How Much Do You Know About Country and State Borders?


By: Zoe Samuel

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

According to political scholars, a sovereign nation is a region in which one legal entity - of necessity being the government of that country - has the exclusive monopoly on the legitimate use of violence. That is, if you're in X country and you don't work for X government, you're not allowed to touch anyone other than to defend yourself or the laws created by X government. The "nation" means the people of that country; the "state" means its government. The "nation state" can be used interchangeably with the word "country" to describe the combination of the two that means a cartographer knows it's time to draw a line on the map and write in a name.

Some countries are divided into "states," which is a little confusing since a "state" can also just be a country itself. However, as we've learned, since a state can just mean a jurisdiction, it's a useful distinction to have in hand. A state within a country means not just a historical county or region, but an area with a certain level of autonomy. Again, it means a cartographer's going to have to reach for his or her pen.

Still, you don't always need to know WHAT they are to know WHERE they are and HOW they got there, do you? So whether all this is old news or a total surprise to you, you could still ace this country and state border quiz. Let's get started!

Which of these countries' borders was NOT created by the Radcliffe Line?

The Radcliffe Line was created by Cyril Radcliffe, a British officer partitioning India and Pakistan after the British Empire's departure. It set up borders that today are some of the most complex and contested in the world, meaning it probably wasn't the most brilliant option.


How far apart are the US and Canada?

While technically, the US and Canada have the longest border in the world at 5,500 continuous miles, they are 20 feet apart. There is a deforested strip of 10 feet on each side of the border which is designed to ensure the two countries remain peaceful and respectful.


Which of the below does NOT share a border on top of Mount Roirama, South America?

Brazil, Venezuela and Guyana all meet on top of the tabletop mountain, which is noted for its distinctive cliffs. You can stand in one country then bend over and put one hand in each of the other two!


What border is protected by Fort Blunder?

Fort Blunder was built to protect America from Canada ... but it was a few miles inside Canada. After a couple of years of construction, it was abandoned, so technically it protects no border.


What is the highest border in the world?

At 29,029 ft above sea level, sections of this border are so high that even many species of birds simply cannot fly over it, or only when the wind is correct. That's because it is the highest border in the world.


What is the most guarded border in the world?

The Korean Demilitarized Zone is a true no-man's land with many, many thousands of mines in it. Technically the Korean War has not actually ended yet.


What's weird about the Belgian-Netherlands border at Baarle-Hertog?

The town of Baarle-Hertog contains parcels of the Netherlands and parcels of Belgium all mixed up together. It's essentially impossible to know which is which unless you have a map in hand!


What is the most illuminated border in the world?

India installed an amazing array of lights and fencing along this border after fighting more than one war with their neighbor. It is now the brightest border in the world.


What impact has border smuggling had on US currency?

President Nixon vetoed the idea of printing bigger bills like $200 and $500 as it would make it too easy for people to smuggle large quantities. This is a standard anti-smuggling device these days whereby legal tender is designed not to be TOO easy to lug around.


What's special about the French-German border at Lake Constance?

There is no actual border here; the lake is not really in either country and there's no rule about where one country ends and the other begins. It's technically a gap, but in practice people just use the shores as borders.


How far into the ocean do a nation's territorial waters go?

12 nautical miles from the low-water mark of a nation's tides are considered sovereign waters. Beyond that, it's anyone's guess.


What are the parts of the ocean called that are not within anyone's borders?

The "high seas" are the area not near land, that are not within any borders. There is a movement to make a large portion of this area protected, as it will enable the oceans to regenerate life and oxygen-making plankton.


On a satellite image, what's shocking about the Kazakhstan-China border?

China has a huge population and needs to farm every inch of land, even bad quality land. Kazakhstan has a small population and loads of land, plus its far eastern regions aren't good for farming anyway, so it doesn't use them. The picture on the map is striking.


Who drew the borders in the Middle East?

François Georges-Picot and Mark Sykes were tasked with carving up an area that had been the Ottoman Empire for about 600 years by the time the British, French and Russian empires defeated the Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and German empires in the First World War. It was a case of to the victors go the spoils. Unfortunately they didn't take any account of local opinion or tradition.


Why was the Mason-Dixon line first created?

The line that later came to mark the boundary of North and South in the USA - and hence the limits of slavery in the USA - was drawn in Colonial times to resolve a dispute between Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware about where the border should be.


What is the right word for a piece of a country, or whole country, that exists entirely inside another country?

An enclave is a part of one nation, or a whole nation, that is inside another. For example, Lesotho is an enclave in South Africa.


What is the only land border between Spain and Morocco?

Ceuta is a city on the north coast of Morocco that is actually part of Spain. It's just a small area but it is sovereign Spanish territory. Morocco does not agree with this characterization.


