Landlocked country

Austria China Kazakhstan
Landlocked countries: 42 landlocked (green), 2 doubly landlocked (purple)

A landlocked country or landlocked state is a sovereign state that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basins. There are currently 44 landlocked countries and 5 partially recognized landlocked states.[note 1][1]

In 1990, there were only 30 landlocked countries in the world. The breakup of Yugoslavia, the dissolutions of the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia, and the independence referendums of Eritrea and South Sudan have created 15 new landlocked countries and 4 partially recognized landlocked states while the former landlocked country of Czechoslovakia ceased to exist on 1 January 1993.

Generally, being landlocked creates some political and economic handicaps that having access to international waters would avoid. For this reason, nations large and small throughout history have sought to gain access to open waters, even at great expense in wealth, bloodshed, and political capital.

The economic disadvantages of being landlocked can be alleviated or aggravated depending on degree of development, surrounding trade routes and freedom of trade, language barriers, and other considerations. Some landlocked countries are quite affluent, such as Andorra, Austria, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, San Marino, Switzerland, and Vatican City, all of which, excluding Luxembourg, which is a founding member of NATO, frequently employ neutrality in global political issues. The majority, however, are classified as Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs).[2] Nine of the twelve countries with the lowest Human Development Indices (HDI) are landlocked.[3]


Bolivia's loss of its coastline in the War of the Pacific (1879–1884) remains a major political issue

Historically, being landlocked has been disadvantageous to a country's development. It cuts a nation off from important sea resources such as fishing, and impedes or prevents direct access to maritime trade, a crucial component of economic and social advance. As such, coastal regions, or inland regions that have access to the World Ocean, tended to be wealthier and more heavily populated than inland regions that have no access to the World Ocean. Paul Collier in his book The Bottom Billion argues that being landlocked in a poor geographic neighborhood is one of four major development "traps" by which a country can be held back. In general, he found that when a neighboring country experiences better growth, it tends to spill over into favorable development for the country itself. For landlocked countries, the effect is particularly strong, as they are limited in their trading activity with the rest of the world. He states, "If you are coastal, you serve the world; if you are landlocked, you serve your neighbors."[4] Others have argued that being landlocked has an advantage as it creates a "natural tariff barrier" which protects the country from cheap imports. In some instances, this has led to more robust local food systems.[5][6]

Landlocked developing countries have significantly higher costs of international cargo transportation compared to coastal developing countries (in Asia the ratio is 3:1).[7]

Efforts to avoid being landlocked

Countries thus have made particular efforts to avoid being landlocked, by acquiring land that reaches the sea:

Trade agreements

Countries can make agreements on getting free transport of goods through neighbor countries:

Political repercussions

Losing access to the sea is generally a great blow to a nation, politically, militarily, and economically. The following are examples of countries becoming landlocked.

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,[12] and the current responsible Undersecretary-General is Anwarul Karim Chowdhury.

Some countries have a long 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 for much of the year. The wish to gain 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 along wide navigable rivers. For instance, Paraguay (and Bolivia to a lesser extent) have access to the ocean through the Paraguay and Paraná rivers.

Several countries have coastlines on landlocked bodies of water, such as the Caspian Sea and the Dead Sea. Since these seas are in effect lakes without access to wider seaborne trade, countries such as Kazakhstan are still considered landlocked. Although the Caspian Sea is connected to the Black Sea via the man-made Volga–Don Canal, large oceangoing ships are unable to traverse it.

By degree

Landlocked countries may be bordered by a single country having direct access to the high seas, two or more such countries, or be surrounded by other landlocked countries, making a country doubly landlocked.

Landlocked by a single country

Three countries are landlocked by a single country (enclaved countries):

Landlocked by two countries

Seven landlocked countries are surrounded by only two mutually bordering neighbours (semi-enclaved countries):

To this group could be added three landlocked territories which are de facto states with no or limited international recognition:[note 1]

Doubly landlocked

A country is "doubly landlocked" or "double-landlocked" when it is surrounded only by landlocked countries (requiring the crossing of at least two national borders to reach a coastline).[17][18] There are two such countries:

After the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, the Kingdom of Württemberg became a doubly landlocked state, bordering only Bavaria, Baden, and Switzerland. There were no doubly landlocked countries from the unification of Germany in 1871 until the end of World War I. Liechtenstein bordered the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which had an Adriatic coastline, and Uzbekistan was then part of the Russian Empire, which had both ocean and sea access.

