Enclave and exclave

Enclave and exclave
(Fig. 1) C is A's enclave and B's exclave
(Fig. 2) C is an exclave of B, but not an enclave of A since it also shares a border with D

In political geography, an enclave is a territory whose geographical boundaries lie entirely within the boundaries of another territory.[1]

An exclave, on the other hand, is a territory legally or politically attached to another territory with which it is not physically contiguous.[2]

These are two distinct concepts, although many entities fit both definitions. In Fig. 1 at right, C is an exclave of B, and is also an enclave within A. If C were independent it would be an enclave but not an exclave. In Fig. 2 at right, C is again an exclave of B, but is not an enclave, because it has boundaries with more than one entity.


Origin and usage

The word enclave entered the English jargon of diplomacy in 1868[citation needed]. It derives from French, which was then the lingua franca of diplomacy.[citation needed]. The word enclave and a number of related words exist in French and Spanish with the meaning of "surrounded, included, embedded, fixed" and they all ultimately derive from the Latin "clavus" which had two related meanings. One was "nail" (which is embedded and surrounded) and another was a knot in the wood (which is also embedded and surrounded).

The word exclave is a logical extension created three decades later.[citation needed] Although the meanings of both words are close, an exclave may not necessarily be an enclave or vice versa. For example, Kaliningrad, an exclave of Russia, is not an enclave because it is surrounded not by one state, but by two: Lithuania and Poland; it also borders the Baltic Sea. Conversely, Lesotho is an enclave in South Africa, but it is not politically attached to anything else, meaning that it is not an exclave.

In British administrative history, subnational enclaves were usually called detachments or detached parts. In English ecclesiastic history, subnational enclaves were known as peculiars (see also Royal Peculiar).

A country surrounded by another but having access to the sea is not considered to be an enclave, regardless of size. For this reason Portugal is not an enclave of Spain, and Gambia is not an enclave of Senegal.

Usage in other fields

In medicine, an exclave is a detached part of an organ, as of the pancreas, thyroid, or other gland.


Enclaves may be created for a variety of historical, political or geographical reasons. Some areas have been left as enclaves by changes in the course of a river.

Since living in an enclave can be very inconvenient and many agreements have to be found by both countries over mail addresses, power supply or passage rights, enclaves tend to be eliminated and many cases that existed before have now been removed. The governments of India and Bangladesh have been pressed to resolve the complex system of enclaves along their border - persons in these enclaves have complained of being effectively stateless.[3] In 2011, India and Bangladesh signed a leasehold agreement regarding the Tin Bigha Corridor.

Many exclaves today have an independence movement, especially if the exclave is far away from the mainland.[citation needed]

True enclaves

See List of enclaves and exclaves.

This refers to those territories where a country is sovereign, but which cannot be reached without entering one particular other country. One example was West Berlin, before the reunification of Germany, which was de facto a West German exclave within East Germany, and thus an East German enclave (many small West Berlin land areas, such as Steinstücken, were in turn separated from the main one, some by only a few meters). De jure all of Berlin was ruled by the four Allied powers; this meant that West Berlin could not send voting members to the German Parliament, and that its citizens were exempt from conscription; however, this was not accepted by the East German government or the Soviet Union, which treated East Berlin as an integral part of East Germany.

Most of the enclaves now existing are to be found in Asia, with a handful in Africa and Europe. While administrative enclaves are found frequently elsewhere, there are no nation-level enclaves in Australia or the Americas.

Enclaved countries

Position of Lesotho within South Africa

Some enclaves are countries in their own right, completely surrounded by another one, and therefore not exclaves. Three such sovereign countries exist:

Historically, the Black Homelands or Bantustans of South Africa existed under the Nationalist government from 1948 to 1994. Most of these had their origins in the "native reserves" created under earlier British colonial administration. In federal law of the USA, the Indian Reservation system seems to act like "Enclaved countries" in most cases. The same would apply for Indian Reserves in Canada and Aboriginal Reserve in Australia. See also List of countries that border only one other country.

