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A landlocked country is one that has no coastline. There are 42 landlocked countries in the world.

A landlocked sea is a sea that is not connected to the oceans: the Caspian Sea and the Aral Sea. They are sometimes considered to be lakes. In that case, 44 percent of the total amount of water in the world's lakes forms the Caspian Sea.

Ships can not sail and, unless very small, not even be transported to other seas.

A sea that is almost landlocked is connected to the oceans by a strait only, such as the Baltic Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Black Sea. This may be of strategical importance, with one or two countries controlling the entrance, and/or be relevant for tides and freshwater content.


Significance of a country being landlocked

Historically being landlocked was regarded as a disadvantageous position. It cuts the country off from sea resources such as fishing, but more importantly cuts off access to seaborne trade which even today makes up a large percentage of international trade. Around the world coastal regions tend to be wealthier and more heavily populated than inland ones.

Countries thus have made particular effort to avoid being landlocked. The International Congo Society , which owned the modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo, was given a thin piece of land bisecting Angola to connect it to the sea by the Conference of Berlin in 1885. The Dubrovnik Republic had once sold the town of Neum to the Ottoman Empire; this small municipality was inherited by Bosnia and Herzegovina and it now provides it with limited sea access, splitting the Croatian part of the Adriatic coast in two. After WWI Poland was given the Danzig Corridor to give it an outlet on the sea. The Danube was internationalized so that landlocked Austria could have secure access to the sea.

Losing access to the sea is often a great blow to nations. The successful separatist movement in Eritrea and the current one in Montenegro are of greater concern to their host countries than they would be otherwise as they control the nations' only coastline. Bolivia lost its coastline to Chile in the War of the Pacific. Still to this day the Bolivian Navy trains in the Lake Titicaca for an eventual recovery and, in the 21st century, the selection of the route of gas pipes from Bolivia to the sea fueled popular risings.

Some countries may have a large coastline, but no readily usable one. For instance Russia in the sixteenth century can be said to be landlocked as their only ports were on the Arctic Ocean and frozen shut much of the year. Gaining control of a warm water port was a major motivator of Russian expansion towards the Baltic, Black Sea and Pacific Ocean.

Similarly, several countries have coastlines on landlocked seas such as the Caspian and the Aral. Since these seas are sometimes considered to be lakes, and since they do not allow access to seaborne trade, countries such as Kazakhstan are still considered to be landlocked.

An island nation, a country completely surrounded by water, is the opposite of a landlocked one.

Landlocked countries

Doubly landlocked countries

A landlocked country which is surrounded entirely by other landlocked countries may be called a "doubly landlocked" country. A person in such a country would have to cross at least two borders to reach a coastline. There are only two such countries in the world, Liechtenstein and Uzbekistan.

See also

Last updated: 02-08-2005 11:41:57
Last updated: 02-18-2005 14:05:20