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21 Weird Borders Across The World Where Things Get A Bit Strange

Countries come in different shapes and sizes. Some countries are lucky enough to cover a huge area, while others are really tiny. Some have a clearly defined shape while others don’t. That’s why when you look at the map you will see different kinds of weird borders. Some will be clearly defined, while others will have a really unnatural look. And this article is about them: the strangest borders in the world. This is the first part featuring the most peculiarly-shaped weird borders in the world.

Italy & Slovenia


We’re starting this list of weird borders across the world with Trieste, an Italian panhandle stretching 30 miles into Slovenia. After World War I, Italy got a piece of land of the Austro-Hungarian Empire which lost the war. However, in World War II, after losing the war, Italy lost most of the land it conquered in the previous war. Except for Trieste. In 1947, Trieste became an independent city-state but that only lasted 7 years. In 1954, the new, tiny country was divided between Italy and Yugoslavia. This gave the border the strange look it has today.

UK’s Land Border With The EU

strangest international borders

Yes, it sounds awkward but the UK actually has a land border with the EU and this is one of the most interesting facts about Spain you probably didn’t know. Gibraltar is technically a part of the United Kingdom and it has been since 1704, in the war following the Spanish Succession. Spain has been claiming the peninsula as a part of its territory ever since and things might get even more awkward with the UK leaving the European Union.

Spain & Morocco

Melilla weird borders

Spain’s borders look pretty normal at first sight but there’s a lot of lands away from the mainland that make up for one of the most weird borders in the world. Many people don’t know this but the Canary Islands aren’t the only Spanish territory near the North African coast. Spain also claims a tiny stretch of land completely surrounded by Morocco.

After the Reconquista in 1492, when Spain reconquered the Iberian Peninsula from the Moors, Spain occupied parts of Northern Africa too. Known as Spanish Morocco, most of the territory has been given back to Morocco, except for a few dots on the map that keep causing disputes even today.

Most of these are remote islands but three of these are actually cities within mainland Morocco. Like these two rocks in the picture which are a part of Spain while everything else is part of Morocco. This 80m wide passage that separates Spain and Morocco is the shortest border in the world. Another exclave is Melilla separated by a 6m border fence separating it from Morocco. The town is home to 78,000 citizens and together with Ceuta are the only two towns that belong to the EU. The towns are only a short boat ride away from the southern tip of Spain but technically, they are located in Africa.


cyprus border

We can really talk about the weird borders in the world without mentioning Cyprus. At first sight, Cyprus seems like a peaceful, small island but that’s not really the case. There are four entities present on this island. The first is the Republic of Cyprus we all know of, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in the north, two UK military zones, and a UN buffer zone between the north and the south. How did this mess happen? Well, Cyprus was a part of the British Empire till 1960 when it gained its independence.

However the British were allowed to hold on to a couple of small chunks of land on the island. Then Greece tried to annex Cyprus but Turkey invaded the island to stop that from happening, capturing almost half of the territory and creating the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Finally, the UN built a wall to separate the two sides and to serve as a buffer zone.

Moreover, Turkey has an exclave in the western tip of the Republic of Cyprus. The Republic of Cyprus has a bunch of exclaves in the UK territory, and one small piece of land is completely cut off from the rest of the country by the military areas. So these people have to go through kilometers of British military zones to get through the rest of the country.

Enjoying this post? Then you may also like this list of hidden gems in Greece.

Pheasant, The Island With Two Sovereignties

pheasant island

Located in the Bidasoa River, on the border between Spain and France, Pheasant Island is probably the only island that changes its ownership twice a year. The island is uninhabited and no one is allowed to visit. Pheasant is a part of Spain for 6 months and a part of France for the next 6 months. There’s even a ceremony that transfers the sovereignty of the island between the two countries. This began in 1659 when the Treaty of the Pyrenees was signed on this very island. The island was considered neutral ground at the time since it was in the middle of the Bidasoa that served as a natural border.

