The Arctic is the northernmost region of the world. The region mostly contains water in the form of sea-ice, glaciers, icebergs, etc. The average summer temperature hovers around 0°C and dips down to -30°C when sun sets for 6 months in the winters. The northern parts of the Scandinavian countries, Russia, Canada, Greenland (an autonomous territory of Denmark) and the US state – Alaska fall into this region . Needless to say, most of the region lies uninhabited due to its cold and hostile environment. Therefore, intuitively one might conclude that there would be no territorial disputes in the Arctic. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Countries in this region have been increasingly showing interest in the region. With the melting of the ice caps due to climate change, the peace of the region also appears to be melting. Russia has been actively trying to assert dominance over this region. This article explores some of the underlying reasons for these rising interests in the arctic. It also looks at how the indistinct, neglected, and blurred borders are becoming increasingly influential in contemporary geopolitics.
The Arctic is one of the most serene places on earth. Its beautiful landscapes make it a very popular tourist destination. Apart from this, it has large geological and economic importance. It has humongous deposits of oil, natural gas, rare earth mineral and gemstone deposits. Geologists believe, it houses about 30% of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and 13% of its oil. The value of these resources run into billions of US Dollars. Climate Change in progressively enabling the access of the regional states to these riches. Melting sea-ice also aids large vessels to move through, opening up several trade routes between Asia, Europe and North America. This adds to the economic importance of the Arctic. Traditionally, because of the inaccessibility of the region, states didn’t care much about their borders in the region. They remained blurred and undefined up until recently when the economic activity started mounting. Now there appears to be a sudden need for demarcating the state borders in the region, making the tranquil seas increasingly turbulent.