Interesting Exclaves of the World

An exclave is a portion of a country's territory that is not connected to the main part, like Alaska, for example. The term is sometimes confused with enclave, which is a political, cultural, or social entity that's completely surrounded by another, like Vatican City, an enclave of Italy.

When one applies the terms enclave and exclave, the differences and similarities can create some perplexing distinctions. To access a true exclave from the mainland, for example, one would have to go through the territory of at least one other state. So, while Alaska is an exclave, it's classified as a semi-exclave, because it possesses an unsurrounded sea border. To dig into more the details about what makes a true exclave, check out this map-based explanation.

In the rest of this article, we'll look at the world's true exclaves—each is a portion of a UN-recognized state, cut off from its home nation.


The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, which borders Turkey, Armenia, and Iran, is a landlocked exclave of the Republic of Azerbaijan. It covers over two thousand square miles and has a population of 459,600.

The area was part of Iran in the 16th century, became a possession of Imperial Russia in 1828, and was occupied briefly by the Ottomans in 1918. When the Bolsheviks took control of the region in 1920, that began seventy years of Soviet rule.

In 1990, protesting the suppression of the national movement in Azerbaijan, Nakhchivan declared independence from the USSR. One year later, it became the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic within the newly independent Republic of Azerbaijan.


Map showing the borders of Baarle-Hertog

Baarle-Hertog is a collection of Belgian exclaves in the Netherlands. The exclave's complicated borders with Baarle-Nassau, Netherlands were established in the mid-1800s, the result of medieval treaties, land-swaps, and other agreements.

The chopped-up borders in the area led to restricted troop movements during WWI and the odd delineations have impacted everyday life for decades, with some homes and businesses in the town of Baarle-Hertog/Baarle-Nassau divided between Belgium and the Netherlands.


Llívia is a Spanish exclave surrounded by French territory. It covers just five square miles and has a population of around 1500 people. A one-mile-wide corridor separates Llívia from the rest of Spain; it's a swath of land that also includes the French communes of Ur and Bourg-Madame.

Campione d'Italia

Campione d'Italia is an enclave and exclave of Italy surrounded by the Swiss canton of Ticino. As the crow flies, it's just over half a mile from the rest of Italy. However, mountainous terrain in the area would require an Italy-bound traveler from Campione d'Italia to traverse a 9-mile road to reach the nearest Italian town, Lanzo d'Intelvi.

Büsingen am Hochrhein

Büsingen am Hochrhein is an enclave and exclave of Germany that's surrounded by Switzerland. You can get from the edge of Büsingen am Hochrhein to the main portion of Germany by traveling a mere 2,300 feet. This exclave has a population of about 1,450. Politically, it's part of Germany, but economically, it's part of the Swiss customs union, and for that reason, there are no border controls between Switzerland and Büsingen am Hochrhein.

There are a few more true exclaves in existence. The United Arab Emirates contains five of them. Then there's the Likoma and Chizumulu Islands, exclaves of Malawi, with Mozambique territorial waters on all sides.

We hope you enjoyed this brief look at the world's exclaves. At Seterra, we're watching enclaves and exclaves like a hawk, waiting for any change in status and poised to update our map quizzes in response.