Top 10 Historys High Tension Areas

Suggested by SMS

Throughout history, the majority of wars have been fought not through simple expansionism but when two nations both claim to have rights over a certain region. Often the question of whose claim is most justified is extremely complicated and can only be resolved through open conflict.

Defining the borders between countries has been a problem since the dawn of time. With inaccurate maps, leaders used to rely on geographical features, such as mountain ranges and rivers, to draw such boundaries but in the absence of these it could be difficult to tell what land belongs to whom. Even now, with accurate mapping, the same questions arise. In fact, accurate maps often only serve to make nations more particular when it comes to land disputes.

10. Basque Region

The Basque is a historical region in Northeast Spain and Southwest France. The area formed a Roman, and medieval kingdom until the early tenth century when it was divided into the French province of Gascony and the Kingdom of Pamplona, later the Kingdom of Navarre. The Spanish Basque region was later annexed by the neighboring Kingdom of Castile, which later became the central region of the Kingdom of Spain. It has enjoyed varying degrees of autonomy since then, owing to its rich industry and diverse culture.

The Basque Region in Northern Spain has been pushing for independence for the last several decades. The region operates as an autonomous region of Spain and is afforded more autonomy than any other non-independent region in Europe. The Basque Nationalist Party has also been campaigning for the independence of the Basque peoples in France. The terrorist organization ETA is the militant wing of the Basque nationalists. ETA uses the tactic of guerrilla warfare and assassination to achieve its goals. To date it has killed over 800 people and carried out countless kidnappings.

The Basque peoples have their own language and unique culture. They are one of the few truly native European peoples and can trace their ancestry in the region over two thousand years.

9. Texas

In the early years of American colonization, Texas was claimed by the Spanish Empire but the French mistakenly established a colony there. The French colony was short lived but the French used this as justification for it claiming the region as part of its Louisiana territory. This prompted Spain to quickly begin colonization of the area. They established several small villages and missions, and began converting the native population. Later, after gaining independence from Spain, Mexico allowed immigration to Texas from the U.S. This proved to be their downfall as by 1834, there were 30,000 Americans living in Texas, compared to only 7,800 Mexicans.

In 1835, through 1836, the Texas Revolution saw Texas becoming an independent republic. Although this was never recognized by the Mexican government who were determined to recapture the region and continued to mount attacks against the Republic. In 1845, the Republic of Texas was officially annexed by the United States to prevent it from being retaken by Mexico. This sparked the Mexican-American war, in which Mexico invaded Texas once more but ultimately lost significant territory.

8. Tibet

Tibet has a history of being picked on. As a center for the Buddhist religion it has a major political significance. However, this also makes it a peaceful nation, open to abuse by other, less enlightened powers.

First it was the Mongols and then Nepal and China. Then, in 1904, the British led an invasion, establishing Tibet as an independent nation under the protection of the British Empire (with strict trade restriction favorable to Britain). Each time, the Dalia Lama fled his country in true pacifist style. When the Chinese invaded once again, in 1910, the Dalai Lama fled to British India. He returned in 1912 (following the fall of the Quing dynasty in China) to establish a new government, proclaiming that Tibet was independent but had a long-standing friendship with China, described as being that of ‘patron and priest’. This situation remained throughout the modern period until the end of the second world war, when the newly formed People’s Republic of China mounted a full-scale invasion.

Following the invasion of Tibet by the Peoples Republic of China in 1950, the world went Tibet crazy. For the next several decades hippies across the world sported t-shirts, banners and badges insisting that the Chinese ‘Free Tibet’. In 1956 a rebellion against the Chinese authorities (supported by the CIA) was unsuccessful.

7. Northern Ireland

England spent most of the middle ages trying to capture and dominate Ireland. For the most part they were successful, particularly in Northern Ireland where the Catholic Irish were successfully converted to Protestantism and made loyal to the British Crown.

When Ireland gained independence as the Irish Free State, the government of Northern Ireland made the decision to remain part of Great Britain. However, Irish nationalists saw this as a betrayal and believed that the entire of Ireland should be united as one republic.

