International borders have sparked more wars than anything else in history. The decision that one nation should lay claim on one particular piece of land and not another almost certainly causes strife. The borders are still necessary because the world is not the one happy village we would all like it to be. Not all borders are defined by lines with soldiers lined on each side to keep the peace, though. Some borders are manned by landmines and bombs, while others are simply lines through a restaurant or a library that you could cross without noticing. Here is a look at the most exciting borders from around the world.
Hotel Arbez Switzerland/France
Ever dreamed of sleeping with your head in Switzerland and your feet in France or the other way around? This is the best chance you got. It was built in the 1800s before the border between Switzerland and France was drawn. When the border came down, it found the hotel already operating on Ponthus’ field, so he continued operating in two countries. During WW2, the hotel was able to host Nazi soldiers as well as French resistance as long as the former stuck to the French side while the resistance stayed on the Swiss side of the hotel. There are no more tensions at the border, though, so you can order a room that occupies both countries and sleep in two nations at once.
The Diomede Islands Russia/The US
Now, you won’t be able to sleep across this one, but crossing this particular international border will either give you 21 extra hours on your day or take them away. The Islands are the little Diomede island which is part of Alaska, and the big Diomede controlled by Russia. The two islands are just 2.4 miles apart, but each lies on a different side of the International Date Line, meaning the 115 people that live on little Diomede can see 21 hours into tomorrow across from their homes. Little Diomede is also called Yesterday Island while Big Diomede is called the Tomorrow Island because of the 21-hour time difference between the two.
So, Baarle, a place where you could sleep with someone in the same bed while in different nations. It is a municipality within the Netherlands that is mostly Belgium territory. However, within the enclave, there are patches of land that belong to the Netherlands. It all goes back to the 1800s where different dukes with differing ancestry owned lands in the area. The result is confusion in which you could simply change your front door if you want to start waking up in a different nation. The allocation took centuries, with the final agreement drawn in 1995.
Bir Tawil And Hala’ib Triangle Egypt/Sudan
Every country seems to appreciate the chance to lay claim on an extra piece of land, but in this case, both countries don’t want the Bir Tawil desert. It remains the only unclaimed piece of land in the world, and internet monarchs haven’t delayed in declaring control over it. The problem draws back to the British colonial era, which declared the border between Sudan and Egypt to be a straight line at first, then had to make adjustments to accommodate local tribes which were either closely related to Sudan or Egypt.
In one treaty, Bir Tawil was declared as part of Sudan, while the oil-rich Hala`ib was declared part of Egypt. Then came a second agreement which gave control of the Hala`ib Triangle to Sudan. So, whichever country claims control over Bir Tawil will automatically admit the loss of control over the oil-rich triangle, and no one wants that. Currently, the Egyptian military still controls the triangle, and no one wants Bir Tawil.
The Haskell Free Library US/Canada
The US and Canada don’t have open borders like the EU, so you have to carry your passport when crossing to either side except at this particular library astride Quebec and Vermont which was built across the border in 1904. The library was build intentionally to serve as a center of culture and education for communities on both sides of the border. The front door is in the US while the books are in Canada, but the reading room lies across the border. In the 1920s, an opera house was included above the library, and the audience sits in the US while the stage is in Canada. You don’t need to show a passport while entering here.
The DMZ North Korea/South Korea
This is by far the most hostile border in the world, thanks to the tensions that exist on both sides. It is a 155-mile long strip of land, 2.5 miles wide which has been cleared of all civilian residences, and the only thing that remains are tents that serve as the meeting points for the rare diplomatic interactions. If you attempt to cross over from one side to another, you are likely to be killed by a hail of bullets from either side or get blown up by a land mine on any side of the border.
There is no human interaction here, even in the two special villages of Taesung on the south and Kijong on the north, which were allowed to remain populated but are still separated by 1300 feet of the DMZ. People that had families on the other side of the border have no way of knowing how their loved ones are doing.
The Northwest Angle US/Canada
This is a piece of the US that doesn’t share any land border with Minnesota, but it has one with the Canadian state of Manitoba. To get there from Minnesota, you have to either fly in or use a boat. The other option is to cross the border to Canada before crossing back into the US, in which case you can only reach US customs authorities by phone.
The little town has a population of just over 100 as most of it is covered in water and forests. It was the result of a mapping mistake in which the geographer got a whole 150 miles wrong while stating the source of the Mississippi. The town has tried to secede from the US many times because its isolation means it is denied access to essential services on both sides of the border.
Penon De Velez De La Gomera Spain/Morocco
This is considered the shortest land border in the world. It is an island that was just a few meters off the coast of Morocco that connected to the continent of Africa in the 1930s when a huge storm swept lots of sand onto it creating a peninsula. It is just one of the seven enclaves of Spanish territories in Morocco, which have been a source of dispute since the 1600s. The small island is occupied only by Spanish military personnel, and the borderline in the sand is marked by a string.
Hans Island Canada/Denmark
This should probably be called the Whiskey War Island. International law allows a nation to claim any landmass within 12 miles of its shore, which would put this island in both Greenland (Ruled by Denmark) and Canada. It is just a bare piece of rock with no resources to claim, but it is still claimed by both countries. So in 1984, the minister of Greenland visited the island and left a bottle of brandy and the Danish flag with a note stating “welcome to Denmark.” The Canadians did the same a few years later, and so the island is owned by whoever left a bottle of whiskey and a note last.
The Siachen Glacier India/Pakistan
India and Pakistan have proved to be the only two nations in the world that will fight over everything, and nothing if this piece of hostile ice is anything to go by. Here, both countries lose more soldiers to frostbite than bullets. Trouble started after the redrawn map of Kashmir in the 1970s failed to account for the glacier since the UN didn’t think anyone would be interested in it.
In 1984, the Pakistanis tried to take full control of the glacier by establishing a military base, but the Indians beat them to it. It led to decades of fighting, but most of the deaths have been caused by the harsh weather conditions. An unstable peace agreement signed in 2003 still holds, but both sides still maintain a military presence on either side of the Glacier. It is still considered the highest conflict in the world in terms of altitude.