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For the town in New Hampshire, see Greenland, New Hampshire.

Greenland (Greenlandic: Kalaallit Nunaat, meaning "Land of the Greenlanders"; Danish: Grønland, meaning "Greenland") is a self-governed Danish territory. An Arctic island nation located in the continent of North America, both geographically and ethnically; politically and historically, however, Greenland is closely associated with Europe. The Atlantic Ocean and Iceland lie to Greenland's Southeast; the Greenland Sea to the East; the Arctic Ocean to the North; Baffin Bay and Canada to the West. Greenland is the world's largest island, and is the largest dependent territory by area in the world. It also contains the world's largest national park. About 81 percent of its surface is covered by ice, known as the Greenlandic ice cap. Nearly all Greenlanders live along the fjords in the south-west of the island, which has a milder climate. Most Greenlanders have both Kalaallit (Inuit) and Scandinavian ancestry, and speak Greenlandic (Kalaallisut) as their first language. Greenlandic is spoken by about 50,000 people, which is more than all the other Eskimo-Aleut languages combined. A minority of Danish migrants with no Inuit ancestry speak Danish as their first language. Both languages are official, with the West Greenlandic dialect forming the basis of the official form of Greenlandic.

There is an on-going diplomatic sovereignty dispute between Canada and Greenland (represented internationally by Denmark) over the tiny island of Hans Island.

Greenland was one of the Norwegian Crown colonies until 1815, when it formally became a Danish colony, although Norway and Denmark had been in a personal union for centuries (see Denmark-Norway). Greenland became an integral part of the Kingdom of Denmark in 1953. It was granted home rule (hjemmestyre) by the Folketing (Danish parliament) on May 1 1979. The law went into effect the following year. The Queen of Denmark, Margrethe II, remains Greenland's Head of state.

Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenlandic)
Grønland (Danish)
Flag of Greenland Greenland Coat of Arms
(Flag of Greenland) (Coat of Arms)
Location of Greenland
Official languages Greenlandic, Danish
Capital Nuuk (Godthåb)
Monarch Margrethe II
Prime Minister Hans Enoksen
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 13th
2,166,086 km²
 - 2003 est.
 - Density
Ranked 210th
Independence None (part of the Kingdom of Denmark). Home rule was established in 1979.
Currency Danish krone
Time zone UTC 0 to -4
National anthem Nunarput utoqqarsuanngoravit
Nuna asiilasooq
Internet TLD .gl
Calling code 299


Main article: History of Greenland

Greenland was home to a number of Palaeo-Eskimo cultures in prehistory, the latest of which - the Early Dorset culture - disappeared around the year 200. Hereafter, the island seems to have been without humans for some eight centuries.

Icelandic settlers found the land uninhabited when they arrived ca. 982. They established three settlements near the very Southwestern tip of the island, where they thrived for the next few centuries, disappearing after over 450 years of habitation.

The name Greenland comes from those Scandinavian settlers. In the Norse sagas, it is said that Eiríkur Rauði (Erik the Red) was exiled from Iceland for murder. He, along with his extended family and slaves, set out in ships to find the land that was rumored to be to the northwest. After settling there, he named the land Greenland in order to attract more people to settle there. The fjords of the Southern part of the island were lush and had a warmer climate at that time. These remote communities thrived and lived off farming, hunting and trading with the motherland, and when the Scandinavian monarchs converted their domains to Christianity, a bishop was installed in Greenland as well. The settlements seem to have coexisted relatively peacefully with the Inuit, who had migrated southwards from the Arctic islands of North America around 1200. In 1386, Greenland became part of the Kingdom of Norway, which was part of the Kalmar Union and later of the dual monarchy of Denmark-Norway.

After almost five hundred years, the settlements simply vanished, possibly due to famine during the 15th century in the Little Ice Age, when climatic conditions deteriorated, and contact with Europe was lost. Bones from this late period were found to be in a condition consistent with malnutrition. Some believe the settlers were wiped out by plague or exterminated by Inuits. Other historians have speculated that Basque or English pirates or slave traders from the Barbary Coast contributed to the extinction of the Greenlandic communities.

Denmark-Norway reasserted its latent claim to the colony in 1721. The island's ties with Norway were severed by the Treaty of Kiel of 1815, through which Sweden gained control over mainland Norway while Denmark retained all of their common overseas possessions (which at that time included small territories in India, West Africa and the West Indies, as well as lands in northwestern Europe).

Norway occupied and claimed parts of (then uninhabited) Eastern Greenland in the 1920s, claiming that it constituted Terra nullius. Norway and Denmark agreed to settle the matter at the Permanent Court of International Justice in 1933, where Norway lost.

