Canada And Denmark Both Claim This Island. And This Is How They Fight Over It

December 11, 2015

Ah yes, Canada and Denmark's epic battle for Hans Island.

hans island canada denmark

Hans Island is the smallest of three islands not far from Greenland's coast, and Canada and Denmark have been fighting over it for decades.

The reason that Hans Island has become a flash-point in international relations, is that it is located in a spot where geography and international law collide. Specifically, Hans Island is located in the middle of the 35 km wide Nares Strait, which separates Nunavut from Greenland. Under international law, states have control over territorial waters which extend 12 miles (22.2km) from shore. Consequently, Hans Island falls within both the Danish and Canadian 12 mile zone, with both claiming the island as a result.

hans island canada denmark

Fortunately, despite the strong rhetoric, both sides maintain a sense of humour on the issue.

War ships from both sides patrol the area, and when they encounter each other, they... show their flags. When the soldiers leave the ships, they take the other side's flag down and raise their own.

They often leave a bottle of liquor, too (Danish schnapps or Canadian whiskey).

hans island canada denmark

This is the kind of war I approve. I really want to travel there, put up a pirate flag and leave a bottle of rum.

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