Weird Borders Matrix- The Netherlands & Belgium

belgium netherlands border

Finally, we round up this list of the strangest borders in the world with the Netherlands/Belgium border. This is one of the most complex weird borders in the world. However, both of the countries are a part of the EU so the border is technically nonexistent. It’s about the Dutch municipality of Baarle Nassau and the Belgian municipality of Baarle Hertog. In total, there are 22 Belgian enclaves in the Netherlands and 8 Dutch enclaves in Belgium. 7 of which are counter-enclaves.

The craziest part is that the border passes through just about anything. Starting from the streets, cafes, next-door neighbors, and shops. You can even legally park your vehicle in two different countries at the same time. But that’s not all: the border even passes between houses. Hence, some people wake up in Belgium and have their breakfast in the Netherlands, and vice versa.

There are several houses in the area that are making lawmakers scratch their heads. The solution that the two countries made was to include houses in the territory of a country according to their front door. Even more interestingly, until recently there was one house in the region that had its door completely divided by the two weird borders that gave the owner no other choice but to relocate his front door.

USA & Russia

diomedes border

Did you know that you can actually swim your way from the USA all the way to Russia? There are two small islands in the Bering Strait between the USA and Russia known as the Diomedes. The Small Diomede belongs to the USA and has 146 inhabitants and the Big Diomede belongs to Russia and is uninhabited. The distance between the two is only 2.5 miles (less than 4 km) which makes swimming from Russia to the US completely possible.

The surprising factor, however, is that the time difference between these two small islands is 23 hours! The small distance between the two islands allows the citizens of the Small Diomede to literally “take a look in the future”, as the Big Diomede is literally one day ahead on the calendar.Enjoying this post? Then you may also like the oldest cities in North America and oldest cities in South America.

Haiti & The Dominican Republic

 Haiti And The Dominican Republic

Hispanola Island was the first place where Columbus’s crew set foot on. Decades later, the island has been divided by the Spanish and the French and today is divided into two different countries: Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The border is visible from the air with Dominican lush forest obviously separated from the rest of the island. But this border isn’t on this list just because of the fact that its border looks unique.It’s also here because it’s home to two small, completely different nations, with the wealthy, beautiful Dominican Republic with many tourist facilities and things to do on one side, and the poor, undeveloped Haiti on the other side.

But how did this happen? How could two republics that share an island be so different? The answer is once again, the colonial powers that colonized the island.The French wanted to turn their colony, Saint Domingue, into a purely economic producer. They brought in a lot of slaves and completely extracted most of the resources that their side of the island had.

The local people, of course, didn’t benefit these actions in any way, and riots followed. The Spanish people, on the other hand, massacred the indigenous people on their side of the island, took control, and ruled peacefully, mixing with the local people. They were more interested in searching for gold in other countries like Peru and Mexico.This eventually led to Haiti winning the Haitian revolution and becoming the first “former slave republic” and as such didn’t have any recognition whatsoever.

On top of that, the French brought a bigger army asking for a debt the newly formed island nation supposedly owed them for ‘stealing their resources’. This huge debt tampered Haiti’s growth even further, and a couple of centuries later, the two countries are two contrasting worlds, just like their border.

Chile & Argentina

strangest borders in america

If you look at the map, you will see that these two countries are divided by the Andes which serve as a natural border. Both countries gained independence from the Spanish Empire in the early 19th century. However, they didn’t manage to agree on the borders until 1881. What seemed like the easiest treaty ever turned out to be a real messy dispute. The treaty stated that the border will pass over the highest summits of the Andes which divide the waters to the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean accordingly.However, they didn’t realize that the mountain tops and the flow of the waters aren’t really in correlation with each other.

Hence, the water west of the highest summits could flow east through the mountains to the Pacific Ocean and vice-versa. So, Argentina ended up claiming that the border is passing through the peaks of the Andes. Chile, of course, was claiming that the border is passing according to the division of waters. Both claimed this because it gave them more land. A neutral party was summoned to solve the dispute: the British King Edward the 7th. This gave the borders the peculiar appearance it has today.

Canada & The USA

point Roberts border

The biggest land border between the two countries in the world looks really boring when you look at the map. But that’s not the case at all. The border was created in the 18th century by carving a 6 meters wide space along the border. For 8,800 kilometers! The border that passes entirely through lush forests looks like a straight line on the map. But it’s not. If it was, it would surely be the longest stretch of deforested land in the world by far.

