A landlocked country is a country entirely enclosed by land, or whose only coastlines lie on closed seas. There are 48 landlocked countries in the world, including partially recognized states. No landlocked countries are found on the continents of North America and Australia (nor are there in Antarctica; however, it contains no formally recognized countries). The general economic and other disadvantages experienced by landlocked countries makes the majority of these countries Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs). Nine of the twelve countries with the lowest HDI scores are landlocked.
History and significance
Historically, being landlocked has been a disadvantageous position. It cuts the country off from sea resources such as fishing, but more importantly cuts off direct access to seaborne trade which makes up a large percentage of international trade. Coastal regions tended to be wealthier and more heavily populated than inland ones. Paul Collier in his book The Bottom Billion argues that being landlocked in a poor geographic neighborhood is one of four major development "traps" by which a country can be held back. In general, he found that when a neighboring country experiences better growth, it tends to spill over into favorable development for the country itself. For landlocked countries, the effect is particularly strong, as they are limited in their trading activity with the rest of the world. He states, "If you are coastal, you serve the world; if you are landlocked, you serve your neighbors." Others have argued that being landlocked may actually be a blessing as it creates a 'natural tariff barrier' which protects the country from cheap imports. In some instances this has led to more robust local food systems.
Countries thus have made particular efforts to avoid being landlocked, by acquiring land that reaches the sea:
- The International Congo Society, which owned the modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo, was awarded a narrow piece of land cutting through Angola to connect it to the sea by the Conference of Berlin in 1885.
- The Republic of Ragusa once gave the town of Neum to the Ottoman Empire because it did not want to have a land border with Venice; this small municipality was inherited by Bosnia and Herzegovina and now provides limited sea access, splitting the Croatian part of the Adriatic coast in two. Since Bosnia and Herzegovina is a new country, railways and ports have not been built for its need. There is no freight port along its short coast line at Neum, making it effectively landlocked, although there are plans to change this. Instead the port of Ploče in Croatia is used.
- After World War I, in the Treaty of Versailles, a part of Germany, designated "the Polish corridor", was given to the new Second Polish Republic, for access to the Baltic Sea. This gave Poland a short coastline, however without a large harbour. This was also the pretext for making Danzig (now Gdańsk) with its harbour the Free City of Danzig, to which Poland was given free access. However the Germans placed obstacles to this free access, especially when it came to military materiel. In response, the small fishing harbour of Gdynia was soon greatly enlarged. Until the dissolution of Austria-Hungary in 1918 at the end of World War I, Austrians, Hungarians and that empire's other nationalities had served in that country's navy, but since then, Austria and Hungary have both been landlocked countries.
Countries can make agreements on getting free transport of goods through neighbour countries:
- The Treaty of Versailles required Germany to offer Czechoslovakia a lease for 99 years of parts of the ports in Hamburg and Stettin, allowing Czechoslovakia sea trade via the Elbe and Oder rivers. Stettin was annexed by Poland after World War II, but Hamburg continued the contract so that the part of the port (now called Moldauhafen) may still be used for sea trade by a successor of Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic.
- The Danube is an international waterway, thus landlocked Austria, Hungary, Moldova, Serbia, and Slovakia have secure access to the Black Sea (the same access is given to southern parts of Germany, itself not landlocked, and eastern parts of Croatia, which is also not landlocked). However oceangoing ships can not use the Danube, so cargo must be transloaded anyway and a lot of overseas import into Austria and Hungary use land transport from Atlantic and Mediterranean ports. A similar situation exists for the Rhine river where Switzerland has boat access, but not oceangoing ships. And Luxembourg through the Moselle. But Liechtenstein has no boat access since the Rhine is not navigable there.
- The Mekong is an international waterway so that landlocked Laos has secure access to the South China Sea (since Laos became independent from French Indochina).
- Free ports allow transshipment to short distance ships or river vessels.
- The TIR Treaty allows sealed road transport without customs checks and charges, mostly in Europe.
Losing access to the sea is generally a great blow to a nation, politically, militarily, and particularly with respect to international trade and therefore economic security:
- The independence of Eritrea, brought about by successful separatist movements, has caused Ethiopia to become landlocked.
- Montenegro's decision to abandon the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro caused the federal unit of Serbia to become landlocked independent state.
