The Island That Nobody Got

History has bear witness to many conflicts fought over land and territory, but none quite as strange as the short-lived island of Ferdinandea. 

Graham Island guarded by HMS Melville

Graham Island guarded by HMS Melville

In July 1831, a new island appeared off the coast of Sicily due to the recent volcanic activity in the area, and by August the island had grown to almost 5km wide.

At the beginning of August, the British were the first to land on the island, and planted their flag by August 2, naming the island 'Graham'. The British had designs on establishing another naval base in the Mediterranean as their next closest base was Malta.

The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (modern day southern Italy) did not take that well as they deemed the new island to be in Sicilian waters. King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies sent a warship to the island on August 17 and claimed the island for Sicily, naming it 'Ferdinandea'.

In September, a French geologist landed on the island and planted a French flag, and named the island 'Ile Julia'. Soon after that Spain had also laid claim to the island.

Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies

Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies

Over the next few months the four nations waged diplomatic arguments to claim the island, rather than take the island by military force, which it came close to. However before an international incident could break out, the island began receding, and by December the island had sunk back into the Mediterranean.

While the island lays dormant on the sea floor, today it known as both 'Ferdinandea' and 'Graham' depending on which nation you ask. Scientists believe that the island will rise again, who claims it next time is anyone's guess.