Clearly, divided cities provide a rich seam of material for writers of a certain type of fiction. But reality doesn’t always need the embellishment of literature. Consider the Baltic twin town of Valka/Valga. Today a small town split by the Estonian-Latvian border, in the 15th century it was the seat of the Livonian Confederation, a long-forgotten state comprising most of present-day Latvia and Estonia. When the latter two states used the confusion of the Russian Revolution to proclaim their independence, they had to decide what to do with this ethnically mixed town that sat right on their border. Instead of fighting over it, they simply split it in two, though confusion reigned over how, exactly, it should be administered.
When the Soviets took over the Baltics again at the start of World War II, the border became an internal irrelevance, but it resurfaced as an international issue — and drain on the local economy — after Baltic independence in 1991. Fortunately, in 2007 Estonia and Latvia, now both members of the European Union, acceded to the Schengen Zone, which essentially eliminated the border in all but name and geography. The two halves of the formerly unified town are now officially twinned and something of a tourist draw; it’s almost like one of those tearful reunions of long-lost relatives you see on daytime TV.