Arctic boundaries and disputes

Northwest Passage

Northwest Passage


The Northwest Passage through Canada's Arctic archipelago has a wealth of potential oil and gas reserves. Canada asserts sovereignty in this area but countries, including the U.S., suggest the northern channels should be used as right of transit passage.

Potential U.S. perimeter

Potential U.S. perimeter

The United States could potentially claim that this region, shaded in blue, falls within its maritime boundaries. The International Boundaries Research Unit notes, however, that the boundaries may in fact fall short of the shaded region. They also suggest another country may make a claim within the same zone.

Potential Canadian perimeter

Potential Canadian perimeter

This blue region marks the potential outer boundaries of Canada's maritime border. The International Boundaries Research Unit notes, however, that the boundaries may in fact fall short of the shaded region. They also suggest another country may make a claim within the same zone.

Potential Danish perimeter

Potential Danish perimeter

Denmark could potentially claim this blue shaded region though the International Boundaries Research Unit notes that this claim may not be supported and that other countries might make a claim for the same region.

Potential Danish perimeter

Potential Danish perimeter

Denmark could potentially claim this blue shaded region though the International Boundaries Research Unit notes that this claim may not be supported and that other countries might make a claim for the same region.

Unclaimed

Unclaimed area

This white shaded region represents continental shelf that is unclaimed or unclaimable according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This region has been identified as a cut-off point and countries can't submit requests for jurisdiction.

Eastern Special Area

Eastern Special Area

This area, shaded in yellow, is known as the Eastern Special Area. A 1990 boundary agreement between the U.S. and the Soviet Union outlined that the region would be designated a U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The agreement also stated that two other special areas would later be designated Russian EEZs. This agreement has not yet ratified by Russia's parliament.

Disputed

Disputed area

Canada maintains that the 1825 treaty between Great Britain and Russia determined the boundary between Alaska and the Yukon followed the 141 degree W meridian, extending "as far as the frozen ocean." The U.S. however says the boundary should follow the median line between the coastlines. The disputed area, shaded in orange, spans more than 7,000 nm².