Temporary enclaves

The Scottish Court in the Netherlands, at Camp Zeist near Utrecht, was temporarily declared as sovereign territory of the United Kingdom under Scottish law for the duration of the trial of those accused in the Lockerbie bombing, and was therefore an exclave of the United Kingdom, and of Scotland, and an enclave within the Netherlands. It was also so during the appeal of the man convicted. The court was first convened in 1999, and the land returned to the Netherlands in 2002.

Enclaves and exclaves of the European Union

Several members of the European Union have exclaves that are also exclaves of the European Union. These include the Azores and Madeira (islands belonging to Portugal), the Canary Islands (belonging to Spain); Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Reunion Islands (all islands belonging to France); and Guyane (French territory in South America).[4] This was also previously true of Greenland (an exclave of Denmark), but it is no longer part of the European Union. A number of Spanish exclaves exist on the north African coast, including Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera. The small town of Büsingen is a German (and thus an EU) exclave in Switzerland. The small town of Campione D'Italia is an Italian (and thus an EU) exclave also in Switzerland.

Some members of the European Union, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, and Malta are entirely on islands.[4] As a result, the islands of Great Britain (most of the United Kingdom), Ireland (Ireland and part of the United Kingdom), Cyprus, and Malta are exclaves of the European Union. Iceland is a possible future member of the European Union; if Iceland does join the European Union, it will be the northernmost exclave of the European Union.

Switzerland and Liechtenstein together form an enclave of the European Union, surrounded by Germany, France, Italy, and Austria.[4] Others are Andorra (surrounded by France and Spain), San Marino and Vatican City (both surrounded by Italy).

Kaliningrad, an exclave of Russia, is technically not a true enclave of the European Union, because Kaliningrad is on the Baltic Sea, as is a portion of Russia between Finland and Estonia. However, the Russian coastline between Finland and Estonia is virtually inaccessible, especially in the winter, so Kaliningrad (and the Baltic Sea) are usually accessible only through the European Union. Denmark allows innocent passage through its territorial sea, so lands on the Baltic Sea, including the Kaliningrad exclave of Russia, do have maritime access to the Atlantic Ocean.[5]

Related constructs and terms

"Practical" enclaves and exclaves and inaccessible districts

Some territories, attached to the motherland by a thin slice of land or territorial water, are more easily accessible by traveling through a foreign country. These territories may be called "practical exclaves" or "pene-exclaves" (example: the Northwest Angle between the United States and Canada, or the Spanish village of Os de Civís, which can only be accessed through the independent Andorra as it is virtually isolated from the rest of Spain by mountains.) American Lane (41°05′52″N 73°43′21″W / 41.09782°N 73.722553°W / 41.09782; -73.722553 (American Lane)), in Greenwich, Connecticut, can be accessed only from New York State, because it is separated by Interstate 684 from the remainder of Connecticut.

Conversely, a territory that is an exclave but does not function as one (instead functioning as a contiguous part of the main nation) is deemed a "quasi-exclave".(Robinson 1959)

Subnational enclaves and exclaves

Sometimes, administrative divisions of a country, for historical or practical reasons, caused some areas to belong to a division while being attached to another one.

Kentucky Bend and surrounding area
  Missouri (MO)
  Tennessee (TN)
  Kentucky (KY)

Second - and Third - order Enclaves (Enclaves within Enclaves)

It is possible for an enclave to be completely surrounded not by the main body of another country, but by an exclave of it.

