How a country gets its borders is tied up in a complex web of political, historical, and geological strands. While borders may shift as political allegiances (or even the earth itself) change, most of us use the imaginary lines drawn around a particular place to identify it. Because of the complex ways that countries get their shape, many of them end up looking a little odd. When you look at them closer (and maybe squint a little), several countries take on the shape of animals.
Bulgaria: A Kitten at Play
The Republic of Bulgaria looks a little like a kitten playfully batting at something. To the north, Bulgaria is bordered by Romania. To the northwest, it is neighbors with Serbia. Together, these two countries make up a curved line that leaves the northernmost border of Bulgaria looking a lot like a kitten with a downturned head and its tail sticking straight up in the air. The Black Sea carves the country to the east, and the extended Point Kaliakra looks like a kitten's protruding ear while the Burgaski Bay creates the image of its downward-looking face and playfully extended front paw.
Finland: A Shy Rabbit
The outline of the Finland looks a bit like a rabbit. This is primarily thanks to two protruding sections of the border that take on the appearance of bunny ears at the northernmost points of Finland. Norway to the north, Sweden to the west, and Russia to the east create this oddly-shaped image. While one could perhaps say that the country looks a little like a kangaroo, with its long ears and rather amorphous lower body, a rabbit seems more fitting for a land that's known for its harsh winter conditions and expansive woodlands.
Japan: A Giant Seahorse
Japan is primarily made up of rugged, mountainous land. This long string of islands in the Pacific Ocean looks a little like a seahorse. The country is made up of four main islands, and the northernmost of these is Hokkaido. Its irregular shape looks a bit like a seahorse head perched atop a long and curving body. The bulk of this body is made up of Honshu, the largest of the four islands and the portion of Japan that contains Tokyo. The seahorse's tail is completed with the southern presence of Kyushu.
Croatia: A Flying Dragon
Croatia's borders form the shape of a dragon in flight. Bordered by the Adriatic Sea to the west, Croatia includes a series of long islands that look a little like wispy smoke drifting out of the mouth of a dragon facing down. Its head is formed by a protruding portion of the country that points out into the sea. The country is long and narrow along its watery border, creating a tail that tapers off to the south. Meanwhile, the eastern portion of the country expands behind the body of the dragon. Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina all surround this portion with uneven, jagged border lines, creating the image of wings for a dragon in flight.
Slovenia: A Walking Rooster
Because Italy's border snakes down along the Gulf of Venice, it cuts into Slovenia to create what looks like a protruding rear leg. Meanwhile, a triangular portion of Slovenia dips down into Croatia to create what looks like a front leg extending forward as if in motion. This Croatian border continues in a northward taper, creating the neck of the rooster. The Austrian border to the north creates a sloping back, and it meets with the Hungary border to the northeast to create a pointed section resembling a rooster's comb on top of the animal's head.