Oftentimes, this claim has caused conflict, but other times, it has fostered rich diversity and a sharing of common goals through different cultures. Grab your passports and join the journey as we travel through some of the world’s most exciting country borders!
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 Lichtenstein 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.
One of the largest mass migrations on earth happens here: the great migration—millions of wildebeest stampede between the two countries in search of food during the rainy season. We seriously doubt that any wildebeest use the five border posts installed along the border!
The ever-polite Swiss took it upon themselves to mark the meeting point where France and Germany come into contact with its border with the “Dreiländereck” monument.
One could be excused for thinking they walked into a space launch when approaching the Dreiländereck as its unique shape resembles a futuristic rocket. The actual tripoint is not on land but rather in the middle of the river Rhine that surges between the three nations.
We will save tourists the disappointment now and inform you that the famed Hadrian’s Wall does not, in fact, create the border between England and Scotland. The wall was constructed almost eight hundred years before the nation of Scotland even existed when Britain was still “Britannia” — a province of Rome!
It is, however, a UNESCO heritage site and one of the best-preserved ancient borders in the world. The stone wall runs almost eighty miles across the north of England and lies roughly twenty miles from the actual England-Scotland border.
The German and Czech Treeline
The border running along Germany and the Czech Republic stands out with a stark arboreal contrast. Germany’s strict forestry management program has ensured that German forests have remained verdant and abundant.
In contrast, the Czech Republic failed to prevent the spread of the bark beetle, an invasive species that has caused widespread damage to the Czech forests. Aerial photographs display the difference in no uncertain terms. On the German side, towering pine trees create a green landscape, and thin, dead trees dot the Czech landscape.
Lying between Germany and Poland is an island with a beach called “Usedom Island.” The German-Polish border runs through this island but, as geography would have it, not equally.
The larger western half of the island belongs to Germany, while Poland claims the more minor eastern part. This has seemed to cause no contention between the nations as citizens from both countries flock to the borderland every summer.
Sitting at this table simultaneously gets one seat in Austria, Hungary, and Slovakia! That’s right – it's a tripoint! Szoborpark is where the three European nations of Slovakia, Austria, and Hungary touch. In the park is a table bearing the flags of each country according to the direction in which they lie.
The park is dedicated to this unique geographical location and has a number of sculptures dedicated to the unifying power of the border. The tripoint itself is marked by an obelisk with the first letter of each country carved into the side where the country lies.
The Mountain Border of Andorra
Nestled away in a valley ten thousand feet atop a mountain range in between France and Spain is the microstate of Andorra. The minuscule border of Andorra runs for fifty-seven kilometers along the French side to the north and sixty-four kilometers along the Spanish side to the south.
The country itself forms a sort of border between France and Spain as it is not a member of the European Union. Andorra is the second microstate with which France shares a border – the other being the Principality of Monaco.
Col Agnel is, without doubt, one of the few European borders that has seen a herd of elephants marching through it when Carthaginian general Hannibal brought them through as part of his war party. The ancient border post of Col Agnel lies high up in the Alps between France and Italy.
The checkpoint claims the title of being the highest of the international passes that run through the mountain range of the Alps. It's also the third fully paved border post in the Alps.
Deforestation and illegal trade in South America combine to form a gloomy picture of the Brazilian and Bolivian biodiversity. On the Brazilian side of the border, the Amazonian rainforest remains lush, while the Bolivian side is quickly disappearing.
Bolivia has struggled to allocate resources to keep the illegal logging cartels under control, and bands of “wood pirates,” as they have come to be known in the small South American country, raid the unmonitored forests. The rare and expensive wood is shipped, and coca trees are planted in their stead to fuel the illegal trade.
Christ the Border Redeemer
Standing at one hundred feet high and ninety feet across, Brazil's colossal “Christ the Redeemer” statue is an international icon. Argentina and Chile followed the divine inspiration and erected a statue called “Christ the Redeemer of the Andes,” albeit at a smaller scale. It may be smaller, but it stands at an impressive thirteen meters high.
The symbolic statue represents the peace accords reached between Argentina and Chile at the turn of the twentieth century. The statue’s journey to its final station at twelve thousand feet in the Andes was a logistical feat.