Ethnic enclaves

An ethnic enclave is a community of an ethnic group inside an area in which another ethnic group predominates. Ghettos, Little Italys, barrios and Chinatowns are examples. These areas may have a separate language, culture and economic system. Nagorno-Karabakh is arguably an ethnic enclave. It is a predominantly ethnic Armenian area inside Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh War which lasted from 1988 to 1994 resulted in the area self-proclaiming its independence, but this has never been recognized by the international community, which tends to describe the current situation as a frozen conflict. The 2008 film Silent Light concerns a Mennonite Flemish sect living within the Mexican state of Chihuahua, who speak a dialect called Plautdietsch.[6]


Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic, which borders Turkey, Armenia and Iran, is an exclave of Azerbaijan. Additionally, Azerbaijan has three more small exclaves: Karki, Barkhudarli and Yukhari Askipara (together with Aşağı Əskipara) which are all inside the territory of Armenia.


Embassies and military bases are usually exempted from the jurisdiction of the host country, i.e., the laws of the host nation in which an embassy is located do not typically apply to the land of the embassy or base itself. This exemption from the jurisdiction of the host country is defined as extraterritoriality. Areas of extraterritoriality are not true enclaves as they are still part of the host country. In addition to embassies, some other areas have extraterritoriality.

Examples of this include:

Land ceded to a foreign country

Some areas of land in a country are owned by another country and in some cases it has special privileges, such as being exempt from taxes. These lands are not enclaves and do not have extraterritoriality.

Examples of this include:

National railway passing through foreign territory

Changes in borders can make a railway that was previously located solely within a country traverse the new borders. Since railways are much more expensive than roads to rebuild to avoid this problem, the criss-cross arrangement tends to last a long time. With passenger trains this may mean that doors on carriages are locked and guarded to prevent illicit entry and exit while the train is temporarily in another country.

Borders can also be in the "wrong" place, forcing railways into difficult terrain.

Border changes

Examples include:

  • Salzburg to Innsbruck (Austria) (passes Rosenheim, Germany). A railway line within Austria exists as well, but trains take about 1.5 hours longer than across German territory.
  • Trains from Neugersdorf, Saxony to Zittau pass Czech territory at Varnsdorf, while Czech trains from Varnsdorf to Chrastava pass through German territory at Zittau, and then a small part of Polish territory near the village of Porajów.
  • Trains from Görlitz to Zittau, Germany, pass the border river Neisse several times (see Oder-Neisse line); the train station for Ostritz, Germany, lies in Krzewina Zgorzelecka, Poland.
  • Belgrade - Bar railway crosses into Bosnia and Herzegovina for 9 kilometres (5.6 mi), between stations Zlatibor and Priboj (both in Serbia). There is one station, Štrpci, but there are no border crossing facilities and trains do not call at the station.
  • The local trains on the Burgenlandbahn in Austria cross the area of Hungary at Sopron. During the era of the Iron Curtain, the trains had their doors locked as they traversed Hungarian territory.
  • The line from Ventimiglia to Limone Piemonte, Italy, via Breil-sur-Roya, France.
  • The Hochrheinbahn (Upper Rhine Railway) from Basel via Waldshut to Schaffhausen is part of the Deutsche Bahn network, and is mostly in Germany, but the two ends are in Switzerland and it is only connected with the rest of the German railway network via Switzerland. At both Basel and Schaffhausen the railway has extraterritorial status, it is possible to travel by train to and from the rest of Germany without going through Swiss customs. See Basel Badischer Bahnhof.
  • Similarly, during the Cold War, underground lines in West Berlin ran under parts of East Berlin. Ghost stations (German: Geisterbahnhöfe) were stations on Berlin's U-Bahn and S-Bahn metro networks that were closed during this period of Berlin's division.
  • The Belgian Vennbahn (now closed) lies on a narrow strip of Belgian territory running through Germany, creating five German exclaves.
  • The railway between France and Monaco briefly leaves France to enter Monaco before entering France once more. This takes place underground for around 150 metres.
  • The former Soviet Central Asian Republics have numerous examples.
  • Semikhody - Chernihiv line of Ukraine passes through Belarus territory.[11]
  • Druzhba - Vorozhba line of Ukraine passes through Russian territory.[11]
  • In 2009, Russia and Kazakhstan agreed to transfer ownership of a crossborder section of line.
  • Lučenec - Vel'ký Krtíš line in Slovakia passes through Hungary from Ipolytarnóc to Nógrádszakál.

