The map map above shows all countries (in red) that have territorial disputes with at least one other country. Those in white have no ongoing territorial disputes. The data used for the map came from Wikipedia’s List of territorial disputes.
A few of the more interesting disputes include:
- Canada and the US have disputed claims over: Machias Seal Island, North Rock, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Dixon Entrance, Portland Canal the Beaufort Sea and disputes over navigation in the Northwest Passage.
- The US also has disputes with the following countries:
- Tokelau over Swains Island.
- The Marshall Islands over Wake Island
- Colombia, Nicaragua and Jamaica over Bajo Nuevo Bank
- Colombia, Honduras and Nicaragua over Serranilla Bank
- Haiti over Navassa Island
- Canada also has a dispute with Denmark over Hans Island
- The United Kingdom, due to it’s former Empire, has disputes all over the world including with:
- Mauritius over the Chagos Archipelago
- Ireland over the Carlingford Lough and Lough Foyle boundaries
- Spain over Gibraltar
- Argentina over Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
- Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and Cyrpurs over Strovilia border checkpoint
- Similar to the UK, France also has its fair share of international disputes stemming from its days as an imperial power, including with:
- Madagascar and Comoros over Banc du Geyser
- Madagascar over Bassas da India, Europa Island and Juan de Nova Island
- Comoros over Mayotte
- Mauritius and Seychelles over Tromelin Island
- Vanuatu over Matthew and Hunter Islands
- Italy over Mont Blanc summit
- Suriname over French Guiana west of the Marouini River
- Germany, Austria and Switzerland have no formal border in Lake Constance, although no formal dispute or conflict exists
- Russia has disputes with: Japan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Taiwan.
- However, the People’s Republic of China takes the cake when it comes to disputes it has them with the following countries: Taiwan (ROC), North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Bhutan, India, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei.
Countries that do not have any international territorial disputes unsurprisingly include island nations such as Australia, New Zealand and and Sri Lanka along with several surprises including Mexico, and many countries in Eastern Europe and many countries in Central Africa.
Update: November 28, 2015
Max Galka, who’s maps showing the Population of the Metro Tokyo Area Compared To US Cities we featured back in September, has just gotten in touch with an interactive map explaining the the world’s territorial disputes in more detail:
You can click on the map above to be taken directly to the interactive version or read Max’s article that looks at 6 of the most interesting / surprising / bizarre territorial disputes.
- The Kuril Islands: The reason Japan and Russia still haven’t signed a peace treaty to end World War II
- Belize: Is there a Belize?
- The Strait of Gibraltar: Spain controls the side attached to Morocco, but not the side attached to Spain
- Rockall Island: Why are three countries fighting over a tiny rock in the middle of the nowhere?
- Arunachal Pradesh: Google Maps’ borders differ depending on who’s looking at them
- Bir Tawil: A territory claimed by noone
Want to learn more about territorial disputes? Here are some recommended books:
- Enduring Territorial Disputes: Strategies of Bargaining, Coercive Diplomacy, and Settlement
- Words or Swords: Russia’s Strategies in Handling its Territorial Disputes
- Territorial Disputes in the South China Sea: Navigating Rough Waters
Know of any other interesting border and/or territorial disputes? Tell us about them in the comment section below:
“Germany, Austria and Switzerland have no formal border in Lake Constance, although no formal dispute or conflict exists”
Contradicting your own title… just sayin’
Mark Seidenberg says
In the Arctic to the North of Siberia lie five islands to which the United States
Government took formal possession between 2 June – 12 August 1881. All five entered the District of Alaska on 17 May 1884, by a resolution of the Alaska Board of the United States Department of the Treasury along with an island that was disputed between the United States Government and the Imperial Russian Government from year 1836 to
that date of 17 May 1884. These six islands were Bennett, Forrester (of the San Carlos Islands), Henrietta, Herald, Jeannette, & Wrangell (formerly known as New Columbia Land).
On 17 December 1883, the United States Supreme Court issued a 9-0 ruling in EX PARTE CROW DOG, which became a concern of United States Senator Benj. Harrison, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Territories, as how it would effect law and order in the Department of Alaska and these five 1881 American Islands to
the North of Siberia. Therefore he organized a meeting that day between himself and Major Ezra W. Clark, Jr, USV(Ret) who was the attorney of the Alaska Board at the United States Department of the Treasury. Ezra Clark also served as the Chief of the United States Revenue Marine (without additional compensation). The Clark River on Wrangell Island in the Arctic Ocean was named in honor of Ezra W. Clark, Jr. That meeting took place in room 41 at the US Capitol.
Harrison directed Clark to draft an organic act for Alaska. The act needed to be able to add territory to the Department of Alaska when creating the District of Alaska. Harrison also wanted to end the territorial dispute with the Imperial Russian Government
that was ongoing from the year 1836, viz., the status of Forrester Island in the
North Pacific. That dispute was ongoing for over 47 years, because Tsar
Paul I claimed a southern limit of 55 degrees North in his Ukase of 1799, and
the only territory South of 55 degrees North transferred to the United States by the Treaty of Washington of 30 March 1867 was Prince of Wales Island.
(That issued was not settled until the London meeting of 1903 between Canada, United Kingdom, & United States.) [ The UK interest in this issue was that it was an Imperial Question.]
