Enclave and exclave

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(Fig. 1) C is A's enclave and B's exclave
(Fig. 2) C is an exclave of B, but not an enclave of A since it also shares a border with D

In international law, an enclave is any portion of a state that is entirely surrounded by the territory of another state.[1] It follows from this definition that for an area to be considered an enclave, it must not be a sovereign state and it must not be entered or exited without the need to enter the territory of another state, either by land, sea or air. Enclaves, which were quite numerous in past centuries, are now very uncommon. The concept of enclave is applicable at both the international and sub-national level.

Somewhat abusively, the word enclave has progressively come into common usage to denote also any non-sovereign or sovereign territory, generally a small coastal territory, that is partly surrounded by one or several larger states. Thus, coastal territories such as Gibraltar, Ceuta, Monaco, Kaliningrad, Cabinda, etc., which can all be easily entered or exited by air or sea without the need to enter the territory of another state, are nevertheless called enclaves.[2] The expression "true enclave" is often used to denote territories that correspond to the strict definition of an enclave.

An exclave is defined as a portion of a country geographically separated from the main part by surrounding alien territory.[3] Basically, an exclave is the enclave seen from the viewpoint of the main part. Thus, in Fig. 1 at right, C is an enclave from the viewpoint of A but an exclave from the viewpoint of B, the main part. The word exclave is much less common than enclave, which tends to be the generic to denote both concepts.

In Fig. 2 at right, C is again an exclave of B, but is not an enclave, because it has boundaries with more than one entity.

Origin and usage[edit]

The word enclave is French and first appeared in the mid-15th century as a derivative of the verb enclaver (1283), from the colloquial Latin inclavare (to close with a key).[4] Originally, it was a term of property law that denoted the situation of a land or parcel of land surrounded by land owned by a different owner, and that could not be reached for its exploitation in a practical and sufficient manner without crossing the surrounding land.[5] In law, this created a servitude[6] of passage for the benefit of the owner of the surrounded land.

Later, the term enclave began to be used also to refer to parcels of countries, counties, fiefs, communes, towns, parishes, etc. that were surrounded by alien territory. This French word eventually entered the English and other languages to denote the same concept although local terms continued and continue[7] to be used. In British administrative history, subnational enclaves were usually called detachments or detached parts, and national enclaves as detached districts or detached dominions.[8] In English ecclesiastic history, subnational enclaves were known as peculiars (see also Royal Peculiar).

The word exclave, modeled on enclave,[9] is a logical extension of the concept of enclave.


Enclaves may be created for a variety of historical, political or geographical reasons. Some areas have been left as enclaves by changes in the course of a river.

Since living in an enclave can be very inconvenient and many agreements have to be found by both countries over mail addresses, power supply or passage rights, enclaves tend to be eliminated and many cases that existed before have now been removed. The governments of India and Bangladesh have been pressed to resolve the complex system of enclaves along their border – persons in these enclaves have complained of being effectively stateless.[10] In 2011, India and Bangladesh signed a leasehold agreement regarding the Tin Bigha Corridor.

Many exclaves today have an independence movement, especially if the exclave is far away from the mainland.[citation needed][dubious ]

True enclaves[edit]

A true enclave is a territory over which a nation is sovereign, but that cannot be reached without passing through territory of the one and only foreign nation that surrounds it. Two examples include Büsingen, a true exclave of Germany, and Campione d'Italia, a true exclave of Italy, both surrounded by Switzerland.

An historical example was West Berlin before the reunification of Germany, which was a de facto West German exclave, being enclaved by East Germany. (Also, 12 small exclaves of West Berlin, such as Steinstücken, were separated from the city, some by only a few meters.) All of Berlin was ruled de jure by the four Allied powers; however, the East German government and the Soviet Union treated East Berlin as an integral part of East Germany.

Most of the true national-level enclaves now existing are in Asia and Europe. While subnational enclaves are numerous the world over, there are only a few national-level enclaves in Africa, Australia and the Americas (each such enclave being surrounded by the territorial waters of another country).

Enclaved countries[edit]

Position of Lesotho within South Africa

Some enclaves are countries in their own right, completely surrounded by another one, and therefore not exclaves. Three such sovereign countries exist:

The principality of Monaco is not an enclave, although it only borders France, because it also possesses a coastline and territorial waters; thus, it is not completely surrounded by another country. Similarly, The Gambia is not an enclave.

Historically, four of the Black homelands or Bantustans of South Africa were granted nominal independence, unrecognized internationally, by the Nationalist government from 1976 until their re-absorption in 1994. Others remained under government rule from 1948 to 1994. Being heavily partitioned, various parts of these Bantustans were true enclaves.

The USA's constitutional principle of tribal sovereignty treats federally-recognized Indian reservations as quasi-independent enclaves.

