Unnatural borders

Nomads had little use for the idea of fixed borders, but with the advent of agriculture and civilization, human societies needed access to fixed resources such as arable land and navigable rivers. Competing groups defined and defended the borders of their territories.

When these borders were the result of centuries of natural evolution of societies, they tended to follow easily defensible natural barriers, such as rivers and mountain ranges, and leave each group with enough resources to survive.

However, many modern countries' borders, particularly in Africa and Asia, were not set this way. The European powers colonized the rest of the world from roughly the 1500s to the 1940s, and when colonization ended, it was usually the departing European power who drew the nations' boundaries.

Unfortunately, the Europeans succumbed to the common human weakness of pursuing narrow, short-term self-interest at the expense of both other people and long-term peace. Instead of setting borders that reflected natural and cultural realities, they used borders to reward their allies and punish their enemies. Some ethnic groups were given control over vast resources, while others' territories were dismembered into multiple countries and blocked from essential resources.

The predictable result was that the favored groups flourished and discriminated, at times brutally and violently, against the unfavored groups, and the unfavored groups struggled, at times brutally and violently, to regain the wholeness of their nations and access to essential resources.

Many wars have had unnatural borders as at least a partial cause, including:

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