There are many interesting lines, borders and passes around the world that tourists find interesting. This Snapshot is a listing of all those attractions which must be in your bucket list when you visit any of these destinations next time.
1. Equator, Quito, Equador
The Equator is the latitudinally the longest imaginary line on the surface of the earth, diving the globe into two equal halves – the Northern and the Southern hemispheres. The Equator is a line where there are no change of seasons. One of the countries through which the Equator passes is Equador. There is a point on this country at the city of Quito, where the world is divided into two halves, and is known as Mitad del Mundo, literally translating to ‘middle of the world’. The Tourism department of the country has made sure that this point is as tourist friendly as possible and has developed it into an interesting travel destination. The point is situated in a park, where one has to pay $2 as entry fees. Inside the park there is the Ethnographic Museum atop which there are breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.
2. Vatican City and Rome - Country within a city
One of the most majestic cities on Earth, Rome is filled with cathedrals, churches, monuments with the best art and architecture. And a major part of it lies in the Vatican city, the country of the Pope, Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and many more celebrated artists. But the most curious thing about this place is that this small country grew up inside a city! The gorgeous ornate gate in Rome serves as an entrance to the Vatican. Naturally, the country shares its borders with a full city. There are many attractions in the Vatican city, including the grand St Peter’s basilica, Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Square and many more.
3. Greenwich, UK
Much like the Equator, the most important longitudinal line across the globe of the earth is the 0 (Zero) degrees longitude that passes through Greenwich in London, giving shape to time standards across the globe. This point is known as Greenwich Meridian where the standard of time is set at Greenwich Mean Time. There is a royal palace at Greenwich which is known as the Palace of Placentia. It dates back to the 15th century, and was the birthplace of many Tudors, including the famous King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I. Greenwich became a popular tourist destination because of its maritime connections. Many important buildings were constructed here; among these were the Vanbrugh Castle and the National Maritime Museum.
4. North and South Korea
A lot of political tension in Korea resulted in the land being divided into North and South Korea. The border of the two countries now has become a wildlife sanctuary. Because of the divide, the land remained isolated in the border region making it a spot where wildlife has thrived. This strip of land is known as the Korean Demilitarized Zone, where both countries have come to a mutual agreement to conserve natural resources and wildlife. A number of rare species of animals are found here - from endangered cranes to rare Siberian tigers, as well as roe deer, gorals and wild boar.
5. Poland – Ukraine border
The border between Poland and Ukraine was born after Ukraine had lost its independence to the Soviet Union. In a turn of political events, the parts of the two countries were divided between the European Union and the Ukrainian SSR. The border is marked by the signature Polish and Ukrainian flag colours – yellow and blue, and red and white. This is the longest border between The Soviet and the EU, and the most frequently crossed by. Millions of people cross over from the Soviet into Europe through this border each year. It is an important smuggling and illegal immigration route through the numerous road, rail, passenger and cargo crossings that are heavily policed at the same time. Polish artist Jaroslaw Koziara created two giant fish images on each side of the border as a sign of the unity between the two countries.
6. Quadripoint in Africa.
There is only one place on earth where four countries have met at a single point. This sounds really amazing, and quite unbelievable too. In Africa, the countries of Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana have come to an intersection which can only be termed as the Quadripoint of Africa. There are no fancy monuments or distinction marks between the four countries here, but the point is located in the middle of a river that cuts between the countries.
7. Dead Sea
The Dead sea has a number of significances. Not only is it the only sea where people can stay afloat and never drown, it is also a shared waterbody between three major countries – Jordan, Israel and Palestine. Because of its high salt content, it is impossible to drown here, and tourists come here to witness the unique phenomenon of floating freely on the water. The high salt content also makes it impossible for animals or plants to thrive here, hence giving the sea its name. From this sea, the land areas of the three countries can be viewed. The salt sea is surrounded by Jordan to the east and Israel and Palestine to the west. It is a very popular retreat in the Mediterranean basin.
8. Bomdi La
Towards the north-eastern part of India, there is a breathtaking pass at the Indo-China border, in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. Known as Bomdi La, this pass is situated close to the picturesque Tawang. The small town of Bomdila is perched along the border, surrounded by the imposing Himalayas. The Bomdi La pass is characterized by Buddhist monasteries and apple orchids. There are many trekking trails, with the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary lying close by. The influence here is mostly Tibetan.
