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C is an exclave of B and an enclave in A.

An exclave (from French exclavé 'excluded' from Latin ex 'from' and clavis , 'the key') is a part - also parts - of a political area ( motherland ) that is spatially separated from the rest of the area by borders and exclusively above foreign territory can be reached.

Examples of enclaves of states are Alaska (exclave of the United States ), the Kaliningrad region (exclave of Russia ), the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan (exclave of Azerbaijan ), Llívia (exclave of Spain in the French Pyrenees), Ceuta and Melilla (exclaves of Spain in Morocco ) or Büsingen am Hochrhein (exclave of Germany in Switzerland ). Until after the Second World War , Hohenzollern in southern Germany was one of more than sixty exclaves in Prussia .

In a figurative sense, one also speaks of exclaves when it comes to other geographical issues, for example the areas of distribution of animal and plant species or the distribution of languages ​​( language island ) and cultures.

Origin of the designation

The term “exclave” originated in the early 20th century, analogous to enclave . This, in turn, was formed in the 19th century from the French noun l'enclave (from enclaver , "to enclose with a key"). The word exclave means "excluded (own) area", enclave accordingly "included (foreign) area".


Exclaves in the broader sense

Most of the generally held definitions are limited to using the geographical separation from the main territory by intervening foreign territory as the basis for an exclave. Consequently, Alaska is an exclave because it is separated from the main United States by Canadian territory . Likewise, Ceuta and Melilla are viewed as exclaves, as they can only be reached directly from the Spanish mainland by sea or air. Although this separating fact also applies to islands like Hawaii , islands are still not considered as exclaves. Incidentally, the use of language is often inconsistent.

Exclaves in the strict sense

Another definition, more of a constitutional nature, also includes the sea ​​route . According to this, an area is not considered an exclave if it can be reached via its own or international waters . According to this definition, neither Alaska nor Ceuta and Melilla are to be regarded as exclaves, since they are freely accessible from the main territory via international waters. Consistent with this is the assumption that islands are not exclaves unless they are completely surrounded by foreign territorial waters.

The term exclave can also be applied to areas other than nation states. So Bremerhaven an exclave of the country Bremen and Helgoland an exclave of Pinneberg . (Because of the direct water connection, the island of Helgoland is not an exclave of Schleswig-Holstein or Germany .)

D: Exclave that is not an enclave.

Exclaves and enclaves

An enclave is a foreign area or part of a foreign area that is completely surrounded by another area.

From the point of view of the surrounding area, many exclaves are also enclaves and vice versa. The municipality of Büsingen is an exclave in Germany that is completely surrounded by Switzerland . From Switzerland's point of view, Büsingen is an enclave, part of another state enclosed by Switzerland . In contrast, the Kaliningrad region is a Russian exclave, but not an enclave, as it is not completely enclosed by a single other state. Conversely, the Republic of San Marino is an enclave within Italy , but not an exclave, as it consists of a single closed national territory and is therefore not a separate part of another mother country.

Border in the municipalities of Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog

The borderline between the municipalities of Baarle-Nassau ( Netherlands ) and Baarle-Hertog ( Belgium ) is a unique curiosity in the world. In terms of international law, the municipality of Baarle-Hertog initially forms a Belgian enclave in the closed national territory of the Netherlands, the continuous border between the two mother countries is roughly two kilometers from the southeastern outskirts. Due to a property dispute between the Dukes of Brabant (hence the addition Hertog ) and the Counts of Nassau , the city was divided up by land and the different names had been used since the 12th century, but that didn't bother the population as they lived together in a kingdom . It was only in the course of the break-up of the Brabant Flemings and the associated establishment of the Kingdom of Belgium in 1830 that from then on, the different affiliations of landowners became the assignment of their respective nationalities ; because the Brabantians (Hertog) became Belgians, the Nassauers remained Dutch. This was followed by demarcation around fields, pastures and houses; the communities remained spatially inseparable. For example, the Belgian Baarle-Hertog, which is surrounded by the Dutch Baarle-Nassau and intertwined with it, consists of a total of almost eight square kilometers, which are spread over 22 separate pieces of land, and in turn there are seven Dutch exclaves, some only the size of a plot. The confusing borders on the streets and sidewalks are marked with boundary stones, but mostly by paving with conspicuous tiles, also regularly labeled with "NL" and "B" - sometimes you are only in the other state for a few meters, sometimes you walk or you only drive over a corner of the area. Border lines painted on house walls show that the border also runs through houses, including several restaurants, where the border line is marked on the floor. The exclave-enclave-jumble with its sometimes absurd demarcations has meanwhile become a much-noticed and much-visited tourist attraction.

Main territory

For the main territory to which an exclave belongs, various other, partly synonymous terms are in use: exclave state, heartland , mainland, motherland , homeland and inland. For the surrounding foreign area, however, are synonymous: enclave state, circumstate, neighboring state and foreign country .

