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 the 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.