Baarle Hertog panoramio

The 10 Craziest Borders in the World

Borders define countries and their territories, but some are far from ordinary. From zigzagging lines that split towns to unique enclaves and exclaves, these borders tell fascinating stories of history, politics, and geography.

Here are the ten craziest borders in the world that showcase the quirks and complexities of international boundaries.

1. Diomede Islands (Russia and USA)

Diomede Islands Bering Sea Jul 2006
Photo via Wikimedia

Separated by the International Date Line, the Diomede Islands offer a unique case where two islands are only 2.4 miles apart but have a 21-hour time difference. Little Diomede belongs to the USA, while Big Diomede is Russian territory. This time warp creates the fascinating scenario where you can see “tomorrow” from “today.”

2. Bir Tawil (Egypt and Sudan)

Bir Tawil
Photo via Wikimedia

Bir Tawil is a terra nullius, meaning “no man’s land,” between Egypt and Sudan. Due to a border dispute over the Hala’ib Triangle, neither country claims this 2,060 square kilometer area. It’s one of the few places on Earth that is not claimed by any nation.

3. Baerle-Hertog/Baerle-Nassau (Belgium and Netherlands)

The town of Baerle is divided between Belgium (Baerle-Hertog) and the Netherlands (Baerle-Nassau) in one of the most complex border arrangements in the world.

Baarle Hertog panoramio
Photo via Wikimedia

This town features a patchwork of Belgian enclaves within Dutch territory, with some enclaves containing further sub-enclaves. The border often runs through houses and shops, sometimes splitting buildings in two.

4. Mount Everest (Nepal and China)

Mount Everest

Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, straddles the border between Nepal and China (Tibet Autonomous Region). This natural border presents unique challenges and experiences for climbers who often cross from one country to the other on their journey to the summit.

5. Kaliningrad (Russia)

1200px Kaliningrad in Russia.svg
Photo via Wikimedia

Kaliningrad is a Russian exclave located between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea. Separated from mainland Russia, Kaliningrad presents geopolitical and logistical challenges, being entirely surrounded by EU and NATO member states.

6. Vatican City (Holy See and Italy)

Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world, entirely surrounded by the city of Rome, Italy. The border between Vatican City and Italy is only 2 miles long, but it marks the boundary of the spiritual and administrative center of the Roman Catholic Church.

7. Tumen River (North Korea, China, and Russia)

1200px Aerial view of Tumen River at Namyang
Photo via Tumen River

The Tumen River forms part of the borders between North Korea, China, and Russia. This tripoint is one of the most politically sensitive borders in the world. The area is heavily guarded, particularly on the North Korean side, and crossings are strictly controlled.

8. Cooch Behar (India and Bangladesh)

Cooch Behar city Top View
Photo via Wikimedia

The Cooch Behar district is famous for its complex network of enclaves and exclaves between India and Bangladesh. Before a 2015 agreement simplified the borders, there were 102 Indian enclaves inside Bangladesh and 71 Bangladeshi enclaves inside India, including second-order enclaves (enclaves within enclaves).

9. Derby Line (USA and Canada)

6056291496 154cc86dd8 o
Photo via Flickr

The town of Derby Line sits on the USA-Canada border and features buildings and streets that straddle the boundary. The Haskell Free Library and Opera House, for example, is uniquely positioned with its entrance in the USA and its reading room in Canada. The border runs through the building, marked by a black line on the floor.

10. North and South Korea (Korean Demilitarized Zone)

The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is one of the most heavily fortified borders in the world, separating North and South Korea.

Korean Demilitarized Zone DMZ from the South Korean side
Photo via Wikimedia

This 160-mile-long, 2.5-mile-wide strip of land is a buffer zone that, despite its name, is heavily militarized on both sides. The Joint Security Area (JSA) within the DMZ is where both sides occasionally meet for negotiations.

Final Thoughts

These ten borders illustrate the fascinating complexities of our world’s political geography. From historical quirks and natural formations to geopolitical challenges, each border tells a unique story. Whether you’re interested in geography, history, or international relations, these borders offer a glimpse into the intricate and often surprising ways that nations coexist and interact.

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