- Bolivia lost its coastline to Chile in the War of the Pacific. The Bolivian Navy still trains in Lake Titicaca for an eventual recovery, and the Bolivian people annually celebrate a patriotic "Dia del Mar" (Day of the Sea) to remember its territorial loss, which included both the coastal city of Antofagasta and what has proven to be one of the most significant and lucrative copper deposits in the world. In the 21st century, the selection of the route of gas pipes from Bolivia to the sea fueled popular uprisings.
- Austria and Hungary also lost their access to the sea as a consequence of the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1919) and the Treaty of Trianon (1920) respectively. Previously, although Croatia had a limited constitutional autonomy within the Kingdom of Hungary, the City of Fiume/Rijeka on the Croatian coast was governed directly from Budapest by an appointed governor as a corpus separatum, to provide Hungary with its only international port in the periods 1779–1813, 1822–1848 and 1868–1918.
- By 1801, the Nizam's dominion of Hyderabad State assumed the shape it is now remembered for: that of a landlocked princely state with territories in central Deccan, bounded on all sides by British India, whereas 150 years earlier it had had a considerable coastline on the Bay of Bengal which was annexed by the British.
- It is possible that one of the causes of the Paraguayan War was Paraguay's lack of direct ocean access (although this is disputed, see the linked article)
- When the Entente Powers divided the former Ottoman Empire under the Treaty of Sèvres at the close of World War I, Armenia was promised part of the Trebizond vilayet (roughly corresponding to the modern Trabzon and Rize provinces in Turkey). This would have given Armenia access to the Black Sea. However, the Sèvres treaty collapsed with the Turkish War of Independence and was superseded by the Treaty of Lausanne which firmly established Turkish rule over the area.
- In 2011, South Sudan broke off of Sudan, causing the former to become landlocked. There still remains conflict over the oil fields in South Sudan between the two countries.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea now gives a landlocked country a right of access to and from the sea without taxation of traffic through transit states. The United Nations has a programme of action to assist landlocked developing countries, and the current responsible Undersecretary-General is Anwarul Karim Chowdhury.
Some countries have a long coastline, but much of it may not be readily usable for trade and commerce. For instance, in its early history, Russia's only ports were on the Arctic Ocean and frozen shut for much of the year. The wish to gain control of a warm water port was a major motivator of Russian expansion towards the Baltic Sea, Black Sea and Pacific Ocean. On the other hand, some landlocked countries can have access to the ocean along wide navigable rivers. For instance, Paraguay (and Bolivia to a lesser extent) have access to the ocean by the Paraguay and Parana rivers.
Several countries have coastlines on landlocked seas, such as the Caspian Sea and the Aral Sea. Since these seas are in effect lakes, and do not allow access to wider seaborne trade, countries such as Kazakhstan are still considered to be landlocked. (The Caspian Sea, however, is connected to the Black Sea via a man-made canal between the Volga and Don rivers. Big ocean going ships are unable to traverse it, however.)
List of landlocked countries
|Burkina Faso||274,222||15,746,232||Central Africa|
|Central African Republic||622,984||4,422,000||Central Africa|
|South Sudan||619,745||8,260,490||Central Africa|
|Percentage of World||11.4%||6.9%|
- a Has a coast on the saltwater Caspian Sea
- b Has a coast on the saltwater Aral Sea
- c Disputed region with limited international recognition
- d Landlocked by just one country
They can be grouped in contiguous groups as follows:
- Central Asian cluster (6): Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
- European cluster (9): Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo (partially recognized), Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovakia and Switzerland
- Central and East African cluster (10): Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, South Sudan
- South African cluster (4): Botswana, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe
- Caucasian cluster (3): Armenia, Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh (unrecognized)
- South American cluster (2): Bolivia, Paraguay
There are the following 'single' landlocked countries (each of them borders no other landlocked country):
- Africa (2): Lesotho, Swaziland
- Asia (4): Bhutan, Laos, Mongolia, Nepal
- Europe (6): Andorra, Belarus, Luxembourg, Moldova, San Marino, and the State of the Vatican City
- Caucasus (1): South Ossetia (partially recognized)
If Transnistria is included then Moldova and Transnistria form their own cluster.
