How a Narrow Strip of Sand Connecting a Spanish Island to Africa Became the World’s Shortest Border

In a promontory episode of Half As Interesting, fast talking narrator Sam from Wendover explains how the shortest international border in the world is an 85 meter (278 feet) long sandy strip created by a storm that connects the rocky Spanish peninsula Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera to Morocco in mainland Africa. This connection was naturally formed in in 1934, after a great thunderstorm storm, which turned a island into a tombolo or “tied island”. It is largely uninhabited except for Spanish military personnel, who essentially keep Morocco from claiming it as their own. While his peninsula isn’t all that important to the Spanish government, ceding this disputed border could lead to the loss of other Spanish-ruled islands off the Moroccan coast.

The Spanish territory is only inhabited by a few dozen Spanish soldiers who’s whole purpose is to sit around and make sure the Moroccans don’t take it. It’s not that this peninsula is strategically important at all anymore—it’s just that the Spanish believe that giving this territory to Morocco would open the political floodgates for them returning Ceuta and Melilla to Morocco.