And let’s not even talk about the Great Wall of China, the construction of which began hundreds of years before that.
So the promise by President Donald Trump to build a wall between the United States and Mexico is not exactly a novel idea. Thousands of miles away, Hungary is building a border wall to try to keep out would-be migrants.
But isn’t this supposed to be a new era in global affairs? The era following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the lifting of what Winston Churchill called an “Iron Curtain” dividing Europe? An era in which the global system trumped all and national borders were softened because of international financial interdependence?
North Korea and South Korea have been divided by a demilitarized zone since combat between them ended in 1953. Each side agreed to pull its troops back 2,200 yards from the front line, creating a 2.5-mile no-man’s land.
But is there a wall?
North Korea says there is one. Officials from the North say that South Korea and the United States built a concrete wall along the DMZ in the late 1970s. South Korea and the U.S. deny this.
But North Korean officials insist the wall is there, with earth mounded up against it so that it cannot be seen from the southern side.
In any event, the DMZ would be hard for anyone to cross without attracting attention of the soldiers on either side of it. And Korea — wall or no wall — remains divided in two.
Hungary — A wall in progress
As Europe grapples with a wave of migration of historic proportions, various countries are building walls and fences to try to hold back the flood, notably Hungary
The country — where officials say that an average of 1,000 people per day are crossing its borders illegally — has begun building a fence on its southern border with Serbia. The fence will be 13 feet high, officials say.
Approximately 80,000 migrants have crossed into Hungary this year, most of them from Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, where a brutal civil war continues unabated after more than four years.
Most of the migrants want to move to wealthier EU countries such as Germany.
In addition, Bulgarian authorities are defending the country’s border with Turkey by building a fence topped with coils of razor wire.
And Britain has said it will build a fence more than two miles long in Calais, France, at the entrance to the tunnel under the English Channel. Migrants have gathered in large numbers in Calais, hoping to stow away in trucks and make the crossing into Britain.