USAID via Wikimedia Commons
- China and Afghanistan are unlikely neighbors who share a tiny 46-mile border most of which runs 5,000 meters above sea level atop the Pamir mountains.
- The tale of how it came to pass is fascinating, and is the product of hundreds of years of geopolitical tensions in the region.
- There is only one way to cross the border, through the Wakhjir Pass, a key part of China’s Silk Road trading route in the early middle ages.
- Here’s how they came to be neighbors — via Soviet invasion and British Empire rule — and why they share such a small border.
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China and Afghanistan are not immediately recognizable as close neighbors. But sandwiched Pakistan and Tajikistan, is an inaccessible 46-mile border which is mostly more than 5,000 meters above sea level.
Afghanistan has been a close, if troublesome, ally to China is recent decades. Relations between the two have avoided the tensions sparked by the repression of the Uighur Muslim minority, many of whom live near the Afghan border.
From the Silk Road trade route which lasted 1800 years, to the expansionist British Empire in the late 1800s, here’s how this unlikely border came to being.
China is bordered by 14 neighboring states — more than any other country — one of these is Afghanistan.
The main difference between this border, and the other 13 surrounding China, is that it is only 46 miles long.
Crossing between the two nations is dramatic for more reasons than one. Stepping across the border from Afghanistan to China jumps you forward 3.5 hours, the largest time change of any border in the world.
This is because China, despite its huge size, only has one timezone. This dates back to 1949, when Chairman Mao Zedong combined the zones to aid "national unity."
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