The map above is a more accurate reflection of the economic territory of each of the world’s countries. It includes not only land and territorial waters but also Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), which extend up to 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) off a country’s coast.
Exclusive Economic Zones give countries the exclusive right to develop resources within them and can be used for anything, including offshore wind farms, natural gas and oil extraction and/or access to finishing grounds.
The concept is a relatively recent one, only having been agreed to in 1982 at the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea. Previously, territorial waters, which are defined as extending up to 12 nautical miles (22km) off a country’s coast, had been used as the basis for economic activity.
The result is that countries with long coastlines such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Indonesia, and the United Kingdom, among others, gain access to even more territoriality and resources.
The flag map below gives you an easy idea how much has been gained:
The situation is especially pronounced if you look at small island nations and territories such as the British Indian Ocean Territory, Bermuda, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, French Polynesia and Pitcairn Island, just to name a few.
Of course, the world’s landlocked countries, such as Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, do not get any additional territory from these agreements.
The other interesting thing to look at is what happens when EEZ overlap. In these cases the border has to be split (usually down the middle). That means bodies of water such as the Mediterranean, North Sea, and Caribbean Sea are completely full.
To learn more about this issue we recommend the following books:
- Law of Sea & Exclusive Economic Zone
- The Oxford Handbook of the Law of the Sea
- The Law of the Sea: An Historical Analysis of the 1982 Treaty and Its Rejection by the United States
- Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific
What do you think of the map above? Are EEZ fair or not? Leave your comments below: