Double Landlocked Countries

On February 9, 2008 · 3 Comments

A landlocked country is one that does not have a coastline. Presently there are 43 landlocked countries so it’s not a particularly rare occurrence. However, two countries are “doubly landlocked” and that is much more unusual. Those are countries that are not only landlocked but are completely surrounded by other landlocked countries. Someone beginning a journey from a double landlocked country would have to cross two international borders before reaching a coastline.

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The most recent doubly landlocked country is Uzbekistan which declared independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991. Its immediate neighbors, all landlocked themselves, are Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Some purists may disagree about this designation or at least place an asterisk next to it. Two of Uzbekistan’s neighbors, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, border on the Caspian Sea. The Caspian Sea is connected to the Black Sea by the Lenin Volga-Don Shipping Canal which joins the Volga River and the Don River via a 101 km waterway. Using this manmade canal it’s possible to travel from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea, then across the Mediterranean Sea and on to the Atlantic Ocean. Even so I think a good argument could be made that Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan should be considered landlocked. A canal is hardly a “coastline.”

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The other double landlocked country is Liechtenstein. This tiny principality rests firmly between Switzerland and Austria. Although it gained independence in 1806 it did not become doubly landlocked until 1918 when its neighbor Austria lost its Adriatic coastline in the aftermath of World War I. I think even a purist would probably agree that Liechtenstein meets the strictest definition of a doubly landlocked country.

On February 9, 2008 · 3 Comments

3 Responses to “Double Landlocked Countries”

  1. geography nerd says:

    If Uzbekistan is ruled out as a double landlocked country by the Lenin Volga-Don Shipping canal, then wouldn’t the danube river have the same effect on Liechtenstein? The Danube is navigable to Germany.

  2. Peter says:

    Liechtenstein is on the Rhine river, not the Danube, and the head of navigation on the Rhine is much farther downstream.

  3. Peter O says:

    Besides, having a river run through a country cannot remove it’s landlocked status in most people’s opinion. The situation with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan is that they border the Caspian Sea, which could be considered a coastline as the Caspian Sea can connect to the ocean via various waterways.

    Liechtenstein having a river run through it means nothing, and is a completely different situation.

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