A narrow strip of Dutch land bordering the River Meuse near Maastricht accidentally became part of Belgium when the river changed direction in the 1960s.
But the uninhabited peninsula could only be reached from the Dutch river bank, so it lay beyond the reach of the Belgian police. And the Dutch police couldn’t go there because it was Belgian territory.
It became a popular spot for drug dealing and orgies, and the authorities ignored the problem until a dead body was discovered. The two countries then began to negotiate a land exchange they finally settled in 2017.
On 1 January 2018, the Belgian peninsula was peacefully transferred to the Netherlands, while two smaller Dutch areas were given to Belgium in return. Simple as that.
Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.