With the dissolution of Austria-Hungary in 1918 and creation of an independent, landlocked Austria, Liechtenstein became the sole doubly landlocked country until 1938. In the Anschluss that year, Austria was absorbed into Nazi Germany, which possessed a border on the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. After World War II, Austria regained its independence and Liechtenstein once again became doubly landlocked.

Uzbekistan, which had been part of the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union, gained its independence with the dissolution of the latter in 1991 and became the second doubly landlocked country.

However, Uzbekistan's doubly landlocked status depends on the Caspian Sea's status dispute: some countries, especially Iran and Turkmenistan, claim that the Caspian Sea should be considered as a real sea (mainly because this way they would have larger oil and gas fields), which would make Uzbekistan only a simple landlocked country since its neighbours Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan have access to the Caspian Sea.

List of landlocked countries and partially recognized landlocked states

Country Area (km2) Population Continent Subregion Surrounding countries Count
Landlocked countries
 Afghanistan 652,230 33,369,945 Asia Southern Asia China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan 6
 Andorra 468 84,082 Europe Southern Europe France and Spain 2
 Armenia 29,743 3,254,300 Asia Western Asia Artsakh[c], Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Turkey 4 or 5[c]
 Austria 83,871 8,823,054 Europe Western Europe Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland 8
 Azerbaijan[a] 86,600 8,997,401 Asia Western Asia Armenia, Artsakh[c], Georgia, Iran, Russia, and Turkey 5 or 6[c]
 Belarus 207,600 9,484,300 Europe Eastern Europe Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine 5
 Bhutan 38,394 691,141 Asia Southern Asia China and India 2
 Bolivia 1,098,581 10,907,778 Americas South America Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Peru 5
 Botswana 582,000 1,990,876 Africa Southern Africa Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe 4
 Burkina Faso 274,222 15,746,232 Africa Western Africa Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, and Togo 6
 Burundi 27,834 10,557,259 Africa Eastern Africa Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Tanzania 3
 Central African Republic 622,984 4,422,000 Africa Middle Africa Cameroon, Chad, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and Sudan 6
 Chad 1,284,000 13,670,084 Africa Middle Africa Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Libya, Niger, Nigeria, and Sudan 6
 Czech Republic 78,867 10,674,947 Europe Eastern Europe Austria, Germany, Poland, and Slovakia 4
 Eswatini 17,364 1,185,000 Africa Southern Africa Mozambique and South Africa 2
 Ethiopia 1,104,300 101,853,268 Africa Eastern Africa Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan 6
 Hungary 93,028 9,797,561 Europe Eastern Europe Austria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine 7
 Kazakhstan[a] 2,724,900 16,372,000 Asia Central Asia China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan 5
 Kyrgyzstan 199,951 5,482,000 Asia Central Asia China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan 4
 Laos 236,800 6,320,000 Asia South-eastern Asia Cambodia, China, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam 5
 Lesotho[d] 30,355 2,067,000 Africa Southern Africa South Africa 1
 Liechtenstein 160 35,789 Europe Western Europe Austria and Switzerland 2
 Luxembourg 2,586 502,202 Europe Western Europe Belgium, France, and Germany 3
 Malawi 118,484 15,028,757 Africa Eastern Africa Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia 3
 Mali 1,240,192 14,517,176 Africa Western Africa Algeria, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal 7
 Moldova 33,846 3,559,500 Europe Eastern Europe Romania, Transnistria[c], and Ukraine 2 or 3[c]
 Mongolia 1,566,500 2,892,876 Asia Eastern Asia China and Russia 2
   Nepal 147,181 26,494,504 Asia Southern Asia China and India 2
 Niger 1,267,000 15,306,252 Africa Western Africa Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Libya, Mali, and Nigeria 7
 North Macedonia 25,713 2,114,550 Europe Southern Europe Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Kosovo[c], and Serbia 4 or 5[c]
 Paraguay 406,752 6,349,000 Americas South America Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil 3
 Rwanda 26,338 10,746,311 Africa Eastern Africa Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, and Uganda 4
 San Marino[d] 61 31,716 Europe Southern Europe Italy 1
 Serbia 88,361 7,306,677 Europe Southern Europe Albania (via Kosovo and Metohija), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Kosovo[c], Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Romania 8
 Slovakia 49,035 5,429,763 Europe Eastern Europe Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Ukraine 5
 South Sudan 619,745 8,260,490 Africa Eastern Africa Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda 6
  Switzerland 41,284 8,401,120 Europe Western Europe Austria, France, Germany, Italy, and Liechtenstein 5
 Tajikistan 143,100 7,349,145 Asia Central Asia Afghanistan, China, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan 4
 Turkmenistan[a] 488,100 5,110,000 Asia Central Asia Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan 4
 Uganda 241,038 40,322,768 Africa Eastern Africa Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Tanzania 5
 Uzbekistan 449,100 32,606,007 Asia Central Asia Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan 5
  Vatican City[d] 0.44 826 Europe Southern Europe Italy 1
 Zambia 752,612 12,935,000 Africa Eastern Africa Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe 8
 Zimbabwe 390,757 12,521,000 Africa Eastern Africa Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zambia 4
Partially recognized landlocked states
 Kosovo[c] 10,908 1,804,838 Europe Southern Europe Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia 4
 South Ossetia[c] 3,900 72,000 Asia Western Asia Georgia and Russia 2
 Transnistria[c] 4,163 505,153 Europe Eastern Europe Moldova and Ukraine 2
 West Bank[b][e] 5,655 2,862,485 Asia Western Asia Israel and Jordan 2
Total 14,776,228 475,818,737 N/A
Percentage of the World 11.4% 6.9%
a Has a coastline on the saltwater Caspian Sea
b Has a coastline on the saltwater Dead Sea
c Not fully recognized
d Landlocked by just one country
e A part of the partially recognized State of Palestine

