A Map Geek’s Tour of the World


The 8.9 mile gap between the European andAfrican continent known as the Straight of Gibraltar is home to multiple strange territoriesand borders. On the European side, there is a 2.6 square mile British Overseas territorynamed Gibraltar. This means that Britain shares a small land border with Spain. On the Africanside of the straight is the Spanish city of Ceuta, separated completely from the restof Spain. This city is an autonomous community within Spain, essentially having similar rightsas the independent regions that make up Spain. A little more than 100 miles down the Africancoast is Melilla, another Spanish exclave in northern Africa. All this means that Spainshares significant land borders with Morocco, and that in effect only one country separatesBritish soil from African soil.

Two other European countries also have strangeborder relations. Conventional wisdom would say that the Netherlands and France do notshare a land border. Belgium stands between the two countries, however, on the other sideof the world, the two countries do share a border. The Caribbean island of Saint Martinis split between a French collectivity, Saint Martin, and a Dutch constituent country, SintMaarten, meaning that you can walk from France to the Netherlands without crossing throughanother country. Also part of France is French Guiana. FrenchGuiana has the exact same political power as any other French department and regiondespite being on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. It has a comparable relationship asHawaii to the United States—geographically separated but politically integrated.

Thismeans that France shares a land border with both Brazil and Suriname.There are two daily flights from French Guiana to Paris which make for one of the longestdomestic flights in the world. These flights take off in France and land in France, buttake 9 hours and cross 4,401 miles. Despite this, this is not the longest domestic flightin the world. The longest is also within France and goes from Paris to the French overseasdepartment of Réunion, located in the Indian Ocean. The flight is 5,809 miles long andtakes just over 11 hours. And over to North America, it’s impossibleto walk or drive from New York to LA without crossing over water.

The Saint Lawrence riverconnects the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, then the Chicago River connects to the DesPlaines River which connects to the Illinois River which connects to the Mississippi Riverwhich flows out into the Gulf of Mexico. It’s also impossible to go from the South to theNorth of the US without crossing water. Theres one creek in the Teton wilderness of Wyomingthat divides at a place called the Parting of the Waters. One side flows 3,488 milesto the Atlantic while the other 1,353 to the Pacific. This means that this is one of thefew natural waterways connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific.Near those great lakes that make up part of the water split is Middle Island, Canada,the southernmost point in Canada. A majority of US states—27—actually lie fully orpartially north of this point. The closest point in Europe to the US is theDingle Peninsula in Ireland, only 2539 miles away from Hamill, Maine. The island of Irelandis politically divided between the autonomous country of the Republic of Ireland and thesection of Great Britain, called Northern Ireland. Although, despite the name, the northernmostpart of the island of Ireland is not in Northern Ireland; it’s Malin Head, part of the Republicof Ireland. Now to finish it off we’ll head up to Norway.Norway’s land stretches over Sweden and Finland to actually shares a border with Russia. Onthe other side of Eurasia, Russia also shares a tiny 11 mile border with North Korea. Thismeans that only one country separates the Nordic social democracy in Norway from thecommunist dictatorship of North Korea.


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