Creation of exclaves

Exclaves can arise for a variety of reasons. With a few exceptions, exclaves are historically determined relics of old feudal rights of rule and property. The phenomenon cannot therefore be viewed independently of the emergence of the political borders .

Purchase, donation, marriage or inheritance

In medieval Europe there were initially no sharp political boundaries. They usually ran along natural obstacles such as rivers and ridges, or through impassable forests. Neighboring areas could belong to different owners on a small scale and be subordinate to different feudal lords over a large area. These usually tried to form a geographically closed area. However, through purchases, gifts, marriages or inheritance, areas without any direct geographical or economic connection were created. It was only with the emergence of the territorial states in the High and Late Middle Ages and with the increase in population that territories were more precisely divided by borders. In the course of history, an unproblematic demarcation of the village property could become a guarded state border.

For these reasons there were thousands of exclaves of every imaginable size. Although many exclaves have been abolished throughout history, today's political borders in Europe are still small and complex.


In principle, armed possession could also lead to exclaves. However, such territories were mostly short-lived, as they either could hardly be defended due to a lack of connection to the main territory of the conqueror and consequently were lost again to the surrounding state, or strong conquerors could round off their borders with the inclusion of exclaves and thereby enlarge their territory - this went Status as exclave lost because a connection to the mother country was created.

Most of the European conquests on other continents are not commonly considered as exclaves, as they are either accessible via international waters or are not considered an equivalent part of the European colonizer . Since the current borders of African and South American states were drawn with a ruler, in some cases without taking into account the traditional tribal areas, exclaves were only rarely created there.

Economic considerations

In the Alpine region in particular, it was important for municipalities to secure shares at various altitudes because of the grazing of cattle. Some Swiss municipalities, such as Fläsch , therefore have an area in the valley floor and an area that grazes the alpine pastures several hundred meters higher . Some areas were also owned jointly by two or more municipalities, see Communanz .


Indian-Bangladeshi enclaves

There are currently around 60 exclaves between nation states worldwide, depending on the definition chosen. Around half of this is in the village of Baarle , which consists of the Belgian municipality of Baarle-Hertog with 22 exclaves and the Dutch municipality of Baarle-Nassau with eight exclaves (seven of which are in turn within Belgian enclaves).

At the beginning of the 20th century, the number of such exclaves in Central Europe was much larger; the eight Thuringian states had around 80 exclaves by the end of the First World War .

By 2015 there were 198 exclaves on the Indian-Bangladeshi border near the city of Koch Bihar . Of these, 24 enclaves were in turn located within enclaves of the other country. A third order exclave was an Indian jute field within an enclave of Bangladesh, which was located within an Indian exclave in Bangladesh ("sub-sub-enclave"). See Indian-Bangladeshi enclaves .

The number can hardly be estimated at lower political levels (in Switzerland alone there are over 20 exclaves at cantonal level).

The biggest exclave, if the sea route goes unnoticed, is Alaska .

Exclaves as a political problem

Exceptionally often, exclaves are the subject of both domestic and foreign political tensions. These can be roughly divided into the following groups, whereby several factors play a role in many conflicts.


Since in addition to the residents, police, military or customs officers can also be denied access to the exclaves by the surrounding state (since they have to cross foreign territory to do so), criminals of all origins are happy to try to lodge themselves within the exclaves in order to get theirs from there unhindered To pursue machinations. Theft, robbery, extortion, corruption of local officials or murders cannot be investigated due to a lack of supervision by the higher authorities and go unpunished. This is a particular problem with the enclaves of India and Bangladesh.

For similar reasons, smuggling is easier. For example, Baarle-Hertog and Baarle-Nassau have long been known as real smugglers' paradises. Because of the course of the border, which did not even stop at the division of houses, smuggling goods legally imported into one village and then legally exported from the other village was quite easy. With the Benelux Treaty of 1958 and European unification, the problem in Baarle no longer exists.


The state to which the exclave belongs and the surrounding state cannot agree on the terms of supply (transport of people and goods, electricity, water supply, communications, etc.). Agreements between neighboring offices, for example at customs, then do not take place on a collegial or informal basis, but via the interior or foreign ministries of the states involved. Noticeable restrictions in daily life are the result. There are currently problems with the supply of the Kaliningrad region , which is enclosed by the European Union . Historical examples are the supply to East Prussia between the two world wars and that of West Berlin during the 1948/49 blockade .


A border that is sealed off from the surrounding state can mean that censuses (as the basis for calculating parliamentary mandates) cannot be carried out and that the right to vote or stand for election cannot be exercised. Therefore, exclaves are often insufficiently represented in parliaments and, because of the relatively small population, have little weight in the public opinion of their mother country. The inhabitants of the exclave are therefore effectively locked in or feel neglected by the mother country, which can boost efforts to separate. One example is Cabinda .

