The Whiskey War: For Three Decades, Denmark And Canada Have Been Engaged In The Most Futile And Most Playful Of “Conflicts”

The “whiskey war” isn’t a war that you’ll read about in any history book anytime soon, the reason being that it’s a territorial dispute between Denmark and Canada and is played out in the most frivolous and most good-humoured of fashions. Since 1984, the two countries have embarked upon a childish, futile endeavour to claim rightful ownership of Hans Island, a 1.3km² knoll in the centre of the Kennedy Channel which is uninhabited and has no natural resources whatsoever.

Every few months, each country returns to Hans Island, plants its national flag and proceeds to leave bottles of liquor for the enemy. (In Denmark’s case, bottles of schnapps or brandy are left; in Canada’s case, bottles of Canadian whiskey are left.) Technically speaking, Denmark was the first to wage war upon the other: in 1984, it arrived at the island, planted a Danish flag and left a bottle of brandy and a note which read “Welcome to the Danish island”. This has been going on for 30 years. Thus far, there have been no casualties but a plethora of drunken soldiers.

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