Greenland ( kl, Kalaallit Nunaat, ; da, Grønland, ) is an * * * within the and the , located between the and oceans, east of the . Though a part of the continent of , Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with (specifically and Denmark, the colonial powers) for more than a millennium, beginning in 986.The Fate of Greenland's Vikings
, by Dale Mackenzie Brown, ''Archaeological Institute of America'', 28 February 2000
The majority of its residents are , whose ancestors migrated from through , gradually settling across the island by the 13th century. Today, the population is concentrated mainly on the southwest coast, while the rest of the island is sparsely populated. Greenland is divided into five – , , , , and . It has two s – the and the . The latter, while under Danish control, is administered by the . Three-quarters of Greenland is covered by the only permanent outside of . With a population of 56,081 (2020), it is the in the world. About a third of the population lives in , the capital and largest city; the second-largest city in terms of population is , north of Nuuk. The ferry acts as a lifeline for western Greenland, connecting the various cities and settlements. Greenland has been inhabited at intervals over at least the last 4,500 years by Arctic peoples whose forebears migrated there from what is now . settled the uninhabited southern part of Greenland beginning in the 10th century, having previously . These Norsemen later set sail from Greenland and Iceland, with becoming the first known European to reach North America nearly 500 years before reached the Caribbean islands. Inuit peoples arrived in the 13th century. Though under continuous influence of Norway and Norwegians, Greenland was not formally under the Norwegian crown until 1261. The Norse colonies disappeared in the late 15th century after Norway was hit by the and entered a severe decline. Soon after their demise, beginning in 1499, the Portuguese briefly explored and claimed the island, naming it ''Terra do Lavrador'' (later applied to in Canada). In the early 17th century, Danish explorers reached Greenland again. To strengthen trading and power, affirmed sovereignty over the island. Because of Norway's weak status, it lost sovereignty over Greenland in 1814 when the union was dissolved. Greenland became Danish in 1814 and was fully integrated in the in 1953 under the . With the Constitution of 1953, the people in Greenland became . From 1961 Greenland joined the (EFTA), which joined as a founding member of the EFTA in 1960, but its membership ceased with effect from 1973 when joined the . In 1973, Greenland joined the (EEC) with Denmark. However, in a in 1982, a majority of the population voted for Greenland to withdraw from the EEC. This was effected in 1985, changing Greenland to an OCT () associated with the EEC, now the (EU). The associated relationship with the EU also means that all (OCT-nationals) are . Greenland contains the world's largest and northernmost , (''Kalaallit Nunaanni nuna eqqissisimatitaq''). Established in 1974 and expanded to its present size in 1988, it protects of the interior and northeastern coast of Greenland and is bigger than all but twenty-nine countries in the world. In , Denmark granted to Greenland; in 2008, Greenlanders in favour of the Self-Government Act, which transferred more power from the Danish government to the local . Under the new structure, Greenland has gradually assumed responsibility for policing, the judicial system, company law, accounting, auditing, mineral resource activities, aviation, law of legal capacity, family law and succession law, aliens and border controls, the working environment, and financial regulation and supervision. The Danish government still retains control of monetary policy and foreign affairs including defence. It also provided an initial annual subsidy of 3.4 billion, that will diminish gradually. Greenland expects to grow its economy based on increased income from the extraction of natural resources. The capital, Nuuk, held the . At 70%, Greenland has one of the highest shares of renewable energy in the world, mostly coming from .


The early Norse settlers named the island as ''Greenland.'' In the , the Norwegian-born Icelander was said to be exiled from Iceland for manslaughter. Along with his extended family and his s (i.e. slaves or serfs), he set out in ships to explore an icy land known to lie to the northwest. After finding a habitable area and settling there, he named it ' (translated as "Greenland"), supposedly in the hope that the pleasant name would attract settlers."How Greenland got its name"
. ''The Ancient Standard.'' 17 December 2010.
The ' states: "In the summer, Erik left to settle in the country he had found, which he called Greenland, as he said people would be attracted there if it had a favorable name." The name of the country in the indigenous is ("land of the Kalaallit")., p. 89 The are the indigenous people who inhabit the country's western region. The military of the United States used as a code name for , where they kept several bases named as ''Bluie (East or West) (sequential numeral)''.


