AskDefine | Define landlocked

Dictionary Definition

landlocked adj : surrounded entirely or almost entirely by land; "a landlocked country"

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A term used to refer to a region, especially a country, that does not border the sea.
    Switzerland is landlocked and obviously will never be a great sea power and must always trade overland.


Extensive Definition

A landlocked country is commonly defined as one enclosed or nearly enclosed by land. As of 2007, there are 44 landlocked countries in the world.
A sea that is almost landlocked is connected to the oceans by a strait only, such as the Baltic Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Black Sea. This may be of strategic importance, with one or two other countries controlling the entrance, and/or be relevant for tides and freshwater content.
An island country can be conversely considered waterlocked as it is entirely surrounded by water. In such cases, one must cross water to reach land abroad.


Historically, being landlocked was regarded as a disadvantageous position. It cuts the country off from sea resources such as fishing, but more importantly cuts off access to seaborne trade which, even today, makes up a large percentage of international trade. Around the world, coastal regions tend to be wealthier and more heavily populated than inland ones.
Countries thus have made particular efforts to avoid being landlocked:
Losing access to the sea is often a great blow to nations:
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 may have a large 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 much of the year. Gaining 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 through wide navigable rivers. For instance, Paraguay (and Bolivia to a lesser extent) have access to the ocean through the Paraguay and Parana rivers, respectively.
Several countries have coastlines on landlocked seas, such as the Caspian and the Aral. Since these seas are sometimes considered to be lakes, and since they do not allow access to seaborne trade, countries such as Kazakhstan are still considered to be landlocked. (The Caspian Sea, however, is connected to the Black Sea via a canal between the Volga and Don rivers.)

List of landlocked countries

* Has a coast on the non-freshwater Caspian Sea
** Has a coast on the non-freshwater Aral Sea
They can be grouped in contiguous groups as follows:
There are the following 'single' landlocked countries (each of them borders no other landlocked country):
If Armenia and Azerbaijan are counted as part of Europe, then Europe has the most landlocked countries, at 16. Kazakhstan is also sometimes regarded as a transcontinental country, so if that is included, the count for Europe goes up to 17. If these countries are included in Asia, then Africa has the most, at 15. Depending on the status of the three transcontinental countries, Asia has between 9 and 12, while South America has only 2. North America and Oceania are the only continents with no landlocked countries. (Oceania is also notable for having almost no land borders.)
After World War II, the Saarland and West-Berlin became landlocked while being separated from Germany. The Soviet Berlin blockade of 1948 stopped all land traffic. The threat of starvation of the large population was overcome by the Western Allied Berlin airlift.

Doubly landlocked

A landlocked country surrounded by other landlocked countries may be called a "doubly landlocked" country. A person in such a country has to cross at least two borders to reach a coastline.
There are only two such countries in the world:
Uzbekistan has borders with Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan that border the landlocked but saltwater Caspian Sea, from which ships can reach the Sea of Azov by using the Volga-Don Canal, and thus the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the oceans.
There was no doubly landlocked country in the world from the 1871 Unification of Germany until the end of World War I. This is because Uzbekistan was part of Russian Empire; while Liechtenstein bordered Austria-Hungary, which had an Adriatic coast until 1918.

Nearly landlocked

The following countries are almost landlocked, as their short coastlines measure only a tiny fraction of the length of their land borders. The list gives the countries where this fraction is less than 5%:


A landlocked country may be given access to the sea through a corridor:


landlocked in Bavarian: Binnenstaat
landlocked in Catalan: Estat sense litoral
landlocked in Czech: Vnitrozemský stát
landlocked in Danish: Indlandsstat
landlocked in German: Binnenstaat
landlocked in Modern Greek (1453-): Μεσόγειο κράτος
landlocked in Spanish: Estado sin litoral
landlocked in Basque: Estatu itsasgabe
landlocked in Persian: کشور محاط در خشکی
landlocked in French: Pays sans accès à la mer
landlocked in Korean: 내륙국
landlocked in Croatian: Kontinentalne države
landlocked in Icelandic: Landlukt land
landlocked in Hungarian: Tengerparttal nem rendelkező ország
landlocked in Nepali: भूपरिवेष्ठित
landlocked in Japanese: 内陸国
landlocked in Norwegian: Liste over verdens innlandsstater
landlocked in Polish: Państwo śródlądowe
landlocked in Russian: Не имеющие выхода к морю государства
landlocked in Simple English: Landlocked
landlocked in Serbian: Континенталне државе
landlocked in Finnish: Sisämaavaltio
landlocked in Swedish: Inlandsstat
landlocked in Thai: ประเทศที่ไม่มีทางออกสู่ทะเล
landlocked in Yiddish: לאנד איינגעשלאסן
landlocked in Chinese: 內陸國家
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