Büsingen Enclave – Büsingen am Hochrhein, Germany - Atlas Obscura

Büsingen Enclave

Büsingen am Hochrhein, Germany

A remarkable two-country morph, this town is part of Germany legally but is by all other measures Swiss. 


Büsingen, a small, lowly populated exclave of Germany, separated from the country by no more than half a mile, is one of the world’s most perfect blends between two countries. While it may belong to the Germans, it is exceptionally hard to distinguish from the adjacent towns under the sovereignty of the Swiss.

Büsingen is part of Germany politically and legally, but it is Swiss economically. It is the only place in all of Germany that doesn’t use the Euro or belong to the European Union. Instead, it unofficially uses the Swiss Franc and remains more economically neutral than the rest of Germany.

Both Swiss and German postal codes can be used to send letters to Büsingen, and there are separate Swiss and German telephone booths in town. The borders are entirely open, and Swiss police are allowed to arrest German citizens in Büsingen and bring them into Switzerland.

Büsingen came incredibly close to becoming Swiss territory in 1918, when 96% of its residents voted to be annexed. However, Switzerland never offered Germany anything in return, so the Germans refused to give up their small exclave.

Although it may seem like this strange territorial oddity may only be useful in legal matters, it has drawn in a handful of tourists. Attracting visitors for its fascinating geographic history and quaint riverside appeal, Büsingen’s two-country morph has turned out to be quite lucrative.

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