Walking across the Bastei Bridge is sure to cause geographic confusion. The bridge itself runs along the Bastei ridge, a natural rock formation in Germany. However, the region is in an area of Germany called Saxon Switzerland – almost one thousand kilometers away from Switzerland!
Walk a distance over the bridge, and you will find yourself in Bohemian Switzerland, which, confusedly, happens to be in The Czech Republic! The Bastei trails lead between the borders of Germany and The Czech Republic, very far away from anything Swiss. The bridge draws thousands of tourists a year.
The Victoria Falls
The Zambezi river in Africa crashes into one of the most spectacular waterfalls on earth: Victoria Falls. The place is known locally by the far cooler sounding name of “Mosi-oa-Tunya," translated as “The Smoke That Thunders.” The waterfall is the largest on earth, measuring a phenomenal two kilometers in width.
Due to this length, the waterfall stretches across the southern African countries of Zimbabwe and Zambia. With the advent of British colonization, railway roads and bridges were constructed to and around the falls, which garnered an international reputation – one that still thrives in the modern age.
Nova Gorica Railway Station
The World Wars in Europe did a number on borders. The presently named “Nova Gorica Railway Station” opened in 1906 in what was then the kingdom of Austria. After the First World War resulted in borders being redrawn, Italy claimed the railway station as its own, changing its name from “Görz Staatsbahnhof” to the much more Italian “Stazione di Gorizia Nord.”
Currently, the station is now in Slovenia! The square in front of the station crosses between the Slovenian and Italian border, with the station itself facing Italy.
Uzhhorod International Airport
Less than one hundred meters from Slovakia’s border sits the runway for Uzhhorod International Airport in Ukraine. The tiny airport does not directly form part of the border between Slovakia and Ukraine. It does, however, indirectly need special permission from Slovakia for every flight that lands or takes off there, as most flights will have to make use of Slovakia’s airspace.
In the past, the airport had been shut down for periods due to disputes between the Slovakian aviation authorities and the government of Ukraine.
The Narva river unwittingly cuts a curious divide between new and old Europe divisions. The river runs between Estonia and its old Soviet suzerain Russia. This is where the European Union and NATO come the closest they can get to Russian territory.
Imposing fortresses stand on either side of the riverbanks, facing each other in a timeless staredown and, curiously, joined by a bridge. The heavily fortified and guarded bridge is not simple to cross, and security from both nations keeps a tight grip on its traffic.
Puente de la Amistad
Brazil and Paraguay have a friendship bridge of their own, named “Puente de la Amistad”, which was opened to the public in 1964. The one-thousand-six-hundred-foot bridge connects two important towns in the region: the Brazilian town of Foz do Iguaçu and the Paraguayan town of Ciudad del Este, which has an economy second only to its capital Asunción.
The bridge makes up part of the tripoint “Triple Frontier” border. The United States Government has a notable presence in the area, claiming that the strategic border point serves as a hub for illegal trade and violent activity.
Poland, Slovakia, and Ukraine merge into a single point atop the Krzemieniec mountain in northeastern Slovakia. The area is home to a number of hiking trails, and nature lovers often cross between the intersecting borders. In the middle of the tripoint stands a large marble pillar notifying visitors of the unique location.
The pillar itself was produced in Slovakia and contains text written in the script of each respective nation. The stonemasons were not paying attention that day it appears, as the Ukrainian text has two glaring spelling errors!
The Moldovans and Romanians did not have to work too much to set up their border. The river Prut, the largest tributary of the mighty Danube river, flanks and gently curves its way around the two countries, creating a scenic and natural divide between the nations.
The river and river basin has been home to Romanian and Moldovan citizens for centuries, but industrialization has severely affected the health of the river. Authorities from both nations have collaborated to both manage waste and water management and educate their citizens about polluting their precious natural resources.
The Svinesund Bridges
Norway and Sweden share a number of border crossings. The westernmost border crossing between Norway and Sweden, the Svinesund Bridge, competes for the title of one of the most striking and awe-inspiring border crossings in the world. The bridge spans almost a kilometer and sits over ninety meters above the fjord beneath it, making it Europe’s highest bridge.