The main issue of the separation of Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland has been the question of where to draw the borders, particularly in areas where both Catholics and Protestants live together. This has led to decades of violence between the two groups, both in the form of terrorist organizations and in civil unrest within local communities. To keep the peace, Britain has maintained a strong military presence in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately these soldiers have often been targeted by terrorist organizations too.

Since 1998, the problems of Northern Ireland seem to have been largely resolved with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. This historic agreement established ‘power sharing’ in the disputed areas.

6. The Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands is a small a archipelago off the southeast coast of Chile. Although seemingly insignificant, they have been claimed by no less than four nations in their short history (Britain, France, Spain and Argentina) and have been fought over several times.

The Falklands were first discovered by the Dutch but the first colony was established by the French in 1764. Unaware of the French colony, the British also claimed the islands in 1765 and established a colony a year later. In 1766, the French claim to the islands was acquired by Spain and in 1767 the islands were placed under the command of a Governor of the Buenos Aires Colonial Commission. The Spanish attacked the British colony at Port Egmont, forcing the British to leave and bringing the two empires to the brink of war. However, a peace treaty allowed them to return only a year later. Only a decade later the British and Spanish both abandoned the Islands, each leaving behind plaques asserting their claims. The newly formed nation of Argentina was then free to establish a penal colony on the Islands, although this was attacked by the U.S during a conflict over fishing rights in the area.

In 1833 the British were back. They established a naval base at Stanley and reasserted their claim to the islands. The islands remained under British control into the modern era when, in 1982, Argentina invaded but was ultimately driven back during the Falklands War. The Falkland Islands remain under British control.

5. Kashmir

Kashmir is a disputed region that sits between the nations of Pakistan, India and China. It was once ruled by the Muslim Mughals and by the Afghan Durrains. Between 1846 and 1947 Kashmir was a state ruled by a Maharajah and administered by the British Empire as part of British India. The state was established following the British victory in the first Anglo-Sikh war. Following the British pullout from India and the subsequent division of British India into the twin nations of India and Pakistan, Kashmir became a disputed region.

Following the British pullout from the region. A rebellion against the Maharajah took place. During this conflict, an agreement was reached between the Maharajah and India in which he agreed to cede the region to India. However, troops from Pakistan then invaded Kashmir, stopping the agreed handover to India. Indian President Nehru brought the situation to the attention of the UN who were able to arrange a cease but have been unable to come to a permanent arrangement over sovereignty of the region.

Kashmir is now jointly administered by India, Pakistan and China. As all three of these nations are armed with nuclear weapons, a stalemate has been reached and the Kashmir debate continues to this day. India and Pakistan have come close to nuclear conflict over the issue several times.

4. Silesia

This region in central Europe between Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia (currently resting almost entirely within Poland) has been disputed for centuries. Because of its central location, Silesia has been the focus of many conflicts, particularly between Prussia and Austria.

Silesia has been home to many different ethnic groups and, in its early history, was part of the kingdoms of Bohemia and Moravia. Later it was occupied by Poland and divided into a series of independent duchies. A growing German influence saw Silesia become part of Prussia and then the German Empire. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, a series of wars were fought over Silesia between Prussia and Austria. After World War I, and following a number of Silesian uprisings, the region was granted to Poland, with portions remaining in Germany and a small area to the South becoming part of the new Czechoslovakian state. After World War II the region became part of the Soviet Union and the borders changed yet again in favor of Poland. The German population was forced out and replaced with Polish settlers.

3. Saarland

The Saarland is a small, coal rich area on the border between France and Germany. Historically the territory has been largely under German control, and colonized by both France and Germany. In 1792, the forces of Napoleon captured the area and made it part of the French Republic. After the defeat of Napoleon the area was returned to Germany, however Napoleon III ordered a second invasion, sparking the Franco-Prussian war in which Germany would prevail.

In the period between the two World Wars, the Saarland was placed under the joint administration of France and Britain by the League of Nations. In the build-up to World War II it became a safe haven for those fleeing Nazi Germany. However, as anti-French sentiment increased so did loyalties to Germany. In a referendum in 1933 the population of the Saarland voted overwhelmingly for the ceding of the area back into German hands.

