What Are The Three Semi-Enclaved Countries Of The World?

The Gambia is surrounded by Senegal save for a small stretch of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean.
The Gambia is surrounded by Senegal save for a small stretch of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean.

In geography, an enclave is a country that is fully enclosed by another country. There are three enclaved countriesLesotho, Vatican City, and San Marino because they are fully surrounded by South Africa, the Italian city of Rome, and Italy respectively. 

What Is A Semi-Enclaved Country?

The term semi-enclave, then, refers to a country that is, except for a small part, surrounded by a single region. According to the theory of enclaves written by Evgeny Vinokurov, a region can only qualify to be called a semi-enclave if it has unrestricted access to the sea. Despite technically fitting some of the requirements of a semi-enclave, nations such as Canada and Portugal are not considered semi-enclaves since they are not geographically enclosed and have a lot of access to the oceans and seas. There are only three nations that fit all the requirements of a semi-enclave and they are Gambia, Monaco, and Brunei.

The Three Semi-Enclaved Countries of the World


Brunei is a nation in the southeastern region of Asia that occupies an area of about 2,226 square miles making it the 164th largest nation globally. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in 2016, Brunei was home to about 423,196 people. Brunei is considered a semi-enclave because Sarawak, a Malaysian State, entirely encloses it except for its 100-mile coastline along the South China Sea. Brunei is situated on the island of Borneo, and it is unique because it is the only nation whose land lies entirely on the island. Malaysia and Indonesia control the rest of the island. Historical evidence indicates that during the reign of Sultan Bolkiah, the Bruneian Empire controlled vast sections of Borneo including territory currently under Malaysian control. As the influence of the Bruneian Empire reduced, the leaders gave up several sections of its territory. Sarawak was given to a British soldier, James Brooke, and Sabah was given to a British company. Brunei would later fall under the control of the British and gained independence in 1984. Brunei's colonial history had a significant impact on the shape of its borders.

The Gambia

The Gambia is a nation in the western region of Africa that occupies an area of about 4,127 square miles making it the 159th largest nation globally and the smallest nation on the African mainland. The Gambia qualifies to be called a semi-enclave because Senegal encloses it except for its coastline along the Atlantic Ocean which extends for about 49 miles according to the CIA World FactBook. During the colonial period, the Gambia and Senegal were once part of the same colony referred to as Senegambia which was under British control. After the British ceded Goree and St Louis to the French, Senegambia ceased to exist. The colonial masters in 1889 established the present-day boundaries between Senegal and the Gambia.


Monaco is a 0.780 square mile nation located in the Western region of Europe that in 2016 was home to approximately 37,308 people. Monaco is regarded as a semi-enclave because France surrounds it except for a strip of coastline along the Mediterranean Sea measuring about 2.5 miles. Throughout its history, Monaco has had a tumultuous relationship with its neighbor France. Monaco was initially a French protectorate until the start of the French Revolution when the revolutionary forces took control of the territory. Monaco reestablished itself in 1814 after the return of the Grimaldi family. The governments of France and Monaco signed treaties in 1861, 1918, and 2002 to establish the relationship between the two nations.


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