The Three-Country Cairn
A large block of cement sits in the center of the world’s northernmost tripoint. “A tri-what?” we hear you ask! A tripoint is a geographical meeting point between three different nations. The “Three-Country Cairn” is where the corners of Finland, Sweden, and Norway meet. Several rockpiles, known as cairns, were constructed throughout the centuries to mark this unique border accord, with each country donating stones to symbolize their agreements.
Sweden disputed the boundary line decided on by Norway and Russia-controlled Finland in 1897 and refused to donate a stone! This was resolved, and Sweden placed their rock on the cairn in 1901.
The ultra-cool sounding “The Stripe” is a demarcated strip of land that runs between and separates the European countries of Portugal and Spain. Known to the Portuguese as “a raia” and the Spanish as “la raya,” the dividing line is the oldest border in Europe. To take another title, “The Stripe” is the most continuous border in the European Union, with no breaks in it for almost eight hundred miles.
As both Portugal and Spain are members of the European Union, border crossings have remained largely unchecked between the two nations, operating again only in 2020 and 2021.
Back to the Spanish Future!
How about a spot of time traveling while crossing a border? While unbroken, the eight-hundred-mile-long border between Portugal and Spain has a river crossing it, and a very enterprising company has made a business out of it for thrill seekers. The Spanish company “Limite Zero” has constructed a zipline that travels almost a kilometer along the Guadiana River from Spain into Portugal.
Adrenaline junkies hold on tight as the zipline reaches speeds of eighty kilometers on their transnational journey. The voyage is a true time trip as once over the border, the time zone changes by a full hour!
Friendship Bridges can conjure up all sorts of international camaraderie. But, instead of being a meeting point where two nations gather daily to hug, Friendship Bridges are significant trade ties for different nations. There are almost thirty Friendship Bridges worldwide that bridge (all puns intended) the divide between two separate countries and are especially prevalent in Asia.
The first Friendship Bridge was constructed between Thailand and Laos and was financed by the Australian government as part of their development donations for Laos. Slight confusion initially happened as Thais drive on the left and Laotians on the right!
If two countries could be a puzzle, it would definitely be Belgium and the Netherlands. The peculiar Belgian municipality of Baarle-Hertog is oddly not even in Belgium itself, but rather it is entirely surrounded by the Netherlands as an enclave. The history of the fascinating border came from the Middle Ages when feudal disputes led to the land being divided and allotted to different blue-blooded families.
After Belgium flipped the Netherlands the bird and declared independence in 1831, the countries were left with a mess of intersecting feudal lands. This means a couple can be sleeping in the same bed but in different countries!
Polish and Ukrainian Fish
European cartographers have been kept very busy over the last few centuries as the continent went to war with itself and redefined territories consistently. Poland and Ukraine have traded blows more than once in the previous century and have often tried to redefine their borders. At present, the current border has remained in place and peacefully agreed upon since 1992.
In a gesture of peacekeeping efforts, an artist from Poland named Jaroslaw Koziara carved two gigantic fish into the grass on either side of the country’s borders as a symbol of unity.
Ban Gioc Falls
The Quay Son river runs through China and then skirts the border of Vietnam. In this brief stretch, the Quay Son’s peaceful flow is suddenly interrupted as it crashes down the Ban Gioc waterfall. The Ban Gioc waterfall straddles the border between China and Vietnam, and, in all technical terms, the countries share equal halves of it.
China has a stringent border policy. In the past, when visitors to the Vietnam half of the waterfall wanted to visit it, they would have to apply for a permit from Chinese authorities beforehand. This permit has recently been made redundant.
This border has to be the only one in the world that is nothing but a strip of masking tape. The quaint opera house/library, Haskell Library, is built on the border of America and Canada. And no, not AT the border – ON the border! The peculiar building was the brainchild of Canadian Martha Stewart Haskell, who had the building constructed in tribute to her American husband
The library symbolized nations coming together and a place to foster peace and negotiations. The Haskell library does not serve as a border post, and patrons are free to cross the “line” as much as they desire.
Liechtenstein Switzerland Border
What makes the border between Liechtenstein and Switzerland unique is not any particular natural or manmade feature but rather its very peculiar nature. Since the early twentieth century, Liechtenstein and Switzerland have had a mutual understanding of cooperation. There is no officially designated border between the two countries, and stepping over from one side to the other can generally go unnoticed
Take, for instance, the case in 1976 whereby almost one hundred Swiss troops chose the wrong path and landed up nearly a kilometer into Liechtenstein — instead of being arrested, they were welcomed with beer!
The Vatican Border
This may come as a surprise to most, but Vatican City is not a city within Italy; it is actually an independent state and is landlocked by Italy. The tiny enclave has a number of miniature titles. It is the smallest independent nation, wracking up an area of only forty-four hectares.
Compare this with the average farm that is six hundred and fifty acres large! The Vatican’s border also holds a tiny title: the world’s shortest border at just over three kilometers in circumference.
North Korea and South Korea have had a chequered history. The Asian superpowers fought a war that raged for three years in the 1950s and has left relations immensely strained. Therefore, the meeting point between North Korea and South Korea is less of a border post and is known as the “Korean demilitarized zone.”
Contained within this demilitarized zone is P’anmunjŏm, also known as the “village of truces.” This tiny village was where the first peace talks between North Korea and South Korea were and has since played host to bilateral negotiations since.
There was one spot on earth where two competing nations would play an international game of volleyball without leaving their towns even: Noca in Mexico and Noca in America. The identically named towns share a border between the American state of Arizona and the Mexican state of Sonora.
This became home to an endearing legacy of the two towns using the border fence to play volleyball. The losing team would have to pay for and host a party. The relations were so lax between the towns that a hole was cut in the fence where residents would climb through.
The Dominican Republic-Haiti Border
The most striking and tragic feature of the border between the island nations of the Dominican Republic and Haiti is the clearly demarcated line between the almost barren land on the Haitian side and the rolling green hills on the Dominican Republic side due to deforestation.
Tensions between Haiti and its neighbor have remained volatile for decades, and the Dominican Republic began building a long-discussed border wall between the two countries in 2022. Dominicans have supported the construction of a physical border in overwhelming numbers.
The Triple Frontier
A border name so cool Ben Affleck even used it for the title of his 2019 movie. Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina all come together at a tripoint where two major rivers, the Paraná and Iguazú, intersect, called “The Triple Frontier.”
The Triple Frontier is a significant tourist attraction, and the industry helps support the almost one million people that inhabit the region. Each country has put up an obelisk to signify their presence in the tripoint and painted their flags’ colors on them.
The Serengeti is an enormous national park that stretches over twelve thousand miles between the African countries of Tanzania and Kenya. Even more astonishing is that it, along with its population of three thousand lions, seven thousand elephants, and thirty thousand hippopotamuses, helps form the border between the two countries.
Image Source: SOUTHERNTraveler / Shutterstock