Hans Island is a small uninhabited, half-square mile of land, located in the center of the Kennedy Channel of Nares Strait, having no apparent natural resources pf oil or natural gas, but still, there is an ongoing territorial dispute between Denmark and Canada over who owns the half-squared mile of the rock.

Flags of Canada and Denmark at Hans Island
A Canadian flag raising on Hans Island in 2005, left, and a Danish flag raising in 2002.Credit…From left: Canadian Department of National Defense, Polfoto

History would have been different if world wars have been fought nicely, just like the fight for Hans Island. Countries, Canada, and Denmark are fighting over Hans Island by leaving each other bottles of alcohol for over 3 decades. This is exactly what happens when two countries fight nicely.

Unlike many other territory conflicts, this one is found in a nice peaceful way, Denmark and Canada both claim this territory of rock by periodically swapping out the flag on the island — along with a fine bottle of whiskey.

Battle Over Hans Island

Hans Island is the part of three islands in Kennedy Channel off the Washington Land coast which includes Franklin Island and Crozier Island. The Island is named after Hands Kendrick, an Arctic traveler and translator.

Hans Island
Hans Island, Wikipedia

Unlike other battles over borders, this one is fought without politics or serious diplomatic implications. The Canadians and Denes take turns placing their flag on the island. The no casualty battle has been going on since 1980, but it gets even odder.

The dispute over Hans Island started in 1933 but got forgotten amid World War II. The dispute rose again in 1984 when during the visit to Hans Island, Danish Minster for Greenland planted the national flag and left a message saying ” “Velkommen til den danske ø”(in Danish) “Welcome to the Danish Island,” along with the message there was a bottle of brandy.


Flag and a bottle of Whiskey

Ever since the battle over Hans Island, the flag on the island is changed periodically changed between Canadian and Danish. Along with the flags, the bottle of Whiskey is also changed. The Canadian leaves a bottle of Canadian Clu and the Denes leave a bottle of schnapps.

The two countries maintain a sense of humor in the dispute, along with flag and bottles, countries leave a message as “Welcome to Canada” or “Welcome to Danish Island”

Negotiations in 2012 between Canada and Denmark, not yet finalized, call for either a condominium or splitting the disputed island’s sovereignty in half. If the island were to be split by a boundary, it would create a second land neighbor for Canada and Denmark, each of which currently only has one, with the United States and Germany respectively. – Wikipedia

On May 23, 2018, Canada and Denmark announced the creation of a Joint Task Force to determine the boundary between Canada and Greenland, including the fate of Hans Island.

Now that you’ve read about this weird battle over an uninhibited island, read about The One-legged Cancer Patient who ran 26 miles a day for 143 consecutive days to raise money for cancer or read about the house that never stopped building over 3 decades Winchester Mystery House.


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