Report: Denmark to lay claim to North Pole
The summer sun sheds light on an iceberg near the town of Ilulissat, Greenland.
May 18th, 2011
12:09 PM ET

Report: Denmark to lay claim to North Pole

The Kingdom of Denmark is preparing to claim ownership of the North Pole, according to a Danish media report.

In a document leaked to the Danish newspaper Information, Denmark will ask the United Nations to recognize the North Pole as a geologic extension of Greenland, the vast Arctic island that is a Danish territory. Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen confirmed the annexation attempt, Information reported.

According to The Copenhagen Post, "The kingdom is expected to make a demand for the continental shelf in five areas around the Faroe Islands and Greenland, including the North Pole itself."

Denmark has set its sights on the geographic North Pole, a fixed point in the Arctic Ocean at 90 degrees north latitude and 0 degrees longitude. The magnetic north pole, the one your Cub Scout compass points to, is near there but moves around all the time as Earth's magnetic field shifts, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

Five countries - Canada, Denmark (via Greenland), Norway, Russia and the United States (via Alaska) - have coasts on the Arctic Ocean, but none has ever claimed ownership of the pole. Working under a United Nations mandate, high-ranking diplomats have met several times to work out a plan for mutually acceptable boundaries.

"We are in the middle of an important and civilized process of how to usefully manage the last area in the world not owned by anyone," Greenland President Kuupik Kleist told Information. "... If we did not, we would leave it to those who have already filed claims, or who will do it. It is therefore a must that Denmark is preparing claims."

It's unclear how the claim will go over with the other Arctic countries, but initial reactions have been mild.

Despite longstanding Russian interest in the region, at least one Russian media outlet was sanguine about Denmark's approach.

"This fits in well into the contemporary international law regime of the Arctic," Vassily Gutsulyak, an expert with the Institute of State and Law in the Russian Academy of Sciences, said in an interview with The Voice of Russia.

Although the Danish document downplays the economic potential of its proposed claim, the Voice of Russia said the region holds vast reserves of gas and oil, as well as such minerals as coal, gold, copper, nickel, tin and platinum. Climate change also promises to open useful shipping routes across the Arctic, it said.

A Canadian expert greeted the news with enthusiasm.

"This is a positive development because Denmark ... is working in a framework of international law," University of British Columbia (Canada) professor Michael Byers told Postmedia News. "It is exactly how these matters are supposed to be resolved."

However, not all Canadians are willing to let the pole go without a fight. A tongue-in-cheek editorial on the online forum The Mark said:

"We'll be damned if we let those no-good, well-dressed, soft-spoken, architecturally inclined, generally peaceable Danes get away with it."

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Filed under: Canada • Climate change • Denmark • Earth • Energy • North Pole • Norway • Russia • U.S.
soundoff (195 Responses)
  1. yeah

    i just made a large island in a small pool and I claim that as my own

    May 18, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • v

      is it brown and odorous?

      May 18, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • yeah

      well it sure doesn't smell like flowers

      May 18, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jondoe888

    As prophesied in the bible, this is the last straw, allowing the 5-21 deadline to end the world.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugo

      What bible are you reading? Scientology? Gimme a break.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jamie

      I'm pretty sure that was a joke, Hugo.

      May 18, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Doomguy

      @hugo – Only if he thinks volcano worship is next

      May 18, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Samantha

      lmao Hugo.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Chuck Steak

    Will that make Santa Claus Danish?!

    May 18, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Samantha

      Damn thats a good question Chuck.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brainy Yak

      I thought Santa Claus already was Danish. Or maybe he just eats a lot of Danish? Very confusing.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. yooper

    I always forget about Greenland. Maybe that would be a good place to live. No Lindsay Lohan, "tot-mom" or Newt.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ted

    Now they will declare Santa Clause a Danish citizen and he will need a passport to enter the U.S. OR will he enter illegaly like almost everyone else.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jazzzzzzzzzz

    Beautiful picture , Awwww

    May 18, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bill

    On a separate piece of breaking news: Denmark itself was turned into rubbles within minutes like any insignificant and useless nation would be for making claim like this.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff

    no, Santa is Norse and goes by his other name of Odin

    May 18, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • yeah

      thor was awesome

      May 18, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TC364

    "Yo Ding bats" Santa is from Turkey.. before posting get the history 🙂

    May 18, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Amstrup

    I hold great respect for the danes.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Blarneystoned

    Thats fine............. when it all melts and floods everyone out we know who to sue for damages!!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Steve

    Can someone explain why, just now, someone NEEDS to OWN the north pole?

    May 18, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Doomguy

      Undersea drilling and mining are possible in the 21st century. By the way, welcome to the future.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JJ

    Not a bad move by the Danes, especially when you consider there are supposedly 90 billion barrels of oil in the arctic shelf. Somehow, I doubt that they will be allowed to simply annex all of that valuable land.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Gonzoaster11

    What does it matter? The North Pole isn't an actual landmass, but just a giant block of ice, meaning it'll just be gone a couple decades down the way anyway.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Samantha

    The only bad thing I can see coming out of anyone making a claim on that area is restricting climate research that many countries do there. It would suck if important environmental research is suddenly hampered by paperwork and/or legal issues entering the area. There must be some reason they want it though. Hmm.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
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