Salient (geography)

A salient is an elongated protrusion of a geopolitical entity, such as a subnational entity or a sovereign state.

Map of Namibia showing the Caprivi Strip in the country's northeast.

While similar to a peninsula in shape, a salient is most often not surrounded by water on three sides. Instead, it has a land border on at least two sides and extends from the larger geographical body of the administrative unit.

In American English, the term panhandle is often used to describe a relatively long and narrow salient, such as the westernmost extensions of Florida and Oklahoma. Another term is bootheel, used for the Missouri Bootheel and New Mexico Bootheel areas.


The term salient is derived from military salients. The term "panhandle" derives from the analogous part of a cooking pan, and its use is generally confined to North America.

The salient shape can be the result of arbitrarily drawn international or subnational boundaries, though the location of administrative borders can also take into account other considerations such as economic ties or topography.

Country-level salientsEdit


Far North Province within Cameroon
A map of the Congo Pedicle


Misiones Province within Argentina


Map of India showing the Seven Sister states in the northeast plus the smaller salient of Sikkim immediately to their west.
The 14 provinces of Thailand forming the salient of Southern Thailand.


Dutch Limburg shown within the Netherlands
The map of Manche in France

Subnational salientsEdit

The following locations are salients in First-level administrative subdivisions of nations.

Subnational salients in AfricaEdit

Location of Cuvette Department within the Republic of the Congo. The southwestern arm is Okoyo District. The Kimongo District salient, in Niari Department, can also be clearly seen in the country's southwest.
Location of the Fatick Region within Senegal. Gossas Department is the northeastern arm.

Subnational salients in the AmericasEdit

Guayas Province, Ecuador. Balzar and El Empalme Cantons form the northern arm of the province.
Venezuela's Barinas State. Andrés Eloy Blanco is the small western extension of the state, Arismendi is the larger eastern extremity. Páez, in Apure, lies immediately to the south of western Barinas.

Panhandles in the United StatesEdit

State Largest city Population Area (sq mi) Area (km2) Population density
(per sq mi)
Population density (/km2)
Alaska Juneau 71,616 35,138 91,010 2 0.77
Connecticut Stamford 224,284 96 250 2,336 902
Florida[a] Tallahassee 1,407,925 11,304 29,280 125 48
Idaho Coeur d'Alene 317,751 21,013 54,420 15 5.8
Maryland[b] Frederick 492,950 2,194 5,680 225 87
Nebraska Scottsbluff 87,789 14,258 36,930 6 2.3
Oklahoma Guymon 28,751 5,687 14,730 5 1.9
Texas Amarillo 427,927 25,887 67,050 17 6.6
Eastern West Virginia Martinsburg 261,041 3,499 9,060 75 29
Northern West Virginia Wheeling 132,295 601 1,560 220 85
Locations of panhandles within states of the USA

Subnational salients in AsiaEdit

Location of Nabatieh District within Nabatieh Governorate, Lebanon.
Map of Gorno-Badakhshan within Tajikistan, showing the panhandle of Darvoz District in the west.
South Sulawesi in Indonesia, with a panhandle of East Luwu Regency in the east

Subnational salients in EuropeEdit

Location of Viken, Norway. The municipalities of Jevnaker and Lunner connect the former counties of Akershus and Buskerud
Location of Newmarket (shown as red dot) within Suffolk, England

Subnational salients in OceaniaEdit

Location of Anetan District within Nauru
Location of Timaru District within New Zealand's South Island. The Waitaki District is parallel with it, a little further south.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ This definition includes the following counties: Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Taylor, Wakulla, Walton, and Washington.
  2. ^ This definition includes the following counties: Allegany, Frederick, Garrett, and Washington
  3. ^ Not a geopolitical salient, but a normal geographical feature similar to that of a peninsula.


  1. ^ "San Isidro". Google Maps. Google LLC. Retrieved 14 January 2020.

Further readingEdit