Mödlareuth: Little Berlin

‘When the government of East Germany ended travel restrictions between itself and the West on 9 November 1989, residents who had been living in a community divided for decades were finally able to visit the other side. As the two Germanys moved closer to reunification, the wall that split the community in half would cease…

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International Condominiums

For the vast majority of people, a condominium is a suite in a commonly-held apartment building that is owned rather than rented.  Condominiums, however, also exist in international law. Not as apartment complexes lying on international borders, or anything like that. Rather, a condominium is a piece of territory shared equally by two or more…

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Isla Aves (Bird Island)

Source: Veronidae, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Isla_de_Aves_Venezuela_000.jpg. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence. Isla Aves (Spanish for ‘Island of the Birds’; commonly Bird Island or Aves Island in English) is a tiny speck of sand in the east Caribbean Sea, barely large enough and high enough to support a small field of grass, seabirds, and…

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Following Up: An April 2012 Update on Previous Articles

It’s been a few months since our last follow-up post, so here are a few mini-updates and additional tidbits on some topics from previous articles (of which we have officially reached 400 today) here at The Basement Geographer: Varosha: Forever Trapped in 1974 (originally posted 27 August 2010): A report in the Turkish daily Milliyet on…

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Small Island Developing States

It seems there is an incessant need to categorise countries into economic groups.  During the Cold War, the inexact concepts of the First, Second, and Third Worlds developed.  The World Bank maintains separate lists of countries with advanced economies and countries with emerging and developing countries, and the United Nations goes one further with a…

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Who Claims Antarctica?

Antarctica has long been famous for being the only continent in which no government holds power.  While not truly uninhabited thanks to the thousands of personnel present in research stations, the world community generally looks at Antarctica as terra nullius – belonging to no one.  That is not to say, however, that no one claims…

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Defining International Borders in the Rub’ al Khali

For most of the post-war 20th century, anyone looking at a map of the Arabian Peninsula would be greeted by something like this: Courtesy of the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin, http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/middle_east_and_asia/saudi_arabia_rel_1974.jpg. Notice the almost total lack of defined boundaries in the southern half of…

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Brothers Without Arms: The Fifteen Countries Which Have No Military Forces

In the vast majority of countries, the idea of a standing military would be taken for granted.  Even countries such as Japan, Haiti, and Iceland, where standing armies have been either disbanded or prohibited by law, still maintain organisations such as foreign peacekeeping forces and coast guard units (and in Japan’s case, Self-Defense Forces).  Fifteen…

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Spanish Possessions in North Africa

When we think of transcontinental countries, we think of ones that cross contiguous borders: Russia, Turkey, Egypt.  But when you look at things geologically, or take into account non-contiguous landmasses, it really messes things up.  For example, most people probably don’t think of Spain as a transcontinental country.  But it is, and that doesn’t just…

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