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The Northwest Passage is a sea route through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America via waterways through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The various islands of the archipelago are separated from one another and the Canadian mainland by a series of Arctic waterways collectively known as the Northwest Passages or Northwestern Passages. The Parliament of Canada renamed these waterways the "Canadian Northwest Passage" in motion M-387 passed unanimously 2 December 2009.

Sought by explorers for centuries as a possible trade route, it was first navigated by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen with a small expedition in 1903–1906. Until 2009, the Arctic pack ice prevented regular marine shipping throughout most of the year. Changes in the pack ice (Arctic shrinkage) caused by climate change have rendered the waterways more navigable. The contested sovereignty claims over the waters may complicate future shipping through the region: the Canadian government considers the Northwestern Passages part of Canadian Internal Waters, but the United States and various European countries maintain they are an international strait and transit passage, allowing free and unencumbered passage. If, as has been claimed, parts of the eastern end of the Passage are barely 15 metres (49 ft) deep, the route's viability as a Euro-Asian shipping route is reduced.


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