In this celebratory season when most try to spread peace and good-will, I’m focused on disputes. Go figure.
A couple of weeks ago I happened upon something called Territories and other external sub-national regions of the world (johnstonsarchive.net/other/count2b). Compiled by Wm. Robert Johnston and last updated in November of this year, it lists 17 troubled places in the world that are currently “disputed”. Two are apparently wanted by no one, and I’ve previously written about part of Antarctica & the Bir Tawil Triangle, the only areas on the entire planet that are completely unclaimed.
A maphead like Ken Jennings,when I first studied them, I realized that I knew only two of the 17 disputed territories somewhat well-Turkish Cyprus & South Ossetia. The others I had zero knowledge about.
South Ossetia made international news in spring, 2012. Russia recognizes its independence as a nation. South Ossetia’s president, in fact, is a former KGB official. The problem? It’s within Georgia’s borders. Trouble ahead.
The northern third of the island of Cyprus is claimed by Turkey. However, only Turkey accepts this. The international community of nations considers it occupied territory, hence disputed. Among other considerations for travelers since it isn’t recognized, all flights, even charters, must first touch down in Turkey before proceeding on to Northern Turkey. Since the International Air Transport Association doesn’t quite recognize it, it has an airport code, ECN for Ercan International Airport (ECN), but it’s not officially listed. Ruth & I have a good friend who was born on Cyprus and goes back as often as she can. For what it’s worth, Jane, who is well-traveled, considers Cyprus her favorite travel destination. Trouble ahead.
Four Antarctic claims–Argentina’s, Australia’s, Great Britain’s, and Chile’s–are listed as disputed. When I have relevant facts, I’ll report on this.
The other 12 disputed areas include 7 places where no one lives–Adelie Land, Ashmore & Cartier Islands, the Paracel Islands, Peter I Island, Queen Maud Land, Ross Dependency, and the Spratly Islands. Part of Antarctica, Adelie is claimed by France, but most countries have not recognized its claim. Ashmore is a reef administered by Australia that has no permanent dry land area. Cartier has only offshore anchorage. The Paracels are a bunch of islands almost exactly between Vietnam and the People’s Republic of China. Both claim sovereignty. Oil reserves and fishing rights are unsettled. Trouble ahead.
The remaining 5 disputed places–Western Sahara, Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabahk, Transnistria, and South Ossetia–are home to almost 1,500,000 people. Abkhazia sees itself as an independent state on the east coast of the Black Sea. However, only 6 nations, like Vanuatu, recognize it. The rest of the world considers it part of Georgia. Trouble ahead.
So, what is a seasonal connection? Christmas is at least partially a time of love that erases a year of disputes and misunderstandings with a heartfelt gift exchange and lots of cookies. So, Merry Christmas out there. Now, like me, go into the kitchen and enjoy an oatmeal, pecan, and raisin cookie, or your seasonal favorite.