The same would apply for Indian Reserves in Canada and Aboriginal reserves in Australia.[dubious ]

Temporary enclaves[edit]

The Scottish Court in the Netherlands, at Camp Zeist near Utrecht, was temporarily declared as sovereign territory of the United Kingdom under Scottish law for the duration of the trial of those accused in the Lockerbie bombing, and was therefore an exclave of the United Kingdom, and of Scotland, and an enclave within the Netherlands. It was also so during the appeal of the man convicted. The court was first convened in 1999, and the land returned to the Netherlands in 2002.

Related constructs and terms[edit]

Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic
Kentucky Bend and surrounding area
  Missouri (MO)
  Tennessee (TN)
  Kentucky (KY)

True exclaves[edit]

In Fig. 1 above, C is both a true enclave and a true exclave. In Fig. 2 above, C is a true exclave of B, but it is not an enclave, because it has boundaries with more than one entity.

Subnational enclaves and exclaves[edit]

Sometimes, administrative divisions of a country, for historical or practical reasons, caused some areas to belong to one division while being attached to another.

Enclaves within enclaves[edit]

It is possible for an enclave of one country to be completely surrounded by a part of another country that is itself an enclave of the first country.

Ethnic enclaves[edit]

An ethnic enclave is a community of an ethnic group inside an area in which another ethnic group predominates. Ghettos, Little Italys, barrios and Chinatowns are examples. These areas may have a separate language, culture and economic system.

"Practical" enclaves, exclaves and inaccessible districts[edit]

Pene-enclaves and pene-exclaves are regions that are not conterminous with the main land region, that are not entirely surrounded by alien land or alien territorial waters, and that have land access only through a second country. Hence, they are enclaves or exclaves for practical purposes, without meeting the strict definition.

Many pene-exclaves partially border the sea or another body of water, which comprises their own territorial waters (i.e., they are not surrounded by other nations' territorial waters). Alaska is the largest pene-exclave in the world. Because they border their own territorial waters in addition to a land border with another country, they are not true exclaves. Still, one cannot travel to them on land without going through another country.

Inaccessible districts are regions that are conterminous with the main land region but that are only easily accessible by going through a second country.

Conversely, a territory that is an exclave but does not function as one (instead functioning as an adjacent part of the main nation) is deemed a "quasi-exclave".(Robinson 1959)

Subnational "practical" enclaves, exclaves and inaccessible districts[edit]


Embassies and military bases are usually exempted from the jurisdiction of the host country, i.e., the laws of the host nation in which an embassy is located do not typically apply to the land of the embassy or base itself. This exemption from the jurisdiction of the host country is defined as extraterritoriality. Areas of extraterritoriality are not true enclaves as they are still part of the host country. In addition to embassies, some other areas have extraterritoriality.

Examples of this include:

Land owned by a foreign country[edit]

Some areas of land in a country are owned by another country and in some cases it has special privileges, such as being exempt from taxes. These lands are not enclaves and do not have extraterritoriality since, in all cases, there is no transfer of sovereignty.

Examples of this include:

Land for the Captain Cook Monument (above) was deeded outright to the British Government by independent Hawaii.

Peculiar cross-border transport channels[edit]

National railway passing through another state's territory[edit]

Changes in borders can make a railway that was previously located solely within a country traverse the new borders. Since railways are much more expensive than building roads to avoid this problem, the criss-cross arrangement tends to last a long time. With passenger trains this may mean that doors on carriages are locked and guarded to prevent illicit entry and exit while the train is temporarily in another country. Borders can also be in the "wrong" place, forcing railways into difficult terrain.

Examples include:

map of the line

Highway of one state passing through another state's territory[edit]

This arrangement is less common as highways are more easily re-aligned. Examples include:

Subnational highway passing through other internal territory[edit]

