Travelling the world is one of the most enjoyable, eye-opening and fulfilling experiences that anyone can have, and one of the things that facilitates the free flow of bodies around the world is the non-restrictive boarders between countries. Of course some countries are more protective than others and certain boarders are highly protected, making travel somewhat difficult for some, and immigration impossible for others.
Strict boarders can often be the result of international disputes, but more commonly, they are implemented to protect the interests of a country and its citizens through means of regulating immigration, controlling the movements of citizens (even within countries), collecting tax, preventing weapons or hazardous material from entering a country, or controlling the spread of disease.
In Western Europe, boarder restrictions have been largely eradicated under the Schengen agreement, a system implemented in 1995 whereby internal boarders between 25 countries on the continent have been relaxed, facilitating the free movement of citizens around the region. This makes trading as well as business and leisure travel much similar and enhances the sense of a united European Union.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for other country’s international relations, there are many boarders around the world that are not so easy to cross;
USA / Mexico
The US/Mexico Border stretches are almost 2000 miles, it experiences over 350 million crossings each year and is one of the most famous international borders in the World, having been depicted in many Hollywood blockbusters, most recently ‘No Country for Old Men’.
Although the border is guarded by 20,000 agents, they only have control of around 700 miles, and are mostly stationed around big U.S and Mexican cities like San Diego and El Paso. Despite the stringent security measures around half a million illegal entries are made into the U.S every year.
Because entry into the U.S is becoming more difficult immigrants are being re-directed into rural regions in attempt to make it into the U.S, this is leading to an increasing mortality rate as people perish in desolate desert or mountain regions.
Afghanistan / Pakistan
Its little surprise that Afghanistan appears on the list owing to the ‘war on terror’ that’s been raging for almost a decade. Complicating the international effort to rebuild the country is its fierce border dispute with Pakistan.
The 1,500 mile Durand line is the name for the official border between the two countries, but I is poorly marked and cuts through Pakistani tribal areas. Afghanistan refuses to accept the line as Pakistan’s western border, which is the cause of much fighting.
The Durand line has been described as ‘the most dangerous place in the world’ and the U.S-led war on terror has served as a distraction, allowing fighting to continue largely unreported.
DR Congo / Angola
Central Africa is one of the most corrupt places in the world, and attempting to travel between these two countries is particularly treacherous for women. A dispute between the two countries led to an expulsion of thousands of women and Children from Angola in 2009.
The disputes over borders and offshore oil ownership escalated in 2004 after relations between the two countries broke down. Females moving across the border have been subject to sexual violence and rape from Angolans and Congolese, many of them in military uniform.
N Korea / S Korea
So sensitive is the border between North and South Korea, that there is a Demilitarized zone (DMZ) surrounding both sides of the border, acting as a buffer between the two countries. This is a heavily patrolled area protected by high-fences, littered with land mines and listening posts.
Troops are stationed along the DMZ on either side, positioned on watch towers, a crossing of the DMZ by any individual usually leads to a fire fight, and there have been many incidents, the last of which was recorded in 2010.
An unexpected benefit of the DMZ is that it is one of the richest temperate areas in the world for wildlife. Having been uninhabited by humans for decades, the DMZ has become home to many rare species of Leopard, Tiger and Bear as well over 320 kinds of bird.
Author: Joe is a travel blogger who is keen to avoid any dangerous border disputes on his travels! He is looking forward to taking his holidays in Portugal later this year. You can follow Joe on Twitter @joe__johnson__