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  • Spain looks pretty normal when you look at it on a map, but things begin to get very strange when you zoom in just a little closer.

  • There seems to be a lot of land(s) that's part of Spain that's on the wrong continent across the Mediterranean Sea in Africa.

  • That's not a mistake, and the north coast of Africa is actually dotted with several little exclaves of Spain that are surrounded by Morocco.

  • How did this weird situation come to be?

  • The short answer is that after the Reconquista, when Spain reconquered the Iberian Peninsula from the Moors, the Spanish took it just a little further and invaded Africa and took over a bunch of cities.

  • Some of these cities and territories have since been returned to Morocco, but the ones that remain today have for the most part been occupied by Spain for around 500 years,

  • a longer time that some cities in mainland Spain like Barcelona, which used to be briefly a part of France.

  • All of this has caused a lot of problems with Morocco, who continues to claim all of this land today, which for the most part is a bunch of unimportant islands off the coast.

  • But three places are actually physically part of the mainland African continent.

  • The first of these is located here on the coast, and it's called Peñón delez de la Gomera.

  • This big rock here and this smaller rock over here are both a part of Spain, and everything else starting at this point in the sandy beach is Morocco.

  • This photo can get us a better visualization of how strange a situation this really is.

  • The border right here that separates the two countries is only 80 meters wide, which makes it the shortest international border anywhere in the world.

  • Moving on past this oddity we arrive at Melilla, a Spanish city located on the African coast that is surrounded by Morocco.

  • There are 78,000 people that live here, surrounded by a six-meter high border fence built around the entire exclave to separate the land from Morocco.

  • Since Melilla is a part of Spain and Spain is a member of the European Union, the city of Melilla is also part of the European Union.

  • Together with the other Spanish city in Africa named Ceuta, these mark the only places where the European Union actually exists on the African continent.

  • The city of Melilla uses Euros as their currency just like any other part of Spain would, and the same can be said of Ceuta, the twin sister of Melilla, also located in Africa just a little further up the coast.

  • In fact, this entire picture doesn't make a lot of sense when you add in the correct borders.

  • You have Spain here and Morocco over here, of course, but you also have Spain here, the United Kingdom gets thrown back on this side and you also have Spain again on this island over here.

  • This part of Spain is named Ceuta and is a little smaller than Melilla with a population of 76,000 people.

  • The city is also bordered away from Morocco by a six-meter high wall, but unlike Melilla, there is no airport within the city, so the only way to get from this part of Spain to the other parts of Spain is by boat.

  • There is one single road that goes through the tall border wall that connects the city to Morocco, so other than that, the city is pretty isolated from everything that's around it,

  • but just a little further up the coast is this awkward island named Isla Perejil.

  • It's claimed by both Spain and Morocco and is totally uninhabited, but 12 Moroccan soldiers invaded the island back in 2002 and planted a Moroccan flag.

  • This sparked an international crisis that saw the Arab League backing morocco while NATO and the European Union backed up Spain.

  • Several warships actually surrounded the island and the Spanish launched a counter-assault with some commandos and arrested the 12 Moroccan soldiers.

  • This all happened in the name of this rock which has since been declared a no-man zone by both sides and nobody is allowed on it for the foreseeable future.

  • Moving across the sea to Europe is this other awkward situation named Gibraltar, which is actually part of the United Kingdom.

  • It's been like that ever since 1704, when an Anglo-Dutch invasion force captured the Peninsula as part of the War of the Spanish Succession,

  • and Spain formally ceded it to Britain later in 1713 when the peace treaty was signed that ended that war.

  • Spain has continued to claim it pretty much ever since,

  • and that may get even more awkward in the future, now that the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union, which also means that Gibraltar would leave the European Union.

  • This will create a land border between the EU and the United Kingdom in mainland Europe, and probably severely limit the ability of people to move back and forth from Gibraltar compared with today.

  • For a final strange situation, we just need to move a little further north to the border with France, specifically on this river which divides the two countries.

  • In the middle of this river is Pheasant Island, which depending on what time of year it is could belong to either Spain or France, and nobody is allowed to visit.

  • The island is a part of Spain for six months every year and a part of France for the other six months complete with a ceremony that formerly transfers the sovereignty of the island between the two countries.

  • This odd situation all began back in 1659, where the island was the site of the signing of the Treaty of the Pyrenees, which finally ended the Thirty Years' War.

  • At the time, the island was considered neutral ground since it was in the middle of the river that divided the two countries,

  • and ever since the treaty was signed there in 1659, the ceremonies have been happening every six months that alternate ownership of the island.

  • That means that since 1659, the island has changed hands between Spain and France over 700 times and is still counting.

  • Another consequence of this treaty in 1659 was this situation a little further north into France, where you can find a tiny chunk of Spain that is completely surrounded by France.

  • This place today is called Llívia, but the treaty in 1659 ceded all of this territory from Spain to France, but because Llívia was considered an important city at the time, it was allowed to remain a part of Spain.

  • The situation hasn't really changed much ever since then, and Llívia is separated from the rest of Spain by this 1.6-kilometer-long French corridor.

  • There are a lot of other really strange borders out there in the world, but that's for another time.

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  • Thank you so much for watching and we'll see you next time.

Spain looks pretty normal when you look at it on a map, but things begin to get very strange when you zoom in just a little closer.

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The World's Strangest Borders Part 2: Spain

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    wstwr12345 posted on 2022/09/28
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