International date line

Law, Gwil Jr. Gwil_Law at
Mon Jan 3 16:05:50 UTC 2000

John Cowan wrote:
>> The straight-line boundaries between Pacific
>> island nations that are shown on many maps are based on an international
>> convention, but are not legally binding national borders.
> I'm confused.  Does this mean that there are overlapping claims to
> or what?  What is a "legally binding national border" anyway?

As I understand the situation, sovereignty extends to the land area of each
island, plus its territorial waters (the twelve-mile limit, or whatever the
individual country claims).  The "straight-line boundaries" I was talking
about divide a large part of the Pacific into contiguous zones, extending
well beyond the limits of sovereignty.

Niue, to take a simple example, is shown in my Rand McNally International
Atlas surrounded by a rectangle extending from approximately 166.5 to 170.5
degrees West, and 17.5 to 23.5 degrees South.  The actual extent of Niue,
including its territorial waters, can be contained within a rectangle from
about 169.5 to 170.2 degrees West, and 18.7 to 19.4 degrees South.

It would take me some time and effort to define "legally binding national
border".  I would define a "not-legally-binding-national-border" as a line
on a map with no particular significance.  Does that help?

Gwillim Law

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