A piece of India, inside a piece of Bangladesh, inside a piece of India within Bangladesh3 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
Until 2015, India and Bangladesh shared the most bizarre border in the world. After the British left the Indian subcontinent and Bangladesh broke away from Pakistan, both India and Bangladesh had a look at their border and found that they were scattered with ‘enclaves’. An enclave is a piece of land belonging to a country that is completely surrounded by the territory of another country. The most famous example of an enclave is Vatican City State which is surrounded by Italy.
Back to the Indo-Bangladesh border, where 162 such enclaves existed. To make things worse, within these enclaves there were counter-enclaves. A counter-enclave is an enclave inside an enclave and a counter-counter enclave (or second order enclave) is an enclave within an enclave. If that wasn’t enough, this border also has the world’s only counter-counter-counter (third order enclave), which was an Indian enclave called Dahala Khagrabari. Dahal Khagrabari is an Indian enclave within a Bangaldeshi enclave within an Indian enclave within Bangladesh. Confusing? Don’t worry not only was this confusing for cartographers, but it also left the residents of these enclaves in a weird situation. Some residents found themselves needing passports to go to the market or hospital. One resident, Sam Poran’s property is divided between India and Bangladesh territory, his hand pump is in Bangladesh, while his house is in Indian territory.
Luckily for us, the cartographers and the residents, in 2015 these enclaves barring one were finally divided and returned to the country that contained them. Unfortunately, it took India more than 40 years to ratify the agreement, called the Land Boundary Agreement. Although we lost the world’s only counter-counter-counter enclave, this agreement greatly helped the residents of these enclaves that brought them better access to roads, hospitals, schools etc.