The English Channel, sometimes just called the Channel, is the part of the North Atlantic Ocean that separates England from France. It has a surface area of around 75,000 km2, making it one of the smallest shallow seas around Europe. It is connected to the North Sea through the Strait of Dover and is the busiest shipping area in the world. The term ‘English Channel’ has been used since the 18th century, and likely comes from Dutch sea maps. The English Channel is home to several major islands, with the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands being the most notable.