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Articles in Border Disputes

Slides on Conflicts in the East Asian Seas

By Martin W. Lewis | May 13, 2015 | 3 Comments

Dear Readers,
Regular GeoCurrents posts continue to be delayed, due to a combination of illness and teaching obligations. Today’s post merely links to a set of slides that I used for my lecture last night on territorial conflicts in the East Asian Seas. I made several original maps (on Google and Google Earth base maps), which are posted here directly.
Next week’s …

Does Pakistan Claim Junagadh in the Indian State of Gujarat?

By Martin W. Lewis | April 22, 2014 | 9 Comments

India and Pakistan’s territorial conflict over Kashmir (“Jammu and Kashmir” officially) is well known, as are the complications that it creates for cartographers. Maps produced in India must portray all of the disputed area as Indian land, while Pakistani maps show it as part of Pakistan. Outside observers who try to remain impartial usually divide these two countries at the …

Cyprus: Between East and West?

By Claire Negiar | April 10, 2014 | 14 Comments

(Note: This is the second of two articles by Stanford student Claire Negiar that together contrast the situations of two geopolitically divided islands: Saint Martin and Cyprus)
Cyprus and Saint Martin – two very different islands sharing one key property: both are split by their “mother countries,” Greece and Turkey in the case of Cyprus, France and the Netherlands in the …

North Kalimantan: Indonesia’s Newest Province and Southeast Asian Geopolitical Tensions

By Martin W. Lewis | July 31, 2013 | Comments Off on North Kalimantan: Indonesia’s Newest Province and Southeast Asian Geopolitical Tensions

Indonesia and Malaysia have a long history of mutual distrust, despite—or perhaps because of—their similar historical and cultural backgrounds. Indonesia objected so strongly to the creation of an independent Malaysian state out of several British colonies in the early 1960s that it instigated a four-year undeclared war, the so-called Indonesian–Malaysian Confrontation (1962–1966). But with the fall of the Sukarno government …

Malawi and Tanzania Spar over Lake Malawi (Nyasa)

By Martin W. Lewis | August 23, 2012 | Comments Off on Malawi and Tanzania Spar over Lake Malawi (Nyasa)

International boundaries in oceanic space are often complex and disputed, especially in areas that abound in hydrocarbons. Boundaries that extend across lakes are usually less contentious and convoluted, but that is not always the case. Consider, for example, Lake Malawi (also known as Lake Nyasa) in southern Africa, widely considered to be the world’s eighth largest lake. As can be seen on the map, the central portion of this lake is evenly divided between Malawi and Mozambique, yet Malawi controls two islands that are well within the territorial waters of its neighbor, Chizumulu and Likoma, which together constitute a Malawian exclave district, with a population of some 13,000.

Flood and Political Conflicts in Northeastern India

By Nicholas Baldo | July 3, 2012 | Comments Off on Flood and Political Conflicts in Northeastern India

Flooding in Northeastern India and its sometimes-fraught political backdrop.

Divided Islands, Large and Small

By Martin W. Lewis | March 27, 2012 | 12 Comments

The recent GeoCurrents news post on electronics factories in Tierra del Fuego brought up the issue of a politically divided island. I did a quick mental count and came up with eight examples of such islands: New Guinea, Borneo, Ireland, Hispaniola, Timor, Cyprus, Saint Martin, and Tierra del Fuego (or, more properly, Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, to differentiate …

Stalled Negotiations in Western Sahara

By Martin W. Lewis | March 23, 2012 | Comments Off on Stalled Negotiations in Western Sahara

Yet again, talks on Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara collapsed without agreement. Representatives from Morocco, the independence-seeking Polisario Front, Algeria, and Mauritania recently met in for three days in a suburb or New York; in the end, “‘Each party continued to reject the proposal of the other as the sole basis for future negotiations, while reiterating their willingness to work together to reach a solution.”

Alaskan Sovereignty Issues: Wrangles Over Wrangel

By Martin W. Lewis | February 25, 2012 | 3 Comments

Sovereignty issues have recently been appearing in Alaskan newspapers. On February 22, the Alaska Dispatch noted that former U.S. senate candidate Joe Miller was lambasting Barak Obama for relinquishing control of several sizable “oil-rich” Alaskan islands, ostensibly because of the Obama administration’s hostility to the petroleum industry.

Keystone of the Caucasus: Ignored Ossetia and Its Snow Revolution

By Martin W. Lewis | January 13, 2012 | 27 Comments
Map of the Caucasus, Showing North Ossetia-Alania and South Ossetia

If the arch of the Great Caucasus can be said to have a keystone, it would have to be Ossetia. This east-west range presents a formidable barrier to traffic between southern Russia and the Middle East, as it is pierced by few negotiable passes. By far the most important route across the mountains extends along the Darial Gorge through …

Contested French Islands and Sea-Space in the Western Indian Ocean

By Martin W. Lewis | October 31, 2011 | Comments Off on Contested French Islands and Sea-Space in the Western Indian Ocean
Map of Europa Island

As was recently discussed in GeoCurrents, France’s incorporation of Mayotte as an overseas department has been attributed by some to the quest for geo-strategic advantage. It is difficult to see, however, exactly what advantage is gained. It is true that the possession of Mayotte gives France an extensive maritime realm by way of the 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) that …

Iran’s Territorial Disputes with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates

By Martin W. Lewis | October 20, 2011 | 6 Comments
Map of Bahrain

As explained in last Friday’s post, tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia run deep. Iran’s relations with several other Arab countries of the region are also strained, due in part to active and potential territorial disputes in the Gulf region. The small island country of Bahrain, where a Sunni Muslim political establishment rules a Shiite

Border Delineation and Geopolitical Wrangling between India and Bangladesh

By Martin W. Lewis | May 30, 2011 | 3 Comments

Progress on the India-Bangladesh border barrier has been slower than expected, due in part to difficulties in determining precisely where the border runs. Such problems might seem surprising. In the standard model of geopolitics, international borders are clearly delineated, one-dimensional lines that absolutely separate sovereign states. In practice, however, borders are often contested and sometimes

When Is an Island Not An Island? Caribbean Maritime Disputes

By Martin W. Lewis | March 21, 2011 | One Comment
caribbean maritime disputes map

Matters of basic geographical definition can be extremely important in international disputes and negotiations, especially when it comes to maritime claims. According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, any country can claim a 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around every island that it controls, usually splitting the differences with

Territorial Disputes and Cultural Accommodations in Vanuatu

By Martin W. Lewis | June 30, 2010 | 2 Comments

Melanesia, as we have seen, is culturally varied. Global linguistic diversity probably reaches its extreme in the highlands of New Guinea, but Vanuatu contends for the title. Its 243,000 people speak 113 indigenous languages. According to the Wikipedia, its “density of languages, per capita, is the highest of any nation in the world, with an

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