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from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • A water route from the Atlantic to the Pacific through the Arctic Archipelago of northern Canada and along the northern coast of Alaska. Sought by navigators since the 16th century, the existence of such a route was proved in the early 19th century, but the passage was not traversed until the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen led an expedition across it in 1903 to 1906. The ice-breaking tanker Manhattan was the first commercial ship to cross the passage (1969), after the discovery of oil in northern Alaska.


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