Early Paleo-Inuit cultures

In prehistoric times, Greenland was home to several successive cultures known today primarily through archaeological finds. The earliest entry of the Paleo-Inuit into Greenland is thought to have occurred about 2500 BC. From around 2500 BC to 800 BC, southern and western Greenland were inhabited by the . Most finds of Saqqaq-period archaeological remains have been around , including the site of Saqqaq, after which the culture is named. From 2400 BC to 1300 BC, the existed in northern Greenland. It was a part of the . Towns, including , started to appear. Around 800 BC, the Saqqaq culture disappeared and the Early emerged in western Greenland and the in northern Greenland. The Dorset culture was the first culture to extend throughout the Greenlandic coastal areas, both on the west and east coasts. It lasted until the total onset of the in 1500 AD. The Dorset culture population lived primarily from hunting of and .

Norse settlement

From 986, Greenland's west coast was settled by and , through a contingent of 14 boats led by Erik the Red. They formed three settlements – known as the , the and the – on fjords near the southwesternmost tip of the island. They shared the island with the late Dorset culture inhabitants who occupied the northern and western parts, and later with the Thule culture that entered from the north. Norse Greenlanders submitted to Norwegian rule in 1261 under the . Later the Kingdom of Norway entered into a personal union with Denmark in 1380 and from 1397 was a part of the . The Norse settlements, such as , thrived for centuries but disappeared sometime in the 15th century, perhaps at the onset of the . Apart from some runic inscriptions, the only contemporary records or that survives from the Norse settlements is of their contact with Iceland or Norway. Medieval Norwegian sagas and historical works mention Greenland's economy as well as the bishops of and the collection of tithes. A chapter in the ' (''The King's Mirror'') describes Norse Greenland's exports and imports as well as grain cultivation. Icelandic saga accounts of life in Greenland were composed in the 13th century and later, and do not constitute primary sources for the history of early Norse Greenland. Those accounts are closer to primary for more contemporaneous accounts of late Norse Greenland. Modern understanding therefore mostly depends on the physical data from archeological sites. Interpretation of and clam shell data suggests that between 800 and 1300 AD, the regions around the fjords of southern Greenland experienced a relatively mild climate several degrees Celsius higher than usual in the North Atlantic,Arnold C. (June 2010) "Cold did in the Norse," ''Earth Magazine''. p. 9. with trees and s growing, and livestock being farmed. was grown as a crop up to the 70th parallel. The ice cores indicate Greenland has had dramatic temperature shifts many times over the past 100,000 years. Similarly the records famines during the winters, in which "the old and helpless were killed and thrown over cliffs". These vanished during the 14th and early 15th centuries. The demise of the Western Settlement coincides with a decrease in summer and winter temperatures. A study of North Atlantic seasonal temperature variability during the Little Ice Age showed a significant decrease in maximum summer temperatures beginning in the late 13th century to early 14th century – as much as lower than modern summer temperatures. The study also found that the lowest winter temperatures of the last 2,000 years occurred in the late 14th century and early 15th century. The Eastern Settlement was likely abandoned in the early to mid-15th century, during this cold period. Theories drawn from archeological excavations at in the 1920s suggest that the condition of human bones from this period indicates that the Norse population was malnourished, possibly because of resulting from the Norsemen's destruction of natural vegetation in the course of farming, turf-cutting, and wood-cutting. Malnutrition may also have resulted from widespread deaths from plague; the decline in temperatures during the Little Ice Age; and armed conflicts with the ''s'' (Norse word for Inuit, meaning "wretches"). Recent archeological studies somewhat challenge the general assumption that the Norse colonisation had a dramatic negative environmental effect on the vegetation. Data support traces of a possible Norse soil amendment strategy. More recent evidence suggests that the Norse, who never numbered more than about 2,500, gradually abandoned the Greenland settlements over the 15th century as , the most valuable export from Greenland, decreased in price because of competition with other sources of higher-quality ivory, and that there was actually little evidence of starvation or difficulties. Other explanations of the disappearance of the Norse settlements have been proposed: # Lack of support from the homeland. # Ship-borne marauders (such as , English, or German pirates) rather than ''s'', could have plundered and displaced the Greenlanders. # They were "the victims of hidebound thinking and of a hierarchical society dominated by the Church and the biggest land owners. In their reluctance to see themselves as anything but Europeans, the Greenlanders failed to adopt the kind of apparel that the Inuit employed as protection against the cold and damp or to borrow any of the Inuit hunting gear." # That portion of the Greenlander population willing to adopt Inuit ways and means intermarried with and assimilated into the Inuit community. Vilhjalmur Stefansson, ''Unsolved Mysteries of the Arctic'', 1938, chapter 1. Much of the Greenland population today is mixed Inuit and European ancestry. It was impossible in 1938 when Stefansson wrote his book to distinguish between intermarriage before the European loss of contact and after the contact was restored. # "Norse society's structure created a conflict between the short-term interests of those in power, and the long-term interests of the society as a whole."

