After Hans Island was left out of a border agreement, a curious conflict erupted over the uninhabited island. Canada and Denmark have now reached a peaceful agreement.

Denmark and Canada have ended nearly 50 years of conflict and created a land border on an island disputed between the two countries.

Hans Island in the far north between Canada and Greenland has employed 26 Canadian foreign ministers over the past half century, Canada’s chief diplomat Mélanie Joly said at a ceremony in Ottawa along with Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod and Greenland Prime Minister Múte B. Egede.

The historical compromise is about the small, uninhabited Hans Island, which was left out of a border agreement in 1973. After that, the countries claimed the barren rock with no known raw materials as their property. This led to a curious ritual for a few years: With every expedition to the 1.3 square kilometer small island about 1100 kilometers south of the North Pole, the flag of the other country was removed and one’s own was hoisted. At the same time, the other was left with a bottle of typical local schnapps: the “whisky war” was born.

“I think it was the friendliest of all wars,” said Secretary of State Joly. In view of Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, she emphasized the importance of peaceful settlement in a border dispute: “We know that we can work together diplomatically to resolve disputes based on rules and principles.” Foreign Minister Kofod added: “Diplomacy and the rule of law actually work.” After signing the agreement, they exchanged two bottles of liquor.

The arctic island of Greenland belongs to the Danish kingdom. It is largely self-governing, but the Danes are responsible for foreign and defense policy.