44 Landlocked Countries Without Direct Ocean Access

A map of landlocked countries

NuclearVacuum/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Approximately one-fifth of the world's countries are landlocked, meaning they have no access to the oceans. There are 44 landlocked countries that do not have direct access to an ocean or ocean-accessible sea (such as the Mediterranean Sea).

Why Is Being Landlocked an Issue?

While a country such as Switzerland has thrived despite its lack of access to the world's oceans, being landlocked has many disadvantages. Some landlocked countries rank among the poorest in the world. Some of the issues of being landlocked include:

  • Lack of access to fishing and oceanic food sources
  • High transportation and transit costs because of a lack of access to ports and world shipping operations
  • Geopolitical vulnerabilities from dependence on neighboring countries for access to world markets and natural resources
  • Military limitations because of the lack of naval options

What Continents Have No Landlocked-Countries?

North America has no landlocked countries, and Australia is rather obviously not landlocked. Within the United States, over half of the 50 states are landlocked with no direct access to the world's oceans. Many states, however, do have water access to the oceans via the Hudson Bay, Chesapeake Bay, or Mississippi River.

Landlocked Countries in South America

South America has just two landlocked countries: Bolivia and Paraguay.

Landlocked Countries in Europe

Europe has 14 landlocked countries: Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Czech Republic, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Switzerland, and Vatican City.

Landlocked Countries in Africa

Africa has 16 landlocked countries: Botswana, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, South Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Lesotho is unusual in that it is landlocked by just one country (South Africa).

Landlocked Countries in Asia

Asia has 12 landlocked countries: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Laos, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Note that several of the countries in western Asia border the landlocked Caspian Sea, a feature that does open some transit and trade opportunities.

Disputed Regions that Are Landlocked

Four regions that are not fully recognized as independent countries are landlocked: Kosovo, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia, and Transnistria.

What Are the Two Doubly-Landlocked Countries?

There are two, special, landlocked countries that are known as doubly-landlocked countries, completely surrounded by other landlocked countries. The two doubly-landlocked countries are Uzbekistan (surrounded by Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan) and Liechtenstein (surrounded by Austria and Switzerland).

What Is the Largest Landlocked Country?

Kazakhstan is the world's ninth largest country but is the world's largest landlocked country. It's 1.03 million square miles (2.67 million km2) and is bordered by Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and the landlocked Caspian Sea.

What Are the Most Recently Added Landlocked Countries?

The most recent addition to the list of landlocked countries is South Sudan which gained independence in 2011.

Serbia is also a recent addition to the list of landlocked countries. The country formerly had access to the Adriatic Sea, but when Montenegro became an independent country in 2006, Serbia lost its ocean access.

Edited by Allen Grove.

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Rosenberg, Matt. "44 Landlocked Countries Without Direct Ocean Access." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/landlocked-countries-1435421. Rosenberg, Matt. (2020, August 27). 44 Landlocked Countries Without Direct Ocean Access. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/landlocked-countries-1435421 Rosenberg, Matt. "44 Landlocked Countries Without Direct Ocean Access." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/landlocked-countries-1435421 (accessed June 5, 2023).