Exclaves, enclaves

We all remember West Berlin being part of another country ‘til the wall came a-tumblin’ down. But: Why do some political areas have noncontiguous parts? Part of St. Martin Parish in Louisiana is separated from the rest of the country; part of Armenia is divided from the rest by Azerbaijan; and many of the cantons of Switzerland have bits and pieces surrounded by other cantons. How do things like this come about?

I’m putting my money on “sheer, pigheaded stubbornness.”
– Sylence

“The problem with reality is the lack of background music.” – Anon

Lots of reasons. In some cases, it’s because a river changed its banks, cutting off an area from the rest of the state. In others, it’s because no one particularly wanted to fight for the area.

As I understand it, the Upper Peninsula was given to Michigan (instead of Wisconsin, to which it is physically attached) as compensation for Toledo going to Ohio.

(The question of who Toledo belonged to was hotly disputed, and led to the so-called “Toledo Wars.” Ohio was considered the winner in this dispute, despite being forced to take Toledo.)

Rich Barr
AOL Instant Messenger: Hrttannl

Well, we bought Alaska. I guess that’s one way to do it!


“non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem”
– William of Ockham

Cabinda is seperated from the rest of Angola.

Part of Oman lies at the tip of the Straits of Hormoz(sp??)

Russia has a huge base at Kalingrad(sp?) seperated from the rest of the nation.

Cetua and Melilla are Spanish enclaves off of Morocco

It’s actually the other way around. Azerbaijan is seperated by Armenia.
Nogorno-Karabahk is an Armenian region in Azerbaijan. It is not part of Armenia, though they may currently occupy it.

Marxxx: I know why the Kaliningrad (Königsberg) oblast is separate from the rest of Russia. Before World War II, the area was part of East Prussia, a region of Germany. It was, and is, bordered on the north by Lithuania, which did not stake a claim to the northern half of East Prussia as Poland did to the southern half. Now, I assume, Russia has to make physical contact–shipping, etc.–with the Kaliningrad Oblast through St. Petersburg, unless they have an “easement” through Lithuania and/or Belarus…
But some exclaves/enclaves, such as the fragmented cantons of Switzerland…well, that isnt so clear to me.

…And part of Fulton County, at the far west end of Kentucky, has no land contiguity (sp?) with the rest of the county–or any other part of Kentucky.
And part of the Austrian province of Tyrol is not connected to the main part, with the provincial capital.

Personally, I think they both suck.

Think about it…the world’s largest fungus, or the Upper Peninsula. :wink:

Wasn’t there a huge earthquake that changed the course of the Mississippi? Maybe that changed the border of KY

a Swiss friend of mine told me that some of the cantons fragmented over religion in the Reformation. Being tidy, orderly, Swiss, instead of splitting the country over religion, they split the cantons. so you have what are sometimes called “half-cantons” and some cantons that are divided by another canton.

OK, two Dutch cents.

The Netherlands has a very interesting Belgian enclave in it. It is called Baarle Hertog (old Dutch for something like “Realm of the Duke”). It is actually the same town as Baarle Nassau (“Realm of Nassau”, Nassau being the the Dutch Royal Family’s name), the two are one big village. However, there’s Belgian parts and Dutch parts. Now, one would think that there’s a straight frontier running through the town. Think again, I told you this was gonna be INTERESTING :wink:
Actually, the frontier is multiple, and is determined by some streets being either Dutch or Belgian, or even small groups of houses. So, there’s actually quite some DUTCH enclaves (sometimes consisting out of only 1 house !) within the Belgian enclave in The Netherlands ! And the other way 'round. Sounds confusing ? Well, every house in Baarle Nassau / Baarle Hertog has a flag on the house number plate indicating which country the house is in. BUT: a Belgian flag doesn’t necessairily mean a Belgian is going to open the door if you ring the bell. Since it’s a joint ‘cross-border’ municipality, Dutch can live in Belgian houses and vice versa without tax repercussions (sp?) etc.
The towns came into existence in 1830, when the Kingdom Belgium was formed, and the two countries couldn’t decide over the “Baarle”-region. It’s got some 30.000 inhabitants in total now, and is a small tourist attraction - mainly for the Dutch, since stuff like cigarettes is somewhat cheaper south of the border. Or north, east, west of the border, in this case :wink:

To see it with your own eyes, check out this link: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/Libs/PCL/Map_collection/europe/Netherlands.jpg

Now, if you draw an imaginairy vertical line through the center of the country, you will discover a town called Tilburg (I was born 5 km’s from there) near the Belgian border. To the South-West of Tilburg, there’s a patch of land ‘extending’ into Belgium. Within that patch, you’ll see a dark spot. THAT’S the enclave we’re talking about :wink:



“You know how complex women are”

  • Neil Peart, Rush (1993)

Donät forget that little piece of Minesota you can only get to by boat.I thought there was some mess governor Jesse was involved in, already.

Markxxx sed:

This is correct. In 1803? 06’? – well in 18 aught something there was a huge earthquake on the New Madrid fault. I’ve read it was somewhere between and 8 and a 9. It did cause the Mississippi to run backwards.

Another place where this had an effect on the KY border was between Henderson, KY and Evansville, IN. There’s a piece of land, connected to IN which is part of KY. The Ellis Park racetrack is located there.

Ellis Park is also interesting because it has soybeans growing in the infield of the track. At least, it did the last time I was there.

Plunging like stones from a slingshot on Mars.

Thanks, jti. I wondered about those bits of cantons–but I did see an old map that showed how, by annexation and such, how Appenzell wound up completely surrounded by St. Gallen.
The New Madrid earthquake was in 1812.
That bit of Minnesota north of Lake of the Woods goes back to the mid-19th Century, when the boundary between the United States and Canada was settled. Lake of the Woods was right at the point between the 49th parallel area and the Rainy River area, and thus something of a gray area. What I still don’t know is: Why was the city of Penasse, MN (then the county seat) suddenly deserted? Now the northernmost city in the “lower 48” is Angle Inlet, MN. what happened?

My apologies to the residents of St. Martin Parish in Louisiana for using the phrase “another country” instead of “another county/parish.” The excellent answers and comments others have posted here still don’t, I regret, tell me how St. Martin Parish (or Suffolk/Norfolk counties in Massachusetts) got so fragmented.

The New Madrid Earthquakes were a series of earthquakes that ocurred from 1811 to 1812. There were three main shocks, each estimated at greater than 7 on the Richter scale (some think they were at least 8.0 magnitude). They caused quite a bit of change to the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. See http://www.system.missouri.edu/upress/spring1996/bagnall.htm for an article about the quakes.

In US law, when a river that acts as boundary between political entities changes course, the result on the boundary depends on how the river changed. If the change is gradual, the boundary changes with the river. But, if the change is sudden, then the boundary remains as it was before the course change. This can result in pieces of a state or county being ‘cut off’ from the rest of the county/state by the river. The Mississippi has several examples of this from its pre-flood control days. Accretion is the slow movement; avulsion is the quick change.

Interestingly, the Ohio River isn’t affected this way. When Virginia gave up rights to the Northwest Territories, the boundary was fixed as the land north and west of the Ohio River. This has been interpreted as establishing the boundary at the low-water mark of the Ohio River as it existed in 1792, and now it makes no difference where the Ohio River changes course to, by either avulsion or accretion. See OHIO v. KENTUCKY, 444 U.S. 335 (1980.

Oh, and a GREAT post about Belgium and the Netherlands, Coldfire! that is a really quirky border! :slight_smile:

Dougie_monty, are you talking about that little part of St. Martin Parish that looks like a dick sticking up from the top? I just looked at the census map and it shows it completely connected to the rest of the parish, just isolated by a waterway.

If you’re wondering about the weird shape, considering LA political history it is probably a gerrymander, but what the heck, I’ll see what I can find out. If nothing else, I have relatives down there who can probably give me the low-down.

I have as much authority as the Pope; I just don’t have as many people who believe it! - George Carlin

My 1998 Encyclopedia Britanica says the northern boundry of KY is the north side of the Ohio River. In other words it isn’t 1/2 way thru the river as most other river boundries are.

Is this the same thing as the low water mark?