Bizarre Borders: Exploring Unusual National Boundaries Around the WorldBy Sachin P
Borders are used all over the world to partition, define, and create towns, regions, territories, and nations. Monarchies and states have used borders for millennia as political divisions to designate and define their spheres of influence.
Some people find borders annoying and unnecessary, while others believe they are an important tool. In any case, they were and still are essential to the governance of urban spaces, jurisdictions, and all geopolitical regions.
Some borders have historically been the cause of moderate to severe disputes, while others have remained unchanged and uncontested for centuries or more. In this article, we’ll be examining a number of the most interesting frontiers that the present world has to offer. So, come along with us as we travel the world and visit various countries! You won’t need a passport for this!
The Stripe – Portugal and Spain
The Stripe is the name of a frontier between the European countries of Portugal and Spain (called A Raia in Portuguese and La Raya in Spanish). It is among the earliest frontiers in the world and spans more than 1200 kilometers.
The border is about a thousand years old. The initial configuration of the border was in 1143. After that, the border was redrawn. This was after the signing of the peace treaty at Alcañices. It has remained virtually unchanged ever since.
Most of us have probably mentioned the Vatican in a conversation at least once in our lives, but even though the name has recognition, many people don’t actually know the Vatican’s geographic location. In fact, Italy surrounds Vatican City, making it an independent city-state that has its own nation.
Vatican City was a part of Rome prior to the 1929 Lateran Treaty. The signing of that treaty created the Vatican. Today, the entrance to St. Peter’s Square, a section of St. Peter’s Basilica, delineates the boundary separating Italy and the Vatican.
Peace Border – Brazil and Uruguay
The border between Brazil and Uruguay straddles the urban areas of Santana do Livramento in Brazil and Rivera in Paraguay. These two cities act as a single international city because they are so close to one another. They are only a street apart.
A large obelisk located in the International Square marks the so-called Peace Border, which separates the two countries. The border is aptly named, as it captures the rich connection between the communities and their eagerness to mix and socialize in harmony.
The Sauer River – Luxembourg and Germany
The Sauer River (Sauerfluss in German) forms a portion of the boundary between Germany and Luxembourg. It’s ironic that the river runs through the Belgian region of Luxembourg, which is distinct from the nation of Luxembourg. Coincidentally, the capital of Luxembourg is also named Luxembourg!
Odd, isn’t it? Three other rivers, including the Sûre, make up a significant amount of the remaining portion of the boundary separating Luxembourg and Germany. The Moselle and Our rivers make up the other river systems, both of which run inside Belgian territory.
The Victoria Falls – Zambia and Zimbabwe
One of the world’s largest waterfalls is Victoria Falls, which is located in Southern Africa. This magnificent cascade cuts across the Zambia-Zimbabwe border. The Victoria Falls are 1,708 meters wide and 108 meters tall! Pictures don’t do their sheer scale justice.
The waterfall is known by the native names “Boiling Water” in Tonga and “The Smoke That Thunders” in Lozi. Victoria Falls is becoming a very popular sightseeing destination thanks to the development of contemporary travel and the booming African tourism industry.
Nova Gorica Railway Station – Italy and Slovenia
The Slovene train station at Nova Gorica is located on the Slovenia-Italy border. The railway is a section of the Nova Gorica municipality, and it neighbors the beautiful town of Gorizia in Italy. Slovenes refer to Gorizia as the “old Gorica.”
The terminal’s Transalpina Square lies between Slovenia and Italy. Nova Gorica Station has had multiple title and identity changes over time due to its having witnessed multiple wars, territorial expansion, and diplomatic accords since the Austrian Empire initially finished building it in 1906.
Gibraltar – Spain and the United Kingdom
You’re probably a little perplexed—how can it be that Spain and the UK share a border? To further complicate things, Gibraltar is disputed by Spain as their territory. The next paragraph has the answer if this makes your brow furrow.
At the base of the Iberian Peninsula, upon the Rock of Gibraltar, is the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. The region was Spanish territory prior to the War of Spanish Succession in 1704. In 1713, Gibraltar was given to the UK as part of the Treaty of Utrecht.
The Friendship Bridge – Paraguay and Brazil
The Friendship Bridge connects the countries of Brazil and Paraguay. This 290-meter-long bridge, constructed in 1965, spans the shores of the Paraná River. The bridge links the Brazilian town of Foz do Iguaçu to the Paraguayan town of Ciudad del Este.
