• In a distant part of the Arctic, there is a whisp of land that’s topic to protracted battle over possession.
  • There’s not a lot to say about Hans Island, however the debate between Canada and Denmark over who it belongs to stands out as considered one of historical past’s most well mannered disputes.
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Conflict over land is as previous as recorded historical past, however the world has by no means seen one other fairly just like the Whisky War. Wars have been fought, violently and constantly, over the rights to territories throughout the globe. In the case of Hans Island, nonetheless, the 2 international locations at odds had a special approach of staking their declare.

If you’ve got by no means heard of Hans Island, it is most likely as a result of, properly, there’s not that a lot to say about it. The half-square-mile island sits instantly in the midst of the Nares Strait, a 22-mile-wide waterway that separates essentially the most northern land of Canada, Ellesmere Island, and Greenland, an autonomous Denmark territory.

Hans Island itself lacks any actual pure assets or territorial benefits. It’s primarily an enormous rock, and the one factor that retains perpetuating the possession debate is the truth that it sits inside the 12-mile territorial restrict of each Canada and Greenland, making it shut sufficient that every nation concerned can declare it below worldwide regulation.

It began in 1880, when Hans Island bought misplaced within the shuffle of the British transferring remaining arctic territories to Canada. Due to using predominantly outdated, Sixteenth-century maps, the small island was not explicitly included within the switch, and as such wasn’t even acknowledged till many years later.


In 1933, Greenland was declared the rightful proprietor of Hans Island, by the satirically named Permanent Court of International Justice. This group was dissolved inside just a few years of this choice and successfully changed with the UN, and the aforementioned possession decision was deemed now not legitimate, so Hans was as soon as once more up for grabs.

Both World War II and the Cold War took priority over extra trivial conversations, and even after a maritime border negotiation within the early Seventies, the territory nonetheless sat simmering on the again burner.

The finest a part of the historical past of Hans Island is available in 1984, when Canadian troops visited the island and left behind one thing distinct to the Great White North, an erected Canadian flag, an indication that learn “Welcome to Canada” and a bottle of Canadian Club whisky.

Not wanting to indicate up empty-handed to the social gathering, Greenland’s minister took a visit to the island quickly after, eradicating and changing all of the Canadian choices with their very own flag, a bottle of Danish schnapps, and an indication that learn “Velkommen til den danske ø” or “Welcome to the Danish Island.”

And thus started the primary chapter of one of the crucial neighborly and hospitable disputes (or elaborate consuming video games) in historical past, generally known as The Whisky War. Since then, there have been continued journeys by each side to gather and substitute the opposite social gathering’s items, and whereas what occurs to the alcohol when it is taken off the island has by no means been confirmed, the idea is somebody is on the market having fun with it.

In more moderen years, each Canadian and Danish representatives have referred to as for the island to be declared a shared sovereignty, nevertheless it stays unclear if and when any official decision to the Whisky War has been reached. Lawmakers have even cited this ongoing discourse as setting an attention-grabbing precedent or subsequently having ramifications for border negotiations, significantly worldwide ones.

All in all, few issues make for a greater story than two allied international locations combating a battle over land for greater than three many years with welcome indicators and booze.

Editor’s Note: While the phrase “whiskey” is usually spelled with an “E” previous the “Y” within the United States, the “E” is notably absent from the phrase in nations like Canada, the place this story takes place. There really is an outlined distinction between the phrases, however colloquially, they’re usually used interchangeably.