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Hans Island: Canada and Denmark settle border dispute


For decades, the Danish and Canadian flags flew alternately on the small island of Hans. Now the peaceful border dispute between the two countries has been settled. This is probably the end of an alcoholic tradition.

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Danish flag hoisted: Denmark and Canada have been arguing about the one small rocky island for decades


Royal Danish Navy Handout / picture alliance / dpa

What is possibly the most peaceful border dispute in history has been settled: Denmark and Canada have been at odds for decades about the affiliation of an uninhabited island in the Arctic, and now both countries have agreed to draw a border.

The approximately 1.3 square kilometer Hans Island is divided roughly in the middle.

The territorial conflict between Denmark and Canada dates back to 1973. At that time, a UN treaty was negotiated between the two states, which stipulates the exact border between Canada's "Ellesmere Island" and Greenland, which is administered by Denmark.

However, the island of Hans in the Northwest Passage was not taken into account.

Since then, both countries have claimed the island for themselves - and thus regularly made headlines.

Since at least the 1980s, officials, scientists and soldiers from Denmark and Canada have taken turns visiting the island, each removing the other country's flag and raising their own.

According to media reports, it has even become a tradition for visitors to leave a bottle of either Canadian whiskey or Danish liquor for their rivals to find on their next visit.

The border conflict has therefore also been nicknamed the "Whiskey War".

In 2008 Denmark and Canada finally decided to set up a joint working group to settle the dispute - with the result that the island is now divided into two almost equal parts.

"It sends a clear signal that it is possible to resolve border disputes in a pragmatic and peaceful way, with all parties becoming winners," said Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod.

He also spoke of an "important sign now that there is much war and unrest in the world".

Hans Island is named after the Greenlandic explorer Hans Hendrik, who took part in the first expedition to the island in 1853.

The rock island is a good 1,100 kilometers south of the North Pole, is uninhabited and only accessible in summer.

Otherwise pack ice blocks the way.

There is no oil or mineral resources.

With the agreement, Canada and Denmark have also agreed on a maritime border.

This extends from the Lincoln Sea in the north to the Labrador Sea in the south and is now the longest sea border in the world at more than 3800 kilometers in length.


Source: spiegel

All news articles on 2022-06-14

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