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  A zone of varying width that refers either to the political division between two countries or to the settled and uninhabited parts of a country. Prior to the twentieth century, frontiers were a common feature of the political landscape, but most have now disappeared under the global tide of human settlement and economic development, to be replaced by boundaries, which are lines. In the nineteenth century, land on the frontier was generally regarded as a necessary \'safety valve\' for accommodating the populations of fast-growing states, such as the USA (see frontier thesis). Although this view is now somewhat discredited, the Canadian Northlands and Alaska are still referred to as the last great frontier in North America, and similar descriptions are applied to Russian Siberia and the Australian outback. In reality, however, access to such areas is a luxury open to few states in the modern world, when boundaries on land and sea are so tightly drawn and the legitimacy of colonial territorial claims in the developing world so hotly disputed. (MB)

Suggested Reading Prescott, J.V.R. 1987: Political frontiers and boundaries. London: Unwin Hyman.



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