The Friendship Bridge enjoys considerable economic importance because it permits unrestricted trade between the towns of either country, and countries that trade together stay together. With a total length of over 4,880 km, the Paraná River is second in length only to the enormous Amazon River.
Christ the Redeemer of the Andes – Chile and Argentina
High up on the Andean Mountain’s Principal Cordillera, there is a 13-meter-tall statue of Christ. Christ the Redeemer of the Andes (Don’t confuse this with the statue of the same name in Brazil) is the name of the sacred sculpture in concern, which debuted in 1904.
The enormous statue is a symbol of a ceremonial act of goodwill. This was in response to a peace accord over territorial problems. It is a well-liked tourist destination and is visible from the ancient road that passes through the La Cumbre pass.
The border between Belize and Brazil
Not many nations have the same perspectives on conservation strategies, as we will see later with Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Another great illustration of this is provided by this satellite image of the waterway that separates Brazil from Bolivia in South America.
This 2008 photograph demonstrates the differences in land use between the Brazilian Acre Province and Bolivia’s Pando Department. Brazil takes a much more active stance than Bolivia when it comes to forestry and land conversion techniques (building farmland and cattle ranches).
Haskell Library – The United States and Canada
This uniquely situated victorian library and opera house sits right on top of the USA-Canada border. The official dividing line actually cuts the building in half! The structure was specifically erected between the municipalities of Stanstead, Quebec, and Derby Line, Vermont.
By the 1980s, the Haskell building, which debuted in 1904, was recognized as a cultural landmark for both countries. The Haskell library has two addresses because it is distributed in two nations. The library has an impressive collection of 20,000 books.
Zavikon Island: What’s what?
This is Zavikon Island. Depending on the context, that title may apply both to the tiny island and the bigger one. The island is actually a part of the St. Lawrence River’s Thousand Islands archipelago in the United States of America.
Now, this island is sometimes (under confusion) considered to belong to both the United States and Canada, which is a well-known story with an unknown origin. Given that Zavikon Island is a part of Canadian jurisdiction, Canada owns the entire island.
Vaalsberg – The Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium
The Vaalsberg peak and forest have a point where three nations converge. This place is quite close to the Dutch settlement of Vaals. It once claimed the honor of being the Netherlands’ tallest point, but that’s not what made it unique.
The tripoint in question could have been a quadripoint, which is intriguing. The Netherlands and Prussian monarchies shared the administration of the Neutral Moresnet condominium, which was a region during the time of its existence in 1816. In 1920, Belgium annexed it.
The contrasting border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti
The partitioned island of Hispaniola is located in the Caribbean Sea, south of the Atlantic Ocean. Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the island of Hispaniola, which is a component of the Greater Antilles. Their policies regarding land use differ greatly, as you can see in the picture below.
The disparity in the amount of vegetation was probably the first thing that attracted your eye. Regrettably, this serves as a demonstration of how different nations handle environmental laws; Haiti is much less strict in this regard. With time, we are hopeful that the situation might change.
The Bastei Bridge – Germany and the Czech Republic
The Bastei Bridge spans the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, which rise above central Europe’s Elbe River. The iconic rock formation known as Bastei has drawn countless visitors over the ages. The bridge, however, seems to be the main draw. Rightfully so!
The existing bridge dates back to 1851 and is made out of sandstone. It’s in a tight position between the rocks, but the material stands in contrast to the commonplace wood bridges of the time. The Bastei is mostly present inside German borders, but some climbing and hiking sites are located in Czech territory.
Ban Gioc waterfalls – China and Vietnam
Southeast and Eastern Asia is home to the stunning Ban Gioc waterfalls. Visitors can find these cascades in the Karst hills. It’s close to the boundaries of China and Vietnam. Daxin County and Vietnam’s Trùng Khánh district house the Karst highlands.
Ban Gioc is near or even between international boundaries. Based on the rainfall as well as the river, the falls can alternatively develop into single or dual cascades. Some plant species that are here are endemic to this place and this place only.
Border towns at the USA-Mexico border
Even though relations involving Mexico and the USA are not always positive in American headlines, they do occur. Below is Naco, Arizona, a small town in the American state of Cochise. Its sister in Mexico, Naco, Sonora, is right next to it.
Due to their close proximity to the border between the USA and Mexico, these communities appear to have developed a unique bond. People from both sides often gather to play volleyball. Now, this is the kind of unity the world needs!
