Ever since the end of World War II Kosovo had been a part of Serbia. After decades of violent conflict, Kosovo finally declared independence in 2008. Since then 88 countries have recognized it as a legitimately independent state including three of the five members in the UN Security council with veto power (United Statetes, United Kingdom, and France). The other two, China and Russia, have expressed concern and even gone so far as to declare it illegal. Of course, you can guess where Serbia stands.
Although the Kuril Islands were formally acquired by the Soviet Union following World War II, Japan has laid claim to them as well referring to them as the Northern Territories. Neither side has shown any sign of backing down and as recently as 2006 a Japanese fisherman was shot dead by a Russian patrol for fishing in disputed waters.
Located on a narrow strip of land between the Dniester River and Ukraine, the only two Nations to recognize Transnistria as a sovereign entity are South Ossetia and Abkhazia (#3) who are themselves only partially recognized states. To most of the world, including Moldova, it is legally an autonomous territorial unit within the Moldovan Republic.
After World War II the Korean peninsula was partitioned along the 38th parallel with the north becoming a socialist style regime while the south became a more western style republic. Conflict arose, however, as a result of both nations laying claim to the entire peninsula. Eventually this led to the Korean War after which the Korean Demilitarized zone was established between the two nations. To this day, although there has been a ceasefire, they technically remain in a state of war.
For those of you who don’t know, there are actually two countries claiming to be China in the world. There’s the People’s Republic of China (the Communist one) and then there’s the Republic of China (also known as Taiwan). Confusing right? Well to make matters worse, neither recognizes the other and they both claim the same territory. To understand how this happened you just have to know a little history. After World War II the communist PRC (People’s Republic of China) established control on the mainland and declared itself to be the official successor to the ROC (Republic of China). Unfortunately however, the ROC was still around. Eventually this led to the Chinese Civil War, after which the defeated ROC was forced into exile on Taiwan.
In spite of the fact that only one out of these 750 islands, reefs, and atolls located in the South China Sea is inhabitable, several nations have staked claims including both Chinas and Vietnam. The main reason for this conflict is that the islands have numerous oil and natural gas reserves as well as excellent commercial fishing. They also happen to be right smack dab in the middle of one of the busiest commercial fishing lanes in the world with almost three hundred ships passing through every day.
The only reason Northern Ireland is on this list is because we knew that if we didn’t put it here you would be left wondering, “Why didn’t they put it there?”. Well, the reason is that it isn’t a territorial dispute. At least not any longer. The dispute was resolved by the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 and Ireland altered its constitution thus removing its claim to the six counties in question.
These two breakaway republics have been battling Georgia (the country…not the state) over their independence for nearly a century. With almost non-stop violence in the region, many times they rely on their closest ally, Russia, for military support. As of today the only countries in the world that recognise them as sovereign states are Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and several Pacific islands.
The Kashmir region between India and Pakistan is technically divided between three global powers – India in the south, Pakistan in the northwest and China in the northeast (acquired from Pakistan). The problem is that neither India nor Pakistan are willing to recognize the other’s claims. After numerous wars the land is still in dispute.
Surprised? Probably not. In what has possibly been the most fought over, contended for, and volatile region of the world for thousands of years, this land has gone back and forth between various powers over the centuries. Moreover, in recent history the conflict has shown no signs of slowing down. After the state of Israel was created in 1947 almost every country in the region attacked it. Although the Arab-Israeli War ended after a year, the violence hasn’t and several more wars have occurred since then.