| The last half century has seen the formation of many countries or witnessed the declaration of independence from colonial and/or oppressive rule. The French and British are amongst the world's largest colonisers and once commanded huge empires throughout Africa and Asia. They formed a great deal of infrastructure and also many railways lines during their rule. Nowadays, most of these nations have claimed independence from their European rulers. Sometimes a key factors driving nations to independence are religion or ethnic conflict, although many states have fought for independence against dictator regimes. The Czech Republic and Slovakia, formerly Czechoslovakia are examples of two nations that gained a peaceful partition, known as the 'Velvet Divorce'. |
Some lines that mark the beginning and end of countries are made by physical aspects like rivers, lakes or mountains for instance. Others are invisible boundaries. River boundaries make up a sixth of the world's divisions. It is usually the centre of a river or lake that provides the line for division and boundary. Mountain borders are massive country dividers. A good example of countries divided by a mountain range is the Himalayan range which separates China from countries like Nepal, India, Pakistan and Bhutan.
Boundaries and states are normally divided in accordance with the lines of latitude and longitude on the modern globe. Good examples of this include the USA and Canada, which are divided at the 49th parallel and North and South Korea which are divided at the 38th parallel. Enclaves are formed when territories become isolated by political agreement. A section of a country breaks away and is enclosed within another nation. Examples of this are the Kaliningrad region of Russia that lies sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland and the states of the Vatican City and San Marino within Italy.
Over time, the earth's continents have been shaped by elements such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Great areas of land have separated as plates have parted and whole mountain ranges and seas have formed as a result of the earth's movement during its lifespan. The islands of our great oceans have also been formed by volcanic activity and indeed as quickly as these landforms appear, they sink back into the depths of the seas.
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