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A coastal image featured on a United States postal stamp.
A coastal image featured on a United States postal stamp.

A coast is that part of an island or continent that borders an ocean, gulf, sea, or large lake. In geology and geography, the coast extends inland from the shoreline. The terms coast and coastal refer to the condition of being located on or near a coast. For example, Los Angeles is a coastal city; California, Oregon, and Washington are on the West Coast.

Most of the world's population lives near to a coast to take adavantage of sea reources such as fish, but more importantly to participate in seaborn trade with other nations. Major cities grow up around good harbours and ports are built to take advantage of this. Countries that are landlocked and have no coast often at a disadvantage with overseas trade being more difficult.

Coasts are also an important draw for tourists, especially those with beaches and warm water. In island nations like those of the South Pacific and Caribbean, tourism by those who come to enjoy the coast is central to the economy. Coasts are popular destinations because of recreational activities such as swimming, fishing, surfing, boating, and sun bathing. Many also enjoy the salt air by the sea coast, which some consider to have health benefits.

The coast, especially for isolated nations such as the United Kingdom or the United States is often a crucial defensive frontier, both for warding off armies but also smugglers and illegal migrants. Coastal defenses have thus long been erected in many nations. Most coastal countries also have some form of coast guard.

The term coast can be used for large lakes, but lake shore is more common. For a river the equivalent of a coast is a river bank .


Types of coast

See also

Coastal landforms & features


Related topics & articles

Famous coasts

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45