Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The ‘Whiskey War’ of Hans Island

In the remote north of the Atlantic Ocean, right on the edge of the freezing waters of the Arctic Ocean, lies a tiny speck of an island. Named after a 19th century Greenlandic Arctic traveller, the half-square-mile Hans Island is as barren as any uninhabited island could ever be —a flat, exposed rocky knoll with no vegetation and no apparent natural resources. Yet, this nondescript piece of rock has been at the center of a territorial dispute between Canada and Denmark that has been raging for nearly half a century.

Hans Island lies in the middle of the Nares Strait, a 22-mile-wide channel of water that separates Canada from Greenland, an autonomous territory of Denmark. International law dictates that all countries have the right to claim territory within 12 miles of their shore. This puts Hans Island in both Danish and Canadian waters.


  1. So, why is it called the Whiskey War? Saw no explanation for that in the article. I know it has to do with the fact that both sides keep leaving bottles of whiskey there when they go to the island to "reclaim" it from the other side. But since that is the title of the article it probably would have been a good idea to include an explanation of why it is called that.

    1. Each year as the two countries complete their survey of the island, they remove the others flag and put up thier own. As a sign of good gesture, humor, good will and friendship, the country that removes the others flag, leaves a bottle of thier countries best whiskey for the other.