Magazine article Geographical

There Are Numerous Points Where Three Countries Meet. Are There Any with Four?

Magazine article Geographical

There Are Numerous Points Where Three Countries Meet. Are There Any with Four?

Article excerpt

J Nolan, London

There is only one place in the world where four countries meet at a single point. You'd be hard pressed to find a marker stone for it, as it's in the middle of a river, but the world's only quadripoint is in Africa--between Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

The quadripoint is the legacy of the German chancellor Georg Leo Graf von Caprivi, who argued in the early 1890s that Namibia should have access to the Zambezi River. Caprivi wanted Namibia to reach the river so that the Germans would have a navigable link to their East African colony or Tanzania. What Caprivi had neglected to take into account was that Victoria Falls made a river link impossible. However, he argued his case at the Berlin Conference, which settled the borders, and Namibia's northeast was stretched to include a narrow strip of land that now bears Caprivi's name.

Although the natives of Caprivi have fought to secede from Namibia, the quadripoint has remained stable and wasn't an issue between the countries until Botswana and Zambia began to discuss a bridge across the Zambezi.

"That's what kicked off all the attention," says John Donaldson of the International Borders Research Unit at the University of Durham. "There is a ferry in operation, but it's very crowded A bridge would relieve that congestion. But, if there is a quadripoint, there is no way they could build a bridge without passing over the other countries."

The negotiations resulted in a protracted dispute over whether there should really be a quadripoint at all between the countries. …

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