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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.

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Hans Island as seen from the air, with Ellesmere Island in the background. Photo credit: Toubletap/Wikimedia

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© Amusing Planet, 2016.


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