9. US and Russia - Diomedes islands
If one takes a close look at the globe of the earth, one will notice how the United States of America and Russia come very close to a meeting point, separated only by a few groups of islands. The Little Diomedes and the Big Diomedes are a part of USA and Russia, separated by only 2 and a half miles of water. That also means that USA and Russia are as close as two and a half miles to each other! The space between the two Diomedes islands is also where the International Date Line passes through, which is another important longitudinal line, crossing which one gains or loses a day! The islands are located in the Bering Strait, a part of the Arctic Ocean between the two continents.
10. Costa Rica and Panama border
The border between Costa Rica and Panama is an interesting geographical demarcation between the two nations. The border runs between the Pacific and the Caribbean coasts through the Cordillera Central. The border begins at the mouth of the Sixaola River in the Caribbean Sea, following the valley of this river to its influx in the Yorkin River. It then continues to the summit of the Cordillera de Talamanca, which separates the Caribbean waters and Pacific waters. The border meets the ridge that divides the water bodies into Golfo Dulce and the Charco Azul Bay. Until the end at Punta Burica on the Pacific Ocean. All of these points are important tourist attractions.
11. The Alps-Adriatic border
It becomes quite interesting when countries are not merely divided by imaginary political boundaries but by actual geographical landforms. The Alps are the most important mountain range in Europe and the Alps-Adriatic is a region where three countries have met. It is the intersection of Austria, Italy and Slovenia. The borders of these countries are found at this junction, the boundaries marked by the Alps – The Karavanke running between Austria and Sloveniam the Carnic Alps running between Austria and Italy and the Julian Alps running between Italy and Slovenia.
12. The Triple Frontier
In South America, three of the major nations have come into a mutual meeting point, which has been termed as the Triple Frontier! The countries of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay share a tri-border area at this junction, where the Iguazu and the Parana rivers meet. It is a breathtaking site where the rivers meet from two directions and converge into one, giving rise to three lands, namely the three countries stated above. The cities of Ciudad del Este (Paraguay), Puerto Iguazú (Argentina) and Foz do Iguaçu (Brazil) are located near the confluence, or in other words, the international border. It is a very popular tourist spot, where the Tancredo Neves bridge can be seen, connecting the the Argentine city of Puerto Iguazú and its Brazilian counterpart, Foz do Iguaçu in the Región de las Aguas Grandes. Each country has built an obelisk at this international convergence, in its own national colours. Visitors can see all three countries from the top of each of these obelisks.
13. Stark contrasts of Haiti & Dominican Republic border
This is yet another interesting international border. If one gets an aerial view of the two countries, one will clearly see how different the two countries are, and will be able to clearly define a line of divide between the two countries based on how the landmark appears. It was because of the different environment policies of the two countries that they have different looks. While Haiti sees its forests as a valuable resource, Dominican Republic sees it as a place of conservation. Hence, on one side of the border on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic there is dense growth of forests, while on the other, there is dearth of greenery as these have been cleared off for the economic need for charcoal by the country. The border has been defined by planting trees separately along the line.
14. Pangong Lake, India
Another beautiful travel destination on a border is the Pangong Lake, located on the Indo-China border, created in the recent times. The Pangong Lake located in the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir in India is shared between India and China after China claimed and occupied parts of India. The western part of the lake falls on the Indian side while the eastern part falls on the Aksai Chin or China occupied India, thus marking the lake as an international border. The pristine clear blue waters of this lake, surrounded by lofty mountains is a sight to behold! The lake is one of the biggest craze amongst tourists in India at the moment after it featured in the Bollywood blockbuster ‘3 Idiots’.
15. US & Canada
Two of the biggest nations of the world and sharing the largest border is the United States of America and Canada. The border is non-militarized, to keep the peace intact between the two neighbouring countries. The Peace Arch, located in Blaine, Washington and Surrey, British Columbia (near Vancouver), is a symbol of the open borders. The border is characterized by a number of geographical features. The great Lakes are a major part of the natural border, dividing the great lands. There are eight Canadian provinces and thirteen US states that share borders, including Alaska which does not share any direct border with USA but is a part of the mainland of Canada.
16. Nathu La, Sikkim, India
One of the most picturesque passes on the Indo-China border and one of the most popular tourist destinations at the moment is the Nathu La Pass in Sikkim. The pass is one of the three open trading border posts between China and India, the others being Shipkila in Himachal Pradesh and Lipulekh at Uttrakhand. Following political turmoils, and shutting down, Nathu La was re-opened in 2006. The pass is an important route for Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimages as well as for trade. Nathu La is located at a height of 14,140 feet from the sea level and offers wonderful views of the Himalayas. The word translates to ‘listening ears’ in Tibetan and forms a part of the ancient Silk Route.
