As Queen Elizabeth‘s diamond jubilee year comes to an end, she has received yet another honor celebrating her 60th year on the throne. However, this latest nod to the Queen’s longevity has managed to anger another country, setting off a minor international incident in the process.
Recently, the British Foreign Office announced that it was renaming a section of Antarctica in honor of her majesty. The pie-shaped piece of land, which will now be known as “Queen Elizabeth Land,” starts along the coast at the Ronne Ice Shelf and comes to a point directly at the South Pole. The area of land is approximately twice the size of the United Kingdom itself and is bounded on one side by Ellsworth Land and Dronning Maud Land on the other.
Obviously the renaming of this large section of frozen ground at the bottom world was meant to pay tribute to the popular Queen, but there is just one problem. The land may not belong to the U.K. at all, which means they don’t have the right to name it anything. It turns out that both Chile and Argentina have claimed ownership of this particular region in the Antarctic, and the Argentine government has already issued a formal note of protest to the British ambassador. That note used strong language to condemn the action, saying the move was an act of “anachronistic imperialist ambitions that hark back to ancient practices.”
The statement went on to accuse the British of failing to act in accordance to the Antarctic Treaty, which was signed in 1959 to avoid the colonization or militarization of the frozen continent. Since that time, Antarctica has largely remained open to research and exploration, although occasional disputes have arisen over specific plots of lands. Those disputes have become more pronounced in recent years as nations seek to claim potential oil or mineral reserves locked under the ice.
What will become of this dispute between the U.K. and Argentina remains to be seen, but it is unlikely to turn into a major conflict such as the 1982 Falklands War. More than likely what will happen is that Queen Elizabeth Land will exist on British maps alone, while the rest of the world will continue to leave the section unnamed.
[Photo Credit: NASA]