The division of our world into continents, countries, states, and provinces is defined by borders. These lines serve to distinguish cultural identities and traditions from each other. The existence of borders is essential for our societies' effective organization and governance. Many borders exist due to linguistic or physical differences, but some exist for much stranger reasons. Here are several strange borders that you have not probably heard of!


1. Military Parades: India and Pakistan 

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This border is quite peculiar due to a daily tradition of dance parades and flag-lowering ceremonies between the military of the two nations. The parade features energetic leg kicks and elaborate dance moves. Recently, an allowance was introduced for soldiers participating in the parade to grow their mustaches as a symbol of unity between the two nations amidst increasing tensions.


2. Hotel Arbus: France and Switzerland

Hotel Abrus is a one-of-a-kind hotel situated on the French-Swiss border, with half of the building located in Switzerland and the other half in France. This unique feature allows guests to experience the best of both countries as they can effortlessly cross the border without leaving the comfort of the hotel. The hotel's border location attracts travelers seeking a distinctive and unforgettable experience. Additionally, the hotel offers a blend of Swiss and French cultures, providing guests with a truly immersive experience.


3. Victoria Falls: Zambia and Zimbabwe

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Victoria Falls, also known as “The Smoke That Thunders,” straddles the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe on the Zambezi River. It's one of the world's largest and most stunning waterfalls, and it attracts many tourists to Southern Africa. The waterfall drops over 100 meters into a narrow chasm, creating a mist that rises high into the air, visible from miles away. Visitors can admire the falls from various viewpoints and participate in activities such as white-water rafting, bungee jumping, and scenic flights.  It is a must-visit natural wonder for travelers. Victoria Falls is truly a sight to behold on both sides of the border.


4. Haskell Library and Opera House: United States and Canada 

The Quebec, Canada and Vermont, United States border would have been a typical border if not for the presence of a library and an opera house. The Haskell Free Library and Opera House were purposely built on the border between the two countries. Surprisingly, it was a deliberate choice, not a joke or an error. The intention was to give border communities a place for intellectual and cultural growth. When the library and opera house were completed in 1904, they were so unique that the entryway to the building was in the United States while all of the books were located in Canada. The audience was seated in the US while the performers were in Canada, and the reading room was considered international territory. What an amazing border.


5. Bir-tawil: Egypt and Sudan

Bir-tawil is a piece of land that is surrounded by Egypt on the north and Sudan on the west, south, and east. Despite having four corners, it is famously referred to as the Bir-tawil triangle. However, despite its location, this territory is often overlooked and unwanted by both Egypt and Sudan due to its lack of valuable minerals and its unfavorable geography. This has resulted in the unusual circumstance that no one wants this piece of land. In the past century, the United Kingdom and Egypt were involved in drawing their borders, which resulted in Bir-tawil being included in the first border and then omitted in the second. Funny enough due to the unfavorable nature of Bir-tawil, it has literally made travelers hoist their flag claiming it as their territory.


6. Iguazu Falls: Argentina and Brazil

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Iguazu Falls, a system of over 270 waterfalls on the Iguazu River, is known for its stunning beauty and unique location as it is between the border of Brazil and Argentina. “The Devil's Throat”, as it is fondly called the most famous waterfall, is a U-shaped chasm that is 82 meters high and 150 meters wide. The falls are surrounded by lush subtropical rain forests, attracting nature lovers and adventure seekers. Visitors can view the falls from lookout points on both the Argentine and Brazilian sides, take boat tours, and even walk on elevated walkways on the Argentine side for panoramic views. Iguazu Falls is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in natural beauty, adventure, and unique travel experiences.


7. San Diego-Tijuana: United States and Mexico 

The San Diego-Tijuana region, located right on the border between the United States and Mexico, is a prime example of a bi-national conurbation. With a population of almost 5 million in 2012, it is the largest area shared between the two countries. However, despite its unique and vibrant atmosphere, the border between the two regions is secured with checkpoints and fences, much like any other international boundary. Nevertheless, what sets the San Diego-Tijuana region apart from others is the fact that people are free to interact and communicate through the fence, allowing for a lively and enjoyable atmosphere.


8. The Korean DMZ: North and South Korea

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The Korean Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, is a narrow strip of land located near the 38th Parallel North that divides the Korean peninsula into North and South Korea. This border was established at the end of the Korean War in 1953, when both countries agreed to pull their forces back 2km from the front line, creating a neutral zone that spans approximately 240km across the peninsula. Despite being a demilitarized area, the Korean DMZ remains one of the world's most unusual and heartbreaking borders, as the war between North and South Korea has never officially ended, and the ceasefire remains in place to this day.


The world is full of unique and strange borders that serve to separate and define our societies. From the daily dance parade between India and Pakistan to the bi-national conurbation of San Diego and Tijuana, these borders are a testament to the diversity and complexities of our world. So next time you're planning a trip, consider visiting one of these unique borders and discover the world's strangest and most unusual borders for yourself.

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Dan Williams
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