How are country borders maintained over so many years, and are they ever more flexible that the typical map might suggest?

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How are country borders maintained over so many years, and are they ever more flexible that the typical map might suggest?

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Borders exist primarily as a legal entity (even if that legal entity is tied to, or rooted in, some physical or geological structure). Since they’re abstractions, they don’t need “maintenance” (see below for exception) just “enforcement” and the manner and degree of enforcement usually depends on the relationship between the countries that share that border.

Borders tied to geographical features, especially rivers, or tied to speculative geographical features (e.g. features whose details have yet to be conclusively mapped) can change. Rivers can change course, speculative features can have properties different than those we expect. These usually result in international controversy. Sometimes nations work these out peacefully, sometimes you need a third party to mediate the dispute, and sometimes there is just a dispute that doesn’t go away.

The notion of nonmovable borders is a pretty recent concept. Some geographical features (rivers, mountain ranges) make natural boundaries. Even looking at a map from ~30 years ago though, things have changed. Breakup of Czechoslovakia/Yugoslavia/Sudan.

In the past, borders were more fluid… Land has always belonged to whoever can defend (or occupy and control) it. There’s a timelapse of 1000 years of who controlled which region just in Europe… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-2zaOhYlAM

Well, it depends on the larder in question.

The USA Canada border has been the same for a long time now, they cut a big pathway through all the forests, placing big stone markers to mark the border, and those are still the official border markers today.

But the USA-Mexico border changes every few years technically. Since it is based on rivers for much of the border, as that river changes course and shifts around, every few years The USA and Mexico meet up to officially exchange whatever land changed sides of the river.