The Prut River – Romania and Moldova
The Prut River is in Eastern Europe. It is a tributary of the Danube. The Prut River separates Moldova and Romania and constitutes an essential part of the boundary between the two countries. The river empties in part into the border with Ukraine.
This image provides a bird’s eye view of the extremely wavy waterway as it winds between both two nations. The Scythian term Porata or perhaps the Ancient Greek term Pyretus could be the etymology of the name of this river.
The Col Agnel Mountain Pass – France and Italy
The 515 km-long shared border between France and Italy passes through the lesser-known Col Agnel Mountain pass. This pass is the third-highest navigable pass in Europe. It has an elevation of 2744 m. The Cottian Alps are connected to the Col Agnel.
According to experts, Hannibal of Carthage traveled via the pass during the Second Punic War. That hypothesis is still up for debate. However, cyclists continue to flock to the pass in droves, as evidenced by their photos taken at the stone memorial.
The Olza River – The Czech Republic and Poland
In this amazing aerial image, you can see the Olza River, which flows to the Oder. The Olza divides the Czech regions of Karviná and Frýdek-Místek, as well as the Polish province of Cieszyn Silesia. The Olza now forms a portion of the frontier.
Many authors, public intellectuals, artists, and other imaginative creators from both nations drew inspiration from the river. The Olza serves as an almost 100 km-long natural boundary between the Czech Republic and Poland; the entire border is 796 km long.
The border between Switzerland and Liechtenstein
Let’s check whether any of you are familiar with the micro-state of Liechtenstein. Deep within the Alps, the Principality of Liechtenstein lies encircled by Switzerland and Austria. It is 160 square kilometers in size but immense when it comes to natural beauty.
Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein represents the nation, making it a constitutional monarchy. The Rhine River provides an essential source of water and acts as a boundary separating Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The scenery of Liechtenstein is quite famous around the world.
The following border is sadly no longer in use. However, it was just too fascinating to ignore. Hadrian, the Roman Emperor, constructed a defensive barrier that runs lengthwise through the British Isles. The barrier was in use around 122 AD as a line of defense during the northern Caledonian uprising.
The Latin term for Scotland is Caledonia. The structure’s overall size has progressively declined over the years as a result of natural degradation and plunder. The parts that still remain today stand as a testament to the greatness and mastery of Roman engineering.
The airport at the border between Ukraine and Slovakia
The medieval settlement of Uzhhorod is located in Zakarpattia, a region of western Ukraine that neighbors Slovakia. The Ukrainian-Slovak border is just 90 meters away from Uzhhorod International Airport, which is also located there. As far as country borders go, this is cutting it too close.
In order to solve the issue of the close proximity of the airport to Slovakia, all aircraft that depart from or arrive at Uzhhorod must use Slovak airspace temporarily. Some very particular agreements between both nations made this rare event possible.
The Narva River – Estonia and Russia
Back in 1918, Estonia fought against the encroaching Russian Empire, and after a little over a year, the Estonian War of Independence gave birth to the independent Republic of Estonia. Following this, the Estonia-Russia border was formed, a barrier that measures 294 km long. But there is one spot that is more interesting than the rest.
The Narva River, as well as the bridge that spans it, serves as the area’s physical border. Two fortresses stand guard along either of the bridge’s sides. Ivangorod is located on the Russian side, and Hermann Castle is on the Estonian side.
Andorra – France and Spain
It’s likely that only an extremely small percentage of you may have even read of or visited the small sovereign nation of Andorra. With a total size of 470 km2, Andorra is a tiny landlocked nation sandwiched between both the French and Spanish frontiers.
Somewhere along the Pyrenees Mountain range, the Principality of Andorra borders Spain and France. Catalan is the national tongue of this country of fewer than 80,000 people. The French president, as well as the Spanish Bishop of Urgell, are always co-princes of Andorra.
Karavanke / Karawanken – Slovenia and Austria
This spectacular mountain range in central Europe that straddles the Savav and Drava rivers is called the Karavanke or Karawanken. The mountain range is a section of the Southern Limestone Alps, which form a natural border between Slovenia and Austria. It’s stunning on either side.
The Wurzenpass is the older of the two primary routes through the Alpine range. The route extends from Podkoren in Slovenia into Carinthia in Austria. The international Karawanks Motorway Tunnel, which was inaugurated in 1991, is the second choice for would-be travelers.
Krzemieniec Peak – Ukraine, Slovakia, and Poland
This is a picture of the Krzemieniec Peak in Slovakia, which has a marker post made of grey stone upon it. The convergence of Ukraine, Poland, and Slovakia is marked by this tripoint. Located in central-eastern Europe, Krzemieniec is a component of the Bieszczady mountainous region.
