When a country is landlocked, that means it has no border access to the ocean. Instead, it’s surrounded by the land of neighboring countries with no direct access to the sea.
Landlocked countries are home to nearly 7% of the world’s population and take up about 11% of the Earth’s area. The majority of these countries are located in Europe, Africa, and Asia, and a couple are in South America. Keep reading to find out which countries are landlocked, the advantages and disadvantages for landlocked countries, and what being double-landlocked means.
What Countries are Landlocked?
Landlocked Countries in Europe
There are currently 15 landlocked countries across Europe, spanning from the West to the far East. These include Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Andorra, Macedonia, Serbia, Austria, Belarus, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Moldova, San Marino, Vatican City, and Luxembourg.
Test yourself: Landlocked European Countries
Landlocked Countries in Africa
Africa currently has 16 landlocked countries. These include Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chad, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Rwanda, South Sudan, Niger, Ethiopia, Central African Republic, Burundi, Mali, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, and Uganda.
Test yourself: Landlocked African Countries
Landlocked Countries in Asia
In Asia, there are currently 12 countries that are landlocked. These include Afghanistan, Nepal, Mongolia, Laos, Bhutan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Azerbaijan.
Test yourself: Landlocked Asian Countries
Landlocked Countries in South America
With significantly less than the other continents, the only countries that are landlocked in South America are Paraguay and Bolivia. Bolivia did once have a coastline, but they lost it to Chile during the War of the Pacific in the late 1800s.
Think you can name all the countries that are landlocked? Take this quiz.
The Biggest and Smallest Landlocked Countries
With an area of 2,724,900 square kilometers, the biggest landlocked country in the world is Kazakhstan. Also the ninth biggest country in the world, Kazakhstan is a transcontinental country with regions in both Europe and Asia. It’s surrounded by Russia, Uzbekistan, China, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan. The smallest landlocked country is Vatican City (Vatican City State), with an area of only 0.17 square miles. The country is so small that it’s located entirely within Rome, Italy.
Double-landlocked countries are those that are completely surrounded by other landlocked countries. There are two in the world today:
- Uzbekistan – surrounded by Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
- Liechtenstein – bordered by Switzerland and Austria.
The Advantages of Being Landlocked
One of the greatest advantages for landlocked countries is being sheltered from harsh weather conditions and natural hazards like flooding, tsunamis, and hurricanes, considering they don’t have access to open waters. Since they don’t have border access, they’re also safe from being invaded by sea and don’t need a navy.
The Disadvantages of Being Landlocked
However, considering that being landlocked means not having direct access to the ocean, these countries have clear disadvantages that cause challenges in many ways. Challenges often surround the topics of economic development, agriculture, transportation, trade, and politics. As well, goods take longer to ship and go out, shipping and transportation costs are higher due to restricted access to ports, and they don’t have access to fishing. They must maintain strong relationships with neighboring countries bordered by the ocean to access the coast.
The ocean is one of the most powerful resources for a country’s economic development. A landlocked country must access the ocean through neighboring countries, which is a huge disadvantage not only because of inconvenience and higher shipping and transportation costs but also because they have limited ability to trade and partake in the international marketplace.
How Can a Landlocked Country Grow?
So despite these disadvantages, you’re probably wondering how can landlocked countries grow and develop when they have geographical limitations? Are any efforts being made to help them?
The Almaty Programme of Action is a program that’s focused on helping landlocked developing countries reduce their costs and promote growth. The program was adopted by the United Nations in 2003 and has been supported by various organizations like the World Bank. Their main priorities are currently in:
- Promoting infrastructure
- Trade facilitation (The Bali Trade Facilitation Agreement has been helping these countries access ports, but it has limits as it only focuses on customs administration, using an IT system, and access to information – so a new Committee may be mandatory)
- Reforming the trucking center and implementing transit regimes