The strange normality of life in a breakaway state

A postal address is the marker that identifies our home’s place in the world. The last line designates our country, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

But for a few million people worldwide, that last line of the address is a problem. The international postal service does not recognise a letter marked Abkhazia, Trans-Dniester, or Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Letters find their way after being re-routed via other countries. Open up the drop-down box of countries on an internet form and they are unlikely to be listed.

This trio of European statelets are among the few territories in the world, mostly formed by war, which exist on maps but are not full nation states, or members of international organisations.

However, they are self-governing and fairly stable. Life goes on – taxes are collected and children go to school. But it is all a little more complicated than elsewhere in the world.

Image caption Soldiers travel by bus through…

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