Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Mexico, Gulf of

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MEXICO, GULF OF, a basin of the Atlantic Ocean, closed in by the United States on the N., by Mexico on the W. and S., and its outlet on the E. narrowed by the jutting peninsulas of Yucatan and Florida, which approach within 500 miles of each other; length from S. W. to N. E. over 1,100 miles; area (est.) 716,200 square miles. Over a fourth of this area the ocean lies at a depth of between 1,000 and 2,000 fathoms, while 58,000 square miles is deeper still. The shores are very shallow, less than 100 fathoms deep over 400,000 square miles, etc. In the middle of the E. outlet is planted the island of Cuba, dividing the strait into two — the Strait of Florida and that of Yucatan, the former connecting the gulf with the Atlantic Ocean, the latter with the Caribbean Sea. Of the numerous bays, the largest is the Bay of Campeachy (Campeche). The coasts are mostly low and sandy or marshy, and are lined with numerous lagoons; the best of the few good harbors are those of New Orleans, Pensacola, Mobile, Tampa, Vera Cruz, Tampico, and Havana. The gulf is visited from September to March by violent N. E. gales called nortes. There are very few islands. The principal rivers it receives are the Mississippi and the Rio Grande del Norte. The Gulf Stream (q.v.) enters the Gulf of Mexico by the Strait of Yucatan, passes around it, and emerges through the Strait of Florida.