Interesting Geography Facts About the US-Canada Border

Canada and the United States are the second and fourth largest countries in the world by area.  Here are some interesting geography facts about the Canada–United States border.

Longest International Border

The border between the United States and Canada is the longest international border in the world.  The border between the two countries is 5,525 miles (8,891 kilometers) long.


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Map showing the international border between the United States and Canada. Data: Natural Earth

Map showing the international border (purple) between the United States and Canada. Data: Natural Earth

Canada Shares a Border with 13 States

There are 13 states that share a border with Canada.  With 1,538 miles (2,475 km), Alaska shares the longest border. Pennsylvania with 42 miles (68 kilometers) shares the smallest length of the border.

Map by Phizzy, Mediawiki, CC BY 3.0

Map by Phizzy, Mediawiki, CC BY 3.0

The United States Shares a Border with 8 Provinces

The United States shares a border with eight provinces or territories in Canada.  Ontario province in east-central Canada shares the longest portion of the border with 1,715 miles (2,760 km).  The western province of Alberta shares the shortest length of border with the United States with 185 miles (298 km).

Map by Phizzy, Mediawiki, CC BY 3.0

Map by Phizzy, Mediawiki, CC BY 3.0

Legal Land Border Crossings

There are 119 legal land border crossings between the United States and Canada.  Of those, there are two that are one-way crossings only.  Churubusco, New York provides a port of entry to the United States from Canada only.  There is no access from the United States to Canada at this location.  Conversely,  there is a legal crossing into Canada from Fort Fairfield, Maine to Four Falls, New Brunswick while visitors from Canada cannot enter the United States from this location.

Map showing legal land border (black dots) crossings between the United States and Canada. GIS data from: United States. Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Map showing legal land border (black dots) crossings between the United States and Canada. GIS border data from: United States. Bureau of Transportation Statistics via Stanford

Population Near the Border

Most Canadians live relatively near the US border.  90% of Canadians live within 100 miles (160 km) of the US border.

Busiest International Border Crossing in North America

The Ambassador bridge connects travelers between Detroit, Michigan, United States, and Windsor, Ontario, Canada.  It is the busiest international border crossing in North America based on trade volume.

Ambassador Bridge. Photo: Flibirigit, CC BY 2.0

Ambassador Bridge. Photo: Flibirigit, CC BY 2.0

No Touch Zone

Every six years, a 20 feet (six meters) strip around the US-Canada is clearcut by the International Boundary Commission which calls it “a visible line between friendly neighbors.”  This swath extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.  The commission was created under the treaty of 1908.  Known as the vista, the swath contains 8,000 monuments and reference points, and 1,000 survey control stations.

US-Canada border at Chief Mountain, Carolyn Cuskey, CC BY 2.0

US-Canada border at Chief Mountain, Carolyn Cuskey, CC BY 2.0

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