Germany has the second-highest number of bordering countries in Europe, with its nine bordering countries only being exceeded by Russia. The country has a land border that spans 2,307 miles in length. The nine countries that Germany shares its land boundary with are Austria, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, France, Luxembourg, Denmark, Poland, Switzerland, and Belgium.
Austria is located in the south of Germany and is among the country’s bordering countries. Of Germany’s bordering neighbors, it is with Austria that the country shares the longest land border, covering 506 miles in length. The border was first outlined in the 19th century as a result of agreements made between the Kingdom of Bavaria and the Austrian Empire. However, the two monarchies merged in 1938 and dissolved the border. The state of Austria was reestablished after the signing of the Austrian State Treaty in 1955. Both Germany and Austria formally recognized the current border in a 1972 treaty.
The easternmost point of the border lies at the tri-point where Germany, the Czech Republic, and Austria meet, while the border’s western endpoint is found at the Germany-Austria-Switzerland tri-point. The border is the longest international border of both Germany and Austria. To the east, the border follows the Danube and Inn rivers. Other rivers and creeks found in sections of the border include Leiblach, Salzach, and Saalach. Lake Constance is the sole lake found on the Austria-Germany border and is located at the western endpoint of the border. The Alpine foothills and the Alps are found on the Austria-Germany border. Bavaria is the single German state found along the border, while Salzburg, Vorarlberg, Oberosterreich, and Tirol are the four Austrian states situated along the border.
Denmark is situated to the north of Germany, with the two countries sharing a land boundary. The Germany-Denmark boundary stretches 86 miles in length. The border was first established in the 9th century and was marked by the Eider River. The natural border divided the then Frankish Empire and Denmark. However, most of the current international border was established as a result of the 1920 Schleswig plebiscites that saw the subdivision of the duchy of Schleswig between the two countries. The plebiscites were conducted following provisions of the Treaty of Versailles, in the aftermath of the First World War, which Germany lost. According to the plebiscites, the northern portion of the duchy was allocated to Denmark while the southern, albeit smaller portion, was allocated to Germany. The Schleswig border recorded an influx in cross-border movement in the Second World War after many German refugees crossed into Denmark. Despite being shared between the two countries, the duchy of Schleswig has no border controls, allowing free cross-border movements. However, Denmark briefly reintroduced border controls on its part of the border during the 2016 European Migrant Crisis, to prevent illegal migrants from slipping in from Germany.
Switzerland is situated south of Germany and is Germany’s sole non-EU bordering country. The Switzerland-Germany border stretches a total length of 216 miles. The border follows the High Rhine, with Lake Constance sitting on the border. The two countries have removed border controls along the entire border, in line with the Schengen Agreement, but Germany briefly reintroduced controls on its side of the border in 2016 during the European Migrant Crisis.
Czech Republic-Germany Border
The Czech Republic borders Germany in the south of the country. The international border is the second-longest that Germany shares with another country, with a total length of 437 miles. There are numerous rivers that either cross the border or form a part of it including Biela, Elbe, Ohre, and Floha. The two countries are signatories of the Schengen Agreement that provided for the removal of all border controls along the border, a directive which the two countries have since complied with.
Germany’s bordering country to the east is Poland. The border between the two countries stretches 290 miles. An estimated one million people live in regions found on both sides of the border. The border starts from the Czech Republic and moves north until it ends at the Baltic Sea. While the modern border was formally established in 1990, it has undergone numerous shifts for hundreds of years. The origin of the international border can be traced back hundreds of years when medieval Slavic and German tribes inhabited the region. Rivers such as Oder and Neisse served as the natural borders during this period. This border was not fixed and shifted regularly. The border was dissolved in the 17th century after Poland became part of Prussia, which also merged into the German Empire in 1871. The country regained independence in 1918 as the Second Polish Republic, and the border was reestablished. Plebiscites were instrumental in the demarcation of the border, in line with the Treaty of Versailles. Germany would later invade Poland during the Second World War, but after its defeat in the war, the border was reconstructed and followed the traditional border along the Neisse and Oder rivers. The two countries officially recognized the modern border in the 1990 German-Polish Border Treaty.
France is Germany’s southeastern bordering country, with the two countries sharing a 280-mile long land border. The border starts at the Germany-Switzerland-France tri-point and ends at the German-France-Luxembourg tri-point. A significant portion of the border follows the Upper Rhine. The Alsace-Lorraine region has been at the center of an international tug of war between the two countries for nearly two centuries. The area was initially part of the Kingdom of France but was acquired by the German Empire in 1871 in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War. The 1918 Treaty of Versailles saw the reverting of the sovereignty over Alsace-Lorraine back to France. The Third Reich would forcefully annex the region in 1941 during the Second World War, but surrendered it again after its defeat in the aftermath of the war.
Germany also shares maritime borders with Sweden and the United Kingdom. The maritime border between Germany and the United Kingdom lies in the North Sea, while the Sweden-Germany maritime border is located in the Baltic Sea.