The end of World War II saw the Saarland under French control once again. The French campaigned for the right to annex the region as reparation for the damage caused in the two wars. The Germans also proposed the establishment of the Saarland as an independent state. However, it was ceded to the German Federal Republic in 1957.

2. Abkhazia

Abkhazia (formerly the Kingdom of Abkhazia) is an autonomous region in North-West Georgia, on the Eastern coast of the Black Sea, Bordering Georgia and Russia. Historically, Abkhazia has had periods of independence, intermixed with periods of union with Georgia. The entire region was once part of the Russian Empire, becoming part of the U.S.S.R. The Russian Empire fought the Ottoman Empire for control of the region.

During the Soviet period. Abkhazia enjoyed independence, as a Soviet Republic and member of the Soviet Union. Neighboring Georgia and Dagestan were also independent Soviet Republics. However, since the collapse of the Union, Georgia has claimed Abkhazia as it’s own. During the 1990s, separatists in Abkhazia fought a war of independence against Georgia and also carried out a genocide of 15,000 ethnic Georgians. The rebels were supported by other terrorist agencies and, unofficially, the Russian government. Abkhazia has since considered itself to be independent and has held it’s own elections under its self imposed titles of the Republic of Abkhazia. However, Georgia, and many other countries have refused to accept the country’s independence.

In August, 2008, Georgia launched an offensive against rebel forces in South Ossetia, another breakaway region that had declared independence at roughly the same time as Abkhazia. In response, Russia declared war on Georgia and committed it’s forces to supporting its allies in South Ossetia and Abkhazia simultaneously. In the 2008 war, Russia successfully captured significant territory on the behalf of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and was successful in driving Georgian forces out of Abkhazia. However, Russia remains the only country to officially recognize it as an independent republic.

1. Jerusalem

The city of Jerusalem is the most hotly disputed territory on Earth, being the religious center of three major religions; Judaism, Christianity and Islam. These three religions have been in competition for control of the city for nearly two thousand years and each has occupied it more than once.

The city was part of the kingdom of Judea, in Biblical times, which was later captured by the Roman Empire. At first it was the Jews who fought the Romans but later it was the Persians who succeeded in capturing the holy city after a twenty-one-day siege. The Persian army then slaughtered up to 90,000 Christians and Jerusalem was subject to several hundred years of Arab rule. Feudal wars between the Arab kingdoms resulted in their decline from the area, allowing Christian forces to occupy Jerusalem for the first time since the Romans.

The eleventh century saw the establishment of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, ruled by members of the powerful Angevin dynasty of France. Several of the famous Holy Crusades sought to defend the Holy City and to recapture former Christian territory but ultimately failed. Jerusalem descended into anarchy with the arrival of the Black Death and repeated invasions by the Persians, Egyptians, Mongols and eventually the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire gave a great deal of stability to Jerusalem, allowing pilgrims from all faiths and nationalities to flock to the city, creating a truly multicultural society. The population of the city exploded.

The end of the First World War saw the city and the region placed in British hands. In this period violence between Jews and Muslims was high as the growing Jewish population fought to gain dominance and to establish an independent Jewish state.

In the wake of the Second World War and the British pull-out of the region, Israel declared independence. Jordan quickly moved in to occupy East Jerusalem whilst Israel occupied the West side of the city. An armistice was reached but when Jordan began restricting access to the holy sites on their side of the divide Israel responded by declaring war. In the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel occupied East Jerusalem. Muslim retaliation has continued ever since, with many terrorist and political groups aiming to recapture Jerusalem and install it as the capital of a new Palestinian state.

The Jerusalem question has been the most heated political debate of modern times. A system of power sharing similar to that in Northern Ireland has been suggested but with the cycle of violence continuing, any permanent agreement between Jews and Muslims seems unlikely. Meanwhile, the Christian influence in the city remains strong, with the Greek Orthodox Church owning more property in Jerusalem than any other organization.