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In military terms, a demilitarized zone (DMZ) is an area, usually the frontier or boundary between two or more military powers (or alliances), where military activity is not permitted, usually by peace treaty, armistice, or other bilateral or multilateral agreement. Often the demilitarized zone lies upon a line of controlmarker and forms a de-facto international border.

Several demilitarized zones have also unintentionally become wildlife preserves, as they cause the land which they sit on to be too dangerous for construction and less exposed to human disturbance or hunting. See Korean Demilitarized Zone.

Generally, "demilitarized" means converted to non-military use or purpose, returned to a civilian field. In such meaning the term is often used in former Sovietmarker countries both in Western and local (transliterated) languages.

  • Although many demilitarized zones are also neutral territory, since neither side is allowed to control it even for civilian administration, there are cases where a zone remains demilitarized after an agreement awarding full control to one state, which relinquished the normal right to establish any military forces or installations there.


It is also possible for powers to agree on the demilitarization of a zone without formally settling their still conflicting territorial claims, implying these are only to be pursued by peaceful means (such as diplomatic dialogue or an international court), or even frozen.

Current demilitarized (mostly neutral) zones

Africa

  • Between northern Moroccomarker and the Spanishmarker cities of Ceutamarker and Melillamarker lies a demilitarized zone. Morocco has never recognized Ceuta and Melilla as part of Spainmarker.
See: Ceuta border fencemarker and Melilla border fencemarker.

Europe





  • A neutral territory existed between the British territory of Gibraltarmarker and Spainmarker. A strip of land of width "600 toises (around 1.2 km), being more than 2 cannon shots distance between the British guns and the Spanish guns" would be considered "the neutral ground" stipulated by the Treaty of Seville in 1729. In 1908 the Britishmarker constructed a fence at the British side of the neutral territory. In order not to offend the Spanish, the fence was situated 1 metre inside British territory. Even though both the United Kingdommarker and Spain are part of the European Union, the border fence is still relevant today since Gibraltar is not part of the European Customs Union and therefore outside its VAT/IVA scheme. The border crossing is open 24 hours a day with customs duties payable on certain goods entering Spain or Gibraltar.








Asia



Antarctica

Article 1 of the main Antarctic Treaty forbids military activity in Antarcticamarker, though military personnel and equipment may use the landmass for peaceful purposes.

Famous former demilitarized zones











  • Chinamarker: Japanesemarker forces conquered Manchuria between September 1931 and February 1932, when they proclaimed the region to be the state of Manchukuo. In May 1933, the Tanggu Truce between China and Japan was concluded, which established a demilitarized zone between Manchukuo and China proper.










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