Thule culture (1300–present)

The Thule people are the ancestors of the current Greenlandic population. No genes from the Paleo-Inuit have been found in the present population of Greenland. The Thule culture migrated eastward from what is now known as Alaska around 1000 AD, reaching Greenland around 1300. The Thule culture was the first to introduce to Greenland such technological innovations as s and s. There is an account of contact and conflict with the Norse population, as told by the Inuit. It is republished in ''The Norse Atlantic Sagas'', by Gwyn Jones. Jones reports that there is also an account of perhaps the same incident, of more doubtful provenance, told by the Norse side.


In 1500, King sent to Greenland in search of a to Asia which, according to the , was part of Portugal's sphere of influence. In 1501, Corte-Real returned with his brother, . Finding the sea frozen, they headed south and arrived in and . Upon the brothers' return to Portugal, the cartographic information supplied by Corte-Real was incorporated into a new map of the world which was presented to , , by Alberto Cantino in 1502. The , made in Lisbon, accurately depicts the southern coastline of Greenland. In 1605–1607, King sent a to Greenland and Arctic waterways to locate the lost eastern Norse settlement and assert Danish sovereignty over Greenland. The expeditions were mostly unsuccessful, partly due to leaders who lacked experience with the difficult Arctic ice and weather conditions, and partly because the expedition leaders were given instructions to search for the Eastern Settlement on the east coast of Greenland just north of , which is almost inaccessible due to southward . The pilot on all three trips was English explorer . After the Norse settlements died off, Greenland came under the de facto control of various Inuit groups, but the Danish government never forgot or relinquished the claims to Greenland that it had inherited from the Norse. When it re-established contact with Greenland in the early 17th century, Denmark asserted its sovereignty over the island. In 1721, a joint mercantile and clerical expedition led by Danish-Norwegian missionary was sent to Greenland, not knowing whether a Norse civilization remained there. This expedition is part of the Dano-Norwegian colonization of the Americas. After 15 years in Greenland, Hans Egede left his son in charge of the mission there and returned to Denmark, where he established a Greenland Seminary. This new colony was centred at ("Good Hope") on the southwest coast. Gradually, Greenland was opened up to Danish merchants, but closed to those from other countries.

Treaty of Kiel to World War II

When the union between the crowns of Denmark and Norway was dissolved in 1814, the severed Norway's former colonies and left them under the control of the Danish monarch. Norway occupied then-uninhabited eastern Greenland as in July 1931, claiming that it constituted '. Norway and Denmark agreed to submit the matter in 1933 to the , which decided against Norway. Greenland's connection to Denmark was severed on 9 April 1940, early in , after Denmark was occupied by . On 8 April 1941, the United States occupied Greenland to defend it against a possible invasion by Germany. The United States occupation of Greenland continued until 1945. Greenland was able to buy goods from the United States and Canada by selling from the mine at . The major air bases were at and at (Kangerlussuaq), both of which are still used as Greenland's major international airports. was the military code name for Greenland. During this war, the system of government changed: ruled the island under a law of 1925 that allowed governors to take control under extreme circumstances; Governor Aksel Svane was transferred to the United States to lead the commission to supply Greenland. The Danish guarded the northeastern shores of Greenland in 1942 using dogsleds. They detected several German s and alerted American troops, who destroyed the facilities. After the collapse of the Third Reich, briefly considered escaping in a small aeroplane to hide out in Greenland, but changed his mind and decided to surrender to the . Greenland had been a protected and very isolated society until 1940. The had maintained a strict monopoly of , allowing no more than small scale with British whalers. In wartime Greenland developed a sense of self-reliance through self-government and independent communication with the outside world. Despite this change, in 1946 a commission including the highest Greenlandic council, the , recommended patience and no radical reform of the system. Two years later, the first step towards a change of government was initiated when a grand commission was established. A final report (G-50) was presented in 1950, which recommended the introduction of a modern with Denmark's development as sponsor and model. In 1953, Greenland was made an equal part of the Danish Kingdom. Home rule was granted in 1979.

