Exclave facts for kids

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C is B's exclave, but is not an enclave.
C is B's exclave, and A's enclave.

An exclave is strip of land that belongs to a political entity (like a country or a region) but that is not connected to it by land (islands are not counted). The strip of land is surrounded by other political entities. A good example is Kaliningrad Oblast (the region around the Russian city Kaliningrad). It belongs to the Russian Federation, but is separated from the rest of that country by territory belonging to Lithuania and Poland.

Although both meanings are close, an exclave might not be an enclave. An enclave is completely surrounded by one other country. For example, Kaliningrad is surrounded not by one state, but by two: Lithuania and Poland. It also borders the Baltic Sea. It is not an enclave. On the other hand, the Spanish exclave of Llivia is an enclave in France.

Many exclaves today have some of idea of becoming independent, especially if the exclave is far away from the mainland.

A much more obscure use means, in medical discussion, a detached part of an organ, as of the pancreas, thyroid, or other gland.

The lists below are of various types of exclaves that are not enclaves.

True exclaves

Subnational exclaves

Exclaves of administrative divisions below the national level.

  • Many of the cantons of Switzerland have exclaves:
    • Bern has two small exclaves, Münchenwiler and Clavaleyres; the first is entirely surrounded by Fribourg, the second by Fribourg and Vaud's exclave.
    • Lucerne has two pieces separated from the main territory by the Vierwaldstättersee; one borders Schwyz, the other Nidwalden.
    • The "half-canton" of Obwalden is in two large pieces, separated by a strip of Nidwalden.
    • Nidwalden's district of Hergiswil is separated by an arm of the Vierwaldstättersee.
    • Fribourg is a large exclave bounded by Vaud and Lake Neuchâtel; two enclaves, Surpierre and Vuissens, within Vaud; and another enclave, Wallenbuch, within Bern.
    • Solothurn has two exclaves, Dorneck and Thierstein, both bounded on the south by Basel-Country and on the north by France; as well as the enclave of Steinhof which is entirely surrounded by Bern.
    • Schaffhausen, the only canton lying mostly on the north bank of the Rhine, is cut into three parts by German territory that links Germany to the Rhine. The middle part is the largest, and surrounds the German enclave of Büsingen. The upper and middle parts border on Thurgau, the middle and lower parts on Zürich.
    • The divided canton of Appenzell is surrounded by Sankt-Gallen. Since its partition on religious lines in 1597, Appenzell Innerrhoden has three small exclaves, one enclave in Appenzell Ausserrhoden and two bordering also on Sankt-Gallen.
    • Vaud has one exclave, Avenches, bordered by Lake Neuchâtel, Fribourg and the tiny Bernese exclave of Clavaleyres. The coast of Lake Neuchâtel is thus in seven pieces belonging to four cantons: clockwise from the north they are Neuchâtel, Bern (main), Vaud (Avenches exclave), Fribourg (main), Vaud (main), Fribourg (exclave), Vaud (main).
    • Geneva has two small exclaves within Vaud, together making the commune of Céligny. The larger has a shoreline on Lake Geneva.
    • The secession of the new canton of Jura in 1979 left Bern temporarily with an exclave bounded by Jura, Solothurn (main and both exclaves), Basel-Country and France. The exclave, Laufental, joined Basel-Country in 1994.

"Practical" exclaves

Some territories are not geographically detached from their motherland. Nevertheless, they are more easily reached by entering a foreign country. Very often, this is because of their location in a hilly area. It may also be because the only road enters that foreign place before coming back to the mother country. These territories may be called "practical exclaves," "pene-exclaves" or "quasi-exclaves" and can be found along many borders, particularly those that are not heavily defended. They will only be attached to the motherland via an extremely small or thin slice of land.

"Practical" subnational exclaves

Historical exclaves

later became part of Poland and Russia (see Kaliningrad above).

  • East Bengal (1947-1955) / East Pakistan (1955-1971), now Bangladesh, was an exclave separated from West Pakistan by 1600 kilometres of India's territory. East Pakistan accounted for 70% of the exports of the country and was more populous than West Pakistan, and so in a sense it was actually the physically larger and politically more influential West that was the enclave and East Pakistan that was the Mainland.
  • Walvis Bay was a South African exclave in Namibia, before being incorporated with Namibia upon its independence.

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