A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basins. There are currently 44 landlocked countries and 5 partially recognized landlocked states.[note 1] Kazakhstan is the world's largest landlocked country.
In 1990, there were only 30 landlocked countries in the world. The breakup of Yugoslavia, the dissolutions of the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia, and the independence referendums of Eritrea and South Sudan have created 15 new landlocked countries and 4 partially recognized landlocked states while the former landlocked country of Czechoslovakia ceased to exist on 1 January 1993.
Generally, being landlocked creates some political and economic handicaps that having access to international waters would avoid. For this reason, nations large and small throughout history have sought to gain access to open waters, even at great expense in wealth, bloodshed, and political capital.
The economic disadvantages of being landlocked can be alleviated or aggravated depending on degree of development, surrounding trade routes and freedom of trade, language barriers, and other considerations. Some landlocked countries are quite affluent, such as Andorra, Austria, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, San Marino, Switzerland, and Vatican City, all of which, excluding Luxembourg, a founding member of NATO, frequently employ neutrality in global political issues. The majority, however, are classified as Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs). Nine of the twelve countries with the lowest Human Development Indices (HDI) are landlocked. International initiatives are aimed at reducing inequalities resulting from issues such as these, such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 10 which aims to reduce inequality substantially by 2030.
Historically, being landlocked has been disadvantageous to a country's development. It cuts a nation off from important sea resources such as fishing, and impedes or prevents direct access to maritime trade, a crucial component of economic and social advance. As such, coastal regions, or inland regions that have access to the World Ocean, tended to be wealthier and more heavily populated than inland regions that have no access to the World Ocean. Paul Collier in his book The Bottom Billion argues that being landlocked in a poor geographic neighborhood is one of four major development "traps" by which a country can be held back. In general, he found that when a neighboring country experiences better growth, it tends to spill over into favorable development for the country itself. For landlocked countries, the effect is particularly strong, as they are limited in their trading activity with the rest of the world. He states, "If you are coastal, you serve the world; if you are landlocked, you serve your neighbors." Others have argued that being landlocked has an advantage as it creates a "natural tariff barrier" which protects the country from cheap imports. In some instances, this has led to more robust local food systems.
Countries have acted to overcome being landlocked by acquiring land that reaches the sea:
Countries can make agreements on getting free transport of goods through neighbor countries:
Losing access to the sea is generally a great blow to a nation, politically, militarily, and economically. The following are examples of countries becoming landlocked.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea now gives a landlocked country a right of access to and from the sea without taxation of traffic through transit states. The United Nations has a programme of action to assist landlocked developing countries, and the current responsible Undersecretary-General is Anwarul Karim Chowdhury.
Some countries have a long coastline, but much of it may not be readily usable for trade and commerce. For instance, in its early history, Russia's only ports were on the Arctic Ocean and frozen shut for much of the year. The wish to gain control of a warm-water port was a major motivator of Russian expansion towards the Baltic Sea, Black Sea and Pacific Ocean. On the other hand, some landlocked countries can have access to the ocean along wide navigable rivers. For instance, Paraguay (and Bolivia to a lesser extent) have access to the ocean through the Paraguay and Paraná rivers.
Several countries have coastlines on landlocked bodies of water, such as the Caspian Sea and the Dead Sea. Since these seas are in effect lakes without access to wider seaborne trade, countries such as Kazakhstan are still considered landlocked. Although the Caspian Sea is connected to the Black Sea via the man-made Volga-Don Canal, large oceangoing ships are unable to traverse it.
Landlocked countries may be bordered by a single country having direct access to the high seas, two or more such countries, or be surrounded by other landlocked countries, making a country doubly landlocked.
Three countries are landlocked by a single country (enclaved countries):
Seven landlocked countries are surrounded by only two mutually bordering neighbours (semi-enclaved countries):
To this group could be added three landlocked territories which are de facto states with no or limited international recognition:[note 1]
A country is "doubly landlocked" or "double-landlocked" when it is surrounded only by landlocked countries (requiring the crossing of at least two national borders to reach a coastline). There are two such countries:
After the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, the Kingdom of Württemberg became a doubly landlocked state, bordering only Bavaria, Baden, and Switzerland. There were no doubly landlocked countries from the unification of Germany in 1871 until the end of World War I. Liechtenstein bordered the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which had an Adriatic coastline, and Uzbekistan was then part of the Russian Empire, which had both ocean and sea access.
With the dissolution of Austria-Hungary in 1918 and creation of an independent, landlocked Austria, Liechtenstein became the sole doubly landlocked country until 1938. In the Anschluss that year, Austria was absorbed into Nazi Germany, which possessed a border on the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. After World War II, Austria regained its independence and Liechtenstein once again became doubly landlocked.
However, Uzbekistan's doubly landlocked status depends on the Caspian Sea's status dispute: some countries, especially Iran and Turkmenistan, claim that the Caspian Sea should be considered as a real sea (mainly because this way they would have larger oil and gas fields), which would make Uzbekistan only a simple landlocked country since its neighbours Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan have access to the Caspian Sea.
