Fuzzy Lines on the Map


Stop hogging the headlines, Palestine and Kashmir. Foreign Policy tours the world's forgotten territorial disputes, from the Arctic to the South China Sea.

NEXT: Assigning Blame in the Middle East

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  1. Canada and Denmark…on the brink of war!!!

  2. Hell, there’s only five of them? Send in the troops, natch.

  3. When I was in Ecuador some years ago, I was surprised to see that many of their maps of Ecuador include a significant part of what is usually considered to be Peru. It seems that in the early forties, Ecuador and Peru signed a treaty establishing the border that is generally recognized internationally. Ecuador claims that the treaty was signed under duress and is not valid, and that the territory in question is in fact part of Ecuador.

  4. No Western Sahara?

  5. Amusing sidenote to the China/India border dispute here.

  6. Denmark?s minister for Greenland once left a bottle of Danish schnapps, prompting subsequent Canadian visitors to leave their own beverages as marks of ownership.

    I’ll bet they drank the beverages before “leaving” them.

    That’s how dogs and cats mark their territory after all. 🙂

  7. When I was in Ecuador some years ago, I was surprised to see that many of their maps of Ecuador include a significant part of what is usually considered to be Peru.

    Yes. Every 3 to 5 years or so, they shoot at each other over it. They usually kill between 1 and 10 hapless conscripts on each side, then cooler heads prevail for another 3-5 years.

    Details vary significantly depending on which side you talk to; the Ecuadorian side is that the treaty was indeed signed under duress after Ecuador lost a land-grab war that Peru launched while everybody was distracted by WWII, and it is universally believed in Ecuador that this isn’t fair.

    Without thinking, I once told my Ecuadorian wife that they should probably just face facts that every other country on earth recognizes Peru’s ownership and that they were never going to get it back. Had to sleep on the sofa for a week.


  8. Good Heavens! That Chile/Bolivia dispute is only a few hundred miles from the Peruvian Sand Dune Jesus!

  9. I like the comment about Eritrea’s “allegedly repressive government.” Obviously they were being compared to the liberal democratic paradise that is Ethiopia.

    Incidentally, James Dunnigan wrote a very useful book in the mid-Nineties called “A Quick and Dirty Guide To War,” which helpfully summed up the dozens of open disputes, large and small, that might flare into violence around the world. Some of them were clearly in remission: Canada’s problems with Quebec and its native tribes, for example. Some have since gone hot: Eritrea/Ethiopia was cited as a pretty likely war in the first edition and this turned out to be true.

    If there’s a new edition available it’s a handy reference to future headaches.

  10. Interesting article, but it’s far from complete. In addition to the aforementioned Ecuador and Peru, Spain and Morocco, Greece and Turkey, the UAE and Iran, Japan and China, and Japan and South Korea could all be added to the list of adversaries in diplomatic pissing matches involving one piece of land or another. And I’m sure that I’m forgetting at least a couple.

    P.S. Are the squirrels suffering from another round of acorn indigestion?

  11. Looks like Gandolf to me. Jesus doesn’t wear a pointy hat.

  12. Not sure what it’s like now, but for a long time Indonesian companies had maps on display in their head-offices that had the northern half of Australia and all of Papua New Guinea as part of Indonesia.

  13. Pretty well all of Saudi Arabia’s borders are ‘disputed’, so that’s a potential for war with (reasonably organised) Oman and (bin Laden ancestral homeland filled with lawless qat-chewing bandits) Yemen, for a start.

    And Argentina protests a few times each year to the OAS that the UK is still hanging on to the Falklands, despite Argentina making it very clear indeed that they want them for themselves.

    Spain still wants Gibraltar (British for 300 years, before that Spanish for 200, before that Muslim for about 900, before that Vandal for, say, 300, before that Roman for about 300…)

    And Antarctica is covered in disputed borders, but the Treaty put them all into abeyance, thank heaven.

  14. Don’t forget Japan and Russia bickering over ownership of some benighted little island.

    Denmark has a navy? I’m envisioning a couple of repossessed Cigarette boats and an old fishing trawler…

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