Belgium, Netherlands change their mutual border in 48-acre land swap

Belgium and the Netherlands peacefully altered their national borders by swapping 48 acres of land along a river dividing the two countries.

Dutch and Belgian officials moved the border between their countries on Wednesday, with the Netherlands ceding eight acres along the Meuse River to Belgium, which will gain 40 acres of territory. Image courtesy of Belgian Foreign Ministry/Twitter
Dutch and Belgian officials moved the border between their countries on Wednesday, with the Netherlands ceding eight acres along the Meuse River to Belgium, which will gain 40 acres of territory. Image courtesy of Belgian Foreign Ministry/Twitter

Effective this week, the official border is the center of the Meuse River. While that border was established in 1843, shifting of the river left adjacent land difficult to police. Two uninhabited Belgian peninsulas on the river ended up on the Dutch side, and a section of Dutch territory became a part of Belgium.

The area of interest is east of Vise, Belgium, and west of Eijsden, Netherlands. The trade of territory was agreed upon in November. The Netherlands gains 40 acres of territory, while ceding eight acres to Belgium. While the deal was effective Monday, a formal ceremony at the border occurred on Wednesday.

Because Belgian authorities required Dutch permission to travel to one of the peninsulas, it became accessible to them only by boat. The land developed a reputation for drug deals, prostitution and illegal rave parties. Four years ago a headless torso was found on the land. Dutch police could not investigate a crime committed on Belgian territory, and Belgian officials ferried prosecutors, crime laboratories and investigators to the peninsula, which has no docking provision for boats.

The Netherlands will now control the peninsulas. Belgium’s newly-gained territory includes scenic nature parks.

“The process has been carried out in harmony and with respect for one another. Diplomacy at its best,” said Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders.

By Ed Adamczyk