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The Inside Passage of the Alaska Panhandle and coastal British Columbia is a coastal route for oceangoing vessels along a series of passages between the mainland and the coastal islands. Ships using the route can avoid some of the bad weather in the open ocean, and visit the many isolated communities along the route. It is heavily travelled by cruise ships, freighters, fishing craft and ships of the Alaska Marine Highway and BC Ferries systems. The name Inside Passage is also used to refer to the ocean and islands around the passage.
The Alaskan portion of the Inside Passage, in the north, extends 500 miles from north to south and 100 miles from east to west. The area encompasses 1,000 islands, 15,000 miles of shoreline and thousands of coves and bays. British Columbia's southern portion of the route is of similar extent, with up to 25,000 miles of coastline, and includes the narrow, protected Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and the B.C. mainland, the Johnstone and Queen Charlotte Straits between Vancouver Island and the mainland, as well as the wider and more exposed Hecate Strait near the Queen Charlotte Islands.
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