Why Denmark and Canada are about to share a border

A half-century-long peaceful dispute over an uninhabited island has ended after an agreement was reached between Denmark, Greenland and Canada.

A 2019 aerial photo of Hans Island
A 2019 aerial photo of Hans Island. Photo: Canadian Hydrographic Service And Carleton University/Ritzau Scanpix

The 50-year spat over Hans Island has been resolved after the countries agreed to a partition of the island and the Labrador Sea, which separates Greenland and Canada.

The deal means that the Danish kingdom – of which Greenland is an autonomous territory – will be extended by an area the size of Jutland, Funen and Zealand combined.

Hans Island is a barren island around 1.3 square kilometres in size. Located between Greenland and Canada, it is symbolically significant for both countries.

Talks have been ongoing since a special focus group was appointed in 2018 in an effort to find a solution to the longstanding territorial dispute.

The agreement means a border will run from the north to the south of the island along a ridge, with one half being part of the Danish kingdom and the other Canadian territory.

Should Greenland ever become fully independent from Denmark, the Hans Island area would become part of Greenland, which is itself the world’s largest island.

In addition to partitioning Hans Island, the agreement also fixes a maritime border stretching a distance of 3,882 kilometres from the Lincoln Sea to the Labrador Sea. This border will be the world’s longest sea border and the most northerly part of the Schengen area.

One half of the area separated by the new sea border will also become part of Denmark’s territory.

The agreement was scheduled to be signed by the three countries at a ceremony on Tuesday. It must also be approved by the Danish parliament. This is expected to be a formality.

The dispute over the island has been ongoing since the 1970s but has always been peaceful.

In the 2000s, Denmark asserted its claims to the island on several occasions by raising the Danish flag and leaving a bottle of schnapps. Canada responded by leaving its own flag and a bottle of whisky.

The dispute has not affected the Inuit population of the area, who use the island for navigation purposes. It is known by the Thule people as Tartapaluk, meaning “kidney shaped”, while the name Hans comes from a Greenlandic hunter and expedition leader.

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Denmark will not send representative to Qatar World Cup unless new government in place

Denmark will not send an official representative to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar because it currently only has a caretaker government, an acting minister has confirmed.

Denmark will not send representative to Qatar World Cup unless new government in place

Caretaker minister for culture Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen told news wire Ritzau that no decision would be taken to send an official to Qatar by the acting government.

Denmark held parliamentary elections on November 1st and talks between parties to form the next government are likely to become protracted.

“Focus right now is on forming a new government. In the meantime, Denmark will not be officially represented during the World Cup in Qatar,” Halsboe-Jørgensen said.

The royal family, which follows the line of the government, will likewise not send any representative to Qatar for now, head of communications Lene Balleby told Ritzau.

Last week, Halsboe-Jørgensen told media in Denmark that she did not intend to go to Qatar in her own role as caretaker minister.

That stance applies to all official Danish representation, she has since confirmed.

That means ambassadors and diplomats will not represent Denmark at the controversial tournament unless the situation changes following the formation of a new government.