They can be grouped in contiguous groups as follows:[21]


  1. If Transnistria (unrecognized) is included, then Moldova and Transnistria form their own Eastern European group, listed in parentheses in the table.
  2. If it were not for the 40 km (25 mi) of coastline at Muanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo would join the two African groups into one, making them the biggest contiguous group in the world.
  3. The Southern Asian cluster and the Western Asian group can be considered contiguous, joined by the landlocked Caspian Sea. Mongolia is almost part of this cluster too, being separated from Kazakhstan by only 30 km (19 mi), across Chinese or Russian territory.

There are the following 14 "single" landlocked countries (each of them borders no other landlocked country):


  1. If Transnistria (unrecognized) is included, then Moldova won't be considered a single landlocked country.
  2. If the West Bank (a part of the partially recognized State of Palestine) is included as a separate political entity, then Asia would have 6 single landlocked countries.

Landlocked countries by continent

If Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and South Ossetia are counted as part of Europe, then Europe has the most landlocked countries, at 19, including three partially recognized landlocked states. If these three transcontinental countries are included in Asia, then both Africa and Europe have the most, at 16. Depending on the status of the West Bank and the three transcontinental countries, Asia has between 11 and 15, including the unrecognized landlocked state of Artsakh. South America only has 2 landlocked countries. North America and Australia are the only continents with no landlocked countries (excluding Antarctica, which has no countries). Oceania also has no landlocked countries. Other than Papua New Guinea, which shares a land border with Indonesia (a transcontinental country), all the other countries in Oceania are island countries without a land border.

Except Bolivia and Paraguay, all the other landlocked countries are located in Afro-Eurasia. Very few island countries share a land border with another country, no island countries are landlocked.


  1. ^ a b Including the West Bank, which is claimed and partially administered as a part of the partially recognized State of Palestine.

