Disputed territories

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This is a list of disputes between UN recognized sovereign states. There has been a previous attempt to document mapping disputed territories in WikiProject United Nations political boundaries. In September 2013, the OSMF issued an official document about this.

Current rule

The 2013 OSMF position paper, Information for officials and diplomats of countries and entities with disputed territories, does not truly establish any new rules for mappers, but simply refers to the on the ground principle.

Currently, we record one set that, in OpenStreetMap contributor opinion, is most widely internationally recognised and best meets realities on the ground, generally meaning physical control. In areas without clearly defined borders, the line is approximate. Our database structure enables map makers to easily ignore this set and substitute another more appropriate to your needs.
— OSMF, 2013

This seems to imply that the main national border (boundary=administrative + admin_level=2) is always supposed to be the one representing actual control. The tagging of alternative claims therefore remain undefined and hence not rendered by the default style. None of the proposals have been brought to fruition.

The on-the-ground rule is known to become less useful when active disputes happen, as both sides will have something on the ground and both are looking to change it. The disputes can be purely military, or more commonly, involve active infrastructure construction, settlement, or even displacement – exactly what OSM wants to map. The deferral to internation recognition can get fuzzy too when major states themselves are involved.

Tag proposals

Some editors are of the opinion that claimed boundaries have value in being recorded. The following proposals are known; if you want to tag too, check taginfo for actual use status first. (To view the taginfo, click the links on the keys -- even red links have taginfo displayed.)

Formal:

Informal:

("Common claimant info" refers to keys seen in several proposals: claimed_by=*, disputed_by=*, controlled_by=*.)

List of cases and their representation in OSM

The following is a list of known instances and the OSM objects where they can be observed, structured by continent and other (if continent is not clear/between continents).

Given how incomplete the list is and how quickly thing can change (humanity!), it might really make more sense to just read Wikipedia:List of territorial disputes. The geolocation on articles can be clicked back to OSM.

Africa

Territory Claimants bbox Notes
Western Sahara
  • Western Sahara (Sahrawi)
  • Morocco
24.787/-12.107 Western Sahara is a disputed territory in northwestern Africa, partially controlled by the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and partially occupied by neighboring Morocco. See Wikipedia article "Western Sahara"
Somaliland
  • Somaliland
  • Somalia
Actual control line is not drawn, but isn't too much off from admin-boundary border. Independent since 1991, but never recognized. Not sure if a national border should be set – a bit like Taiwan, but less famous.
Halaib Triangle
  • Egypt
  • Sudan
Only Egyptian claim rendered; neighboring Bir Tawil has both non-claims rendered.

Asia

Territory Claimants bbox Notes
Kashmir conflict relation 14101768 The Kashmir conflict is a territorial conflict primarily between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region. China has also been involved in the conflict in a third-party role due to its control of India-claimed Aksai Chin. Wikipedia: Kashmir conflict BBC: Why India and Pakistan fight over it

https://openstreetmap.in renders the Indian perspective of the boundaries.

Sino-Indian border India

China

relation 12931502 There are various ongoing border disputes between China and Indian including Kashmir conflict mentioned above.

Wikipedia: Sino Indian border dispute

Bhutan–China border Bhutan

China

relation 12931402 Wikipedia: Bhutan–China border
Senkaku Islands China

Japan

relation 11612117 WIkipedia: Senkaku Islands
Paracel Islands China

Vietnam

relation 2417005 Wikipedia: Paracel Islands
South China Sea China

Vietnam Philippines

relation 3939323 Wikipedia: Territorial disputes in the South China Sea

China's claim: Nine-dash line

Kuril Islands Russia

Japan

relation 14102287 Wikipeida: Kuril Islands dispute
All of China Taiwan has been de facto independent since 1949, but since 1971 most countries recognise only the People's Republic of China and not Taiwan. Nevertheless, common sense dictates that OTG wins over international recognition in this case. The widespread "semi-formal" diplomatic links and the ISO country code assignment helps too. De jure, both states still claim the entire territory of each other.
Israel/Palestine Israel, Palestine Long-lasting, ongoing (settlement and military action), sure to result in a flame war. See Wikipedia:Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

The I/P conflict has been the subject of some research on OSM. See, for example, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2016.11.010 (paywalled).

Oceania

Territory Claimants bbox Notes

Europe

Territory Claimants bbox Notes
Donetsk relation 71973 Disputes relating to the Russo-Ukrainian War

In 2014, Russian forces occupied and annexed the Crimean peninsula, seizing it from Ukrainian territories. Russian claims to Crimea are not internationally recognized. The United Nations, through General Assembly Resolution 68/262, affirmed that Crimea was part of Ukraine and that Russia's annexation is invalid. Several nations imposed international sanctions on Russia in reaction to its action.

Since 2022, Russia recognises the independence of separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk, and has also launched a full-scale invasion of the Ukrainian mainland.

Crimea is currently mapped as part of both Ukraine and Russia per DWG decision of 2014-06-05. Donetsk and Luhansk are currently not mapped differently from other oblasts of Ukraine.

In early April of 2022, the Ukrainian OSM community has published an appeal to the OSM community and its members, urging everyone to refrain from any mapping of the territory of Ukraine while the conflict is unfolding.