Greenland was also called Gruntland ("Ground-land") on early maps. Whether Green is an erroneous transcription of Grunt ("Ground"), which refers to shallow bays, or vice versa, is not known.

During World War II, Greenland was on its own, the connection to Denmark having been cut on April 9, 1940 when Denmark was occupied by Germany. Through the cryolite from the mine in Ivigtut, Greenland was able to pay for goods bought in the United States and Canada. The manner in which Greenland had been run prior to the war was altered.

The Sirius Patrol, guarding the Northeastern shores of Greenland using dog sleds, was founded in 1941 and participated in defeating the Germans, which gave Denmark a better position in the postwar turmoil. In 1953 Greenland was made an equal part of the Danish Kingdom. In 1979 Greenland took one step further when home rule was granted.

During the War Eske Brun was governor and ruled the Island via a 1925-law concerning the governing of the Island where, under extreme circumstances, the governors could take control. The other governor Aksel Svane was transferred to the USA as leader of the supply to Greenland commission.


Main article: Politics of Greenland

Greenland's Head of State is the Danish Monarch, currently Margrethe II. The Queen's government in Denmark appoints a Rigsombudsmand (High commissioner) representing the Danish government and monarchy.

Greenland has a 31 member elected parliament. The head of government is the Prime Minister, who is usually the leader of the majority party in Parliament.

It is notable that Greenland is not part of the European Union, despite Denmark itself being a member state.


Main article: Geography of Greenland
File:Greenland eastcoast.jpg
South-east coast of Greenland
File:Greenland big.png
Map of Greenland

The total area of Greenland measures 2 099 988 km², of which the ice sheet covers 1 799 992 km² (85,7%).

All towns and settlements of Greenland are situated along the ice-free coast, with the population being concentrated along the Western coast. Of the 18 municipalities, 15 are in West Greenland (Aasiaat, Ilulissat, Kangaatsiaq, Qasigiannguit, Qeqertarsuaq, Upernavik, Uummannaq in the northern part, Maniitsoq, Nuuk, Paamiut, Sisimiut in the central part, and Ivittuut, Nanortalik, Narsaq, Qaqortoq in the southern part), 2 in East Greenland (Ammassalik, Illoqqortoormiut) and 1 in North Greenland (Qaanaaq). Northeastern greenland, part of North Greenland, is not part of any municipalitiy, but is the site of the world's largest national park, Northeast Greenland National Park.

At least four scientific expedition stations and camps had been established in the ice-covered central part of Greenland (indicated as pale blue in the map to the right), on the ice cap: Eismitte, North Ice, North GRIP Camp and The Raven Skiway. Currently, there is a year-round station, Summit Camp, on the ice cap, established in 1989. The radio station Brondlund Fjord was, until 1950, the northernmost permanent outpost of the world.

The extreme north of Greenland, Peary Land, is not covered by an ice cap, because the air there is too dry to produce snow, which is essential in the production and maintenance of an ice cap. If the Greenland ice cap were to completely melt away, Greenland would most likely become an archipelago.

Between 1989 and 1993, U.S. and European climate researchers drilled into the summit of Greenland's ice sheet, obtaining a pair of two-mile (3.2 km) long ice cores. Analysis of the layering and chemical composition of the cores has provided a revolutionary new record of climate change in the Northern Hemisphere going back about 100,000 years and illustrated that the world's weather and temperature have often shifted rapidly from one seemingly stable state to another, with worldwide consequences.


Main article: Economy of Greenland

Greenland suffered economic contraction in the early 1990s, but since 1993 the economy has improved. The Greenland Home Rule Government (GHRG) has pursued a tight fiscal policy since the late 1980s which has helped create surpluses in the public budget and low inflation. Since 1990, Greenland has registered a foreign trade deficit following the closure of the last remaining lead and zinc mine in 1990. Greenland today is critically dependent on fishing and fish exports; the shrimp fishing industry is by far the largest income earner. Despite resumption of several interesting hydrocarbon and mineral exploration activities, it will take several years before production can materialize. Tourism is the only sector offering any near-term potential and even this is limited due to a short season and high costs. The public sector, including publicly owned enterprises and the municipalities, plays the dominant role in Greenland's economy. About half the government revenues come from grants from the Danish Government, an important supplement to the gross domestic product.


Main article: Demographics of Greenland


Main article: Culture of Greenland

The Greenland National Museum and Archives[1] is located in Nuuk.

Miscellaneous topics

See also


External links

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