On The Wild Side

On The Wild Side
The US-Mexico border in Arizona, Photo Credit: Chess Ocampo / Shutterstock

While all countries have weird quirks, some just have weird borders

Roshni Subramanian
June 10 , 2020
08 Min Read

“The border is a hopeful place as it has the potential for connection. It is at the border where two countries, two cultures and people can come together. And where there is coming together, there is hope.” For the uninitiated, Nimrod Danishman, the Israeli playwright and theatre personality quite aptly sums up how borders are an inevitable part of the global landscape. Some believe borders create differences, others say that it merely reflects them. While in some cases they’ve been the subject of all kinds of conflicts, controversies and negotiations, we’ve tried to steer clear of them. From strange, to bizarre, to simply ridiculous, we bring to you some of the most unusual borders around the world.

Netherlands - Belgium

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In the small European town of Baarle, parts of Belgium and Netherlands sit side by side. One can simply waltz between the two countries by stepping over the slabs marked with the letters B and L. While the Belgian area is called Baarle-Herog, the Dutch one is called Baarle Nassau. However, what is puzzling is that each side has enclaves that belong to the other country. There are 22 enclaves on the Dutch side of the border and eight enclaves on the Belgian side of the border. It is not uncommon to see the border cutting right through the middle of the streets and even houses.

Diomede Islands

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Did you know the USA and Russia are just a few miles apart? A pair of rocky islands in the middle of the Bering Strait, the Diomede Islands are separated by the International Date Line that marks the border between the USA and Russia. Big Diomede is part of the Russian Federation while Little Diomede is owned by the USA. Since Big Diomede is 23 hours ahead of its Russian counterpart owing to the International Date Line, it is often called Tomorrow Island and Yesterday Isle respectively. The islands were originally inhabited by the Yupik Eskimos, nealy 3,000 years ago. Today, there is no permanent population that resides here but the site serves as the base of Russian troops and houses a weather station.

Zambia and Zimbabwe

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One of the most interesting border crossings in the world, the Zambezi river creates a natural border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The only quadripoint in the world, the borders of Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, all meet at one place. To cross into Zimbabwe from Zambia, one must go over the Victoria Falls bridge. Since the falls can be viewed from both the countries, travellers are often in a fix as to which side should be picked as the base. While two-thirds of the falls is located in Zimbabwe, the remaining section can be viewed from Zambia. 

Argentina - Brazil - Paraguay

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The tri-border shared by the three countries is formed by the natural convergence of two riversthe Parana River and the Iguazu River. The region of Foz do Iguaçu is where Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina form a triple frontier and is one of the most historically important tourist attractions in the belt. Visitors can catch a glimpse of Tancredo Naves International bridge which connects the Argentinian city of Puerto Iguazú and its Brazilian counterpart Foz do Iguaçu. It showcases the cultural economic and social integration between the three countries. At the convergence of the borders the countries have each erected an obelisk, painted in their respective national colours. 

Spain - Portugal

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One of the oldest and longest borders in Europe, the boundary between Spain and Portugal is referred to as ‘the strip’. Though the border once held immense significance, the 1985 Schengen agreement removed all internal borders in Europe and made the area a passport-free zone. The border follows a linguistic separation between the two countries, apart from a few Portuguese-speaking Spanish communities. The cross border tour in Spain and Portugal has attracted many tourists as it offers an opportunity to compare and contrast the two cultures and witness how years of conflicts and negotiations have shaped the present-day society.

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