Border transport infrastructure[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Raton, Pierre. Les enclaves. Annuaire français de droit international, 1958, Vol. 4, p. 186. Available online: http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/afdi_0066-3085_1958_num_4_1_1373
  2. ^ Raton, p. 186.
  3. ^ Exclave. Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, 1989, p. 497
  4. ^ Le Grand Robert, Dictionnaire de la langue française, 2001, vol.III, p. 946.
  5. ^ Le Grand Robert, p. 946.
  6. ^ Servitude: Law. A right possessed by one person with respect to another's property, consisting either of a right to use the other's property, or a power to prevent certain uses of it. Webster's, p. 1304.
  7. ^ In India, the word "pocket" is often used as a synonym for enclave (such as "the pockets of Puducherry district". See, for instance: http://www.recruitmentnews.in/govt-jobs-state-wise/government-jobs-in-puducherry/)
  8. ^ As can be seen on 18th. century maps of Germany and other European countries by British cartographers and publishers such as R. Wilkinson.
  9. ^ Exclave. Webster's, p. 497.
  10. ^ "Hope for Indo-Bangladesh enclaves". NDTV. 12 September 2011. Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  11. ^ http://www.ataa.org/reference/occupation_az.html
  12. ^ "Map showing the existing police station limits". Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  13. ^ Instituto Geográfico do Exército: Territory of Santa Maria (Estremoz)
  14. ^ "Can thaw unstick frozen conflict?". BBC News. 2009-05-06. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  15. ^ "Jervis Bay Territory Governance and Administration". Although the Jervis Bay Territory is not part of the Australian Capital Territory, the laws of the ACT apply, in so far as they are applicable and, providing they are not inconsistent with an Ordinance, in the Territory by virtue of the Jervis Bay Acceptance Act 1915. The Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  16. ^ The area of ACT land on the Beecroft Peninsula is clearly shown in the New South Wales Roads Directory (Map 177, grid ref. S 2), which is published by the National Roads and Motoring Association and is based on NSW Department of Lands maps. A good online GIS map showing the Beecroft Peninsula, and those areas which are part of the ACT, can be found at the website of the City of Shoalhaven, the adjacent NSW municipality.
  17. ^ Google Maps route out of the county from one point on the county border to the other here.
  18. ^ Arocha, Magaly (First Consul of the General Consulate of Venezuela in Naples) (May 1999). "La Orden de Malta y su Naturaleza Jurídica (The Order of Malta and Its Legal Nature) – English translation". Retrieved October 1, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Czech leased areas in Hamburg". Retrieved 2013-10-26. 
  20. ^ "Notification of the Ministry of Transport and Communications of the Czech Republic". 20 August 2001. Retrieved 2013-10-26. 
  21. ^ Jürgen Siebeck (23 October 2002). "Is Bohemia the sea?". Retrieved 2013-10-26. 
  22. ^ Zdeněk Vališ (28 April 2005). "Czech harbor in Hamburg, waiting for resurrection". Retrieved 2013-10-26. 
  23. ^ "Czech leased areas in Hamburg and Stettin". Retrieved 2013-10-26. 
  24. ^ "The Transport Agreement between the Czechoslovak Republic and the Polish People's Republic of 13 January 1956". Retrieved 2013-10-26. 
  25. ^ "domaines français de Sainte-Hélène". Domfrance.helanta.sh. Retrieved 2012-09-02. 
  26. ^ "Guernesey : Hauteville House". Paris.fr. 2012-08-28. Retrieved 2012-09-02. 
  27. ^ "The American Battle Monuments Commission". "The site, preserved since the war by the French Committee of the Pointe du Hoc, which erected an impressive granite monument at the edge of the cliff, was transferred to American control by formal agreement between the two governments on 11 January 1979 in Paris, with Ambassador Arthur A. Hartman signing for the United States and Secretary of State for Veterans Affairs Maurice Plantier signing for France". Retrieved October 29, 2012. 
  28. ^ "Canada And Vimy Ridge – Background Information – Veterans Affairs Canada". Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  29. ^ Hickam, Homer H. (1996). Torpedo Junction: U-Boat War Off America's East Coast, 1942. Naval Institute Press. pp. 202–207. ISBN 1-55750-362-1. 
  30. ^ a b "British Cemetery at Ocracoke, North Carolina". Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  31. ^ "Historic Ocracoke Village – A Walking Tour". Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  32. ^ "British Cemeteries". Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  33. ^ Horwitz, Tony. Oct. 2003, Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before, Bloomsbury, ISBN 0-7475-6455-8
  34. ^ Erickson, Lt Clayton, RCN (2012). "Captain Cook Monument at Kealakekua Cleaned and Repaired". Cook's Log 35 (4). p. 38. Retrieved 2013-02-23. 
  35. ^ "Canadian Crew Cleans Cook Monument". 30 August 2012. Retrieved 2013-02-23. 
  36. ^ Harris, Francis (22 Jul 2006). "Don't mention the murder – how Hawaii forgot Capt. Cook". Retrieved 2013-02-23. 
  37. ^ Taylor, Albert P. "HOW HAWAII HONORED CAPTAIN COOK, R.N., IN 1928". p. 29. Retrieved 2013-02-23. 
  38. ^ MacFarlane, John M. (2012). "The Captain Cook Memorial at Kealakakua Bay Hawaii". Retrieved 2013-02-23. 
  39. ^ "John F. Kennedy Memorial Act". Google docs [unofficial copy]. Retrieved 2012-06-16. 
  40. ^ Evans, D. M. Emrys (1965). "John F. Kennedy Memorial Act, 1964". The Modern Law Review 28 (6): 703–706. JSTOR 1092388.  (free registration required to read relevant text on page 704)
  41. ^ a b Railway Gazette International April 2008 p 240
  42. ^ 2006 Road Atlas Ireland, AA, pp. 36-37
  43. ^ "Find the elevation of any place". Altitude.nu. Retrieved 2012-09-02. 
  44. ^ "Senegal may tunnel under Gambia". BBC News. 2005-09-21. 
  45. ^ a b Bessert, Christopher J. "Highways 20-29". Wisconsin Highways. Retrieved July 7, 2011. 
  46. ^ Riner, Steve. "Details of Routes 1-25". The Unofficial Minnesota Highways Page. Retrieved July 7, 2011. 
  47. ^ Railway Gazette: Border bridges rebuilt
  48. ^ The log of the Water Lily, p. 84
  49. ^ "Ihr Bahnhof Basel Bad Bf". Retrieved 2013-02-26. 


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