Inconvenient borders

map of the line
  • Due to inability to agree on a shorter route through easy terrain, the iron ore railway in Mauritania originally had to use a longer route through a tunnel near Choum to avoid the territory of Spanish Sahara.
  • A similar problem may be occurring in Guinea, where a 20km long tunnel(s) through a hillspur at Naigaya 411.0 metres (1,348.4 ft), Sicourou, Bokariadi and Feraya might be avoided by crossing the border into Sierra Leone at Yana 87.07 metres (285.7 ft) [12]

Border shifts

Also, borders have occasionally been shifted for the purpose of avoiding this sort of arrangement. The best-known example is the Gadsden Purchase, in which the United States bought land from Mexico on which it was planned to build a southern route for the transcontinental railroad. Owing to the topography of the area, acquisition of the land was the only feasible way to construct such a railroad through the southern New Mexico Territory.

Highway of one state passing through another state's territory

This arrangement is less common as highways are more easily re-aligned as noted above. Examples include:

Border infrastructure

Several bridges cross the rivers Oder and Neisse between Germany and Poland. To avoid needing to coordinate their efforts on a single bridge, the two riparian states assign each bridge to one or the other; thus Poland is responsible for all maintenance on some of the bridges, including the German side, and vice versa.[15]

The Hallein Salt Mine crosses from Austria into Germany. Under an 1829 treaty Austria can dig under the then-Kingdom of Bavaria. In return some salt has to be given to Bavaria, and up to 99 of its citizens can be hired to work in the Austrian mine.[16]

Neighbourly cooperation

  • The new Tijuana International Airport south of San Diego airport is a cooperative affair between the relevant states of the United States and Mexico. The runway, control tower, emergency services and the like are shared, but passengers and freight are handled at separate facilities north and south of the runway(s).

See also



  1. ^ "6 results for: enclave". Dictionary.com. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/enclave. Retrieved 2007-01-09. 
  2. ^ "4 results for: exclave". Dictionary.com. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/exclave. Retrieved 2007-01-09. 
  3. ^ "Hope for Indo-Bangladesh enclaves". NDTV. 12 September 2011. http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/hope-for-indo-bangladesh-enclaves-132956. Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c http://europa.eu/abc/maps/index_en.htm
  5. ^ http://www.lodstilsynet.dk/page31.aspx
  6. ^ "Can thaw unstick frozen conflict?". BBC News. 2009-05-06. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8034186.stm. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  7. ^ http://www.domfrance.helanta.sh/
  8. ^ http://www.paris.fr/portail/loisirs/Portal.lut?page_id=5852&document_type_id=5&document_id=77553&portlet_id=12988
  9. ^ Evans, D. M. Emrys (1965). "John F. Kennedy Memorial Act, 1964". The Modern Law Review 28 (6): 703–706. 
  10. ^ Horwitz, Tony. Oct. 2003, Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before, Bloomsbury, ISBN 0-7475-6455-8
  11. ^ a b Railway Gazette International April 2008 p 240
  12. ^ http://www.altitude.nu/
  13. ^ a b Bessert, Christopher J. "Highways 20-29". Wisconsin Highways. http://www.wisconsinhighways.org/listings/WiscHwys20-29.html#MN-023. Retrieved July 7, 2011. 
  14. ^ Riner, Steve. "Details of Routes 1-25". The Unofficial Minnesota Highways Page. http://www.steve-riner.com/mnhighways/r1-25.htm#23. Retrieved July 7, 2011. 
  15. ^ Railway Gazette: Border bridges rebuilt
  16. ^ The log of the Water Lily, p. 84


External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

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