With all the talk about Trump and his immigration policies, there seems to be a mentality that building a literal wall at a nation’s border is a novel idea. It really isn’t.
Throughout history, and especially in recent years, there has been an uptick in nations that are strengthening security along their borders. In the past three years, at least 800 miles of fence have been added to various European borders. And it isn’t just Europe. In fact, with the exception of Antarctica, there are partial or completed border barriers on every continent on the globe. Here are eight of the not as well-known border walls around the world.
1. Bulgaria – The first wall that was built specifically in response to the migrant crisis in Europe stands ten feet tall and 103 miles long, separating Bulgaria from Turkey. According to the EU’s Dublin regulation, the first European nation that a migrant enters is responsible for processing their asylum claims. It has also created considerable strain on nations that serve as an entry to Europe, such as Bulgaria, and has created a reluctance among migrants to be ID’ed before reaching their hopeful destination. Feeling this strain, Bulgaria moved to build a wall along their Turkish border.
2. Saudi Arabia – Three years after the Jeddah Border Treaty between Saudi Arabia and Yemen was signed in 2000, marking the official end of over half a century of conflict, Saudi Arabia began construction of a 47-mile barrier along the border of the two countries. In 2015, Saudi Arabia began work on a 600-mile-long “Great Wall” as a protection against the Islamic State in Iraq. The Saudis have recently announced plans to construct a moat along the border with Qatar, which would essentially turn Qatar into an island.
3. Spain – Over a decade and a half prior to the migrant crisis in 2014-15, Spain built border fences along the borders of Melilla and Ceuta, Spanish controlled land in northern Africa, to prevent illegal immigration through Morocco.
4. Hungary – In 2015, Hungary closed its borders first with Serbia, and then with Croatia to stem the tide of migrants crossing the border illegally. Asylum seekers must now go through one of a small handful of checkpoints in order to cross into Hungary.
5. France – France and Great Britain are collaborating to construct a concrete barrier to block access to the English Channel from the port of Calais. Calais used to be home to a large refugee camp known as the Calais Jungle. The camp has since been dismantled and French President Macron says that it will not be reconstructed. Blocking access to the channel is part of the effort to discourage the flow of migrants heading toward Calais.
6. India – The Indo-Bangladeshi border is the fifth longest in the world, zig-zagging back and forth and creating enclaves of Bangladeshi land within India, and vice-versa. The strangeness of the border doesn’t generally show up on maps, but it has prompted legends that it was drawn up during a series of chess games, or perhaps by a drunk British officer. In an effort to reduce smuggling, India is constructing 2,116 mile barbed-wire fence along the border. The project has met with several delays, and a completion date is not currently set.
7. Northern Ireland’s Peace Lines – Following a series of violent riots in 1969, Belfast, Ireland began building wallsto separate Roman Catholic and Protestant communities. Known as the Peace Walls, they remain to this day. In 2016, one of the walls was demolished, but it is unlikely that the rest of the walls will come down. Tensions in Northern Ireland have eased since the years of trouble and gates have been put in most of the walls, which now primarily serve as a tourist attraction.
8. Cyprus – Following an escalation in the tensions between Greek and Turkish communities on the island in 1974, the United Nations established a buffer zone between the north and south, stretching 112 miles across the whole island. This zone is restricted to the general public and measures 4.6 miles at its widest point and 11 feet at its narrowest.
As far back as Hadrian’s Wall and the Great Wall of China, nations have been building border barriers as a means of protecting their national interests, reducing crime, and increasing security. Perhaps it isn’t a border wall that’s a strange idea, it’s the lack of one.