17. German-Polish border
One of the major turnarounds in history was the marking of the border between Germany and Poland during the World War I and the series of events that followed. Currently it is known as the Oder–Neisse line. It stretches from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Czech Republic in the south. It is known as the Oder-Neisse line because the two rivers of Oder and Neisse meet here, marking a natural border along the two nations.
18. Argentina and Chile Border
The third longest international border, after USA-Canada and Kazakhstan-Russia borders is the Argentina-Chile border. Not only is it the third longest border in the world but also the longest border in South America. To denote the separation between the two countries, a statue of Christ the Redeemer has been built high atop the Andes mountains to symbolize peace between the two countries. This statue separates the countries of Argentina from Chile along the Andes and on the islands of Tierra del Fuego. The city of Mendoza in Argentina is one of the largest cities situated near the border. The northern point of this very border is also a tripoint where the nations meet Bolivia in the Atacama desert. The border then extends southwards to the Strait of Magellan upto the Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego.
19. The highest border in the world
If one had to go to China from Nepal, one would have to cross the Mount Everest! Indeed it is the tallest mountain on the earth that separates the nations of Nepal and China. Sitting at the border of the two countries, the imposing Mt. Everest is an ideal point of demarcation between the large sprawling China and the small kingdom of mountains tucked away in the Himalayas - Nepal. The Friendship Bridge is built across the Bhote Koshi over the border with China and Nepal. However, Nepal shares it border along the Everest with the Tibet Autonomous Region which is a part of China. This border splits Mount Everest at its summit, making it the highest border in the world at a whopping 29,000 feet above sea level.
20. Indo-Pak Attari-Wagah Border
After the partition of India, one of the borders that were defined between Pakistan and India at Punjab grew to be an important landmark. There is a place on the border called Attari-Wagah border where since 1959, there is a flag-lowering ceremony being held by the two nations every day! The ceremony is conducted by the military forces of both the countries with much pomp and grandeur, marking it a popular tourist spot. There are specially trained soldiers who put up a show and march to the drumbeats amongst cheers from crowds on both sides of the border, until the lowering of the flags at sundown. This retreat is known as the Beating Retreat Ceremony and is a common travel destination in India.
21. Akhaura border Beating retreat
The Akhaura border is an international border between India and Bangladesh at Agartala, Tripura. The fun part is that one can get a free visa to enter Bangladesh from India here! The check-post at Akhaura has a beautiful building, which provides transport area to trucks and other vehicles carrying good between the two countries. There is also a retreat ceremony, much like the Wagah flag lowering ceremony, that is held here. The ceremony, more than signifying rivalry, portrays peace and cooperation between the two neighbouring countries.
22. Strait of Gibraltar
The mystic Strait of Gibraltar has divided Spain and Morocco geographically. Appearing like a small strip of water dividing the two continents at this point, the Strait of Gibraltar has immense historical and natural significance. The famous Rock of Gibraltar, juts out on the Mediterranean Sea making it a near point of connection between the continent of Africa and Europe at this region. The Strait of Gibraltar crossing is possible through the proposed Euromed Transport project, as swimming through it is dangerous, considering the number of sharks that infest the waters.
23. US - Mexico border
24. Ban Gioc Waterfall
The countries of Vietnam and China share a natural border at the Ban Gioc waterfall. The Quay Son River forms the border between Vietnam and China, and hence, the waterfalls that form here are shared by both Vietnam and China. For a better view of the cascade, bamboo rafts have been deployed by both the countries to see the waterfalls in all their glory. While on the rafts, tourists coming from each side of the border can meet and greet each other! The Ban Gioc Waterfall is 350km away from the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.
25. Netherlands and Belgium – A shared town
A border can perhaps not get more bizarre than this! There is a small town called Baarle in Baarle-Nassau which is shared by two important European countries – the Netherlands and Belgium. A network of borders splits the town between the Netherlands and Belgium. It is structured in such a way that several parts of the Netherlands are completely surrounded by a piece of Belgian territory which is in turn surrounded by The Netherlands!
Great confusion was created after a number of land swaps and treaties between the two countries. What is interesting is that, the border of Netherlands and Belgium at Baarle runs through a cafe! There are white crosses along the ground indicating the boundary between the two countries. These white crosses run through many villages, houses and roads being an international border at the same time.