See also


  1. ^ 44 Landlocked Countries Without Direct Ocean Access
  2. ^ Paudel, R. C. (2012). "Landlockedness and Economic Growth: New Evidence" (PDF). Growth and Export Performance of Developing Countries: Is Landlockedness Destiny?. Canberra, Australia: Australian National University. pp. 13–72.
  3. ^ Faye, M. L.; McArthur, J. W.; Sachs, J. D.; Snow, T. (2004). "The Challenges Facing Landlocked Developing Countries". Journal of Human Development. 5 (1): 31–68 [pp. 31–32]. doi:10.1080/14649880310001660201.
  4. ^ Collier, Paul (2007). The Bottom Billion. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 56, 57. ISBN 978-0-19-537338-7.
  5. ^ Moseley, W. G.; Carney, J.; Becker, L. (2010). "Neoliberal Policy, Rural Livelihoods and Urban Food Security in West Africa: A Comparative Study of The Gambia, Côte d'Ivoire and Mali". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 107 (13): 5774–5779. Bibcode:2010PNAS..107.5774M. doi:10.1073/pnas.0905717107. PMC 2851933. PMID 20339079.
  6. ^ Moseley, W. G. (2011). "Lessons from the 2008 Global Food Crisis: Agro-Food Dynamics in Mali". Development in Practice. 21 (4–5): 604–612.
  7. ^ United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) (2010). Review of Maritime Transport, 2010 (PDF). New York and Geneva: United Nations. p. 160. ISBN 978-92-1-112810-9.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Danube River Basin". International Waterway Governance. Retrieved June 30, 2018.)
  9. ^ Martin, McCauley (2017). The Cold War 1949-2016. New York: Routledge. pp. 4, 5, 6. ISBN 9781315213309.
  10. ^ Iyob, Ruth (1997). The Eritrean Struggle for Independence - Domination, resistance, nationalism 1941-1993. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 11–25. ISBN 0 521 47327 6.
  11. ^ Chopra, P. N.; Puri, B. N.; Das, M. N. A Comprehensive History of India. 3. p. 298.
  12. ^ UN Report Archived 2011-09-28 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Sweileh, Waleed M.; Al-Jabi, Samah W.; Sawalha, Ansam F.; Zyoud, Sa'ed H. (2009-04-07). "Pharmacy Education and Practice in West Bank, Palestine". American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. 73 (2). ISSN 0002-9459. PMC 2690900. PMID 19513177. The West Bank is a landlocked territory on the west bank of the Jordan River in the Middle East.
  14. ^ Daghara, Azza; Al-Khatib, Issam A.; Al-Jabari, Maher (2019-06-23). "Quality of Drinking Water from Springs in Palestine: West Bank as a Case Study". Journal of Environmental and Public Health. 2019. doi:10.1155/2019/8631732. ISSN 1687-9805. PMC 6612393. PMID 31341486. The West Bank is a landlocked region close to the Mediterranean shoreline of Western Asia
  15. ^ Musaee, Anwar H. M.; Abbas, Eeman Muhammad; Mujani, Wan Kamal; Sidik, Roziah (2014). "Financial Analysis of Waqf Real Estate Revenues in the West Bank: 1994-2014". Asian Economic and Financial Review. 4 (10): 1260–1274. The West Bank is a landlocked territory near the eastern Mediterranean coast
  16. ^ Sperti, Luigi. "Instruments and Methods for the Survey and Analysis of Amphitheatres". doi:10.1515/9789048519590-038. hdl:10278/3684456. The West Bank is a landlocked territory bordering Jordan Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  17. ^ Dempsey Morais, Caitlin. "Landlocked Countries". Geolounge. Retrieved November 4, 2015.
  18. ^ "Landlocked Countries". Retrieved November 4, 2015.
  19. ^ "IGU regional conference on environment and quality of life in central Europe". GeoJournal. 28 (4). 1992. doi:10.1007/BF00273120.
  20. ^ CIA World Factbook Uzbekistan
  21. ^ MacKellar, Landis; Wörgötter, Andreas; Wörz, Julia. "Economic Development Problems of Landlocked Countries" (PDF). Wien Institute for Advanced Studies. p. 12.