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Many landlocked countries with no access to the open ocean maintain navies, which might seem odd at first. But once you realize that aside from oceans, lakes and rivers too form national borders for many countries, the idea will not seem so absurd.

For example, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan—three landlocked countries, all maintain their own naval fleet on the enormous lake, Caspian Sea, which they border. Paraguay has armed patrol boats on the country's major rivers because any hostile nation can reach the heart of Paraguay by travelling upstream via these rivers from the open sea through Argentina. Switzerland—historically neutral, yet one of the most armed nation in the world—also has armed patrol boats keeping watch across its many lakes. Hungary maintains a full armada of vessels including warships and minesweepers. All these nations have legitimate reasons for defending their inland waterways. But Mongolia is another story.


Mongolia is surrounded on all sides by land. Photo of the Mongolian map by Jason Kolenda/

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