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Natural Environment How Human History has been impacted by the environment, science, nature, geography, weather, and natural phenomena


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Old January 11th, 2017, 04:17 PM   #1

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Arbitrary Borders


Most national borders make sense. There's usually a defining geographical characteristic or a demographic makeup that defines a country's border. However, there have been times when a nation's outline was defined quite arbitrarily and even without any input from the countries involved. Often times, this type of scenario can lead to disastrous political events or economic ruin.

One situation that comes to mind is the division of Korea post-WWII. The 38th parallel was chosen by 2 American politicians looking at a map. Due to the political circumstances after the war, the 38th parallel was quickly fortified and North Korea began to be shut off from the outside world. The rest, as we say in the business, is history.

What other arbitrary borders come to mind for you? What were the implications? Are those implications still being felt today?
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Old January 11th, 2017, 07:03 PM   #2

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The borders of the middle east come to mind. Sykes and Picot have much to answer for with their arbitrary lines on a map that failed to take into account religious and ethnic differences among the former subjects of the Ottoman Empire.
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Old January 12th, 2017, 01:21 AM   #3
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The borders of the middle east come to mind. Sykes and Picot have much to answer for with their arbitrary lines on a map that failed to take into account religious and ethnic differences among the former subjects of the Ottoman Empire.
Absolutely
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Old January 12th, 2017, 08:27 AM   #4

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Most border's actually did/do not make sense, almost all are arbitrary and are artificial impositions on nature - with rare exceptions where countries are islands or have mountains as dividers.

The defining differance between arbitrariness and constancy is time. Given enough time and stable central rule states create homogeneity through administrative tools. The border between Ulster and Republic of Ireland, border between Portugal and Spain, the border between Poland and Germany are arbitrary impositions on geography which have attained permanency through efficient states.

Likewise USA and Canada have a line running that even a kindergarten kid with steady hand and ruler could have drawn. Furthermore it appears to separate like from like in culture, ethnic group and language. The list of arbitrariness is long with defining variables being:-

(i) Time elapsed
(ii) efficacy of the states ruling the spaces on both sides of the border.

The longer and more success (0n the two variables listed) creates contrasted homogeneity on both sides of the border and constancy.

Last edited by Bullit; January 12th, 2017 at 08:29 AM.
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Old January 12th, 2017, 09:21 AM   #5
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The borders on the Arabian Penninsula are arbitrary straight lines where lines exist and some borders, like Saudi Arabia-Yemen and Saudi Arabia-Oman there might not be any lines at all. It's just sand. No one cares who owns it. Some maps draw a line for convenience, but other maps just show a color change without a black line and there's a notation 'border undefined.'

If you look at the border between Kenya and Tanzania it's a straight line except for a little zig-zag around Mount Kilamanjaro. Back in the 1890s when the Europeans drew Africa's borders, they originally proposed a line perpendicular to the coast passing through the middle of Kilamanjaro, but Kaiser Wilhelm II threw a temper tantrum until he got all of the mountain for himself - hence the zig-zag.
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Old January 12th, 2017, 10:16 AM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by leakbrewergator View Post
Most national borders make sense. There's usually a defining geographical characteristic or a demographic makeup that defines a country's border. However, there have been times when a nation's outline was defined quite arbitrarily and even without any input from the countries involved. Often times, this type of scenario can lead to disastrous political events or economic ruin.

One situation that comes to mind is the division of Korea post-WWII. The 38th parallel was chosen by 2 American politicians looking at a map. Due to the political circumstances after the war, the 38th parallel was quickly fortified and North Korea began to be shut off from the outside world. The rest, as we say in the business, is history.

What other arbitrary borders come to mind for you? What were the implications? Are those implications still being felt today?
The modern boundaries of countries such as Poland, Germany and Ukraine are also completely arbitrary and no one from those countries had any involvement in the designing of those borders after the Second World War.
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Old February 16th, 2017, 01:42 AM   #7

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like France's borders, Spain's, Portugal's, the United Kingdom's, the USA's, China's, India's, the Roman Empire after Trajan died, and it's essentially an endless list.
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Old February 16th, 2017, 02:49 AM   #8

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Namibia's Caprivi Strip.

It's that narrow piece of land that stretches across the top of Botswana to create a 4 country border post at Victoria Falls.

Essentially the British gave it to the Germans in 1890 in exchange for German interests in Zanzibar and the island of Heligoland in the North Sea.

The idea being that they could use the Zambezi River to link German South West Africa to German Tanganyika via river.

Only it didn't work because the Zambezi is unnavigable.
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Old February 16th, 2017, 01:56 PM   #9

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like France's borders, Spain's, Portugal's, the United Kingdom's, the USA's, China's, India's, the Roman Empire after Trajan died, and it's essentially an endless list.
The UK is an island....how are it's borders arbitrary?
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Old February 16th, 2017, 03:20 PM   #10

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Originally Posted by leakbrewergator View Post
What other arbitrary borders come to mind for you? What were the implications? Are those implications still being felt today?
All man-made borders are arbitrary. It's really that simple. The colonial borders imposed by Europeans on Africa and the Middle East are probably the worst examples, given their complete disregard for local conditions.

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The UK is an island....
No, it's not.
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