The Most Unusual and Expensive Gifts Exchanged Between Nations

For over 70 years, Norway has gifted the UK a Christmas tree as a symbol of friendship and gratitude for their support during WWII.

Gift-giving as a form of diplomacy has a long history. It dates back thousands of years, with one of the most ancient stories being the Trojan Horse, a deceitful gift.

However, not all diplomatic gifts are treacherous. This article explores some of the most expensive, unusual, and heartwarming gifts exchanged between countries.

Some of the gifts are symbolic, while others are just downright strange.

Let’s take a look at some of the most notable gifts:

The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous gifts ever exchanged between countries. France gifted the statue to the United States in 1886 to commemorate the American Revolution, which inspired France to fight for their independence from Britain.

The statue cost over $5 million to build in today’s currency.

A Christmas Tree

Since 1947, Norway has gifted the UK with a 20+ meter spruce tree every year as a thank you for their support during WWII. This annual tradition is a heartwarming gesture that commemorates the assistance Britain provided to Norway in resisting Nazi occupation.

Two Giant Pandas

China gifted two giant pandas to the National Zoo in Washington D.C. as a symbol of friendship and diplomacy after 25 years of no communication between the two nations. This visit was highly symbolic and marked the beginning of a new era of diplomacy between the two countries.


Canada and Holland share an annual tradition of exchanging tulips as a symbol of gratitude for their friendship during WWII. Holland, located between major powers, declared neutrality during the war. However, the Nazis invaded Holland in 1940, and the Dutch royal family sought refuge in Canada. To commemorate this, Holland sends 100,000 tulips to Canada every year, including a special tulip that resembles the Canadian flag.

The Sword of Stalingrad

In a surprising move, King George VI of the United Kingdom commissioned a sword to be created as a gift for Joseph Stalin during WWII. The sword was named the Sword of Stalingrad and was awarded to the Soviet Union for their bravery and sacrifices during the war.

Stalin, the leader of Russia, was in charge during the Battle of Stalingrad, a five-month battle that possibly altered the course of the war. The battle, which took place in 1943, resulted in the Axis powers’ most significant defeat, with over a million soldiers lost. Though the Red Army lost hundreds of thousands of men, their sheer willpower, size, and unrelenting spirit allowed them to emerge victorious. As history has shown, only Russians are equipped to deal with their harsh winter.

In 2009, newly sworn-in Barack Obama gifted the Queen of England, an octogenarian at the time, an iPod Classic, while giving David Cameron 25 DVDs during his visit to the UK. Although Obama was professional and charismatic, his gifts left something to be desired. David Cameron returned the favor with wellies and Hobgoblin ale, raising the question of how special the “special relationship” between the two countries was.

Other notable diplomatic gifts include France’s first-ever giraffe, a present from Egypt to curry favor with the French for their support in a war. The French people went wild for it. The Prince Philip Movement, a sect of a tribe in Vanuatu who worship Prince Philip as a deity, gifted him a penis sheath in 2010. The less said about that, the better. Obama’s America also had a gift-giving gaffe when they tried to give Russia a big, red button with the Russian word for “reset” on it. The button had the Russian word for “overcharge” instead, worsening US-Russia relations. Finally, Prince Philip received the oddest diplomatic gift from French President Georges Pompidou: a six-foot-long wine cooler in the shape of a grasshopper, just because.


1. What is the biggest gift ever exchanged between countries?

The biggest gift ever exchanged between countries was the Statue of Liberty that France gifted to the United States in 1886. The statue was designed by French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and was a symbol of friendship between France and the United States. The statue stands at a height of 305 feet and weighs over 225 tons.

2. What is the oddest gift ever exchanged between countries?

The oddest gift ever exchanged between countries was a live hippopotamus gifted by the country of Liberia to the United States in 1914. The gift was intended to strengthen the relationship between the two countries, but the hippopotamus named Billy ended up creating a lot of trouble. He was eventually moved to the Bronx Zoo in New York City where he lived until his death in 1917.

3. What gift did India give to the United States?

India gifted a sapling of the Bodhi Tree to the United States in 2016. The tree is considered sacred by Buddhists as it is believed to be the same tree under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. The sapling was planted in a park in Washington D.C. as a symbol of the strong relationship between India and the United States.

4. What gift did the United States give to the Soviet Union during the Cold War?

The United States gifted a painting of Abraham Lincoln to the Soviet Union during the Cold War in 1959. The painting, titled “The Peacemakers,” depicts Lincoln with his generals during the American Civil War. The gift was intended to symbolize the hope for peace between the two superpowers during a time of tension.

5. What gift did China give to the United States in 1972?

China gifted two giant pandas named Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing to the United States in 1972. The pandas were a symbol of goodwill between the two countries and were the first pandas to be exhibited in the United States in over 20 years. The pandas lived at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. until Ling-Ling’s death in 1992 and Hsing-Hsing’s death in 1999.

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