Latitudinal Border Station Extremes

On April 30, 2013 · 10 Comments

I’m not sure the title adequately conveyed what I’m trying to describe, although I can’t think of a better concise title to replace it either. Conceptually, I wanted to know the northernmost and southernmost places in the world and in the United States where one could cross an international border by automobile via a road connected to the larger grid. There are plenty of places farther north where a crossing could be accomplished on foot, perhaps after a long ship voyage or an airline flight, but not by a motorized vehicle on an established road. Those road crossings would be cardinal direction border extremes for the average tourist as opposed to the adventurous explorer. You know, ones that I might actually experience someday.

These were the best examples I could find. I’d love see improvements.


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The absolutely farthest northern road that crossed an international border that I found occurred between Polmak, Norway and Nuorgam, Finland at an astounding 70 degrees north of the equator. By contrast the Arctic Circle is at about 66.56 degrees north. Barrow, Alaska — about as far north as one can get in the United States — is only slightly farther north (71 degrees) and it’s not connected to anything by road, much less internationally. This is crazy far north.

Both nations are part of the Schengen Area so one could cross the border freely. It looked like a former border station had been converted into shops in the Street View image.


(Old) Poker Creek Customs Station
Flickr by jimmywayne via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) License

The United States and Canada share the same northernmost international border crossing at Poker Creek, Alaska / Little Gold Creek, Yukon (map) along the Top of the World Highway. It’s located at about 64 degrees north.

This also demonstrated how few roads crossed this rugged, isolated terrain because the border extended another 380 miles (612 kilometres) due north without a single other road crossing it. This border station closes in the winter so I’m willing to concede that purists may wish to look farther south to the Alaska-Canadian Highway for a more complete example, one that remains open 24X7 all year long (map).

What about the Lower 48 states? I think the northernmost crossing would be the place where the border jogs around to form the Northwest Angle (map). Weekend Roady visited this one in person and I won’t try to improve upon his first-hand description.


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The record wasn’t clear-cut at the southern end, nor was it quite as extreme. I think it may be a spot on Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego around 54 degrees south, although it’s not even as far south as Ushuaia (featured on 12MC previously), the southernmost town of significance in Argentina. There may also be an error on the Google Map too. Google seems to have issues with borderlines, a condition I’ve observed before. Notice the vertical fence line about 100 metres west of Google’s line. Could that be the true boundary?

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I thought perhaps there might be a car ferry between Ushuaia, Argentina and Puerto Williams, Chile. It seemed natural and I’d be willing to bend the "road" rule to accommodate a ferry. It wouldn’t violate the spirit, right? Nonetheless, Wikipedia said of Puerto Williams, "There is no regular link with Argentina and connection to Ushuaia is restricted." Puerto Williams exists primarily for the Chilean navy to assert national sovereignty at the farthest tip of South America. It was once a rather sensitive military area although tourism has begun to creep in.

Another source said it was possible to travel between the two places albeit not very conveniently, "Ushuaia Boating in Ushuaia, Argentina, has regular zodiac service to Isla Navarino October-March or April. The trajectory is boat from Ushuaia to Puerto Navarino (40 minutes, immigration), then minibus to Puerto Williams." However that wouldn’t qualify as an automobile crossing by any stretch of the imagination so I’m not going to count it.


Eyeball estimates led me to believe that the southernmost border crossing in the United States would be found at Brownsville, Texas where it provided access to Matamoros, Tamaulipas, México. That was located at about 25.9 degrees north. A whole bunch of the world can be found farther south than that.

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That’s not what I enjoyed the most, though. I was amused by Southmost Boulevard. That’s southmost not southernmost. A shorter word with the same meaning. It sounded a little odd. Maybe I could get used to it?

On April 30, 2013 · 10 Comments

10 Responses to “Latitudinal Border Station Extremes”

  1. Greg says:

    Wouldn’t this be latitudinal border station extremes? I always get confused….

    • Yes Greg, you are absolutely right. That’s what I get for rushing an article into production on an evening where I had another commitment that lasted way too long. I slapped myself on the forehead as soon as I saw your comment. Good catch. Usually I’m pretty good about differentiating the two by remembering Jimmy Buffett’s "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes."

      My apologies to the 12MC community. The error will be corrected.

  2. Mike Lowe says:

    In regards to the Chile-Argentina border fence versus Google’s line, perhaps Google is right and following the letter of the law. I imagine it’s an exact line of longitude. The fence is perhaps a result of an inaccurate survey. Maybe the fence has been there for decades and in the middle of inhospitable nowhere so they don’t care to make a negligible change.

  3. I suppose if you want to get crazy with this, you can theoretically take a car on a ferry from Pago Pago, American Samoa to Apia, Samoa, though it doesn’t seem cheap…

    Looks like a passenger ride might be worth the effort if I ever find my way down there…

    • Peter says:

      suppose if you want to get crazy with this, you can theoretically take a car on a ferry from Pago Pago, American Samoa to Apia, Samoa, though it doesn’t seem cheap…

      Good news for the frugally inclined, you can transport a bag of coconuts for only ten bucks.

  4. TB says:

    The Norway/Finland border is also unusual since you can enter Finland from Norway by going west.

    When I think of Scandinavia, I picture Norway, Sweden and Finland like three fingers reaching down from the Arctic. The fact that Norway borders Finland in the first place seems unusual, but that Norway wraps around Finland like it’s putting its arm around the other’s shoulder really twists perception.

  5. John of Sydney says:

    Three years ago my spouse and I crossed the Finland/Norway border not at the crossing shown but at the crossing south of it where finnish road 971 become norwegian road 803 – the location seems to be called Naalamo.
    When we were there there was a building which had been the border post but was now unused.
    If you go to Google Earth you will see tha the border is marked with a substantial fence and a cattle grid accross the road. It seems that this is actually a reindeer grid/fence – apparently it is important that the Finish reindeer are kept seperate from Norwegian reindeers.
    Also nearby was a general/liquor store where most business is from Norwegians coming to buy the (relatively) cheaper supplies in Finland. The cost of alcohol in Norway gave this Australian a heartattack – had to drink very sparingly in Norway.

  6. Scott Surgent says:

    Although not quite in the same theme, this report from includes a photo of the Ghana-Togo border (it’s the bottom photo on the left sidebar).

    The simplicity is appealing.

    Given the fuss about the USA-Mexican border, it’s still quite easy in a few places to walk up to the monuments strung out along the boundary. This is a report from a friend of mine, in which one of the monuments is tucked into a rocky perch on a small mountain on the border itself:

    Here’s me at one: The ground in front is Mexico, in back is the USA (California, to be specific).

    Yes, it’s not advised to walk across the line without permission, but when you’re there, it’s too much to resist the idea of crossing an international border, if just for a few moments.

  7. Fritz Keppler says:

    The word southmost has another use in Brownsville. It’s the home of Texas Southmost College.

  8. Larry Haz says:

    I did the Top of the World highway last summer (2014), after driving the Dempster Highway. Interestingly, the northernmost (northmost?) US border crossing is also the highest in elevation.

    (I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but there’s an interesting story behind the town of Chicken, Alaska).

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