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Canada and Denmark have been fighting over this uninhabited island for decades

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A  1.2-square-kilometre uninhabited island near the edge of Ellesmere Island, Nunavut has been a source of conflict between Canada and Denmark for almost 40 years. 

Whether Hans Island belongs to Canada or Greenland has been widely debated for years on end, and both countries have gone to great lengths to claim the rock in the middle of the ocean. 

“Hans Island is really just a large rock, but it happens to lie smack dab in the middle of the Nares Strait, a 22-mile-wide channel of very cold water separating Canada and Greenland, an autonomous territory of Denmark,” notes a New York Times article from 2016.

“The island falls within the 12-mile territorial limit of either shore, allowing both sides to claim it under international law.”

Both countries have repeatedly claimed sovereignty over the island, which has likely been used as an Inuit hunting ground since the 14th century.

They attempted to established an official border through the strait in 1973 but failed to come to a conclusion over Hans Island, so the issue was set aside and left to be resolved at a later time. 

In 1984, in true passive-aggressive Canadian fashion, Canadian troops visited the island and left a flag and a bottle of whisky behind to symbolically mark their territory. 

But Denmark’s minister of Greenland quickly replaced Canada’s symbols with a Danish flag, a bottle of Danish schnapps and a note saying “Welcome to the Danish island.”

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Hans ö är en liten obebodd ö som är c a 1,5 km lång och ligger nordväst om Grönland.  Under flera år har Danmark och Kanada haft en dispyt om vilket land som ön egentligen tillhör.  1984 satte Danmarks minister för Grönland, Tom Høyem, upp den danska flaggan på ön och lämnade ett litet meddelande där det stod "Velkommen til den danske ø" tillsammans med en flaska brännvin. Kanada svarade med att istället sätta upp den kanadensiska flaggan, en egen skylt och en flaska kanadensisk whiskey. Sedan dess har de båda länderna periodvis besökt ön för att ta bort det andra landets flagga och lämna en flaska med danskt brännvin eller kanadensisk whiskey. Så krigar trevliga länder. #Hansö #HansIsland #Danmark #Kanada #sprit #whiskey #FriendlyWar #PatriotiskSprit #TrevligtKrig #FriendlyCountries #RoligaFakta


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“Whenever you get people together, especially people who are friends and neighbours and like a drink or two, they come up with ingenious ways of indicating what’s theirs or not,” Alan Kessel, a legal expert with Global Affairs Canada, told CBC News in 2018

The following years were filled with disputes and disagreements as the two countries continued to claim the island as their own. 

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Far in the Arctic North lies the barren and desolate Hans Island. The uninhabited 1.3km square island, possessing no apparent natural resources, is a bizarre sliver of territory for two countries to fight over. However, since the early 1930s, this nondescript rock has been at the center of an ongoing disagreement between Canada and Denmark. According to World Atlas, Hans Island is located in the middle of the 22-mile wide Nares Strait, which separates Greenland, an autonomous territory of Denmark, from Canada. Due to international law, all countries have the right to claim territory within 12 miles of their shore. As such, Hans Island is technically located in both Danish and Canadian waters. The issue of Hans Island then loss traction in popular consciousness and the concerns of the Canadian and Danish governments throughout World War II and the heights of the Cold War, only to reemerge in 1984. On that year, Denmark's minister of Greenland affairs visited the island and planted a Danish flag. At the base of the flag, he Left a note saying "Welcome to the Danish island," along with a bottle of brandy. And since then, the two countries have waged a not-quite-serious "whiskey war" over Hans Island. Although the two countries have continued to disagree over the territorial status of the island, the governments have managed to continue the "whiskey war" and keep a good sense of humor over the incident. So since then, when Danish military go there, they leave a bottle of schnapps. And when Canadian military forces come there, they leave a bottle of Canadian Club and a sign saying 'Welcome to Canada.'" On May 23, 2018, Canada and Denmark announce a Joint Task Force to settle the dispute over Hans Island #war #canada #denmark #canadian #danish #hansisland #country #whiskey #schnapps #canadianclub #military #welcometocanada #welcometodenmark #danemark #whiskeywar #atlas #world #alcohol #militaire #island #ile

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Negotiations between the two countries were reopened in 2005 and several solutions were proposed in the years to come including an agreement to submit the dispute to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, an official statement saying they’d agreed on a process to resolve the conflict and a proposal for Canada and Denmark to split Hans Island right down the middle. 

In 2012, Canada and Denmark officially came to an agreement on the exact border between them, but the issue of Hans Island remained unresolved. 

Most recently, in 2018, Canada and Denmark agreed to create a joint task force made up of lawyers and experts to come up with an official agreement in an attempt to settle the age-old conflict once and for all.


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