|Country||Area (km2)||Population||Continent||Subregion||Surrounding countries||Count|
|Internationally recognized landlocked states|
|Afghanistan||652,230||33,369,945||Asia||Southern Asia||China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan||8|
|Andorra||468||77,543||Europe||Southern Europe||France and Spain||2|
|Armenia||29,743||3,254,300||Asia||Western Asia||Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Turkey||4 or 5[c]|
|Austria||83,871||8,823,054||Europe||Central Europe||Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland||8|
|Azerbaijan[a]||86,600||8,997,401||Asia||Western Asia||Armenia, Georgia, Iran, Russia, and Turkey||5 or 6[c]|
|Belarus||207,600||9,484,300||Europe||Eastern Europe||Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine||5|
|Bhutan||38,394||691,141||Asia||Southern Asia||China and India||2|
|Bolivia||1,098,581||10,907,778||Americas||South America||Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Peru||5|
|Botswana||582,000||1,990,876||Africa||Southern Africa||Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe||4|
|Burkina Faso||274,222||15,746,232||Africa||Western Africa||Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, and Togo||6|
|Burundi||27,834||10,557,259||Africa||Eastern Africa||Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Tanzania||3|
|Central African Republic||622,984||4,422,000||Africa||Middle Africa||Cameroon, Chad, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and Sudan||6|
|Chad||1,284,000||13,670,084||Africa||Middle Africa||Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Libya, Niger, Nigeria, and Sudan||6|
|Czech Republic||78,867||10,674,947||Europe||Central Europe||Austria, Germany, Poland, and Slovakia||4|
|Eswatini||17,364||1,185,000||Africa||Southern Africa||Mozambique and South Africa||2|
|Ethiopia||1,104,300||101,853,268||Africa||Eastern Africa||Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan||6|
|Hungary||93,028||9,797,561||Europe||Central Europe||Austria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine||7|
|Kazakhstan[a]||2,724,900||16,372,000||Asia||Central Asia||China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan||5|
|Kyrgyzstan||199,951||5,482,000||Asia||Central Asia||China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan||4|
|Laos||236,800||7,123,205||Asia||South-eastern Asia||Cambodia, China, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam||5|
|Lesotho[d]||30,355||2,067,000||Africa||Southern Africa||South Africa||1|
|Liechtenstein||160||35,789||Europe||Central Europe||Austria and Switzerland||2|
|Luxembourg||2,586||502,202||Europe||Central Europe||Belgium, France, and Germany||3|
|Malawi||118,484||15,028,757||Africa||Eastern Africa||Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia||3|
|Mali||1,240,192||14,517,176||Africa||Western Africa||Algeria, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal||7|
|Moldova||33,846||3,559,500||Europe||Eastern Europe||Romania, Transnistria[c], and Ukraine||2 or 3[c]|
|Mongolia||1,566,500||2,892,876||Asia||Eastern Asia||China and Russia||2|
|Nepal||147,181||26,494,504||Asia||Southern Asia||China and India||2|
|Niger||1,267,000||15,306,252||Africa||Western Africa||Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Libya, Mali, and Nigeria||7|
|North Macedonia||25,713||2,114,550||Europe||Southern Europe||Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Kosovo[c], and Serbia||4 or 5[c]|
|Paraguay||406,752||6,349,000||Americas||South America||Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil||3|
|Rwanda||26,338||10,746,311||Africa||Eastern Africa||Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, and Uganda||4|
|San Marino[d]||61||31,716||Europe||Southern Europe||Italy||1|
|Serbia||88,361||6,926,705||Europe||Southern Europe||Albania (via Kosovo and Metohija), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Kosovo[c], Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Romania||8|
|Slovakia||49,035||5,429,763||Europe||Central Europe||Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Ukraine||5|
|South Sudan||619,745||8,260,490||Africa||Eastern Africa||Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda||6|
|Switzerland||41,284||8,401,120||Europe||Central Europe||Austria, France, Germany, Italy, and Liechtenstein||5|
|Tajikistan||143,100||7,349,145||Asia||Central Asia||Afghanistan, China, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan||4|
|Turkmenistan[a]||488,100||5,110,000||Asia||Central Asia||Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan||4|
|Uganda||241,038||40,322,768||Africa||Eastern Africa||Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Tanzania||5|
|Uzbekistan||449,100||32,606,007||Asia||Central Asia||Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan||5|
|Vatican City[d]||0.44||826||Europe||Southern Europe||Italy||1|
|West Bank[b][e]||5,655||2,862,485||Asia||Western Asia||Israel and Jordan||2|
|Zambia||752,612||12,935,000||Africa||Eastern Africa||Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe||8|
|Zimbabwe||390,757||12,521,000||Africa||Eastern Africa||Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zambia||4|
|Partially recognized landlocked states|
|Kosovo[c]||10,908||1,804,838||Europe||Southern Europe||Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia||4|
|South Ossetia[c]||3,900||72,000||Asia||Western Asia||Georgia and Russia||2|
|Transnistria[c]||4,163||505,153||Europe||Eastern Europe||Moldova and Ukraine||2|
|Percentage of the World||11.4%||6.9%|
They can be grouped in contiguous groups as follows:
There are the following 14 "single" landlocked countries (each of them borders no other landlocked country):
If Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and South Ossetia are counted as part of Europe, then Europe has the most landlocked countries, at 19, including three partially recognized landlocked states. If these three transcontinental countries are included in Asia, then both Africa and Europe have the most, at 16. Depending on the status of the West Bank and the three transcontinental countries, Asia has between 11 and 15, including the unrecognized landlocked state of Artsakh. South America only has 2 landlocked countries. North America and Australia are the only continents with no landlocked countries (excluding Antarctica, which has no countries). Oceania (which is usually not considered a continent but a geographic region) also has no landlocked countries. Other than Papua New Guinea, which shares a land border with Indonesia (a transcontinental country), all the other countries in Oceania are island countries without a land border.
The West Bank is a landlocked territory on the west bank of the Jordan River in the Middle East.
The West Bank is a landlocked region close to the Mediterranean shoreline of Western Asia
The West Bank is a landlocked territory near the eastern Mediterranean coast
The West Bank is a landlocked territory bordering JordanCite journal requires