The dispute over Hans øy: – The “whisky war” ends after 50 years

In the Kennedy Channel, between Greenland and Ellesmere Island, is a small, oblong, barren island about 1.3 square kilometers in size. The island is named after the Greenlandic guide Hans Hendriksen Suersvaag, and

Normally, it is only possible to get there by boat, be careful if the summer is mild. Given the limited arrival options and modest size, the island might not seem like a talking point.

But for 50 years, it is the geographical location of the island that has created a gap between Denmark and Canada.

The parties were unable to decide who had ownership, and this manifested in highly unconventional and friendly warfare.

Left flags and schnapps

The dispute over Hans øy dates back to 1973. Hans øy is located on the maritime border between Denmark and Canada, and neither geologists nor hydrographers have agreed on a boundary agreement.

The “war” between the two otherwise very peaceful countries resulted in what has been called the “Whiskey War”.

It all started when the Danish Minister for Greenland in 1984 left behind a bottle of schnapps and a sign that read “Welcome to the Danish island”. Since then soldiers have visited the island, planted a Danish or Canadian flag – and left behind a bottle of fire water.

Rocky Maldonado

"Hardcore coffee specialist. Unable to type with boxing gloves on. Devoted internetaholic."

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