Home rule and self-rule

Following World War II, the United States developed a interest in Greenland, and in 1946 the United States offered to for $100,000,000. Denmark refused to sell it. Historically this repeated an interest by . In 1867 he worked with former senator to explore the possibility of buying Greenland and perhaps . Opposition in Congress ended this project. In the 21st century, the United States, according to , remains interested in investing in the resource base of Greenland and in tapping hydrocarbons off the Greenlandic coast. In August 2019, the American president again proposed to buy the country, prompting premier to issue the statement, "Greenland is not for sale and cannot be sold, but Greenland is open for trade and cooperation with other countries – including the United States." In 1950, Denmark agreed to allow the US to regain the use of ; it was greatly expanded between 1951 and 1953 as part of a unified defense strategy. The local population of three nearby villages was moved more than 100 kilometres (62 mi) away in the winter. The United States tried to construct a subterranean network of secret in the Greenlandic ice cap, named . According to documents declassified in 1996, this project was managed from from 1960 to 1966 before abandonment as unworkable. The missiles were never fielded and necessary consent from the Danish Government to do so was never sought. The Danish government did not become aware of the program's mission until 1997, when they discovered it while looking, in the declassified documents, for records related to the of a nuclear equipped  bomber at Thule in 1968. With the 1953 Danish constitution, Greenland's colonial status ended as the island was incorporated into the Danish realm as an (county). Danish citizenship was extended to Greenlanders. Danish policies toward Greenland consisted of a strategy of cultural assimilation – or de-Greenlandification. During this period, the Danish government promoted the exclusive use of the Danish language in official matters, and required Greenlanders to go to Denmark for their post-secondary education. Many Greenlandic children grew up in boarding schools in southern Denmark, and a number lost their cultural ties to Greenland. While the policies "succeeded" in the sense of shifting Greenlanders from being primarily subsistence hunters into being urbanized wage earners, the Greenlandic elite began to reassert a Greenlandic cultural identity. A movement developed in favour of independence, reaching its peak in the 1970s. As a consequence of political complications in relation to Denmark's entry into the European Common Market in 1972, Denmark began to seek a different status for Greenland, resulting in the Home Rule Act of 1979. This gave Greenland limited autonomy with taking control of some internal policies, while the maintained full control of external policies, security, and natural resources. The law came into effect on 1 May 1979. The , , remains Greenland's . In 1985, Greenland left the (EEC) upon achieving self-rule, as it did not agree with the EEC's commercial fishing regulations and an EEC ban on skin products. Greenland voters approved a on 25 November 2008. According to one study, the 2008 vote created what "can be seen as a system between home rule and full independence." On 21 June 2009, Greenland gained self-rule with provisions for assuming responsibility for self-government of , policing, and s. Also, Greenlanders were recognized as a separate people under . Denmark maintains control of and matters. Denmark upholds the annual block grant of 3.2 billion Danish kroner, but as Greenland begins to collect revenues of its natural resources, the grant will gradually be diminished. This is generally considered to be a step toward eventual full independence from Denmark. was declared the sole official language of Greenland at the historic ceremony.


Tourism increased significantly between 2010 and 2019, with the number of visitors increasing from 460,000 per year to 2 million. describes that high level as "overtourism". One source estimated that in 2019 the revenue from this aspect of the economy was about 450 million kroner (US$67 million). Like many aspects of the economy, this slowed dramatically in 2020, and into 2021, due to restrictions required as a result of the ; one source describes it as being the "biggest economic victim of the coronavirus". (The overall economy did not suffer too severely as of mid 2020, thanks to the fisheries "and a hefty subsidy from Copenhagen".) Visitors will begin arriving again in late 2020 or early 2021. Greenland's goal is to develop it "right" and to "build a more sustainable tourism for the long run".