There is not a great amount of information available regarding this marking or its creators, perhaps as a result of linguistic problems. At Krzemieniec’s summit, three national parks—one from every country—as well as the UNESCO Stuica Reserve combine into one international mega-park.
The Cairn – Finland, Norway, and Sweden
The Three-Country Cairn is really the name of this peculiar-looking stone formation. The intersection of the boundaries of the Nordic nations of Finland, Norway, and Sweden is shown by this structure. This particular cairn has specific names in each language.
Cairns have frequently been used in the region as boundary markers. In 1926, following multiple border adjustments and political maneuvering, this tripoint cairn was constructed. It is recognized as the tiniest man-made island in the entire world. Now, how cool is that?
The US-Canada border
As you shall see, the border separating Sweden and Norway is quite comparable to this border. According to reports, the water and the land portion of the border between the United States and Canada stretch approximately 8890 km. This makes it the world’s longest border.
After the conclusion of the War of Independence and after the signing of the Treaty of Paris, the border was first established in 1783. The border in its present form has existed only since 1908 as a result of the signing of the Treaty of 1908 between the US and the UK.
Usedom Island – Germany and Poland
The sand island of Usedom, which is 23 km in width and 66 km in length, is located in the Baltic Sea. It is a mixed-race island with a population of only 76,000. The island is split between the nations of Poland and Germany.
The hotels, three coastal towns, and odd buildings of the German side are well-known. There is a 200-year-old lighthouse as well as a Sea Fishery Museum on the southern Polish side. The nature parks throughout the whole island are also quite well-known.
This is far more of a spoof compared to anything else, but we’re confident that it will make people chuckle. There are no land borders between Australia with any other nation. They are both a country as well as a continent, after all.
Despite this, Australia does have a lot of marine boundaries with nations like Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and New Caledonia. Do you not consider that to be a significant number of locations where the term “new” is present?
Dreiländereck – Switzerland, Germany, and France
Among the most stunning and fascinating places anyone will come across is Basel, the third-largest town in Switzerland. The city’s public education system, buildings, and numerous art institutions, including the Kunstmuseum, are well-known. The Dreiländereck memorial is located in Basel.
It is situated in the midst of the Rhine. The intersection of Switzerland’s boundaries with that of Germany and France is known as the Dreiländereck. The memorial is guarded on Swiss soil. Truly a stunning place when you think of its sheer scenic value.
Borders of Baarle-Hertog
These images show perhaps the most perplexing city borders ever imagined, which are located between the nations of Belgium and the Netherlands. We’re referring to the Belgian region of Baarle-Hertog, a Flemish municipality that is bordered by sections of The Netherlands.
We can see from the images shown above that the border cuts across and separates different areas of the municipality. Baarle-Hertog shares these boundaries with the nearby Baarle-Nassau municipality in the Netherlands. Hundreds-year-old medieval treaties are to blame for this perplexing demarcation.
A different border between Norway and Sweden
The boundary between these two countries doesn’t follow a woodland landscape in its entirety. The boundary actually runs through this bridge, as evidenced by the flowing river beneath it. The road Svinesund includes the bridge. This guy seems to have the right idea!
We already explained that the boundary was set up in 1814 when the two nations were still a part of a single state. Indeed, from 1814 to 1905, Sweden and Norway were two parts of a whole. After that, Norway proclaimed its independence, and Haakon VII was proclaimed king.
Tripoint between Hungary, Slovakia, and Austria
Near the Austrian border and also the Slovakian capital of Bratislava, you can find this tiny table. In actuality, this table is yet another tripoint that designates where the borders of Hungary, Slovakia, and Austria converge. Now doesn’t this look pretty neat?
By choosing to sit at this location, you are essentially participating in a multinational luncheon or snack session with those seated nearby. We don’t know a lot about this table; therefore, we can’t really say who decided to create it and when, but the idea is great.
Mária Valéria Bridge – Hungary and Slovakia
This beautiful image shows the Mária Valéria Bridge, which connects the cities of Esztergom to Trovo in central Europe. Trovo is a tiny town in Slovakia on the right of Esztergom, a rural town in Hungary. Both towns possess a fantasy element about them.
The child of the Austrian-Hungarian Emperor Franz Josef as well as the Duchess Elisabeth of Bavaria, Archduchess Marie Valerie, is honored by having the bridge bear her name. The Danube River, the second-longest body of water in Europe, is crossed by a bridge that is 500 meters long.
