A consequent boundary is a political boundary that has been established as a consequence of a political settlement between two opposing cultural, ethnic, or political groups.
Commonly, consequent boundaries are established to settle wars or prevent conflict between the two groups. They’re also sometimes called ethnographic boundaries because they often separate ethnic groups.
They are often compared to antecedent boundaries which are boundaries that are established before political groups move into a region.
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Definition of Consequent Boundaries
A consequent boundary is defined in human geography as a boundary between opposing cultural, ethnic, or political groups, that was established to settle disputes, end wars, and establish a clear separation between groups. They are called ‘consequent’ because they’re constructed as a consequence of disputes between neighbors.
Consequent Boundary Examples
1. The Green Line (Israel-Palestine)
The Green Line is a boundary that separates Israel and Palestine. It was established in 1949 as part of the Armistice Agreement between Israel and Egypt following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
The purpose of the border is to separate the majority-Arab Palestinians and the majority-Jewish Israelis.
It is one of the most contested boundaries in the world and has been fought over consistently ever since. Israel, as the stronger power, has established walls to fortify its land claims and established settlements on the Palestinian side of the border.
2. Northern Ireland Border
The Northern Ireland Border is a consequent boundary that separates Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, from the Republic of Ireland, which is an independent country.
The border was established in 1921 when the north-eastern majority-protestant counties voted to stay with the UK while the rest of Ireland voted for political independence.
The border is largely invisible and has been mostly free of conflict until recent years, but was for decades in the 20th Century the site of significant dispute due to conflict between Northern Ireland Catholics who wanted a united Ireland, and monarchist Protestants.
3. US-Mexico Border
The US-Mexico Border was established in 1848 following the Mexican-American War.
The border was created as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the war and resulted in Mexico ceding territory, including Texas, to the United States.
The US and Mexico generally agree upon the border, but it remains a site of controversy in the USA due to central American immigrants seeking to cross the border either illegally or to seek asylum.
4. Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)
The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separates North Korea from South Korea. It was created in 1953 as part of the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War. The authoritarian communists held the north and the democratic capitalists held the south.
The DMZ is one of the most heavily militarized borders in the world and is a site of significant tension and conflict. North Korea has repeatedly violated the armistice agreement by conducting military exercises and testing nuclear weapons within the DMZ.
5. India-Pakistan Border
The India-Pakistan Border is a consequent boundary that separates India and Pakistan. It was established in 1947 as part of the partition of British India into Indian and Pakistani states.
The border is a result of the partition of British India which saw millions killed and displaced in sectarian violence. Many millions of people were displaced when the border was constructed, with Muslims fleeing north and Hindus fleeing south of the border.
The border is one of the most heavily militarized borders in the world and has been the site of several wars, most notably the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and the Kargil War in 1999.
6. Gibraltar-Spain Border
The Gibraltar-Spain Border is a 1.2km long international border that separates Gibraltar, which is a British Overseas Territory, from mainland Spain.
Gibraltar belongs to the UK because it was ceded to Britain by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. However, it has been the source of tension on several occasions and the sovereignty of the UK over this small patch of land on the south of Spain remains an uncomfortable topic between the two nations.
After Brexit, the ability of UK residents in Gibraltar to freely travel into Spain for work and recreation was thrown into question, but to date, Spain has made efforts to allow them to freely cross.
7. Cyprus Buffer Zone
The Cyprus Buffer Zone is a United Nations-controlled area that separates the Republic of Cyprus, which is an independent country, from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is a self-declared autonomous Turkish Cypriot state.
The buffer zone was created in 1974 as a consequence of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, which saw the Turkish military occupy the north-eastern third of the island.
The buffer zone is a site of significant tension and remains militarized.
8. Hadrian’s Wall
Hadrian’s Wall was a defensive boundary that was superimposed by the Roman Empire in northern England to mark the empire’s northern limit. It was established to protect their province of Britannia from Celtic raids from the north.
The wall was built in 122 AD by the Roman Emperor Hadrian and was garrisoned by Roman troops. It was used intermittently by the Roman empire until the empire retreated from Britain in the 5th century.
Today, it stands as a relic boundary that is no longer in use but remains a popular tourist site.
9. Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is a defensive fortification that was built by the Chinese Empire to protect their northern border from Mongolian invasions.
The wall was built over a period of two thousand years and is the longest man-made structure in the world. While there is an old claim that it can be seen from space, this has since been disputed.
The wall has seen use in several periods of Chinese history, the most significant being the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD) when it was used to defend China from Mongolian and Manchu invasions.
10. The Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a defensive fortification that separated West Berlin, which was an enclave of the Western Bloc, from East Berlin, which was a part of the Eastern Bloc.
The wall was constructed in 1961 by the East German government to prevent East Germans from fleeing to West Berlin for the better quality of life enjoyed by the capitalists. The wall was fortified with guard towers, barbed wire, and landmines.
The wall was demolished in 1989. Its demolition was a symbol of the decline of Soviet power and the impending end of the cold war.
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Consequent boundaries are a type of political boundary that is established in response to cultural, ethnic, ideological, or political disputes between neighbors. The easiest way to remember their definition is to remember that the boundaries are a consequence of a dispute between inhabitants. Some great examples of consequent boundaries include the Korean demilitarized zone, the Northern Ireland border, and the Greenline separating Israel and Palestine.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.