Boundaries and Borders

By: Justin Chemplanikal and Brian Kalu

What is a boundary?

A boundary is an invisible line marking the extent of a state's territory

What are different types of borders and boundaries?

There are physical, cultural, geometric, religous, language, and maritime boundaries.

Main types of Boundaries:

Physical Boundary: a physical landscape that has geographical feature such as mountains, deserts, and bodies of water

Ex: The boundary separating Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda runs through Lake Victoria.

Cultural Boundaries: a boundary that is man-made or manufactured to indicate where a deadline ends.

Ex: Farmers may plant trees to indicate where their farmland ends

Geometric Boundaries: a boundary that is a straight line that serves as a political boundary that is unrelated to physical and /or cultural differences

Ex: United States/Canadian border is a 2,100 km straight line that seperates the two countries

Religious Boundaries: a type of cultural boundary that separates two religions

Ex: Britain made India and Pakistan two seperate countries on the basis of religion. Muslims were recognized into Pakistan whereas Hindus into India; this separation created a religous boundary

Language Boundaries: a boundary separating two different language areas

Ex: Boundaries were drawn around Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, and Romania to conform closely to the distribution of Bulgarian, Hungarian, Polish, and Romanian speakers.

Maritime Boundaries: a boundary that is a conceptual division of the Earth's water surface areas using geopolitical criteria

Ex: Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico are part of the US and Mexico due to the US/Mexico Maritime Boundary Treaty of 1978.

What role do frontiers play in boundary disputes?

A frontier is a zone where no state excercises complete political control. They provide an area of separation, but a boundary brings two neighboring states in direct contact.

Most frontiers have been replaced by boundaries. The only places in the world that still have frontiers are Antartica and the Arabian Peninsula.

Frontiers can help ease boundary disputes by providing a "Neutral Zone."

Extra Vocab

Annexation: the action of annexing something (makes border bigger)

Colony: a country or area under the full or partial political control of another country, typically a distant one, and occupied by settlers from that country

Boundary Origins:

Relic: Old political boundaries that never exist but leave an enduring mark on the local cultural or environmental geography

Antecedent: Boundary established before an area is populated

Subsequent: Boundary that has been established after an area has been populated that considered the social and cultural characteristic of an area


Rubenstein, James M. The Cultural Landscape: An Introduction to Human Geography. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2005. Print.

U.S. Maritime Limits & Boundaries." NOAA's Office of Coast Survey. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2014. <>.