Canada and Denmark are locked in an adorable war

Bethan McKernan@mck_beth
Friday 13 November 2015 18:00
news

It's not the most hot-button territorial dispute in the world, but it turns out Canada and Denmark have been locked in a fight over a tiny uninhabited island in the Arctic Ocean for decades.

Tiny 1.3km squared Hans Island is in the Kennedy Channel of the Nares Strait in Greenland:

The island, named after Greenlandic explorer Hans Hendrik, has been an Inuit hunting ground for centuries.

It's bang smack in the middle of the maritime border between Greenland (which is administered by Denmark) and Canada.

In 1973 geologists and hydrographers couldn't agree on how to map the island in half, and it has been the centre of a cold war ever since.

The countries' armed forces patrol the area and on periodic visits to the island take the other side's flag down, but they always leave a bottle of Canadian Club whiskey or schnapps respectively.

Hans Island has recently been back in the news because arctic experts have suggested a condominium 'time share' style arrangement for sovereignty over the icy speck of rock.

Michael Byers, a University of British Columbia international law professor, told CBC:

It would resolve a long-standing dispute that, although insignificant, has some small potential to cause friction in the future.

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