On 18 December 1883, Ezra W. Clark, Jr., had the Senate Bill drafted as requested by Senator Harrison. Harrison that day introduced that bill. With an amendment that Bill was signed by President Chester Arthur on
17 May 1884. President Arthur gave Ezra W. Clark, Jr. the Waterman Fountain Pen he signed the bill with.
After that signing Clark walked to the
United States Department of the Treasury and conducted a meeting of the Alaska Board. The Alaska Board also on 17 May 1884, placed these six island into the District of Alaska.
Wrangell Island being the largest of the six islands. It was taken formal possession of on 12 August 1881 by 3rd Lt. William Edward Reynolds, USRM under a sua sponte order from Captain Calvin L. Hooper, USRM. That order was given to Reynolds by 1st Lt. Michael Healy, USRM the EO of the USRM steamer Thomas CORWIN.
[William Edward Reynolds later became the first Rear Admiral of the United States Coast Guard] [Michael Healy was the first American American to be commissioned an officer in any of the Uniformed Services of the United States. Healy was born into slavery in Georgia in 1839 and was still a slave when President Lincoln signed his commission papers in March of 1865.
Healy manumission came in October, 1865] [Hooper later became the first Arctic Advisor at the United States Department of State under a detail order from Senior Captain Shoemaker, USRCS. Hooper also issue a second sua sponte order on 30 December 1898 in Honolulu for the formal possession of Wake Island in the Pacific to Taussig.
Taussig did the formal possession ceremony at Wake Island on 17 January 1899. ]
It was on 2(3) June 1881 that George Wallace Melville at Cape Melville on
Henrietta Island took formal possession of the Jeannette Islands, viz., Henrietta,
Herald, and Jeannette under a 1879 order from the SECNAV. [Melville later became a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy.]
On 29 July 1881, George Washington De Long took formal possession of Bennett Island for the United States Government.
Tom W. says
Belgium has no outside disputes, but the discussion happens inside between the 3 or 4 regions / communities. Federal legislation has settled them too though.
Just curious about what ongoing territorial dispute the Netherlands are in? The data from Wikipedia shows only historical disputes involving the Dutch.
Daniel Tuijnman says
The Netherlands has a dispute with Germany over the sea border in the Dollard (the Ems estuary).
Serbia has a dispute over Kosovo, this wasn’t mentioned. This article also didn’t state that the West Bank and Gaza Strip in Israel are claimed by Palestine.
I disagree the UK and France are much worse than China most of the islands China disputes are empty.
Harley Buffington says
Don’t Peru and Ecuador have a dispute over a bit of land on the equator? Which is why Peru claims to have land on the equator but Ecuador says they don’t
Belize does exist you prick writter! Indepedent from Great Britian since 1981.
Emily Grosvenor says
Geez, settle down. Yes, of course Belize exists. Or maybe that trip I took WAS completely imagined! 🤔
Between Great Britain, France, and Spain. Out of those countries, which two had the most territorial disputes with each other.
Afghanistan has a dispute with Pakistan over the Durrand line. After 9 Anglo Afghan wars fought between Britsh India and Afghanistan a new country was developed as a buffer zone, that Country is now known as Pakistan. However, Pakistan is a a relatively new country compared to others.
Many Afghans do not recognize Pakistans border.
Middle Aged Heretic says
Australia & Timor Leste.
There’s a huge blow up over spying, leaks etc, over oil & gas of course.
England first treaty in its colonies. The maroons of Jamacia. Border dispute
Anon Coward says
“Ireland over the Carlingford Lough and Lough Foyle boundaries”
Understating the dispute, mildly. It’s there in the Irish Constitution:
It is the firm will of the Irish nation, in harmony and friendship, to unite all the people who share the territory of the island of Ireland, in all the diversity of their identities and traditions, recognising that a united Ireland shall be brought about only by peaceful means with the consent of a majority of the people, democratically expressed, in both jurisdictions in the island. Until then, the laws enacted by the Parliament established by this Constitution shall have the like area and extent of application as the laws enacted by the Parliament that existed immediately before the coming into operation of this Constitution.”
There is no such country as the Turkish republic of northern cyprus.
There is the republic of cyprus and the occupied areas.
The occupied areas are not recognised by anyone except Turkey who invaded in 1974.
Can I suggest you actually research things before you publish rubbish.
Claimed (and partially occupied) by the Palestinians, not by Palestine, since there ís no official state of Palestine.
Iran has territorial disputes with UAE over Greater & Lesser Tunb + Abu Musa. These islands were a part of Persia through allegiance of the Sheikhs who controlled them to the Shah of Persia in the 1800s but were taken by the British as part of Trucial States. Right before independence of the Emirates, UK allowed Iran to reoccupy the three islands in exchange for Iran’s cessation of its claims over Bahrain.
Im not putting my name here says
Canada and Denmark ended their dispute over Hans island last year.
Someone Who Reads says
China’s disputes with other countries are tied closely to its tumultuous formation from its transition from a crumbling empire to a republic and then in the formation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. From 1949, China and the Republic of China (Taiwan) held identical claims to lands as they both claimed to be the true representatives of all China. Since then, Taiwan has not resolved any of its territory disputes, while China has been slowly resolving disputes. Therefore, Taiwan is actually the king of territorial disputes.