In geography, a buffer zone is any zonal area that serves the purpose of keeping two or more other areas (often, but not necessarily, countries) distant from one another, for whatever reason. Common types of buffer zones are demilitarized zones and certain restrictive easement zones and greenbelts. Such zones may be, but not necessarily be, comprised by a sovereign state, forming a buffer state.
Buffer zones can be set up to prevent violence, protect the environment, protect residential and commercial zones from industrial accidents or natural disasters, keep prisoners intent on escaping from rapidly acquiring hostages or a hiding place, or possibly other reasons.
Buffer zones often result in large uninhabited regions (similar to nature reserves, although without tourism) which of themselves are somewhat unique in many increasingly paved/developed, crowded parts of the world.
- Buffer state
- Demilitarized zone (DMZ)