Top 10 Unusual Borders That Are Too Complicated To Figure Out

Borders are imaginary (sometimes real) lines or partitions between cites of countries which politically separate each other. In present day, borders have become a source of unrest and tensions so much so that we always associate them with power, jurisdiction and even hegemony. However around the world there are unusual borders that are huge tourist attractions some for their stunning beauty and some for their peculiarity.


10 Ceuta, Spain – Morocco

Spain had to erect a 3 meter high border fence around the city of Ceuta which is an autonomous Spanish city 18.5 sq km wide located on the north coast of North Africa and entirely surrounded by morocco. Separated from the Iberian Peninsula by the straits of Gibraltar this city has a rather precarious situation. Morocco claims Ceuta as well as the autonomous Spanish city of Melilla and a number of Mediterranean islands bordering it. This has led to Spain building the fence.

Ceuta, Spain - Morocco

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9 Baarle-Nassau/Baarle-Hertog, Netherlands-Belgium

The borders between Netherlands and Belgium are so very complicated that they are hand painted on street blocks and local houses too! The borders are divided by the municipalities of Baarle- Nassau (Netherland) and Baale-Hertog (Belgium). The divisions are in parcels which sometimes overlap over each other’s boundaries. Borders are so complicated that even homes, cafes and shops are dissected by it. But it stops no one from mingling and having a good time.

Baarle-Nassau/Baarle-Hertog, Netherlands-Belgium

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8 Bir Tawil, Egypt-Sudan

Bir Tawil is plot of land located between Egypt and Sudan approximately 795 square miles in size. What makes it an unusual border is its history. The original border created in 1899 was changed to a new one by the British in 1902. This created two different regions namely Bir Tawil and Halaib. As Halaib is rich in natural resources, Egypt wants to return to the pre border state of 1899 that includes Halaib but Sudan disagrees and prefers to abide by the border of 1902. Bir Tawil is thus the only unclaimed land in the world.

Bir Tawil, Egypt-Sudan

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7 Mount Everest, Nepal-China

Yes, you read it right; this tallest peak in the world is also a natural border between 2 countries namely China and Nepal making it one of the most natural unusual borders of all time. The border passes right through the mountain ranges which also makes it the highest national border in the world for any 2 countries. The China side of Everest or Kangshung face is popular among the mountaineering fraternity but even more difficult climb that the conventional Nepal route.

Mount Everest, Nepal-China

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6 District of Columbia-Maryland-Virginia, USA

The border of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia has some unusual features. Earlier, it was marked by 100 large stones placed a mile apart to mark the border. Although a few are missing, most of the stones are present. One stone exists in Silver Springs, Maryland marking the northernmost point of the district.

Easter and Western Avenue both from the Northeast and Northwest borders respectively so if you walk on the northern sidewalk you are in Maryland and the opposite side would have you walking in the district. Moreover houses and shops on one side of the street all have separate codes one for Maryland on the north side and the other for the District on the south side.

District of Columbia-Maryland-Virginia, USA

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5 Derby Line, USA and Canada

This has to be the most inconsequential borders between Canada and USA in this small town of Vermont. This line crosses houses, streets and shops too. The most bizarre part is that some houses have the border running through kitchens and dining spaces which means families cook in one country and probably dine in another. The opera house and Haskell Free Library was built on this border making the auditorium and the stage in Canada but the entrance, ticket counters and seats in the US! Also the building has two mailing addresses one for the Canadian address and other one with an American address.

Derby Line, USA and Canada

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4 Cooch Behar District, India-Bangladesh

Cooch Behar district now in liberated Bangladesh was initially the part of the larger Indian subcontinent before the partition. It had been subdivided in various land parcels. There are parts of Bangladeshi jurisdictions which are in India and vice versa. What makes this truly one of the most unusual borders is that an Indian parcel called Balapara Khagrabari is an Indian exclave surrounded by Bangladeshi territory.

Now this exclave surrounds another Bangladeshi territory that surrounds yet another Indian exclave called Dahala Khagrabari which goes to the soundness of mind of who made the maps. It is the only place in the world where an exclave surrounds an exclave that surrounds another exclave.

Cooch Behar District, India-Bangladesh

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3 Korean Demilitarized Zone

Hailed as the most dangerous strip of land in the world measuring 160 miles long and 2.5 Miles wide, the DMZ divides North and South Korea. It is also the most militarized strip of land in the world. BY virtue of being NO-MAN’s land, it has become a mini ecosystem of its own and home to several endangered species which may be increasing in population. Technically the two zones are still a war and so no official border actually exists between the two nations. The status quo is presently being maintained and although a cease fire was called in 1953, there has not been an official peace treaty.

Korean Demilitarized Zone

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2 Tumen River, Russia-North Korea

Tumen River makes a natural border between Russia and North Korea, south of the Lake Khasan. The river snakes itself down the territory of Russia and North Korea but legally it is actually a Chinese river located in Chinese territory. Isn’t that weird? Because of this strategic location many North Koreans take this dangerous route to defect from North Korea to land in Russia or China, which is why this is a highly patrolled area.

Eternal Nightmare Trains

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1 The Diomedes, America-Russia

The Diomedes are a pair of islands in Bering straits, one of which is claimed by Americans (thus the city of Diomedes) with a population of 146 and the other controlled by Russia with no inhabitants at all. The International Date Line passes through these 2 islands which are just 2.5 kms apart and act as the political border between the 2 nations. It is again one of the most unusual borders of the world because when people from the American side look across to the Russian island they not only see another country but also “looking into tomorrow”. When it is 9am on Saturday on Little Diomede, It is 6 am on Sunday on Big Diomede.

The Diomedes, America-Russia

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