The basin takes its name from the Annapolis River, which drains into its eastern end at the town of Annapolis Royal. The basin measures approximately 24 kilometres (15 mi) northeast-southwest and 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) at its widest from northwest to southeast.
It is a sheltered and mostly shallow water body, framed by the ridges of the North Mountain and South Mountain ranges of the Annapolis Valley; the basin is geologically a continuation of the valley floor. A break in the North Mountain range at the northwestern edge of the basin, called Digby Gut, provides an outlet to the Bay of Fundy.
Rivers which drain into the basin include:
Two major islands are located in the basin:
- Bear Island
- Goat Island
The basin hosts several historic seaports, including:
- Towns of Annapolis Royal and Digby
- Village of Bear River
- Communities of Granville Ferry, Port Royal, Port Wade, Victoria Beach, Clementsport, Deep Brook, and Smiths Cove
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