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. Jon

    Why do they have to appeal to anyone for the land.....I thought you just run up there plant a flag and call it good. Eddie Izzard anyone?

    May 18, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ian Dooley

      No flag no country. Those are the rules that . . . I just . . . made up!

      May 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      No It belongs to Puerto Rico

      May 19, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Brad

    Sorry Denmark, however Canada has Ice-Breakers armed with high powered machine guns guarding our section of the North Pole. Hands off!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • joseelr

      Absolutely right – the f 35's will be parked up in the arctic – belongs to CANADA.....

      May 18, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Curtis Matthews

    The land should be shared among the border holders.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. DoctorDave

    North pole, south pole, equator. Who cares? Those are just a mere bag of shells. We claim the whole CORE!

    May 18, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JK

    That's nice. People are buying plots of lands on the moon from some guy who's collecting tens of thousands of dollars for each plot. The government says they can't stop him, but I have yet to see anyone be able to prove they own the moon. The only flag I know of on the moon belongs to the USA.

    May 18, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • OZZY

      NO, wrong again! Russia put the FIRST flag on the moon years before little america.

      May 19, 2011 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
    • chuckycheeze

      yeah but little unmanned space probes don't count. a person had to actually be there. and i think we all know where that leaves the russkies (FAIL)

      May 19, 2011 at 4:11 am | Report abuse |
  6. Carl, Secaucus, NJ

    I think that Thor movie went to their heads.

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

    Preferably divided between each country that lies directly below (degree angle between start to end of the land mass directly below)

    May 18, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • OZZY

      So Russia will own way more than half? Allright!

      May 19, 2011 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  8. Cricket

    Soooo...the Country of Cricket is going to lay claim on my next-door neighbor's new Camaro.

    Hey, I'm Danish, I can do that, right?

    May 18, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. me!me!me!

    Now that Denmark wants to take the North Pole, I all of a sudden want the US to annex the North Pole! I know it's basically a bunch of ice and below freezing temperatures but I wouldn't want all of that paradise going to any other country!

    May 18, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. twalk

    Santa Claus has ownership of the North Pole. I thought everyone knew that.

    May 19, 2011 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Saluki94

      Santa may reside there, but he does not have representation in the UN. I wonder if the Danes will evict him... 🙁

      May 19, 2011 at 2:11 am | Report abuse |
    • DrumDoctorD

      Santa was shot down over the Bering Strait in 1974.

      Rudolph won't be dropping any "nuggets" on anyone's house ever again.

      May 19, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. candy cane

    Someone is going on the naughty list! A lump of of coal for DENMARK.

    May 19, 2011 at 3:27 am | Report abuse |
  12. Something is Rotten in Denmark

    This article is rotten! Not one single Hamlet reference! At least not one that I recognized. Where did this Kavanuagh guy go to Journalism school? What good is an article about Denmark without a Hamlet reference??? It's enough to harrow up thy soul!

    May 19, 2011 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
  13. Cricket

    You do realize that Hamlet is a work of fiction, right? Lol
    Everybody knows Santa and Mrs. Claus have ownership of the North Pole!

    Silly Great Danes.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Blake

    So now Santa is going to be a Denmark citizen. Interesting. Well as long as this doesn't affect my Christmas loot, I am O.K!

    May 19, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • DrumDoctorD

      Nah it wont affect your Christmas at all.

      You will still get nothing and like it 😉

      May 19, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Cricket


    Not another conspiracy theory!
    What proof do you have?

    *Runs sobbing from the room*

    May 19, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
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