But both countries wanted the border to be a straight line. So, what happened? Well, imagine we’re in the 18th century and the 49th parallel was just chosen for the national border.But, someone needs to actually mark this area between Minnesota and Manitoba. And how do you mark a 9,000 kilometers long stretch of land in the 18th century?

With a compass and a bowl of strain. And don’t mind the bears and wolves that might come in the way. The man who did this sure did their best in the pre-GPS era but the border still consists of 900 zic-zac lines. Not one giant straight line like many people think.However, this border is another proof that you cannot just draw a straight line on the map without causing a huge mess. Just ask the people from Point Roberts.

Located just south of Vancouver, this town only remained a part of the US because the negotiators couldn’t see it on the map. Today, Point Roberts is completely isolated from the rest of the US. The interesting part is that it only has an elementary school. So high school students that want to study in the US have to cross the borders four times a day to get to their high school.Enjoying this post? Then you may also like our guide to historic forts of Minnesota.

DR Congo & Zambia

congo pedicle map

Known as the Congo Pedicle, this stretch of land cuts over 200 kilometers into Zambia. The weirdest thing about this border is the way it was created. The Congo was colonized by Belgium and Zambia was a British Colony and the two sides couldn’t agree on the colonial border. The Belgians wanted access to the rich swamp area that had a lot of wildlife which they could hunt for their trophies.

So they decided to ask for help from the Italians. Knowing practically nothing about these two countries, the Italian king basically drew a line on the map and all parties agreed it looks good. That’s the ridiculous reason why this border has this strange look today.

The Caprivi Strip In Namibia  

namibia botswana

Colonization brought several new weird borders in Africa and the Caprivi Strip that stretches 450 kilometers in Botswana is certainly one of them. The Caprivi Strip has been named after the German Chancellor Leo Fon Caprivi. He wanted the border of the then German Colony to cross the Zambezi River so Germans could use it to navigate to the Eastern coast of Africa.

In a treaty with Great Britain, the Germans gave up on any rights to claim Zanzibar in exchange for this tiny stretch of land today known as the Caprivi Strip. Even more, if you look at Africa’s ethnic map you will see that this strip covers numerous different ethnic groups that speak different languages. Of course, they weren’t taken into any consideration when this border was created. Just one thing. Did I mention that the Zambezi River has some of the largest waterfalls and is practically not navigable? Hence, this whole move was practically useless.

Sudan & South Sudan

strangest borders in africa

Back in the days when Sudan was a condominium between the British Empire and Egypt, it was administered as two parts: the South and the North. The North had most of the administrative control with the South having almost no representation. This same situation continued even after Sudan gained its independence. This led to the Civil War which ended in 2005.

With the treaty, South Sudan was given a referendum in 2011, after which they gained its independence with an almost unanimous decision. Except for the region of Abyei. Abeyi was also supposed to have a referendum in 2011 but because of several disputes that never happened. Hence, today, Abyei is still in a state of limbo and the special administrative status that was given as a temporary solution.

Egypt & Sudan: The World’s Only Unclaimed Piece Of Land

egypt sudan border

This list of weird borders couldn’t be complete without the border between Egypt. The two clearly share a border but apparently, no one really knows where is it. Both countries have different claims on the map and they both claim rights to the sovereignty of the Hala’ib triangle. However, there’s also Bir Tawil, which is a piece of land unclaimed by both countries. The catch is none of them want to claim Bir Tawil because if they do, they would have to give up on the much more desired Hala’ib triangle.

The dispute goes back to 1899 before Sudan was even a country. It was actually a dispute between Egypt and the British Empire. The border first created in 1899 is the border that Egyptians claim today. However, just like they did with a lot of other countries, the British drew a new line on the map. They called it the administrative boundary which is the border that Sudan claims today.

Are you interested in learning more about African history? Then you may also want to check out our list of the most fascinating ancient cities in Africa.

