War over a frozen island?

At first glance, it seems like a Saturday Night Live sketch. But, this diplomatic conflict could have been something very serious under different circumstances and involving different countries. Falklands War also known as “Guerra de las Malvinas” comes to mind.

Canada and Denmark agreed in 1973 to create a border through Nares Strait, halfway between Greenland, a semi-autonomous Danish territory, and Canada’s Ellesmere Island. But they were unable to agree which country would have sovereignty over Hans Island , which lies about 1,100 kilometers south of the North Pole, and various other Arctic islands in the area. In the end, they decided to work out the question of ownership later.
The decision has caused friction more than once. In 1984, Denmark’s minister of Greenland affairs raised a Danish flag on the island. He then buried a bottle of brandy at the base of the flagpole and left a note saying "Welcome to the Danish island."

Bill Graham is a Canadian version of Donald Rumsfeld

OTTAWA, July 23 (UPI) – A longstanding dispute between Canada and Denmark over a tiny arctic island deepened this week when Canada’s defense minister set foot on Hans Island.
Bill Graham took the steps onto the island Wednesday in a symbolic move to help stake Canada’s claim to the area when and if the dispute comes to a head, the Toronto Globe and Mail reported Saturday. The newspaper said Canadian military personnel a week earlier had landed on the island that’s only slightly larger than a football field. They planted a Canadian flag and built an Inuit stone marker.

Assortment of fresh danish

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, July 25 (UPI) – A decades-long border dispute between Denmark and Canada has flared up after Ottawa’s Defense minister paid a secret visit to a small island north of Greenland.
After his visit to the island, Minister of Defense Bill Graham said Canada had always regarded it as part of Canadian territory. This remark has caused a stir in Copenhagen, which administers Greenland’s foreign policy.

Oh oh, here she comes

Aug 5, 2005, 12:13
The CBC is reporting that a Danish warship is sailing toward the tiny Arctic island between Canada and Denmark that is the subject of a territorial ownership dispute between those two countries.

Chicken wuss?

Aug. 9 2005 3:33
HALIFAX — The Canadian navy will be showing the flag in the far North this summer, but nowhere near an island at the centre of an international dispute with Denmark.
Defence critics say the voyage of Halifax-based HMCS Glace Bay and HMCS Shawinigan is a missed opportunity to demonstrate sovereignty and reinforce Canada’s claim to Hans Island, a barren, oval-shaped rock that is often dwarfed by neighboring icebergs off northwestern Greenland.

Chicken wuss 2?

16 august 2005 09:58
A Danish navy ship on a routine visit to the region had planned to drop men ashore on Hans Island to replace the torn flag, but Møller said in the column in the Berlingske Tidende newspaper “we will not set foot on Hans Island.”
Møller also said he and Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew intend to discuss the dispute over Hans Island next month on the sidelines of a foreign ministers gathering at the United Nations.
“Denmark does not want to derail talks in advance by getting into a ‘flag war’,” Møller wrote, adding that “the only way forward is dialogue and talks.”

Ok. They will split the island. Almost like Cyprus ?
I wonder if both countries will request a UN peacekeeping force to monitor that piece of rock.
And this was my contribution to RPGC educational curriculum – Introduction to Geopolitics :wink:

man, this is OLD news.

What a joke. Nobody in Canada cares and nobody in Denmark cares. Not like any of us could do anything even if we did care; our army consists of three canoes and two BB guns.

Maybe that island has military strategic importance. If a world war comes out, maybe ships going from Europe to Canada have to pass there, and whomever controls the island may have an edge on the ship traffic. It’s the same with that dispute between Morroco and Spain or France on that island by the entrance of the Mediterranean Sea, or the Folklands which were important in controlling passage of ships from the South Atlantic to the South Pacific.


The Falklands/Malvinas thing was, from my side, an attempt from the military to regain the people’s trust after years of dictatorship. Kind of “Well, they all hate us, let’s retake some of our territory from the brits to appear macho again”. Needless to say that it went like crap thanks to that moron we had for president, but the strategic position was not an issue for us as we were in even better position from the mainland. It is obviously a convenient post for England, but I think it also gives them the right to attempt to claim a portion of the Antarctic territory seeing as you need to have some sort of geographic connection to try.

Or maybe they’re hoping oil will be discovered there like that island China and Japan are fighting over.

I heard it is actually Zombie Island, completely inhabited by the walking dead. Both countries are fighting over it because they are doing research into an all-zombie military squad.

Thats the word on the streets.

Yo, it’s the size of a <b>football field</b>. What are you gonna do, stuff a generator and maybe a TENT on it?

One should note that geologists suppose there are oil deposists as large as 50bn bbl around the island - Reserves larger than those of USA and China combined. No wonder why Britain wants to keep it.

I’m telling you…


US or Canadian football? That’s like a good 20 yard difference. Or something thereabout.

10 yards difference.



Hah. That gave me a chuckle. Thanks, Cid. XD

I actually stole it from a rabbi I had teaching me in grade 9. He was a bit of a character. :sunglasses:

2 BB guns? Since when did the Canadian military believe in guns? We usually go in after the fighting is done, and if we see anything suspicious, we run like hell and let the Americans start their rampage again.

Each nation should send their most elite football team to the island and settle this matter with an athletic contest.

Seems like yesterday:

16 august 2005 09:58
but Møller said in the column in the Berlingske Tidende newspaper “we will not set foot on Hans Island.”
But it ain’t over till the fat lady sings. The question is, will it be Ginette Reno or this lady singing their national anthem on the island.



The island’s importance might be limited right now, but Canadian oil companies have been conducting tests in the area to establish whether there are any deposits. The island might also gain significance in the future if global warming causes surrounding ice fields to melt, thus creating new shipping routes around the island.