The New Student's Reference Work/Mexico, Gulf of

Mexico, Gulf of, a basin of the Atlantic Ocean, shut in by the peninsulas of Yucatan and Florida, lies south of the United States and east of Mexico. It covers 16,200 square miles—more than one fifth of the area of the United States. It is 1,100 miles long, though Yucatan and Florida are within 500 miles of each other. The coasts are low and sandy, with few good harbors, the best being New Orleans, Pensacola and Havana. Cuba is in the middle of the entrance to the gulf, dividing it into two straits, that of Florida, which connects it with the Atlantic and that of Yucatan, opening into the Caribbean. The largest river flowing into it is the Mississippi. The gulf-stream enters the gulf by the Yucatan Channel, flows round it and passes out by the Florida Strait. The gulf is visited by severe winds called northers. See Gulf-Stream.