There are two Svinesund Bridges; old Svinesund and new Svinesund. The old bridge still remains in use. It has seen several upgrades over its multi-decade lifespan, including repairs from a lightning strike hitting explosives on the bridge!
Scandinavia has no shortage of impressive border crossings! The Øresund Bridge border crossing connects Sweden and Denmark via Malmö and Copenhagen, respectively. The impressive structure is an engineering marvel, combining a bridge, an artificial island, and a tunnel to close the fourteen-kilometer gap between the two Scandinavian countries.
The bridge section of the border is the longest road and rail combination bridge on the European continent. It has served as a symbol of how international border management can increase the net gain of both countries involved. Since the border bridge was built, each country has seen a profit of nine billion euros.
Two hundred and seventy-five cascades combine to form the three-kilometer-long stretch of the Iguazu Falls, shared between Argentina and Brazil. The breathtaking waterfall forms a natural border between Argentina and Brazil, with Argentina’s boundaries claiming the lion’s share of the falls themselves.
The closest point at which the Argentinian and Brazilian boundaries merge is through the sinisterly named “Devil’s Throat,” the narrow chasm that eventually brings the bulk of the flow into a single pool. The Brazil-Argentina border is coincidentally a seventh natural wonder of the world, thanks to the falls.
The highest point in the Netherlands also serves as a tripoint for the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. In an almost similar fashion to other locations in Europe, the tripoint has seen a succession of different territories cross through it due to territorial disputes.
The remains of this history are still evident from the “Viergrenzenweg,” Dutch for “Four Borders Road.” The Four Borders Road refers to the inclusion of the now-extinct territory of Moresnet, which formed an independent condominium for over a century.
The Fence of Gibraltar
England and Spain are separated by over a thousand miles, with Andorra, France, and the English Channel between them. How is it then that the two nations share a border? Successive wars in middle-aged Europe eventually led to a concession by Spain to give a tiny chunk of land to England in 1713, making it a British Overseas Territory on mainland Spain.
The border became extra complicated when Britain decided to abandon the European Union. A treaty was signed that allows for Gibraltar to fall under Schengen rules, which means crossings between the Territory and Spain remain unhindered for citizens
The Peace Border
While the Second World War was raging, Brazil and Uruguay did things a little differently. The Uruguayan border town of Rivera butts up against the Brazilian border town of Santana do Livramento and is only separated by a single street.
In commemorating the perpetual peace and mutual trade between the two international towns, the “Plaza Internacional Rivera-Livramento" was built in 1943 and is the only square on earth maintained, administered, and shared by the two countries. The square, while having a dotted border line running through it, is not meant to serve as a border post, and citizens are free to move within it.
Eastern Upper Lusatia Tripoint
A very picturesque mountain range known as the Sudeten Mountains stretches across and is shared by the three European countries of Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic. On the western hills of the Sudetes lies the area of Eastern Upper Lusatia, and it is here that the three countries find their borders in a tripoint.
Though the location and nature around it are breathtaking, this tripoint is not one of the more glamorous. Three medium-sized flags just stick out of the ground alongside the riverbank, with a European Union flag thrown in for good measure.
The Karawanken Mountain Border
The Alps have helped Europe settle its border disputes for millennia. The mountain range forms a ridge almost eight hundred miles long and counts Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Slovenia, and Switzerland among its citizenry. The particular portion of the Karawanken range that runs along the border between Austria and Slovenia, is noted for being particularly treacherous. It has only one road crossing.
The governments of Austria and Slovenia undertook to build a tunnel through the Karawanken, and the Karawaks Tunnel was opened in 1991. The countries are both in the Schengen territory, so no border checks are needed.
The Canada-United States Border
The border between Canada and its superpower sibling, the United States of America, has a number of unique attributes. Firstly, coming in at an impressive five and a half thousand miles, it is the lengthiest border in the world.
Secondly, the border is not strictly contiguous as it splits where the province of British Columbia and the state of Washington meet, only to start again one and a half thousand miles northwestern to begin defining the American state of Alaska. The border has been through dozens of iterations since the 1700s before settling on the modern lines.
