What to know

Why Is Pheasant Island Sometimes French and Sometimes Spanish

Pheasant Island on Bidasoa River is sometimes french and sometimes Spanish

Today, Pheasant Island on the river Bidasoa between France and Spain is Spanish, but it will be French again in August.

In the middle of the Bidasoa river that splits France and Spain lies a small lot of land known as Pheasant Island. Only 200 meters long and 40 meter wide, the island is French for six months each year and Spanish for the remaining six months.

What might be one of the most undisputed territory in the world became this way because of an important meeting between the two countries monarchs in 1659.

Back then, the French and Spanish were at war – a long, bloody war.

Since the Pheasant Island was considered neutral territory by both countries, wooden bridges were extended from both sides so that the kings of each country could cross over and negotiate an end to the war.

After three months of talks, French King Louis XIV and Spanish King Philip IV signed the Treaty of the Pyrenees, which was sealed by mixing blood – King Louis XIV married the daughter of the Spanish King Philip IV.

But what would happen to the island where the war ended? Well it was decided that both countries get shared custody.

Each year, Pheasant Island is under Spanish rule from February 1 to July 31, while it is under French rule from August 1 to January 31.

It is upon whichever country that is exercising power over the island to take care of it, which is basically limited to cutting the grass and trimming the trees.

You Might Also Like