One of the best things about a long trip is being able to make a list of all the places you hope to visit and ticking each one off as you go. There’s something hugely satisfying about being able to recite a list of all the countries or cities you’ve visited – especially if you get your passport stamped on route! For those travellers who really like showing their border hopping credentials, here are some great places to visit – all of them making crossing from one place to another slightly more interesting!
1. UN Buffer Zone in Cyprus: This is one boarder you certainly should be wary about crossing! The island of Cyprus is effectively split in two by a UN boarder, which separates the southern area, ruled by the government of the Republic of Cyprus, and the northern area, which is controlled by the Turkish army. The buffer zone runs 180 kilometres across the island and spans from 3.3 metres across at its narrowest point, to over 7 kilometres at its widest – and around 10,000 people live within it, in villages and farms. There are seven places to cross from one area to another – a surreal experience, as it’s a very lush and green no-man’s land!
2. Northwest Angle: An American township, part of the state of Minnesota, Angle, as it’s known to locals, can only be accessed by land by passing through Canada. Surrounded by water on two sides and Canadian territory on the others, this 123 square mile area is home to around 150 people who must inform border officials anytime they leave the area! Visitors can reach Angle by boat or ice road across the Lake of the Woods without crossing the international border – but in spring and autumn, the only access is through Canada – so locals use a video-phone to declare their intention to enter or leave.
3. Haskell Library & Opera House: For literature loving travellers, the Haskell Library straddles the border between the USA and Canada and loans books to both American and Canadian residents. There’s a black line which runs through the Opera House seating area designating the international boundary, with the library and opera stage falling on the Canadian side and the opera seats and the main door on the American side. Due to this, it’s often joked that the Haskell is the only library in the USA with no books!
4. The Diomede Islands: To really wow your friends, take a visit to Little Diomede – one of the two Diomede Islands in the Bering Strait between Alaska and Siberia. Little Diomede is part of United States territory, and is home to a small Inuit population. The island of Big Diomede is part of Russian territory, and only occupied by military personnel. Despite there being only a distance of 3.8 kilometres between the two islands, they are separated by the International Date Line – meaning that the inhabitants of Little Diomede can see the future, just by peering over to Bog Diomede – where it’s already the next day!
5. Dutch – Belgian Boarder at Baarle-Nassau: A town full of border curiosities, here, a line divides roads, shops and restaurants according to whether they fall on the Dutch or Belgian side. You can cross from Belgium to the Netherlands multiple times a day here – but in the past, the laws of the different countries dictated how the inhabitants acted. For example, when the Dutch law required bars and restaurants to close earlier than their Belgian counterparts, patrons would wait until closing time in the Netherlands before moving over to the Belgian side of the room to finish their drinks – crazy!