The Olza River Border
The Olza river flows between Poland and the Czech Republic, creating a natural border as it snakes between the two countries. The gentle river has served as a muse for several artists, poets, and musicians throughout the ages and has inspired songs, poems, and even an anthem.
Like most borders, the river generated some internal conflict between Poland and the Czech Republic – all of it without bloodshed, thankfully! The Poles and Czechs disagreed on the proper pronunciation of the name Olza until a linguist established that the word predated both Polish and Czech!
Eight miles of ocean separate the Spanish mainland from the north African country of Morocco. How is it then that they share a border? Spain includes a number of tiny enclaves on the tip of Africa as Overseas Territories, including two small islets.
The border between Spain and Morocco is therefore not contiguous. Three separate borders totaling twenty kilometers run along the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera.
Attari-Wagah Beating Retreat
Pakistan and India have spent centuries in a tense exchange. In a display of this mutual odium, the border guards of the two nations play out an act of feigned aggression at the Attari-Wagah border post every sunset. The ceremony, known as the “Beating Retreat,” sees Indian and Pakistani guards have a showdown that includes staring, muscle flexes, stomping, and yelling nationalistic slogans.
The spectacle is a patriotic source of pride for citizens of both nations, and people gather in the thousands throughout the week to witness it.
The Kunjerab Pass
At over fifteen thousand feet sits the highest border crossing in the world: the Kunjerab Pass. The border crossing can also boast of having an ATM at the highest altitude in the world! Imagine getting to the top and realizing you forgot cash for the toll fees!
The border post is so high that altitude sickness severely affects drivers and passengers, and it’s recommended to bring a few gallons of water to fight it off. Similar to the Vietnam-China Friendship Bridge, drivers have to switch from left-side driving to right when entering Chinese territory.
The Bosnia-Croatia Beach Border
Thanks to Croatia, Bosnia has the second shortest beach in the world at twenty kilometers, only being beaten by Monaco’s four-kilometer-long beach! Croatia’s border runs along the inside of Bosnia, almost completely cutting it off from the coast except for a tiny gap in the Bosnian municipality of Neum.
The history is far more complicated than Croatia's muscling in on the tourism industry. The area was heavily disputed and fought over for centuries as the coast was prized for its defensive, commercial and strategic positioning.
In 1993, the Indian government began mixing cement, gathering bricks and barbed wire to start construction on what is now one of the longest border walls in human history: the India-Bangladesh border. The wall runs for over two thousand miles and is heavily fortified. The Indian government has allocated almost a quarter of a million soldiers to patrol and defend it.
Ironically, Bangladesh has employed guards not to prevent illegal immigration into Bangladesh but rather out of it. The geopolitical divisions run deep in this region, and numerous horrific stories dominate its imposing structure.
The Northern and Southern Hemisphere Border
Ecuador took some creative license here (and possibly an ingenious tourist trap) and created a border with the equator. That’s correct – the same equator of third-grade geography! The “Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere” border lies in the Ecuadorian town of Ciudad Mitad del Mundo.
Translated into English, the town’s name means “Middle of the World City.” To cross the equator, one has to pay a whopping two American dollars at the “border post!” Of course, you could walk a few meters up the road and cross the equator for free!
Sixaola Panama Border Run
The border bridge between Panama and Costa Rica literally lives up to its colloquial name, “the Sixaola border run,” as pedestrians have to contend with large semi trucks and automobiles on the narrow pass over the Sixaola river. To complicate matters, the online payment system is offline more often than not, and a single clerk has to fill out handwritten invoices.
The Panamanian border post is confusing for first-time visitors as no signposts indicate where the actual office is. There is no mandated fee to enter Panama, and the customs only ask for a “voluntary” permit fee of three dollars.
The border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan is one of the oldest in the world and remains the most active and commercial border entry between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The border post is historically important as many sheiks, khans, generals, and the like used it to traverse the treacherous landscape on the way to conquest.
The political significance of the border is still prominent and it remains one of the most fragile and uneased places in the world.