Who or what crossed the Greek-Bulgarian border in 1925 and started a war?

The Incident at Petrich or the War of the Stray Dog resulted from a Greek soldier chasing his stray dog to get it back. The animal didn't know it had crossed a border - or that it started a war!


What is the smallest inhabited island with a border down the middle?

The island is split between France and Holland. As it is in the Caribbean, it's their furthest outpost.


By what name was the moment known whereby Nazi soldiers dressed up as Poles and attacked their own people to justify the invasion of Poland?

This incident triggered World War Two. It meant the British and French mobilized to defend a sovereign Poland, not fooled by Nazi lies about who attacked whom.


For whose protection did Russia build a more than 600-yard tunnel near the Siberian border?

Russia built this tunnel to divert the highway away from this precious and endangered leopard's migration route. Russia has not recently been big on preserving borders themselves, but it's great at protecting animals.


Which border did Russia invade across in March 2014?

Russia invaded Crimea, a part of Ukraine, in 2014. Russia claims that this territory belongs to them; however it has been sovereign Ukrainian territory for 80 years. This is part of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin's imperialistic designs on Russia's sovereign neighbors.


Which European border is in a serious pickle right now about trade across it?

One of many complexities of Brexit for which the Leave campaign have yet to present a solution was the Irish border, which would be impacted by closing it off. This would not only devastate two economies, it also jeopardizes the Good Friday agreement which provided peace in Ireland for the first time in 100 years.


What can you do at The Smuggler's Inn B&B in Canada?

This inn is a great place to watch people bringing drugs and other things across this supposedly harmless border! They're often not the naughty kind of drug, though: Canada has much cheaper access to medicine as a result of their different healthcare system.


What notable European border can you see across, but not walk across, despite freedom of movement?

The White Cliffs of Dover are so enormous that you can see 22 miles across the Channel to France! It's not always clear enough, but on a sunny day (which England occasionally has) you can see straight over. The White Cliffs are truly worth a visit (and they are very, very white, so bring your sunglasses).


How many Russian bombers per year does North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) intercept at the Canadian border, as of the last 10 years?

NORAD protects Canadian airspace from these regular incursions by Russian military. Russia and Canada sort-of have a border, across the Arctic, thus there has been some aggression.


What screw-up on the Egypt-Sudan border resulted in a perpetual dispute?

The borders were drawn in 1899 and 1902 and put a little piece of land the wrong side each time. Since one of the two pieces was very good fertile land and one was dreadful barren rock, Egypt and Sudan have been in a fight about who gets which one ever since!


Which two nations straddle the Cooch-Behar District?

This is a very messy area where some parts of India and some parts of Bangladesh are literally inside each other. It's slowly being sorted out.


Many people think Bangladesh's only land border is with India, but it is not. Who is their other neighbor?

Myanmar has a small border with Bangladesh. Tragically, due to ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, the Rohingya minority have been using this little crossing to escape their homeland recently, putting strain on an already strained Bangladesh.


Other than America, what can you see from the Russian island of Little Diomede?

The International Dateline separates the two islands in the Bering Strait, so if you stand on Little Diomede, you can look at Big Diomede where it is literally tomorrow! It's as close as you can get to time travel without moving.


Inside which of its neighbors does Oman have a little sovereign territory (other than an embassy)?

The United Arab Emirates contains a little piece of Oman - and inside that is a little piece of ... the United Arab Emirates! Just carry your passport if you're in this area and be careful not to surprise anyone.


Which of the below does NOT claim a portion of Antarctica as being within its borders?

Some of Antarctica is unclaimed and some only claimed by a single nation. If climate change gets very bad and we all have to go live there in our Antarctican vineyards, it's likely that there will be some wars, as some parts are triply-claimed! The rules say nobody can claim Antarctica, but the USA and Russia both have exemptions that mean they COULD claim it in future. It's all rather a mess at the moment.


What is the shortest land border between the main land area of two sovereign states?

This border is only 150 meters. If you count overseas territories then you can find shorter borders, but Botswana and Zambia have the shortest that is between the primary land area of two nations.


What is the name for a part of a nation that is fully separated from the main land area?

An exclave is a part of a nation that is not contiguous with the nation's main land area. Archipelago nations like the Philippines don't count here; it's more a matter of places like Guam that are exclaves of the USA.


What very impressive thing did Albania do to its border in 1938?

King Ahmet Zog of Albania, a member of the Toptani family, opened his nation's borders to fleeing Jews and others, saving many lives. He was a Muslim ruler who survived more than 50 assassination attempts. The Toptani family are known as "Righteous Among the Nations". This is an honor given to non-Jews who saved Jews from the Holocaust. It is bestowed by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial museum, to thank and honor those who showed great courage and kindness to those they did not have to help.


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