Denmark and Canada will share Hans Island, a small, uninhabited Arctic island, settling a nearly 50-year ownership dispute in a primarily symbolic gesture of diplomacy meant to minimize tensions in the high North.
Since 1971, when their competing claims were made public, the two NATO allies have been engaged in a relatively amicable battle over the island, which is located roughly halfway between Greenland and Canada’s Ellesmere Island.
Greenland is a self-governing region of the Kingdom of Denmark. It delegated several policy areas, notably foreign and security policy, to Copenhagen.
The island was named after Greenlandic explorer Hans Hendrik, who took part in the island’s initial voyage in 1853. Tartupaluk, which translates to “kidney-shaped,” is the name in Greenlandic.
Neither country was aware of the other’s claim to the island until a bilateral meeting to discuss territorial borders was conducted in 1971.
In 2018, the two nations agreed to form a collaborative working group to settle the issue, putting an end to their decades-long “agree to disagree” stance. Following parliamentary approval, the agreement will be formally signed by ministers from both nations.