How do countries typically guard their borders ?

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So I just learned that not all borders are fenced, very few of them are actually. So how are countries able to monitor thousands of kilometers of unfenced borders to fight off smuggling and illegal immigration ? Especially when it comes to long borders in arid/undeveloped areas, one example that comes to mind are the borders in Siberia.

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Anonymous 0 Comments


Anonymous 0 Comments

Most countries don’t need to “guard their borders”. Either they are allies with the countries they border, or as would be the case with Siberia that you mention, the area around the border is pretty much devoid of life for hundreds of miles on either side.

Yes, things like illegal immigration and smuggling can occur in those cases, but normally both of these would happen on roads that exist between the two countries, meaning you can just setup border checkpoints along those roads.

The case where you aren’t allies with your neighbors, such as India and Pakistan, North and South Korea, Israel and Palestine, those are the areas you would typically see something being used to block the border.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Depends on the border.

The US and Canada don’t guard their border at all apart from some checkpoints at the busiest crossings. It’s vast, remote, the two countries have good relations, and there’s little illegal smuggling/immigration pressure.

North Korea and South Korea are still on war footing with eachother seven decades later and their border is fortified with military equipment, minefields, watch towers, and artillery.

Historically border security can vary from “none” to “Maginot Line” depending on the political situation.

The “typical” situation is nothing, and then security increases as needed.

Anonymous 0 Comments

A lot of countries don’t because they have no reason to do so or are too poor to afford that. Guarding borders is extremely expansive.

Most countries that heavily guard their borders do so out of security reasons (Finland, Koreas, Israel etc.) This is “quite simple” you build infrastructure and station soldiers there. Their job is to protect the border in case of attack and not check every car.

Then there is a case for combating migration and smuggling. This is substantially more difficult, since you need to check everything and even so, people will dig tunnels, fly drones or smuggle themselves somehow. Some EU countries combat this by making migration and getting citizenship quite easy. They save a lot of money by having Schengen and subsidizing money for migration in countries where needed.

For sea borders it’s probably most difficult. It’s impossible to check every cargo ship, so you get coastal force with few ships to check unregistered ships and search suspicious ones. The majority of smuggled goods go by sea, but there is no practical way of combating this. You have mechanism to search for illegal cargo, but their biggest benefit is not actually finding said cargo, but disincentivizing smuggling.

For air guard, you have fighter jets and from 9/11 every plane is thourogly check and there is basically no significant smuggling. It’s a closed space so it’s quite easy.

Anonymous 0 Comments

I can use Norway as an example, having most kind of border control except an actual wall.

The land border to Russia is surveilled by military on both sides 24/7.

For the land borders to Sweden and Finland, the most important part is the cooperation between the counties with police and governmental cooperation.

The main border crossings are manned and some of the people and vehicles crossing is controlled. On smaller roads/crossings there are sometimes control, on even smaller roads there might just be camera surveillance. And for the most part, there’s rivers, forests, mointains, so people might hike, but they will also be noticeable after hiking for many hours.

For air travel and larger ships all passengers are named, and people arriving from outside Schengen is always checked.

At sea there might be spot control of smaller boats, but also, you might be noticed using a small boat in rough sea.

Lastly, some of it is administrative. It is possible to get into the country illegally, but it is much harder to live without an ID or with false ID, and people might get deported. There’s international cooperation with common databases and exchange of information

Anonymous 0 Comments

Don’t underestimate the fact that a lot of times, there is a natural border in place, like a river or a mountain range, with specific crossings that can be guarded

Anonymous 0 Comments

Most of Canada and the US border is unfenced and unguarded. Some times the border runs through small towns, so you have to cross the border to get to school or the grocery store.

Why? Because Canadians and Americans travel mostly freely between nations anyway and it’s not worth it. Socially speaking there’s not much difference.

The southern US border is a whole different story.

However, major roads between Canada and the US do have border control. Cars and trucks carrying trade goods are checked as well as people.

However 3000 km of forest don’t need fences.

Anonymous 0 Comments

They typically just station police officers in border towns, because people eventually have to go to a town for food, petrol, water etc. There they will check the documents of anyone they think might be foreign to make sure they are there legally.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The level of guarding borders depends on the level of the perceived threat, whether it be military (e.g various incursions or spying), economic (e.g. smuggling), or social (e.g. unlawful migration).

Countries with problematic relationship in one or more of these categories tend to have higher level of physical protection (e.g. fences), more patrols, and extensive electronic surveillance on rural portions with cameras, drones, and other sensors.

Countries with good relationship in all these aspects tend to have minimal amount of measures. Nowadays mostly using electronic surveillance over what is happening over the border crossings.

Even e.g. between Sweden and Norway, the border is monitored to some degree due to some smuggling going on. So even remote rural road border crossings have cameras, so a customs station inland from the border can monitor what is happening and if it is suspicious, send out a patrol to intercept the vehicle (or if the road passes by that customs station, put the boom down and redirect the car for inspection…).

Anonymous 0 Comments

In the middle of nowhere, motion detectors and cameras.

Generally, people use roads and rivers, and such checkpoints are manned. You can’t drive a truck full of contraband through forest. And it isn’t terribly difficult to dig a trench in most sensitive areas, which would delay any vehicles or give enough time for border guard to notice and respond.

As for lone hero passing border on foot in the middle of nowhere, it’s rare and isn’t such a big deal. Border guard departments deal with tens of thousands of people passing every day, so dozen coming through each year with only pants on them via some remote mountain or forest isn’t really a big deal. Those few don’t really create “illegal immigration” that matters in big picture and in modern society, have no way of staying covert without papers for too long, anyway. People need jobs and place to live and occasional healthcare and bank accounts and so on. It’s very difficult for illegals to get that.