There were a few other weird borders in Africa that could easily be a part of this list the most unusual borders in Africa like Gambia and Senegal or Cameroon and Chad. However, I decided not to include them in this list to avoid making this article too long. Stay tuned, the final part of the segment ‘The most unusual borders in Asia is coming next.

The Seven Sisters Of India

northeast india weird borders

If you look at the borders of India, you will notice a seemingly isolated territory in the Northeast. This part is connected with the rest of India by a very tiny stretch of land known as the Siliguri Corridor. This border is a consequence of colonialism. After the fall of the British Raj, this area was divided into a Hindu Part and a Muslim Part.

The Hindu part is today’s India and the Muslim part consists of today’s Pakistan and Bangladesh (Former East Pakistan). So at the time, the two Pakistans were separated by a large portion of Indian territory, while the Northeast of India remained connected to the rest of the country only by the Siliguri Corridor. To add to this peculiar border, the Indian state of Sikkim rises north of the corridor separating Nepal and Bhutan.

The Wakhan Corridor In Afghanistan

strnagest borders in asia

If you look at Afghanistan’s map, you will notice this small stretch of land that resembles a human appendix. That’s the Wakhan Corridor and it’s been a part of Afghanistan since the days of the Great Game. The Wakhan Corridor separates Tajikistan from Pakistan.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense today but in the 19th century, Tajikistan was part of the Russian Empire, and Pakistan was part of the British Empire. With both empires competing for land, Afghanistan served as a buffer zone. But the territory of Afghanistan didn’t exactly match as the Wakhan Corridor wasn’t part of the country at the time. That’s why both empires decided to give up on small pieces of land and give it to Afghanistan to completely separate the two territories.

Turkey & Syria 

tomb of suleyman shah syria

This list of weird borders across the world wouldn’t be complete without the border between Turkey and Syria. When you look at the border between Turkey and Syria, everything seems alright. Except for the small chunk of Turkish territory in the middle of nowhere in Syria, that’s not even visible on the map. That is, or was, the tomb of Suleyman Shah, a grandfather of Osman I, the founder of the Ottoman Empire. He was buried in Syria and for geopolitical reasons, his tomb remained a part of Turkey.

Things got pretty interesting lately with the conflict in Syria raging around the tomb. This caused the Turkish government to launch a campaign in Syria to retrieve the remnants of the long dead Suleyman. However, the Turkish government insisted that this is only temporary and the burial site remains a Turkish sovereign territory.

UAE & Oman 

uae oman enclaves

This one is a really complicated one and will certainly tickle your brain. The village of Nahwa is a part of the UAE surrounded by the Omani territory of Madha, which is also surrounded by UAE territory. This makes Nahwa one of only three counter-exclaves in the world. Imagine, these people have to cross two borders just to enter their own country. Oman also has another exclave in the Musandam peninsula.

On a side note, if you’re planning to move to UAE or are thinking about it, check out our guide to living in Dubai for expats.

So imagine if you’re traveling by road from Mainland Oman to Musandam. The shortest road leads through these exclaves. You would have to enter UAE, then Oman again, then the UAE again through Nahwa, then Oman again (Madha), and the UAE again, and to enter one last time in Oman to reach the Musandam Peninsula. Talking about confusing…

Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, & Kyrgyzstan

Central Asia enclaves

If you thought Cyprus was complicated, wait until you hear about this one. I’ll try to put it as simple as I can. Uzbekistan has four enclaves within Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan both have one exclave each in Uzbekistan, while Tajikistan has two enclaves inside Kyrgyzstan. What might be a reason for such weird borders? The answer is Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union. During the Soviet era, borders were freely adjusted by Moscow as part of the always-efficient divide and rule strategy. This resulted with some of the craziest enclaves and exclaves in Asia.

Barak, the Kyrgyzstan exclave in Uzbekistan has only 1,000 residents, no post office or any government buildings, and no banks. The only jobs available are working in the local stores. You’re probably wondering why would these people want to live like this, practically isolated from both, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. They actually did sign a petition asking the Kyrgyzstan government to take them back to their country but the request was rejected because the Government didn’t want to lose this valuable territory to Uzbekistan.

