A Map Geek’s Tour of the World

The 8.9 mile gap between the European and
African continent known as the Straight of Gibraltar is home to multiple strange territories
and borders. On the European side, there is a 2.6 square mile British Overseas territory
named Gibraltar. This means that Britain shares a small land border with Spain. On the African
side of the straight is the Spanish city of Ceuta, separated completely from the rest
of Spain. This city is an autonomous community within Spain, essentially having similar rights
as the independent regions that make up Spain. A little more than 100 miles down the African
coast is Melilla, another Spanish exclave in northern Africa. All this means that Spain
shares significant land borders with Morocco, and that in effect only one country separates
British soil from African soil. Two other European countries also have strange
border relations. Conventional wisdom would say that the Netherlands and France do not
share a land border. Belgium stands between the two countries, however, on the other side
of the world, the two countries do share a border. The Caribbean island of Saint Martin
is split between a French collectivity, Saint Martin, and a Dutch constituent country, Sint
Maarten, meaning that you can walk from France to the Netherlands without crossing through
another country. Also part of France is French Guiana. French
Guiana has the exact same political power as any other French department and region
despite being on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. It has a comparable relationship as
Hawaii to the United States—geographically separated but politically integrated. This
means that France shares a land border with both Brazil and Suriname.
There are two daily flights from French Guiana to Paris which make for one of the longest
domestic flights in the world. These flights take off in France and land in France, but
take 9 hours and cross 4,401 miles. Despite this, this is not the longest domestic flight
in the world. The longest is also within France and goes from Paris to the French overseas
department of Réunion, located in the Indian Ocean. The flight is 5,809 miles long and
takes just over 11 hours. And over to North America, it’s impossible
to walk or drive from New York to LA without crossing over water. The Saint Lawrence river
connects the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, then the Chicago River connects to the Des
Plaines River which connects to the Illinois River which connects to the Mississippi River
which flows out into the Gulf of Mexico. It’s also impossible to go from the South to the
North of the US without crossing water. Theres one creek in the Teton wilderness of Wyoming
that divides at a place called the Parting of the Waters. One side flows 3,488 miles
to the Atlantic while the other 1,353 to the Pacific. This means that this is one of the
few natural waterways connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Near those great lakes that make up part of the water split is Middle Island, Canada,
the southernmost point in Canada. A majority of US states—27—actually lie fully or
partially north of this point. The closest point in Europe to the US is the
Dingle Peninsula in Ireland, only 2539 miles away from Hamill, Maine. The island of Ireland
is politically divided between the autonomous country of the Republic of Ireland and the
section of Great Britain, called Northern Ireland. Although, despite the name, the northernmost
part of the island of Ireland is not in Northern Ireland; it’s Malin Head, part of the Republic
of Ireland. Now to finish it off we’ll head up to Norway.
Norway’s land stretches over Sweden and Finland to actually shares a border with Russia. On
the other side of Eurasia, Russia also shares a tiny 11 mile border with North Korea. This
means that only one country separates the Nordic social democracy in Norway from the
communist dictatorship of North Korea.


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