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A maritime boundary is a conceptual division of the Earth's water surface areas using physiographic or geopolitical criteria. As such, it usually bounds areas of exclusive national rights over mineral and biological resources,[1] encompassing maritime features, limits and zones.[2] Generally, a maritime boundary is delineated at a particular distance from a jurisdiction's coastline. Although in some countries the term maritime boundary represents borders of a maritime nation[3] that are recognized by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, maritime borders usually serve to identify the edge of international waters.

Maritime boundaries exist in the context of territorial waters, contiguous zones, and exclusive economic zones; however, the terminology does not encompass lake or river boundaries, which are considered within the context of land boundaries.

Some maritime boundaries have remained indeterminate despite efforts to clarify them. This is explained by an array of factors, some of which involve regional problems.[4]

The delineation of maritime boundaries has strategic, economic and environmental implications.[5]

A western line of military control between the two Koreas was unilaterally established by the United Nations Command in 1953.[21][22] Although the North asserts a differently configured boundary line, there is no dispute that a few small islands close to the North Korean coastline have remained jurisdiction of the United Nations since 1953.[23]

The map at the right shows the differing maritime boundary lines of the two Koreas. The ambits of these boundaries encompass overlapping jurisdictional claims.[24] The explicit differences in the way the boundary lines are configured is shown in the map at the right.

In a very small area, this represents a unique illustration of differences in mapping and delineation strategies.

Violent clashes in these disputed waters include what are known as the first Yeonpyeong incident, the second Yeonpyeong incident, and the Bombardment of Yeonpyeong.[25]

See also