26. Iguazu Falls
A waterfall that is also an international border? Yes, that’s true. The Iguazu Falls are one of the seven Natural Wonders of the world. Not only is it breathtakingly beautiful, but it also forms a natural border between the two great nations of Brazil and Argentina. The Iguazu Falls are a part of the Iguaza National Park that is shared by both Argentina and Brazil. The Iguazu Falls also happen to be one of the biggest falls, comparable to the largest one of them all – the Victoria Falls in Africa. Thousands of tourists visit the spectacular falls every year.
27. Jelep La
Jelep La is a pass between Lhasa and Sikkim. It connects Tibet to India, being a gateway to the natural wonders of the Himalayas on both sides. The word Jelep La translates to ‘the lovely level pass’, is located at an altitude of 14,000 feet. The beautiful Menmecho Lake flows below the Jelep La Pass. One can reach Jelep La through Kalimpong or through Gangtok. The older route is that of Kalimpong, passing through the pristine towns of Pedong, Rhenok and Kupup. The route from Gangtok, crosses the towns of Sherathang, with the Changu Lake situated nearby and the Nathu La passing parallel. The Jelep La is a beautiful pass, with rhododendrons in full bloom on either side. On the Tibetan side, the path stretches towards Chumbi Valley of the Tibetan Plateau. Amongst all the Indo-Tibetan passes, the Jelep La is the most level pass, and hence the name.
28. Karakoram Pass
The Karakoram Pass is a mountain pass between India and China in the Karakoram Mountain Range. One may note that the Karakoram Pass is the highest pass on the ancient caravan route between Leh in Ladakh and Yarkand in the Tarim Basin. The Karakoram Pass has a dark history associated with it. The land is barren, with negligible supply of fodder, making it impossible for animals to thrive. What was even more dreadful was that the bones of the dead animals would be strewn as a trail on the pass marking the way!
29. Khyber Pass
One of the historical passes and a subject for many writers down the ages is the Khyber Pass which is a mountain pass that divides Afghanistan and Pakistan. It connects the town of Landi Kotal, near the Afghanistan and Pakistan border, to the Valley of Peshawar, among the Spin Ghar mountains. The Khyber Pass is an essential part of the ancient Silk Road, adding a lot of value to the cultural, economic, and geopolitical significance of the countries through which it passes. The Khyber pass has been an important trade route between Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent for ages and currently forms part of the Asian Highway or AH1. The summit of the pass is at Landi Kotal in Pakistan.
30. Dawki, Meghalaya, India
A considerable area of Meghalaya is shared with Bangladesh, which gives rise to international borders in the North Eastern Indian state. The picturesque Meghalaya or the abode of clouds gives way to the Bangladesh plainlands from the borders at Dawki. It is a town located in the Jaintia Hills. The Dawki bridge over the Umngot River can also be used for going to the other side. This is a suspension bridge built by the British during the pre-independence era. The Dawki-Tamabil border crossing between India and Bangladesh is used for ferrying passengers and cargo and for transportation of coal. Dawki-Tamabil is one of the few border crossings by road between India and Bangladesh. One can reach Dawki from Shillong’s Barabazar by availing of the shared transport facilities. On the other side, Tamabil in Bangladesh has a bus station which is connected to Sylhet.
31. Norway and Sweden border
The long land border between Norway and Sweden amidst the mountains is a peaceful retreat with it turning into a skiing destination, with people crossing between the nations in skiis on the snows in the highlands. The Scandinavian mountains divide the two nations, also forming borders with Finland for the two nations. There are also railway crossings here, and only an Identity card is required to pass over to either side of the border. There are stone cairns built on the border that marks many parts of the border.
32. Spain and Portugal
Spain and Portugal’s friendly relations are evident from their longitudinal border, one that can be crossed as easily as by foot! One of the oldest in the world, the border dividing the two neighbours is referred to as ‘la Raya’ which means ‘the stripe’ in Spanish. The Portugal-Spain border is 1,214 km long making it the longest uninterrupted border in the European Union. The border is however not defined between the Caia River and Ribeira de Cuncos. There are also bridges across the international border at the Guadiana International Bridge and the Lower Guadiana International bridge. For the adventurous traveller, there is a zipline across the border between Sanlucar de Guadiana in Spain and Alcoutim in Portugal, through which one can zip through the two countries in a matter of a few minutes!