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Babushka dolls, also called matryoshka dolls or Russian nesting dolls, are, as Wikipedia states, “a set of dolls of decreasing sizes placed one inside the other.”  You have almost certainly seen them, but if not, this picture and this one may help.

Fly over to the Middle East, and you’ll find a somewhat ridiculous, real-life geopoltical babushka doll.   Start off in the United Arab Emirates, traveling east toward the Gulf of Oman.  Before you reach the shore, you’ll come to Madha, the small green oval in the map at the top.  (Need a bigger map?  Click here.)  Madha is an enclave which, while surrounded on all sides by the UAE, is part of Oman.

Once you enter Madha, keep continuing toward its center.  You’ll come to a smaller, yellow oval (the bigger map will come in handy here) called Nahwa.  Nahwa is an enclave which, while surrounded on all sides by Madha, is part of the UAE.  Quite literally, a part of UAE is completely surrounded by part of Oman, which in turn is completely surrounded by UAE proper.

The geographical borders are relatively new — they were set forth in 1969.  So there isn’t a long-standing historical reason for the delination.  Even stranger?  While Nahwa has a few dozen buildings, Madha is almost entirely uninhabited, making its distinction and size generally irrelevant to everyday life.

Bonus fact:  Not an enclave, per se, but close: Nestled in Iowa is a small town, population of roughly 1,200, called Maharishi Vedic City. The town aims to recreate an idealistic lifestyle set forth by a Hindu subsect based on transcendental meditation.  All buildings are based on an ancient Sanskrit design, revived by Maharishi Mehesh Yogi, a guru of the aforementioned transcendental meditation.  To further reach this end, the town has banned the use of pesticides and the sale of non-organic foods, the first town in the United States to do so.  Has it been successful?  By one measure, yes: The town’s population has quintupled in recent years, and roughly 1,000 of the 1,200 residents are pandits, or Hindu scholars.

From the Archives: Kentucky, Disconnected: A piece of Kentucky which isn’t in Kentucky.

Related: Ninja babushka dolls.

Originally published

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