If the Caucasian countries are counted as part of Europe, then Europe has the most landlocked countries, at 19. Kazakhstan is also sometimes regarded as a transcontinental country, so if that is included, the count for Europe goes up to 20. If these countries are included in Asia, then Africa has the most, at 16. Depending on the status of the three transcontinental countries, Asia has between 9 and 14, while South America has only 2. North America and Australia are the only continents with no landlocked countries (not including Antarctica).
Doubly landlocked country
A landlocked country surrounded only by other landlocked countries may be called a "doubly landlocked" country. A person in such a country must cross at least two borders to reach a coastline.
There are currently two such countries in the world:
- Liechtenstein in Central Europe surrounded by Switzerland and Austria.
- Uzbekistan in Central Asia surrounded by Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.
There were no doubly landlocked countries in the world from the Unification of Germany in 1871 until the end of World War I. This is because Uzbekistan was part of the Russian Empire, and thus part of a country that was not landlocked; while Liechtenstein bordered Austria-Hungary, a country which had an Adriatic coast until it was dissolved in 1918. Upon the dissolution of Austria-Hungary, Liechtenstein became a doubly landlocked country. There were again no doubly landlocked countries from 1938 until the end of World War II, as Nazi Germany had incorporated Austria, which meant that Liechtenstein bordered a country with a coast. After World War II, Austria regained its independence and Liechtenstein became doubly landlocked once more. Upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan became the second doubly landlocked country.
Landlocked by a single country
There are only three countries that are landlocked by a single country – that is, they are enclaves.
The three countries are:
- Lesotho, an enclave surrounded by South Africa.
- San Marino, an enclave surrounded by Italy, though it historically claimed land to the Adriatic Sea.
- Vatican City, an enclave forming part of Rome, thereby surrounded by Italy.
Landlocked by two countries
There are seven landlocked countries that are surrounded by only two mutually bordering neighbors:
- Andorra (between France and Spain)
- Bhutan (between India and China)
- Liechtenstein (one of the "doubly landlocked" countries, between Switzerland and Austria)
- Moldova (between Ukraine and Romania)
- Mongolia (between Russia and China)
- Nepal (between India and China)
- Swaziland (between South Africa and Mozambique)
To this group could be added two de facto states with no or limited international recognition:
||This "see also" section may contain an excessive number of suggestions. Please ensure that only the most relevant suggestions are given and that they are not red links, and consider integrating suggestions into the article itself. (May 2014)|
- Convention on Transit Trade of Land-locked States
- Declaration recognising the Right to a Flag of States having no Sea-coast
- Enclave and exclave
- Landlocked developing countries
- List of countries and territories by land and maritime borders
- List of countries and territories by land borders
- List of countries and territories by maritime boundaries
- List of countries bordering on two or more oceans
- List of countries by length of coastline
- List of countries that border only one other country
- List of sets of four countries that border one another
- Navies of landlocked countries
- List of landlocked US states
- Pole of inaccessibility
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- "Landlocked". Webster's 1913 Dictionary. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
- "Landlocked definition". MSN Encarta Dictionary. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
- "AskOxford". Compact Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
- Paudel R. C. (2012). Landlockedness and Economic Growth: New Evidence. Australian National University, Canberra, Australia. 2
- Faye, M. L., McArthur, J. W., Sachs, J. D., & Snow, T. (2004). The Challenges Facing Landlocked Developing Countries. Journal Of Human Development, 5(1), 31-32.
- Collier, Paul (2007). The Bottom Billion. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 56, 57. ISBN 978-0-19-537338-7.
- Moseley, W.G., J. Carney and L. Becker. 2010. "Neoliberal Policy, Rural Livelihoods and Urban Food Security in West Africa: A Comparative Study of The Gambia, Côte d'Ivoire and Mali." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 107 (13) 5774-5779.
- Moseley, W.G. 2011. "Lessons from the 2008 Global Food Crisis: Agro-Food Dynamics in Mali." Development in Practice. 21(4-5): 604-612.
- United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) (2010). Review of Maritime Transport, 2010 (PDF). New York and Geneva: United Nations. p. 160. ISBN 978-92-1-112810-9.
- P. N. Chopra, B.N. Puri & M.N. Das, A Comprehensive History of India, Volume 3. pg. 298
- UN Report
- Cia World Factbook Uzbekistan