Even more confusing is the territory of Sokh, the largest Uzbek enclave in Kyrgyzstan. This territory is completely surrounded by Kyrgyzstan. However, 99% of the population of Sokh is ethnic Tajiks. Even more, the new visa regime in Central Asia isn’t making things any easier for the residents of Sokh.

Jammu And Kashmir

kashmir borders

The region in South Asia known as Jammu and Kashmir is a reason for disputes between China, India, and Pakistan. During the Partition of India, local governments had a choice of which country to join. All of the Hindu states joined India, while all of the Muslim states joined Pakistan. There were only two local governments that didn’t join any country: Hyderabad and Jammu and Kashmir. India quickly managed to take over Hyderabad since they didn’t want a large country within its borders.

The other case, however was a bit more complicated. Around three-quarters of the population of Jammu and Kashmir are Muslim. Most of the population wanted to join Pakistan but the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir wanted to remain independent. 

Pakistan obviously didn’t like that so they invaded and on the Maharaja request, India intervened. BUT India refused to help unless Jammu and Kashmir became a part of India. The Maharaja reluctantly accepted this and the war began. India managed to take most of the land but there were several conflicts that followed. That’s why the UN created a line of control that no army was allowed to pass.

However, the line of control didn’t stretch all the way to China, leaving a small unclaimed piece of land. To make things even more complicated, the line of control isn’t the same as the actual border. This also caused a dispute between India and China back in the 70s which left China in control of a small portion of Kashmir.

Honorable Mention: India & Bangladesh

india Bangladesh enclaves

I can’t complete this article about the weird borders across the world without giving an honorable mention to the India-Bangladesh border. This was probably the most complex border ever. However, the two governments solved the issue with a swap of territories between the two countries back in 2016. At one point in time, the border between India and Bangladesh accounted for 80% of the world’s total enclaves! 106 Indian enclaves were located in Bangladesh while 92 enclaves of Bangladesh were located in India.

24 of these enclaves were counter-enclaves and this border was also home to the world’s only 3rd order enclave. This tiny piece of land was a territory of India, inside an enclave of Bangladesh, which was inside an enclave of India at the territory of Bangladesh!

This was a really difficult issue for both countries because unlike their EU counterparts, India and Bangladesh don’t have open borders so the people that lived in the enclaves were basically trapped. They didn’t even have basic amenities, like water, electricity, and gas and most of the enclaves didn’t have any schools or hospitals around. It wasn’t until 2016 that both countries finally exchanged their enclave territories.

These were, in my opinion, the strangest borders in the world. Did you like the article? Do you think I missed some other weird borders? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.


Wednesday 10th of February 2021

Very interesting article. My son lives in Belgium. That's why I'm more interested

Passport Symphony

Friday 12th of February 2021

Thank you, Mukta. I'm glad you enjoyed this post.

Christopher Mitchell

Tuesday 25th of December 2018

Love this article, it was actually a lot of fun to read. I especially love how chill the border is for number one!

Passport Symphony

Wednesday 26th of December 2018

Thank you, Christopher, I really appreciate it.


Tuesday 25th of December 2018

What an interesting idea for a post! It was actually exciting to read about it! I can't say that about a lot of articles I read online

Passport Symphony

Tuesday 25th of December 2018

Thank you, I really appreciate it

Blair villanueva

Monday 24th of December 2018

If Gibraltar is part of UK, are they also included to the Brexit? Borders are built for a reason, but let's admit it - it divides the people.

Passport Symphony

Monday 24th of December 2018

I agree that borders divide the people and this article is just another proof of that. Technically, Gibraltar isn't a part of the UK but rather a British Overseas Territory and as such participated in the Brexit referendum and will not be a part of the EU after the UK's withdrawal.

Kevin | Caffeinated Excursions

Monday 24th of December 2018

What a fun post idea! The border situation in Cyprus is fascinating. Also, I had no idea Gibraltar was so stunning! I'll have to visit to check that out. Thanks for sharing!

Passport Symphony

Monday 24th of December 2018

Thank you, Kevin- I'm glad you liked it :)