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East River, West River

Boundaries divide areas, people, and cultures. Sometimes the boundary is real, like a river or mountain range. Other times, it is imaginary, existing only on a map. If a person were to walk along the Canada-America border, between Manitoba and North Dakota, she would notice little difference between the nations. At the Mexico-America border, between Chihuahua and Texas, the nations do not look very different, but unlike the northern border, a river, the Rio Grande, separates tDakota Territory Maphe two countries. The cultural differences might be more obvious, with a mixture of languages, clothes, and food.

Rivers, like the Mississippi and Columbia, separate many states in the United States. Whether in real-life or on a map, other boundaries are much less clear. Where is the boundary between the Midwest and West? In South Dakota, many would say the border between the two regions is the Missouri River. But where’s the border between Midwest and West in Nebraska, or Kansas? At what point does the Near East become the Mid-East then the Far East? Where’s the border between northern and southern California? Sometimes, it depends on who’s measuring, talking, or writing about the boundary.

Explorers, cartographers, politicians, and military leaders have been chopping up the world into a variety of regions and areas, the boundaries constantly shifting. Since the fall of communism, countries that comprised the former Soviet Union have been redrawing their boundaries. When a city annexes more land, it grows with a signing of a paper. Oftentimes the borders, whether of countries or counties, are arbitrary. Boundaries change.


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