Establishing a territorial link

The mother country tries - through diplomacy or through war - to establish a territorial connection with the exclave. The so-called reunions on the French eastern border are known from historical times , where the numerous exclaves in Lorraine were rounded off after the Thirty Years' War and a coherent and defensible border was created within a few decades. For years, Armenia has been trying to establish a connection with the claimed Nagorno-Karabakh area , which, however, is not a real exclave.

Extinction of the exclave

The state that surrounds the exclave is trying to incorporate it into its territory. This can be done through an exchange of territory or through war or raid-like occupation (example Cabinda 1975). In most cases, exclaves are hardly protected from attacks by the surrounding state.

Fake enclaves


Islands that have a connection to the main area of ​​the state via territorial waters or the open sea (for example the Azores ) are generally not referred to as exclaves. Even areas that only occupy part of the island (for example Northern Ireland ) are not exclaves, unless they are enclosed by foreign territory on the island itself.

Dependent areas

Areas that do not have the same political status as the main territory are generally not considered exclaves. This category includes colonies , overseas territories such as those of France , autonomous areas, occupied areas and leased areas. For example, the Hong Kong lease was not considered a British exclave before it was returned to China. The extent of the colonial conquests of the 19th century actually made it necessary to avoid the term exclave, since Algeria and German East Africa, for example, were larger than their “mother countries”.

A special case of a dependent area was West Berlin, which was de facto an exclave of the Federal Republic of Germany , but was de jure occupied and administered by the Allies . In fact, Berlin (West) itself had some exclaves, including Steinstücke .

States with a single neighboring state

Some areas are surrounded by a single neighboring state, but are sovereign states. So they are not separated from any territory in any way and are therefore not referred to as exclaves, although they are enclaves. There are three such areas, namely San Marino , the Vatican State (both surrounded by Italy) and Lesotho (surrounded by South Africa).

Sovereign areas that only border on a neighboring country and the sea are also not considered an exclave. Examples are Gambia (only borders with Senegal ), Portugal (only with Spain ), Monaco (only with France ) and Ireland (only with the smaller Northern Ireland , which is part of the United Kingdom ). If you don't count the Øresund Bridge to Sweden as a land connection, Denmark only borders on Germany .

Functional exclaves

Some areas on the edge of a state can only be reached in the usual way via the area of ​​a neighboring state due to impassable terrain. Such territories are also called quasi-exclaves. They share many features of an area that is geographically separated from the national territory, i.e. a real exclave. A well-known example of this is the Kleinwalsertal in Vorarlberg , whose road connection to the rest of Austria leads via the German municipality of Oberstdorf .

In another situation, the exclave is only connected to the rest of the national territory in one point, similar to a quadrangle . This is the case with the Tyrolean community of Jungholz , whose border point to the rest of Austria is on the Sorgschrofen mountain , while it is otherwise completely enclosed by German territory.

Functional exclaves are mostly tariff exclusion areas . For example, the village of Samnaun was once only accessible from the rest of Switzerland via a road on Austrian territory. In 1892 it was therefore excluded from the Swiss customs area. The place retained its status as a customs exclusion zone after 1912, when a new road connection exclusively crossed Swiss territory (which is, however, partially impassable in winter due to snowfall).

Real estate

Under civil law, states and other local authorities can own or own real estate that lies outside their territory. In general, however, this is not associated with any sovereignty under international law or public law administrative competence . Therefore, one does not speak of an exclave when it comes to property. Examples are some military cemeteries in France owned by the USA and Canada, the Suworow memorial in Göschenen owned by Russia and the so-called Saalforsten in Sankt Martin bei Lofer in Austria , which are managed by the Bavarian State Forests with their own operating unit.

The French Republic is the owner of the French territories on St. Helena as well as the so-called Domaines nationaux français in Israel and the West Bank and in East Jerusalem ; there are four buildings in Jerusalem :

However, Israel does not recognize these claims as they were established prior to the establishment of the state.

See also


  • Rudolf Eugen Scherrer: The customs connection of the German enclave Büsingen to Switzerland: at the same time a contribution to the doctrine of territorial sovereignty. Diss. Zurich: Schulthess, 1973, ISBN 3-7255-1419-4 (especially Chapter III: Concept and problematic of the enclave in international law , pp. 11-22).
  • Irmfried Siedentop: Geography of the enclaves and exclaves. In: Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie 12, 1 (1968), pp. 12-14.
  • Brendan R. Whyte: Bordering on the ridiculous? A comparison of the Baarle and Cooch Behar enclaves. In: The Globe. Journal of the Australian Map Circle 53 (2002), pp. 43-61 (therein tables and maps of exclaves and enclaves worldwide).

Web links

Wiktionary: Exclave  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Overview map of the holdings of the Bavarian State Forests (PDF; 2.8 MB) ( Memento of the original from October 8, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.baysf.de
  2. https://oeuvre-orient.fr/actualites/laction-de-la-france-en-faveur-du-patrimoine-chretien-en-terre-sainte-yves-teyssier-dorfeuil-2014/
  3. https://jerusalem.consulfrance.org/-Domaines-nationaux-