Territorial disputes vary in intensity, from the militarised to the dormant and those under legal review. Many go unheard of for years before they are thrust back into the limelight. Here is a look at the border melees that get the least attention.
Violent border conflicts in Chechnya, Kashmir and the West Bank regularly make headlines around the world. Scores of unresolved territorial disputes remain across the globe today. They vary greatly in their intensity, their nature and in their potential for resolution. Many are considered dormant or "managed", and rarely get any attention.
Some latent disputes, such as the sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, for which Argentina went to war with Great Britain in 1982, resurface when the territory produces valuable natural resources, like oil.
Islands are frequently at the centre of territorial clashes, as are disagreements involving maritime boundaries, since shipping channels and fishing zones can bring significant revenue.
Other international boundary disagreements are a matter of national pride or identity. In October, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to the Russian-controlled Southern Kuril Islands soured relations with Japan.
Tokyo claims the southernmost islands as Japanese territory, and while there is no open violence over the territories, the disagreement has kept the two countries from formally ending World War Two hostilities.
Other disputes go unnoticed as they crawl their way through bilateral negotiations and the meanders of the International Court of Justice. Three cases are pending at the ICJ, the latest was jointly instituted by Burkina Faso and the Republic of Niger.
Here is a look at some of the most unique or significant territorial disputes you have probably never heard of.
SLIDESHOW: Uncertain borders
Land and maritime claims on the inhospitable continent of Antarctica have been advanced by Argentina, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the UK, some of which overlap. These claims are not recognised by the UN, nor indeed by most countries in the world.
Venezuela says Isla Aves, a dependency far in the Caribbean Sea, is home to a navy base and claims a 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone around it. The area is recognised by the US and France, but five Caribbean states say it is uninhabited and challenge Venezuela's claim.
The biggest island on the San Juan river, which marks the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border, Calero has been a flash point in an old territorial dispute between the two nations. Google Maps, which shows Calero belonging to Nicaragua, has been caught in the tussle for land.
An area wedged between Egypt, Sudan and the Red Sea, the Triangle is claimed by both nations. It was jointly controlled until 1992, when Khartoum gave a foreign oil company exploration rights off the Triangle's coast. Egypt's army moved in and forced the Sudanese out.
Claimed by Comoros and administered by France, Mayotte has voted overwhelmingly to become a fully-integrated French overseas department by 2011. The UN Security Council would have recognised it as part of Comoros in 1976 had France not exercised its veto power.
A row between Slovakia and Hungary over the completion of a hydroelectric project along the Danube is today the longest pending case at the ICJ. While regional power shifts since 1989 have complicated the dispute, environmental concerns have also delayed its resolution.
Portugal does not recognise Spanish sovereignty over the border territory of Olivenza based on a difference of interpretation of two 19th century treaties. Despite this unresolved issue, the two countries maintain close relations.
China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines claim all or parts of the Spratly Islands. The numerous, but very small, islands have no inhabitants, but they are key in marking international boundaries and may contain significant petrochemical reserves.
Tokelau, a small island grouping off New Zealand in the South Pacific Ocean, has twice failed to approve referendums on self-government. But in a 2006 draft independence constitution Tokelau claimed Swains Island, a US territory, as part of its national territory.
Morocco claims and administers Western Sahara, whose sovereignty remains unresolved while a 1991 UN ceasefire holds. Attempts to broker a deal have so far failed, but several states have opened diplomatic relations with the exiled 'Sahrawi Arab Democrat Republic'.
Date created : 2010-11-10