On my way back from Spain yesterday I was reading The Economist about territorial claims on Antarctica:
“Last month Britain said that—in what was just a routine piece of “legal book-keeping”, or so diplomats said—it was preparing a claim to an economic zone off the coast of Antarctica stretching up to 350 nautical miles from the land mass that it already regards as British.”
They included this useful little map:
… which got me wondering about which other countries might also lay claim to a slice of Antarctica based on their having un-restricted southern passage across open seas to the continent. Playing around with Pierre Gorissen‘s excellent Latitude and Longitude finder , some basic MS Excel skills shaken up with a bit of Gimp gave me this (click to view full size):
It turns out that there are 47 countries that might have some sort of claim on Antartica on the basis that they have south facing coastline with direct cross ocean access to the Antarctic. Unexpected results – include the surprising news (to me at least) that Somalia, Yemen and Oman could make claims – as well as Iran who (I suspect) might be tempted to set up an “Icelamic Republic” (sorry I couldn’t resist that one).
(N.B: I didn’t include lots of small islands – like the French islands in the Southern Ocean, the Andaman Islands, Hawaii and the Galapagos).
There is a whole article on Wikipedia about Antarctic territorial claims; which says “[Brazil] … has proposed a theory to delimiting territories using meridians, which would give territories to Argentina, Uruguay, Peru and Ecuador too” – it doesn’t mention Senegal, Togo, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia or Greenland. Here is a quote from one of the maps on the Wikipedia page:
Twenty-one of the 28 Antarctic consultative nations have made no claims to Antarctic territory (although Russia and the USA have reserved the right to do so) and they do not recognise the claims of other nations.
You can download the data as a Tab delimited text file which is published under a Creative Commons cc-by-sa license with an GPAC addendum (Give Peace A Chance). This means that if you do use the data I have collected you have to promise not to use it as a justification for war.