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Which Country Owns the North Pole, Eh?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

While Santa Claus and underpaid workers may call the North Pole their own, there is a real question as to which country legally owns the North Pole.

On Monday, Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird confirmed that America's neighbor to the north intends to lay claim to the North Pole, in order to seize the mineral wealth that lies beneath the ice, reports Reuters.

Which other powers are struggling to grab a piece of the North Pole?

5 Countries Seek Control of the Pole

Canada, the United States, Russia, Denmark, and Norway are all interested in the area of land (and sea) around the North Pole. Why? According to Reuters, the U.S. Geological Survey says the region contains "30 percent of the world's undiscovered natural gas and 15 percent of oil."

So not only will Santa be a citizen of whichever country is deemed the North Pole's official owner, but there's the promise of energy resource superiority. A very nice Christmas present indeed.

The referee between these five world powers is a United Nations group called the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS). And Canada is gearing up to submit a geographical claim to the CLCS before Friday that includes Canada's rights to the North Pole, reports CTV News.

The problem is this: Canada, Russia, and Denmark (which owns Greenland, if you're wondering) all claim that the Lomonosov Ridge -- an undersea mountain range that runs across the pole -- belongs to them, reports Reuters.

Owning Land Under the Sea

As many gamblers and kidnappers know, much of the seas that are far from a nation's controlled lands are considered international waters. Under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, anything within 12 nautical miles of the coastline of a nation's landmass is considered that state's territorial waters.

This limit can be exceeded, however, if a country can prove that the sea floor is part of that nation's continental shelf -- which is why Canada and two other nations have laid claim to the Lomonosov Ridge.

CTV reports that a decision by the CLCS is likely 20 years away; it will take nearly five years just to check the science behind Canada's claim.

So for now, Santa may have as good a claim as anyone.

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