Torn between two nations! — The puzzling case of the Dutch-Belgian border town of Baarle

Baarle-Hertog and Baarle-Nassau are two of the most complex enclave and exclave territories in Europe, lying about 7 km (4.35 miles) north of the national border between the Netherlands and Belgium, where there lies dozens of Belgian enclaves inside and completely surrounded by Dutch territory. Thirty enclaves are spread as puzzle pieces in the territory of the two municipalities: Baarle-Hertog... Еще is a sum of 22 Belgian enclaves inside the Netherlands, while Baarle-Nassau is formed by eight Dutch enclaves inside Belgian territory. An enclave is a territory totally enclosed by a surrounding state, while an exclave is a territory separated from its mainland and totally enclosed by a surrounding state. The borders of these enclaves, however, do not run straight, they cut houses in half, divide buildings, gardens and shops with borders, marked by white crosses on the ground, that often cut through the middle of buildings and homes. In several homes that straddle the border, giving birth can also be a challenging task: «you have to decide where do I put the bed, because if it's on the Dutch side, it will be a Dutch child, if it's on the Belgium side, it will be a Belgium child,» says Baarle Tourist Office chairman, Willem van Gool. In a local beer store, for instance, the border is marked on the floor by the colours of the respective countries' flags. Another building has two doors with two house number signs, No. 2 in Belgium and No. 19 in the Netherlands, both being the entrance to the same house. Even the council room of Baarle-Hertog's Town Hall is in Belgium, but has one side in the Netherlands, meaning that during a meeting, some of the councilors are technically voting from overseas. Walking on the road, people of the enclave can cross up to five borders and have their living room in one country but their bedroom in another. Laws and regulations differ depending on what territory you are in: «two different countries, two different rules, two different speed limits and in Belgium it's 70 and 90 kilometres [per hour] in the countryside, and in Holland it's 60 and 80 [kph].» continues Willem van Gool. The main rule in the enclaves territories is the «front door rule,» the location of the front door determines in which municipality the inhabitants have to register, which Town Hall to use, where to get their public provisions and where to pay their taxes, even if the majority of their home lies in the other countries' territory. There are five enclave villages in Europe: Llivia, a Spanish enclave in France; Busingen, a German enclave in Switzerland; Campione d'Italia, an Italian enclave in Switzerland; Baarle-Hertog; Belgian enclaves in the Netherlands; Baarle-Nassau, Dutch enclaves in Belgium.

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