Another border between Norway and Sweden
You are gazing at a rather long border between the monarchies of Norway and Sweden. This is in an effort to keep the whole thing quite Scandinavian. This boundary merely stretches over a portion of it across a very wooded and icy region.
The 1630 km-long Norway-Sweden border was established in 1814 as a result of the Treaty of Kiel. Prior to the COVID epidemic, crossing points, as well as entry into each country, had never been particularly hampered. You can’t risk anything when there is an epidemic!
Marker between Tanzania and Kenya
The Maasai Mara is a significant wildlife reserve in Kenya’s Narok region. The Maasai people, who first inhabited the region generations old, gave the area its title. Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park also happens to share a border with the Mara.
These two wilderness areas and reservations act as the actual boundaries of their respective nations. A person can be seen standing gleefully upon that borderline’s concrete monument in this image. That is a very nice approach to making a border.
Resund Bridge – Denmark and Sweden
This image is unquestionably stunning; however, the flags ought to have been put on different sides. There, we got that off our chests! Finally! This 8-kilometer non-border crossing, known as the “Resund Bridge,” links the countries of Sweden and Denmark.
Beginning in Malmö, Sweden, the Resund Bridge travels for 8 kilometers until joining the man-made island of Peberholm. The 4 km submerged Drogden Tunnel ultimately links Peberholm to Denmark’s little island of Amager. The bridge reminds us of a velvet worm when observed from a distance.
Where the Czech Republic, Germany, and Poland meet
The geographical region that is part of the Western Sudetes is known as the Eastern Upper Lusatia and is responsible for this lovely view. The Sudetes mountainous region is split and partitioned among the nations of Poland, Germany, plus the Czech Republic.
It is referred to as a geomorphic sub-province. Portions of the Lusatia flow through Poland, the Czech Republic, and sections of Germany before coming together at the tripoint. The banners of a number of countries and the European Union are displayed at the rendezvous point in this photograph.
Zipline between Spain and Portugal
There is a zipline inside the Iberian Peninsula in western Europe that connects Spain and Portugal. Yeah, you read that correctly, alright! The zipline crosses the Guadiana River from Sanlucar de Guadiana, Spain, to Alcoutim, Portugal. Talk about making an entrance when you visit a country!
The Guadiana River (also known as the Odiana) is a transnational river that is a component of “The Stripe,” the Portugal-Spain border. Riders on the 720-meter zipline can go at a speed of up to 70 km/hr across the river!
The triple frontier (Not the movie) – Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina
The boundary between Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina in South America is a somewhat unique tri-border. The Iguazu and Paraná waterways, which converge at this location, create this natural border. The Triple Frontier is the name of the boundary. How incredible is this!?
The Itaipu hydroelectric dam is nearby, and three distinct bordering towns, each from a distinct country, are located there. The location’s distinctive geological configuration makes it a well-liked tourist destination because it makes switching between countries simple. Talk about tailor-made boundaries!
The border between Germany and the Czech Republic
This photograph was taken on the Czech Republic’s portion of the border with Germany. The Bohemian Forest National Park, also known as the Czech Umava National Park, is nearby. The image clearly illustrates how each nation approaches conserving its forests.
The Czech half (here on the right) illustrates the results of uncontrolled bark beetle outbreaks. The main reason why the bark beetle is viewed as a nuisance (particularly by the timber industry) is because of the harm they cause to trees.
The border between Ukraine and Poland
The 535 km-long border between Poland and Ukraine divides the two European nations. The region’s volatile past has caused the boundary to endure several movements and revisions. The existing boundary can be traced back to a line drawn during the Treaty of Warsaw in 1920.
Somewhere along the 535 km-long dividing line, there seem to be a number of intriguing border markers, but nothing is as intriguing as this. Jaroslaw Koziara, a Polish artist, made these enormous fish geoglyphs as a representation of the oneness between the two nations.
Iguazu Falls – Argentina and Brazil
Among the boundaries of Brazil and Argentina in South America, the Iguazu River creates the magnificent Iguazu Fall. The cascade acts as a physical separation between the province of Misiones in Argentina as well as the state of Paraná in Brazil.
It should come as no surprise that the cascades are a well-liked tourist spot. Even the well-known Marvel film Black Panther featured the falls (in part). Two national parks, all of which are recognized as UNESCO Sites, share Iguazu as well.