From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Jump to: navigation, search
For alternate meanings see border (disambiguation)
Border stone at Passo San Giacomo between Val Formazza in Italy and Val Bedretto in Switzerland
Border stone at Passo San Giacomo between Val Formazza in Italy and Val Bedretto in Switzerland

Borders define geographic boundaries of political entities or legal jurisdictions, such as governments, states or countries. They may foster the setting up of buffer zones.

In the past many borders were not clearly defined lines, but were neutral zones called marchlands. This has been reflected in recent times with the neutral zones that were set up along part of Saudi Arabia's borders with Kuwait and Iraq (however, these zones no longer exist). In modern times the concept of a marchland has been replaced by that of the clearly defined and demarcated border.

For the purposes of border control, airports and seaports also class as borders. Most countries have some form of border control to restrict or limit the movement of people, animals and goods into or out of the country. In order to cross borders people need passports and visas or other appropriate forms of identification. To stay or work within a country's borders aliens (foreign persons) may need special immigration documents or permits that authorise them to do so.

Moving goods across a border often requires the payment of excise tax, often collected by customs officials. Animals (and occasionally humans) moving across borders may need to go into quarantine to prevent the spread of exotic or infectious diseases. Most countries prohibit carrying illegal drugs or endangered animals across their borders. Moving goods, animals or people illegally across a border, without declaring them, seeking permission, or deliberately evading official inspection counts as smuggling.


Border economics

The presence of borders often fosters certain economic features or anomalies. Wherever two jurisdictions come into contact, special economic opportunities arise. Smuggling provides a classic case; contrariwise, a border region may flourish on the provision of excise or of import/export services -- legal or quasi-legal, corrupt or corruption-free.

Different regulations on either side of a border may encourage services to position themselves at or near that border: thus the provision of pornography, of prostitution, of alcohol and/or of narcotics may cluster around borders, city limits, county lines, ports and airports.

In a more planned and official context, Special Economic Zones (SEZs) often tend to cluster near borders or ports. See also maquiladora.

Human economic traffic across borders (apart from kidnapping), may involve mass commuting between workplaces and residential settlements, as in Israel.

The removal of internal barriers to commerce, as in France after the French Revolution or in Europe since the 1940s, de-emphasises border-based economic activity and fosters freer trade.

Types of border

There are several different types of border:

  • Natural borders are those that follow natural geographic features, such as rivers, mountain ranges, estuaries and the like. Examples include much of the border between the United States and Mexico which follows the Rio Grande and the border between France and Spain which follows the Pyrenees mountain range. (Photo of US-Canada border bridge)
  • Geometric borders (also known as a straight-line border) are those that are formed by straight lines drawn on a map or nautical chart. During the Scramble for Africa in the nineteenth century, the European powers divided much of Africa by using arbitrary straight lines drawn on a map, sometimes following longitudes and latitudes, with no regard to topography or extant tribal territories. International borders in the Middle East and North America are also often based on such geometry.
  • Cultural borders are those that follow or approximate the boundaries between the homelands of different ethnicities, language groups and other cultural communities. They often date from before the modern era, and can often be the result of successive military struggles over the centuries. Many international borders in Europe more or less follow such cultural divisions, including the border between Hungary and Romania.

See also

External link

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Personal tools