Luhansk relation 71971
Crimea relation 3788824
Tuzla Island and Strait of Kerch; Sarych 45.2645/36.5717 The conflict arose in 2003 when the Russian authorities started to build a dam towards the island. Since then Ukraine established a border garrison on the island for a closer surveillance. The reason for the conflict is the fact that Tuzla island's strategic location gives Ukraine full rights over the main channel in the Strait of Kerch and, thus, the access to the Sea of Azov. The conflict is based on the division of the Black Sea Fleet and a lease agreement of the Sevastopol Naval facilities.
Sea of Azov 45.915/37.371 ("Mutual jurisdiction")
Aegean dispute, Imia/Kardak Greece

Turkey

Broad number of delimitation disputes about a.o. national airspace, territorial waters and exclusive economic zones. Includes Imia/Kardak dispute.
Mont Blanc summit dispute France

Italy

France asserts that the principal peaks on the Mont Blanc massif—Dôme du Goûter, Punta Helbronner, and Mont Blanc lie in French territory, while Italy asserts that the summits are shared.
Carlingford Lough and Lough Foyle boundary dispute Ireland

United Kingdom

Lough Foyle divides County Donegal, Republic of Ireland, and County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Carlingford Lough divides County Louth, Republic of Ireland, and County Down, Northern Ireland.
Gibraltar United Kingdom

Spain

Dispute over the interpretation of the Treaty of Utrecht and the location of the border.
Mouth of the river Ems Kingdom of the Netherlands

Germany

[1] Administrative borders are mapped in OSM as claimed by both nations, and thus overlap.

The 1960 Ems-Dollard Treaty defined an area of cooperation between both nations ("Eemsmonding / Emsmündung"). Within the cooperation area, bilingual "Dutch / German" name tags are used in OSM. The cooperation area extends beyond the actually disputed area. It used to fully contain the disputed area, but no longer does since the extension of territorial waters.

The 1962 Supplementary Agreement to the Ems-Dollart Treaty and the 2014 West Ems Treaty divide jurisdiction of the disputed area regarding installations and natural resources. This "line" is also mapped in OSM.

Lake Constance
  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Switzerland
Switzerland holds the view that the border runs through the middle of the lake.

Austria is of the opinion that the contentious area belongs to all the states on its banks.

Germany holds an ambiguous opinion.

Former Olivenza region Spain

Portugal

relation 13562341 In 1801, during the War of the Oranges, Spain, with French military support, occupied the territory of Olivenza (in Portuguese Olivença). During the Treaty of Vienna (1815), the signatory powers (including Spain) agreed with the Portuguese arguments concerning its claim on Olivença but Spain never fulfilled its duty of giving the city of Olivença and its territory back to Portugal.

The disputed area is the boundary of the ancient region of Olivenza, which currently corresponds to the boundaries of relation Olivenza municipality, relation Taliga municipality and a small territory to the NE (Los Fresnos). May be missing a small region in Southwest according to this image in Wikipedia. More info at Olivenza#Claims_of_sovereignty on Wikipedia

Croatia-Serbia border dispute Croatia

Serbia

Limited areas along the Danube

Parts of Osijek-Baranja and Vukovar-Syrmia Counties and West and South Bačka Districts

Gulf of Piran Slovenia

Croatia

An agreement was signed (and ratified by Croatia's parliament on 20 November 2009) to pursue binding arbitration to both the land and maritime portions of this continuing dispute.

In 2015 collusion between the Slovenian judge on the arbitration panel and a representative from the Slovenian government was uncovered. The Croatian Sabor voted to withdraw from the arbitration, citing allegations of significant breaches of arbitration rules by Slovenia as the reason.

Despite this the arbitration tribunal continued its work, issuing a ruling in 2017.

Prevlaka Croatia

Montenegro

Sastavci Serbia

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Island of Šarengrad Serbia

Croatia

Military complex near Sveta Gera, in the area of Žumberak/Gorjanci Slovenia

Croatia

Veliki Školj and Mali Školj (near Neum) Croatia

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Island of Vukovar Croatia

Serbia

North America

Territory Claimants bbox Notes
Machias Seal Island
  • Canada
  • United States
44.4936/-66.9088 Currently rendered as United States (Maine) territory, despite only Canadians staying on the island.
Oyster Pond France (Saint-Martin)

Kingdom of the Netherlands (Sint Maarten)

[2] The 1648 Treaty of Concordia is inconclusive with respect to this part of the border. The Kingdom of the Netherlands claims the border is along the northern shore, but France claims the border is in the middle of the water. Administrative borders are mapped in OSM according to these claims, and thus overlap. Definitive border negotiations are awaited, but currently delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Focal point of the conflict is relation Captain Oliver's Marina and way Restaurant, which had been de facto in the Kingdom of the Netherlands since its opening in 1983. France initially agreed with this, but changed its mind in 1996. In 2014, both nations agreed to maintain the status quo until the dispute is settled, but inspections by French police since 2016 suggest it is now de facto in France. The marina was badly damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017 and has not yet been rebuilt as a result of the intensified border conflict. In 2020, the owner of the marina unsuccessfully sued the Dutch government for lack of protection against France.

Navassa Island
  • United States
  • Haiti

South America

Territory Claimants bbox Notes

Antarctica

Territory Claimants bbox Notes
All territorial claims in Antarctica 7 states claiming

2 states reserving right to claim

54 states partially controlling via Antarctic Treaty System

relation Antarctica No acts or activities can support territorial claims, see: Antarctica