[WORLDKINGS] Exceptional places around the world (P.90) - Pheasant Island: The Island That Changes Sovereignty Every Six Months


(WorldKings.org) Pheasant Island is an uninhabited river island in the Bidasoa river, located between France and Spain, whose administration alternates between both nations.

Less than six kilometers before river Bidasoa, near the French-Spanish border, empties into the Atlantic Ocean, there lies a small river island called Pheasant. It was here, in 1659, that representatives from France and Spain met and signed the Treaty of the Pyrenees, officially ending the Thirty Years War. The treaty also drew a new border that runs along the Pyrenees mountains, and then follows the Bidasoa river to the Bay of Biscay in the Atlantic Ocean, forming a natural border between France and Spain. As is usually the case with borders that follow the course of a river, the French-Spanish border was fixed along the center of the river. Ideally, the border should have cut right through Pheasant Island splitting the 1.6 acre island into two halves, with France and Spain controlling their respective sides. But the Treaty of the Pyrenees agreed upon a different kind of arrangement, by which Pheasant Island became a condominium.

A condominium is a territory over which multiple nations exercise equal dominion and sovereignty, without diving it into different national zones. Antarctica is one example of a successful condominium. Historically, there have been a few condominiums but most didn’t survive for too long. The success of such an arrangement requires cooperation of all parties involved, something which is difficult to ensure over long periods of time. Once the understanding fails, the condominium fails.

Pheasant Island is not only the oldest surviving condominium, it is also the only one where sovereignty isn’t shared simultaneously, but alternately. For six months a year, Pheasant Island is French. For the other six, it is Spanish.

Today, Pheasant Island is off-limit to visitors, although one can get pretty close to the island. It lies less than 100 feet from the Spanish bank of river Bidasoa, in the town of Irun, and about 150 feet from the French side in the commune of Hendaye.

According to amusing planet.com

Mihan (Collect and edit) (World Records Union - WorldKings.org)


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