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Long Live, Whiskey War: Hans Island, Canada/Greenland 📍
Bottles of booze in the middle of a decades-old border dispute (📍Bonkers Borders Series)
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Long Live, Whiskey War!
Hans Island, Canada / Greenland
»Update!!: the dispute was resolved in June 2022, update at end!
As you may have learned from past posts, countries have a knack for fighting over small barren islands in the middle of nowhere – it’s like their favorite kind of border dispute. Rocks and sandbars can start wars, but for Canada and Greenland, they’ve been duking it with booze.
The border between Canada and Greenland, which is part of Denmark, is a long stretch of icy water. In 1973, the two countries agreed to exactly 127 points that were smack in the middle from each coast. Then they drew lines connecting those points, and voila… border! (first time by computer!).
BUT they left out one line - between point 122 and point 123. Why? Because there’s a small rocky island there c alled Hans Island, and while everyone was fine drawing lines in the water, no one wanted to get into it about a rock.
But no biggie, nothing much going on at the island, and Canada and Denmark politely cooperated on any issues in the area.
Until... and this is where different sides tell somewhat different stories… in 1980s, a man from Greenland runs into a man from Canada wearing a Hans Island hat. He finds out that the Canadian was doing research on the island for a Canadian oil company, which the Danish knew nothing about (and the Canadians denied knowing also). And there goes polite cooperation.
Its unclear who struck first, but the Danish minister for Greenland went to the rock, planted a Danish Flag and left a bottle of Danish schnapps. The Canadians reciprocated by planting their own flag and leaving a bottle of Canadian Club.
Apparently, it is now tradition to leave a bottle of a national beverage when anyone from each country visits.
From time to time, the issue flares up, and Canada and Denmark have been in talks to settle it. They’ve discussed splitting it down the middle and also jointly sharing it. Im sure its crossed both nations minds that with the icy waters thawing, that rock in the middle of nowhere may someday hold more than just booze.
»UPDATE!! 6/14/2022: Hans Island Dispute is Over!
BREAKING NEWS: which you don’t get to say often when you talk about maps… The 50-year Whiskey War between Canada and Greenland? Turns out they ended it YESTERDAY.
The Foreign ministers of Canada and Denmark announced on Tuesday that they finally reached an agreement on who owns Hans Island. They’re going to split it down the middle.
That’s actually an amazing deal bc it gives both Canada and Denmark a brand new land border with more than just one country. AND it connects Canadian land directly to the European Union.
Apparently, the timing of the announcement was to show that territorial disputes can be settled peacefully, even as others rage on in conflict.
If you’ve heard about this saga, you’ll be pleased to know that the two countries traded liquor again one last time to mark the end to one of the weirdest and nicest border disputes on record.
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