25 Most Controversial Territorial Disputes

Look at a map of the world. Do you see all those crisp looking borders with pretty colors between them? They look really clean and well defined, right? Well, unfortunately, the world is not like that. Everyday borders shift, old countries are dissolved, and new countries are formed. Many parts of our world are claimed by numerous countries, and a lot of those borders are just rough approximations. In fact, many times, depending on whose map you look at, the world will change drastically. So, next time you look at an atlas, take what you see with a grain of salt. Here are the 25 Most Controversial Territorial Disputes.



Although there hasn’t been any blood spilled over these territories, the list wouldn’t be complete without them. Antarctica is home to almost all of the remaining terra nullius (unclaimed land) on Earth, and even though most of the island has already been hypothetically divided, there are always rumors circulating about new claims.


South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands


Between this and the Falklands (#12), it seems that Argentina and the UK just can’t get along. The dispute started around the turn of the 20th century when an Argentinian whaling company set up operations on the islands right around the time that the UK annexed them. During the Falklands War, they fell under Argentinian control for a short time but were then once again returned to the UK after its resolution. To this day, Argentina still lays claim to the islands.




Although there is no significant level of conflict between Spain and the UK concerning this small strip of land jutting out in the Strait of Gibraltar, it is an interesting point of contention for the two allies. And despite Gibraltar officially being a British overseas territory, Spain still lays claim to the peninsula. Brexit has only made things more complicated.


Western Sahara


A region of land consisting mainly of desert, this is one of the most sparsely populated areas in the world. Originally, it was part of the Spanish Empire, but now both Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic claim the territory. Neither side is winning a decisive majority of the international community’s support; however, countries like the United States and Russia urge them to agree on a peaceful resolution.




Sudan certainly isn’t known for its safety. For years the country has been wrecked by civil war and bloodshed, and now that South Sudan has achieved its independence, the fight has become an interstate conflict. Abyei is a region lying directly between the two nations right in the heart of the conflict zone. Although it is claimed by the South, it is administered by the north.

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