Monday, March 24, 2014

Where Am I?

Recently I went Geocaching with a friend of mine.  What is Geocaching?  Geocaching is a form of treasure hunt using GPS, in which an item is hidden somewhere in the world and its coordinates posted on the Internet, so that GPS users can locate it.  The reason I like to Geocache, is because it takes me to some very interesting locations.  This past weekend was no different when I ventured to a city that either has an identity crisis or has a split personality.  A confused city?  Well you tell me.

This weekend I ended up in the town of Baarle-Nassau, Netherlands or Baarle-Hertog, Belgium (depending on where I stood).  How could I be confused as to where I was?  Well, let me share a map of the area.

What is this city about and why are there lines all around it?

This town is located directly south of Amsterdam near the Belgium border, no it's in Belgium, no the map says it's in the Netherlands, but it is in Belgium, no it's in both.  It's in both, but the map clearly shows the city in the Netherlands.  Well, now you might really be confused.  In order to understand this oddity, you have to become familiar with some terms.  The first term you must know is "Enclave".  An enclave is a country, or especially, an outlying portion of a country, entirely surrounded by the territory of another country. The best example of this is Vatican City.  This is a country that is surrounded by another country, Italy.  Ok, so far so good.  The next term you must know is "Exclave".  An exclave is a portion of a country geographically separated from the main part by surrounding alien territory.  An example of this is Llivia, Spain.  This is a part of Spain that is separated from the main part of Spain by France.  Are you with me so far?  Now lets really confuse you.

How can Belgium be in the Netherlands when they are both different countries?

The town of Baarle-Nassau, Netherlands/Baarle-Hertog, Belgium is a complex example of enclaves within enclaves (also known as counter-enclaves or 2nd order enclaves).  This town consists of 22 Belgium enclaves and 8 Dutch enclaves (7 of which are counter enclaves).  This town has several markers marking the borders of each country.  One second you are in the Netherlands, then you are in Belgium and then you are back in the Netherlands.  How can you tell where you are?  Well the ground is marked letting you know where you are.

As you can see, the left side is Belgium and the right side is Netherlands and the line goes right through the front door.

Some houses that have the border going through them have a front door in one country and the other part of the house is in another country.  So the owner could sleep and wake up in the Netherlands, but then eat dinner and watch TV in Belgium.    So which country is this house in?  This house is located in both countries.  This house is the only house here where the border goes right through the front door.

Belgium on the left and the Netherlands on the right, huh?

Since the border runs right through the front door, making this house in both countries, it has 2 door bells (one for each country) and 2 house numbers (one for each country). Very odd, but yet very interesting.  So if you are ever in this area, be sure to check out GC4R5PF: Pungelpad 7 to see this odd house and area.  And this is why I love to Geocache.  Without a Geocache being placed in this area, my friend and I would have never seen this unique area, nor learned as to what this occurrence was called.  I love where my GPS takes me.  And to think, my friend has lived in this country all his life and he had never been here before.  It took an American and a Geocache to show him a unique part of his country.

1 comment:

  1. That's pretty cool but just so you know a border is the line separating the countries and a boarder is one who stays in a boarding home. :-)