Apparently, Santa Was Not Consulted
One of the biggest geographical battles of recent memory has revolved around the oil-rich, polar-bear-infested, ice-melting home of Kris Kringle, the Arctic Ocean (and, more specifically, who gets to call dibs on the potential oil and gas deposits located therein). Every country with even the slightest possibility of a claim to the top of the globe has come out swinging, in some cases even planting flags on the seabed in the hopes of claiming "finders keepers".
Some countries, like Canada and Russia, have very legitimate claims to the Pole - they do, indeed, own the vast majority of coastline surrounding the Arctic Ocean. Other countries, such as Denmark/Greenland, Norway and the United States, can lay claim to some small portion of the disputed area in one form or another. There's also the argument of Law of the Sea, which only allows each country a 200 nautical mile claim outwards from their coastlines, which leaves vast swaths of the Arctic technically unclaimable.
This week, the normally docile Canadian Parliament got all uppity with Russia, and insisted that their claim to the Lomonosov Range - an underwater mountain range that physically connects the roofs of these two countries - is more valid than that of their Eastern (Northern? Over-The-Top?) counterparts.
With all the melting ice, opening sea passages and continually annoyed polar bears, it's hard to say who will emerge victorious in this kerfluffle, but one thing is certain - we have some shiny maps to consider. Here's Canada's somewhat optimistic outlook:
And another from Russia's also rose-colored viewpoint:
Here's a juicy, confusing map that makes the whole situation clear as mud:
(Link to the original Durham University paper on the whole mess)
Another one from the BBC that clears things up a tiny little bit:
One thing is for certain in all this: a whole lot of people in a whole lot of countries are going to be getting coal in their stockings this holiday season:
The North Pole on Cartophilia