Walls are an age-old phenomenon and the Brits have been good at them. Not only did we have Hadrian’s Wall to keep the Scots out and Offa’s Dyke to keep the Welsh out but, when we ran India, we put in a 2,300 mile 12-14 foot high, 6-12 foot thick, hedge to enforce customs duties.


The Chinese are pretty hot on walls and hold the all-time record – 5,500 miles.

Whether the Great Wall of China or the Berlin Wall are the most famous walls is a toss-up but, in length, the Berlin Wall was a pipsqueak stretching a mere 96 miles and lasting 30 years, whereas the GWC has lasted 2,300 years.

Today the most actively guarded walls are the 200 mile wall in Cyprus between the Turks and Greeks and the 400 mile wall between Israel and Palestine.

The world has other walls – mostly decrepit – like Diyarbakır Walls, Sacsayhuaman, Great Zimbabwe Walls, Walls of Babylon, Walls of Ston and Walls of Troy.

So the Americans’ proposed wall is nothing new though its curious that, for all their fabulous technology, they’re implementing a 2,000 year old methodology to secure their border.

Fortunately for us we don’t need a wall on our southern and eastern boundaries because we’ve got the Channel and the North Sea.



  1. Quite right, robetc, b. Chelsea,

  2. Not forgetting walls ice cream either. Designed to keep the blues out. 🙂

  3. Perhaps the Berlin wall was not the biggest, but I suspect it may well have been the most ‘effective’.
    The relative shortness probably helped in achieving that. Although with todays technology it might be possible now to scale that up … hopefully we will never find out

  4. Crikey Yes Martijn the Koreans have a whole zone, the DMZ, to keep them apart. That’s the ultimate.

  5. Like you, Big Softie, I’ve been told by many Indians that they appreciate the democracy, independent civil service, independent judiciary, bicameral legislature, education system and, of course, railways. And ditto Canada, USA, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and various other places. I don’t know if the end justifies the means.

  6. What is it about our race that urges mankind to build fences to protect their own “stuff”, whilst blatantly going out to interfere with other peoples? I’ve spent a great deal of time in India over the last 20 years. I find it acutely embarrassing when I’m there to accept that my ancestors believed they had some divine right to set sail for someone else’s territory to plunder its natural resources and wealth, and then impose their rule on the indigenous population. Bizarrely, some locals increase my level of discomfort even more by proclaiming that the British Raj was a “good thing”, bringing peace, education and the railways etc. Personally, I’d rather be left alone, whilst always welcoming visitors with open arms and minds.

  7. “Today the most actively guarded walls are…” Between north and south korea there is not 1 single long wall, but it’s pretty well guarded nonetheless…

  8. SecretEuroPatentAgentMan

    Some wwedes in Scania are evidently inspired by the UK: they want to detach from the rest of Sweden, literally. Their preferred tool is the crowbar. They are not finished yet.

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