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01 Canada vs USA

A fishy business

There are several maritime disputes between the US and Canada. They include the Beaufort Sea, which holds the possibility of oil and gas reserves, as well as the Portland Canal, Dixon Entrance, and the islets of North Rock and Machias Seal Island on the west coast. Lobster stocks are cited in some of the disputes.

02 Belize

Call in the judge

The UK granted Belize independence in 1981, though Guatemala, despite recognising this in 1991, has laid claim to it. Fighting in recent years between the Belize Defence Force and Guatemalans led to a conference that discussed taking the case to the International Court of Justice for a final ruling.

03 Rockall

Rock and a hard place

Annexed by the UK in 1955, this desolate islet in the North Atlantic has a surrounding continental shelf, known as the Rockall Basin, where two discoveries of oil deposits have prompted territorial claims from Ireland, Iceland and Denmark. A conference in Dublin in 2009 is expected to bring about a resolution.

04 Ceuta and Melilla

Spain wants Moor

These enclaves in Morocco have been under Spanish control since the 1400s. King Juan Carlos II made the first state visit to these towns for 30 years in 2007, which led to the Moroccan ambassador being recalled from Madrid. The Moroccans want the Spanish to get out, but that seems unlikely.

05 Elemi Triangle

Resorting to force

This territory between Kenya, Sudan and Ethiopia is run by Kenya but the area was never accurately demarcated by the colonial powers. The Ethiopian and Sudanese governments have tried to “settle the dispute” by giving arms to various tribes and border villages. No talks are planned, so it will continue to simmer.

06 Shatt al-Arab

In deep water

The changing coastline and therefore ever moving border in Shatt al-Arab, a historically contentious waterway between Iraq and Iran, led to the capture of 15 British sailors and Marines by Iranian forces in March 2007. They were taken captive for an alleged incursion into the Iranian side – a claim they denied.

07 Kashmir

Three against one

After three wars and countless skirmishes, India and Pakistan have still yet to settle the conflict over Kashmir. An estimated 68,000 people have been killed since 1989, and negotiations in July 2006 were unsuccessful. Meanwhile China has its eyes on the Siachen glacier and Aksai Chin area.

08 Preah Vihear Temple

Unholy war

In 1962 the ICJ declared the Preah Vihear Temple on the Thailand-Cambodia border to be part of Cambodia. Thailand has striven to lay claim to the surrounding land. In 2008, the listing of the temple as a Cambodian UNESCO World Heritage Site led to a violent clash between the two countries.

09 The Spratly Islands

Fuel to the flames

These fish-rich waters around these South China Sea islands also have possible deposits of oil and gas. They are claimed wholly or in part by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines. The work of Chinese and Vietnamese oil companies in the area has brought the issue close to boiling point.

10 Liancourt Rocks

Korea dunks its donut

Known as Dokdo to South Korea and Takeshima to Japan, this dispute between the two nations constitutes the main reason for them never bringing a formal end to Second World War hostilities. South Korean forces have occupied Dokdo since 1954, and the country claims a historical connection to the islets. The surrounding sea is rich in stocks of squid and octopus. Many Koreans apparently feel strongly about the issue, and in August, Dunkin’ Donuts’ Korean branches sold T-shirts to publicise the territorial claim







  • The Pacific Shift