This is how the borders between countries are seen from the air

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They come and go, but they often leave their mark. Even when we trace them at will, without being guided by rivers, mountain ranges or any other geographical accident, only at the mercy of politics, at the stroke of battles, peace agreements and treaties that scratch a couple of kilometers here to win them, perhaps , a little further. The borders They are a human invention; but that does not mean that their presence transcends political maps or the life of populations and they end up taking the rank, in a certain way, of physical phenomena, just like mountain ranges or cliffs.

A good way to check it is to fly over the globe. Or, failing that —and by the way, for tighter economies—, take a walk with Google Earth. Experience helps to verify how even those delimitations drawn on the map, capriciously, end up leaving a mark that is clearly visible from the air in the form of furrows, ditches, fences or roads. There are plenty of examples to prove it: between the 8,900 kilometers of border shared by Canada and the US and the barely 160 meters that separate Botswana and Zambia, the list of land borders is long.

Argentina and Uruguay


Part of the border between Argentina and Uruguay, marked by the Uruguay River.

Sometimes it’s not hard to appreciate borders. Although Spain and France did not exist as two independent states, for example, the Pyrenees they would still be there marking a clear separation between two territories. The same happens with the Miño and Portugal, at the height of Galicia; or, if we jump the Atlantic, in South America, where the putumayo river draw the border between Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, or the Itenez marks the separation along almost a thousand kilometers between Brazil and Bolivia. Another example is the delimitation of Argentina and Uruguay, 887 km long and marked by the Uruguay and La Plata rivers.

Sweden and Finland

Sweden Finland

Delimitation of Sweden and Finland.

In Europe there are examples too. Along its winding path, the river Tornio (Torne) draws part of split between finland and sweden. The border extends, in total, just over 600 km, a long strip that runs from Lapland, advances along the banks of the rivers Könkämäeno, Muonio and Torne and reaches the Bay of Bothnia. The border strip is also drawn around several islands.

United States and Canada

Canada, United States of America

Part of the long border between Canada and the United States.

At other times, the divisions between countries are totally arbitrary. So much so that they seem drawn with a ruler, bevel and square. It occurs, for example, with part of the extensive strip of 8,900 kilometers that separates the USA and Canada, the result of the 1783 Treaty of Paris between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Thirteen Colonies and the agreements that followed in the following decades, such as the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842 or the agreements of the commission of 1908 .

United States and Mexico

United States Mexico New Mexico Chihuahua

Border between the United States (New Mexico) and Mexico (Chihuahua).

Curious examples are also found in the south of the USA. On the border with Mexico there are borders that look like lines measured to the millimeter. When there are no rivers or mountain ranges, the limits are sometimes outlined with roads. Also walls, such as the border between the two states, started in the 1990s by the Bill Clinton administration to curb smuggling and illegal migration.

Syria, Jordan and Iraq

Syria Jordan Iraq

Border between Syria, Jordan and Iraq.

Another continent accustomed to borders that are not outlined with rivers or mountain ranges is Africa, with broad lines that delimit, for example, Algeria, Mali and Mauritania or Egypt, Libya and Sudan, among other nations. The corner shared by Syria, Jordan and Iraq, in Western Asia, also offers an example of how borders sometimes seem to respond to geometry.

Finland and Russia

Finland Russia

Finland-Russia border sign.

no need to go so far however to see similar cases. Here, on the borders of Europe, we meet the border between Finland and Russia, of about 1,300 kilometers that cross mainly taiga forests and rural areas without following any natural indication. The current drawing is largely the result of the agreements that were reached after the Second World War.

Pakistan and India

pakistan india

Part of the border between Pakistan and India.

Borders are also often points of tension. Pakistan and India are a clear case: their extensive border, which is close to 3,000 kilometres, has been a strip of conflict for some time, after their independence, due to relations especially strained in the Kashmir region.

Ireland and Northern Ireland

Ireland Northern Ireland

Fragment of the border that separates both Irelands.

It is not the only point with a complicated history. In Europe itself one can also find more than one example of points with an extensive and often complex chronicle behind them. The one known as “The Irish border”the border between the two Irelands, the republic located to the south and the one to the north, encompassed in the state of the United Kingdom, is directly connected to the northern ireland conflict that largely marked both countries throughout the second half of the last century.

The old inner border of Germany

Teistungen Eichsfeld Grenzlandmuseum

Nature trail segment at the Eichsfeld Borderland Museum, which runs along preserved portions of the former German Inner Line.

Recent history is also the Innerdeutsche Grenze, the inter-German border, an extensive strip of almost 1,400 kilometers that separated the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany. The strip is a fantastic example that even in cases like this, in which the route is completely political, its shadow can last for decades. Part makes up today the Grünes Band Deytschlandthe German Green Belt, an extensive ring of vegetation and fauna.

“The inner German border was closely guarded with high walls, barbed wire and watchtowers. At the same time, it gave nature a break: the transboundary strip became a refuge for more than 1,200 rare and endangered plant and animal species. Since the fall of the Wall, BUND has created one of the largest and most important nature conservation projects here,” highlights the BUND collectiveits main architect.

A clear example that borders can survive their states.

Because it is already known, history passes, nations fall and rise, but borders, even when responding only to the whim of humans, they remain as scars.

Pictures | Wolkenkratzer (Wikipedia) and Google Earth

They come and go, but they often leave their mark. Even when we trace them at will, without being guided…

They come and go, but they often leave their mark. Even when we trace them at will, without being guided…

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