January 28, 2023

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A strange island is exchanged between the two countries every six months, even though no one lives there

Peace on a small island

On November 17, 1659, a momentous event took place on Peasant’s Island, a small island called Pitazoa in the river separating the Kingdom of Spain and the Kingdom of France: XIV. Lewis King of France, commonly called the Sun King, and ARC. Philip Signed by representatives of the Spanish ruler Pyrenean peacet, which formed a point which has been ongoing since 1635 French-Spanish WarOn that day.

Armed conflict still a Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), it was a minor kind of world war, as most of the European powers of the time took part in it. The disastrous conflict ended with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, which, however, did not end the struggle between Spain and France. France initially intervened on the side of the Dutch against Spain, but soon preferred to assert its own superpower claims in the war.

Later, the English went to war against the Spanish, with whom the French formed an alliance, and in June 1658, they defeated the Spanish forces near Dunkirk in what was known as the Battle of the Dunes.

Spain was tired of decades of war, so it finally recognized French territorial gains and agreed to make peace.

He was one of the intellectual authors of the Peace Treaty Mazarin Cardinal French Foreign Minister, Richelieu His successor, like his predecessor, was instrumental in consolidating the geopolitical role of the early modern French kingdom, and prepared the XIV. Louis’ long reign.

At Pheasant’s Island, both countries were represented by two ambassadors. Hughes de Leonrespectively Luis Mendez de Haro Represented. Spain accepted French territorial acquisitions, and in return France renounced its support for Portugal and its territorial claim over Catalonia. The confidentiality clause of the agreement stated that XIV. She marries King Louis IV. Philip’s eldest daughter, Maria Theresa A child girl (of course, she was not the same as Empress Maria Theresa of Austria and Queen Maria Theresa of Hungary, although she was descended from the Spanish branch of the House of Habsburg). The Sun King and his future wife met for the first time on Pheasants Island, and the betrothal was signed a year later in 1660.

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XIV. Louis of France and IV. Meeting of King Philip of Spain at the Isle of Pheasants, 1660, in a painting by Jacques Lamosnier. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The island changes hands every six months

The treaty included a small island, the location of the peace treaty Placed under joint Spanish and French rule. Accordingly, the island belongs to Spain from February 1 to July 31 each year, and from August 1 to January 31 to France.

Today, Phácánok Island is the smallest condominium in the world, which means that its territory belongs to several countries at the same time, and it is a territory that has held this status for a long time.

Island (in Spanish: Isla de los FaisanesIn Basque: Faizai UhardeaIn French: In des Pheasants) Pitazoa (in Spanish and Basque), which separates Spain, including the Basque Country, from France. Pitazoa) river, 10 meters from Spain and 20 meters from the French coast. The island itself It is 200 meters long and 40 meters wide, Its area is only 0.00682 square kilometers, That is, 6,820 square meters, roughly the size of a football field suitable for international matches (for comparison: the area of ​​Margit Island is 0.965 km²). The island is uninhabited and cannot be visited, only in exceptional cases. A handover ceremony takes place twice a year between Spanish and French officials. On the oval ground, a monument marks the 1659 peace treaty.

Pathetic people And Notre-Dame in Paris Famous writer Victor Hugo He visited the island in 1843 and complained that, contrary to its name, he found no pheasants on it. Pheasants probably never lived on the island, and the name has a different etymology: the Romans Bausova A name by which the French were first called.Byzantium“, i.e. peasants, and later in time”The Persians”, which turned out to mean pheasants.

On the west bank of the Pitazoa River is the French settlement of Hendaye, and on the east bank is the Spanish (Basque) city of Irun. Due to the bends of the river, the northern part of Pheasant Island faces France and the southern part faces Spain. The island directly belongs to the administration of the two settlements in both parts of the year.


Condominiums are very rare in the world today, there are a total of 8 of them, of which Faganok Island is the oldest, smallest and does not belong to two countries at the same time, but alternately.

Pheasant’s Island as the Isle of Peace in a painting from 1660. During the meeting of the Spanish and French delegations, pontoon bridges were erected on the river. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Seven other condominiums:

  • Antarctica: Southern, icy, uninhabited land rights were regulated in several conventions, according to which only scientific research could take place in the region, not military action. At the same time, many countries on the continent have unrecognized territorial claims.
  • Abiye area: In 2005, the Second Sudanese Civil War ended with a peace agreement whereby the disputed region of Abyei was brought under the joint authority of the two Inner Sudanese states. In 2011, the independent South Sudan was established, of which Southern State was also a part, so Abyei region is now official. It is shared by Sudan and South SudanBut not by so much agreement as Spain and France at Pheasant Island.
  • Brčko District: a region with special legal status in Bosnia and Herzegovina, not two states, but two entities of the state federation, the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Federation of Bosnian-Croat Bosnia and Herzegovina, which have joint control, but in practice operate as an independent region. Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs live in this district. The district actually bisects Republika Srpska, thus posing a territorial obstacle to its separatist aspirations. (Bosnian Serb leader, Milorad Todic Shown by In maps Brčko District is part of the Republic of Serbia.)
  • Mosel Condominium: The Mosel flows along the border of Germany and Luxembourg (in French MoselleThe river and 15 islands in the area have been jointly owned by both countries since the peace treaty concluded at the Conference of Vienna in 1815, which ended the Napoleonic Wars. The fact that the condominium is located near Schengen City in Luxembourg is symbolic, where the Schengen Agreement was concluded in 1985, making European borders permeable.
  • Lake Constance: The alpine lake is tri-bordered by Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and since the state boundaries in this area are not precisely marked, the lake is jointly owned by all three countries. Although there are differing views on the exact international legal status of the lake, in practice Lake Constance functions as a triple condominium.
  • Gulf of Fonseca: Like Lake Constance, the Central American Gulf of Fonseca is shared by three countries: Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras. In 1992, the International Court of Justice issued its Salamonic judgment on the ownership of the Gulf, but at the same time, the joint governance of the three countries. No As conflict-free as the three European nations on Lake Constance.
  • A maritime area shared between Colombia and Jamaica: The so-called exclusive economic zone of Colombia and Jamaica partially overlaps in the Caribbean Sea, so the two countries agreed in 1993 to treat this area as common territory.

In order for condominiums to function without conflict, it is clear that a solid peace between states participating in pluralism is essential. Peasant’s Island or the Mosel River is already shared by EU countries belonging to the Schengen area, and Lake Constance is unlikely to be a source of serious conflict between Germany, Austria and Switzerland. However, condominiums were created after the civil wars, such as in the Abyei area or the Brigo district Compulsory solutionsAnd until the conflicts are completely resolved, their status is also uncertain (ie, both The SudaneseBoth A Bosnian The situation remains a gunshot). There are places where the condominium is a symbol of peace, as on Pheasants Island, but in other places it only symbolizes the impossibility of a deal.

Pheasants Island. Source: Zarateman / Wikimedia Commons

Cover image: Pheasant Island. Source: Ignacio Gavira / Wikimedia Commons