A country’s prosperity depends on several factors. Weather, connectivity, resources, geography, location, and more, play an important role in deciding a country’s fate. Several countries in the world are facing difficulties in reaching their full potential due to these factors. In some countries, weather plays spoilsport, ensuring that the inhabitants only think more about survival than progress. Other countries face difficulties due to a lack of connectivity, transportation, and communication. They have been struggling for years to find solutions to all these problems but the problems keep changing. Even after development in technology and science, the world hasn’t yet provided relief for these beleaguered countries.
Among the factors that prove to be a hurdle in the development of any country, location is the most important factor. The location of the country decides what sort of weather it gets, how its geography changes, and how other countries along its borders are behaving. A country situated in a tropical region is affected by hot and humid weather. The geography of a country is decided to depend on whether it is located above or below the equator. If the country is unfortunately located beside two or more conflicting countries, its progress is going to be affected severely.
The countries that are unfortunately or strategically placed in a disadvantageous location are called land lock countries. These countries face difficulties at different levels. Some face severe problems with nature-generated problems and man-made problems. In both cases, the loss of resources, development, and life is exponential. Most of the countries become landlocked due to human intervention and others are landlocked since their birth. Once a country gets landlocked, it becomes very difficult to come out of it, especially when it is nature-generated. Even in man-made cases, it takes several decades for a country to free itself from the landlocked situation.
What does Landlocked Means?
A landlocked country or a state is an independent nation that has no part or territory connecting to the ocean. If a country’s part or territory touches the coastline of water bodies that don’t flow but stay forever in a place, it is also called landlocked. These water bodies may include rivers, ocean, lakes, or swamps. Most of the landlocked countries are known for large oceans or lakes.
Currently, the world has 44 landlocked countries. This number was 30 before 1990. The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the breakup of Yugoslavia, including the independence of South Sudan and Eritrea, added 15 new countries. Among these countries, Czechoslovakia came out of landlocked position in the year 1993.
The landlocked situation creates many issues for a country. Due to the absence of access to oceans, it becomes difficult for these countries to physically connect with the outer world through international waters. This, in turn, creates logistical difficulties hindering the progress and development of the country. Historically, most of the kingdoms fought to get control of the coastline to hold their sway on businesses.
Though most of the landlocked countries are poor, a few of them are also rich and affluent. Knowing more about landlocked countries allows humanitarian institutions to assess their situation and plan a bailout strategy.
Let’s see six major countries that are landlocked due to their location.
Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked country in the world. It is mainly located in Central Asia and a small part of Eastern Europe. It is the ninth largest country in the world. The country shares borders with China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. A large part of the country’s territory touches the Caspian Sea, which is one of the reasons for the country’s landlocked position. Another reason for being landlocked is its hostile terrain. It consists of taiga, steppe, plains, hills, rock canyons, deltas, deserts, and snow-capped mountains. The climate of the country is also extreme in most parts. It is constantly battered by warm summers and cold winters. The capital city Nursultan is the second coldest capital city in the world.
Though most of the part of the country is inhospitable or partially hospitable, Kazakhstan has seen huge progress due to its resources. The oil-rich country is the most prosperous in entire Central Asia and contributes 60% GDP of the region.
It wouldn’t have held back if it hadn’t landlocked and reached its full potential on par with developing countries.
Marred by incessant wars and conflicts, Afghanistan was never a place of peace and prosperity. The entire geography of the country consists of peaky mountains and harsh terrain. No part of its territory is exposed to coastline or ocean. Due to this reason, the country is completely in a landlocked location. It shares borders with Iran on the western side and Pakistan on the east and southern side. Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan share borders on the northern side. China is placed northeastern side of the country.
The country was in continuous conflict due to the presence of many tribal communities. These communities made Hindu Kush mountain range their home and fought wars. During the Cold War era between the Soviet Union and the USA, Afghanistan came into the limelight and the Taliban began to rule the country. Due to its landlocked location, it became virtually cut off from the rest of the world. Later, when the Taliban were dethroned, the country achieved freedom and today ruled by a democratically elected government.
The climate of the country varies from the hot climate in the summers in some parts to freezing conditions in central high lands. This is due to the presence of the Hindu Kush mountain range and extended Himalayan stretch.
3. Vatican City
Vatican City is the smallest landlocked country in the world. It falls under the category of landlocked by a single country since it is surrounded by Italy. It became independent in 1929 from Italy and it comes under the jurisdiction of the Holy See. The ruler of the country is the Pope, who is head of the Catholic Church and bishop of Rome.
The holy city is considered a pedestal of Christianity and it boasts several holy and cultural monuments like the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums, and St. Peter’s Basilica. The main economy of the country is run by the sale of souvenirs, postage stamps, admission fees from the museums, and sale of publications.
Since the Vatican is a city, the landlocked condition is mostly due to the non-presence of the coastline. The entire territory is part of the Vatican Hill and Vatican Fields. The main hub activity in the city is St. Peter’s Square. Thousands of devoted Christians gather here during Christmas and other holy festivals, including the election of the Pope.
The Vatican has a climate similar to Rome with mild and rainy winters and hot and dry summers. The huge structure of Peter’s Basilica, fountains, the elevation of the city, and the large size of the pavement facilitates the forming of dew and mist.
Nepal is one of the small countries landlocked by two nations – India and China. Most of the country consists of mountainous terrain. Apart from the capital city Katmandu, most of its parts are inaccessible to people. Eight out of ten world’s tallest mountains are present in Nepal. Since it is landlocked by China and India, it has business and cultural connections with only these countries. Though it is a resource-rich country, most of the resources are either not reachable or inhospitable.
If we see Nepal on a map, it appears trapezoidal. Its territory is divided into three physiographic belts – Himal, Pahad, and Terai. Himal belt consists of mountains covered in the snow, including the highest peak in the world, Mount Everest. Pahad region consists of treacherous mountains without snow, Terai is a low land where most of the inhabitants reside.
The climate in this region ranges from tropical to sub-tropical.
The kingdom of Lesotho is a landlocked country surrounded by another country South Africa. It is one of the single landlocked countries along with the Vatican City and San Marino. Lesotho boasts just a landmass of 30,000 square kilometers with a population of 2 million. It was ruled by the British from 1866 to 1966.
The location of Lesotho makes it the only independent country above 1,000 meters in elevation. It has the lowest point of 1,400 meters, making it the country with the highest lowest point in the world. It frequently faces soil erosion and it is said that around 40 million tons of soil gets eroded each year.
The climate of the country is cooler than the other countries in the region due to its elevation. The country faces periodic droughts, making it a difficult country to live in.
Liechtenstein is a predominantly German-speaking micro country falling under the category of the doubly landlocked country. It shares borders with Switzerland to the west, south, and Austria to the north and east. It is one of the most prosperous landlocked countries in the world. It is the sixth smallest free country in the world. The country is situated in the upper region of the Rhine valley of the European Alps. The presence valley has created a beautiful location throughout the country. Due to the continuous winds blowing from the alpine, the climate is mild and soothing. The slopes of the mountains hold the snow in the winter, providing a perfect location for winter sports.