, see second part; e.g., for Gulf of Mexico, see Mexico, Gulf ofMexico, Gulf of,
arm of the Atlantic Ocean, c.700,000 sq mi (1,813,000 sq km), SE North America. The Gulf stretches more than 1,100 mi (1,770 km) from west to east and c.800 mi (1,290 km) from north to south.
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bay, a part of an ocean, sea, or lake that extends inland but has a free exchange of water with the main body of water.
The hydrologic and hydrochemical conditions of a gulf (bay) are identical to the conditions of the body of water of which it is a part. In isolated cases local peculiarities of climate and continental flow can give to the hydrologic characteristics of the surface layer of a gulf (bay) some distinguishing features. Among the largest gulfs (bays) of the world’s oceans are the Gulf of Alaska, the Bay of Bengal, the Bay of Biscay, the Great Australian Bight, and the Gulf of Guinea. In a number of cases the name “gulf” (bay) has been attached to bodies of water that, by their hydrologic conditions, are seas (the Gulf of Mexico, Hudson Bay, the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of California).
International law of gulfs (bays). The waters of gulfs (bays), like the waters of ports and sounds, are internal waters of the littoral state, that is, they are subject to its exclusive jurisdiction if the width of the entrance to the gulf (bay) does not exceed the size specified by international law. At the Geneva Conference on Maritime Law in 1958 a resolution was accepted by virtue of which a gulf (bay) with an entrance no greater than 24 nautical miles in width should belong to internal waters, provided its shores belong to one state. If the shores belong to two or more states, the control of the waters is decided by the states by mutual agreement, with consideration for the rightful interests of other states. International practice also recognizes as internal waters several so-called historical gulfs (bays), independent of the width of the entrance into them, by virtue of particular historical, economic, or other conditions: for example, Peter the Great Bay in the USSR, Hudson Bay in Canada, and the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel in France.