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How Borders Are Defined

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kevinman4404 View Drop Down
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    Posted: 04 Aug 2010 at 09:56
Hello,
I am in need of a bit of enlightenment in terms of how nation borders are defined. I know that very ancient civilizations' limits were basically their cultural extent. So much so that many were called "cultures" rather than "kingdoms" or "empires."
 
So, for the nations in the bulk of history (before modern times), how did they decide on their nations' borders? How did they claim land (did they just see it and say it's mine, did they have to explore it, did they have to colonize it, etc.)? What was the process for including a piece of land as part of their society? How did they decide on what the  borders were? How were the conflicts resolved?
 
thanks for any ideas
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Omar al Hashim View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Aug 2010 at 10:48
Before populations became large and travel fast borders were usually loosely defined, or defined by a landmark or straegic position. Such as a river or pass. There were also often people living in the border zone between two powers.
 
Only since nation states evolved, and especially since citizenship and voting rights, has there been a need to strictly define borders. In these systems there needs to be a strict 'us' and 'them', in an Empire, the King is happy to tax anyone who pays, as he does not need to provide any services.
 
And usually conflicts were resolved with conflict.


Edited by Omar al Hashim - 04 Aug 2010 at 10:48
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Zagros View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Aug 2010 at 19:19
Many borders were defined by geographic barriers as mentioned such as rivers or mountain ranges or other bodies of water.  Other than that through warfare or in the aftermath of empires. 

I've always found it interesting how two villages only a few miles apart can have a compeltely different language and culture because there is a conceptual (non-physical) border between them.
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Omar al Hashim View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Aug 2010 at 21:38
Quote I've always found it interesting how two villages only a few miles apart can have a compeltely different language and culture because there is a conceptual (non-physical) border between them.
Sometimes that could be because of education differences. eg. one village teaches standard German while another teaches Amsterdam Dutch. A gradual change between languages became a sharp one due to education systems.
 
Obviously this only applies to educated countries.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2010 at 00:55
Both phenomena can happen at the same time: thus, taking the Luxembourg-German border, which is marked by the rivers Sure and Moselle, they learn standard German on both sides, but on both sides actually speak 'at mother's knee' much the same language (though on the German side it's called a dialect.)
 
Similarly, rivers especially can be either border markers, or the centre of cultures on both banks. The English Channel has been both in its time.
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Omar al Hashim View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Aug 2010 at 10:23
A new, odd, and post nation state border is the line of longitude or latitude. Or as is often done, building a fence along this arbitary line.
 
But this seems to be more done in desert or uninhabited regions where nation states can't stand an undefined border.
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