The Arctic, long considered an almost worthless backwater, is primed to become one of the most important regions in the world as its ice melts over the next few decades.

Unlike every other maritime area in the world, there is no overarching legal treaty governing the Arctic. Instead, the Arctic Council, made up of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the U.S., oversees and coordinates policy.

But the Arctic Council has no regulatory power. The countries only use the Council to communicate on policy and research and each member state is free to pursue its own policies within their declared Arctic boundaries. According to a presentation by the Council of Foreign Relations, the Arctic is of primary strategic significance to the five bordering Arctic Ocean states — the U.S. (red), Canada (orange), Russia (grey), Norway (blue), and Denmark (green).