Geography and climate

Greenland is the world's and the third largest area in North America after and the . It is between latitudes and , and longitudes and . Greenland is bordered by the to the north, the to the east, the North to the southeast, the to the southwest, to the west, the and to the northwest. The nearest countries are Canada, to the west and southwest across Nares Strait and Baffin Bay; and Iceland, southeast of Greenland in the Atlantic Ocean. Greenland also contains the , and it is the by area in the world, as well as the , after in , 's state of , and Russia's , and the largest in . The lowest temperature ever recorded in the was recorded in Greenland, near the topographic summit of the , on 22 December 1991, when the temperature reached . In Nuuk, the average daily temperature varies over the seasons from The total area of Greenland is (including other offshore minor islands), of which the covers (81%) and has a volume of approximately . The highest point on Greenland is at of the (). The majority of Greenland, however, is less than in elevation. The weight of the has depressed the central land area to form a basin lying more than below sea level,DK Atlas, 2001. while elevations rise suddenly and steeply near the coast. The ice generally to the coast from the centre of the island. A survey led by French scientist in 1951 concluded that, under the ice sheet, Greenland is composed of three large islands.Find Greenland Icecap Bridges Three Islands
", ''Ellensburg Daily Record'', 24 October 1951, p. 6. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
This is disputed, but if it is so, they would be separated by narrow straits, reaching the sea at , at and south of . All are situated along the ice-free coast, with the population being concentrated along the west coast. The northeastern part of Greenland is not part of any municipality, but it is the site of the world's largest national park, . At least four scientific expedition stations and camps had been established on the ice sheet in the ice-covered central part of Greenland (indicated as pale blue in the adjacent map): , , North GRIP Camp and The Raven Skiway. There is a year-round station on the ice sheet, established in 1989. The radio station was, until 1950, the northernmost permanent outpost in the world. The extreme north of Greenland, , is not covered by an ice sheet, because the air there is too dry to produce snow, which is essential in the production and maintenance of an ice sheet. If the Greenland ice sheet were to away completely, the world's would rise by more than . In 2003, a small island, in length and width, was discovered by arctic explorer and his team at the coordinates of . Whether this island is permanent is not yet confirmed. If it is, it is the northernmost permanent known land on Earth. In 2007, the existence of a new island was announced. Named "" (English: ''Warming Island''), this island has always been present off the coast of Greenland, but was covered by a glacier. This glacier was discovered in 2002 to be shrinking rapidly, and by 2007 had completely melted away, leaving the exposed island. The island was named Place of the Year by the Oxford Atlas of the World in 2007. Ben Keene, the atlas's editor, commented: "In the last two or three decades, global warming has reduced the size of glaciers throughout the and earlier this year, news sources confirmed what climate scientists already knew: water, not rock, lay beneath this on the east coast of Greenland. More islets are likely to appear as the sheet of frozen water covering the world's largest island continues to melt". Some controversy surrounds the history of the island, specifically over whether the island might have been revealed during a brief warm period in Greenland during the mid-20th century.

Climate change

Between 1989 and 1993, US and European researchers drilled into the summit of Greenland's ice sheet, obtaining a pair of long s. Analysis of the layering and chemical composition of the cores has provided a revolutionary new record of climate change in the 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 . The glaciers of Greenland are also contributing to a faster than was previously believed. Between 1991 and 2004, monitoring of the weather at one location (Swiss Camp) showed that the average winter temperature had risen almost . Other research has shown that higher snowfalls from the caused the interior of the ice cap to thicken by an average of each year between 1994 and 2005. In 2021 Greenland banned all new oil and gas exploration in its territory. The government of Greenland explained the decision as follows: "price of oil extraction is too high," In 2021, rain fell on the summit of Greenland's ice cap for the first time in recorded history, which scientists attributed to climate change.


The island was part of the very ancient Precambrian continent of , the eastern core of which forms the Greenland Shield, while the less exposed coastal strips become a plateau. On these ice-free coastal strips are sediments formed in the , overprinted by metamorphism and now formed by glaciers, which continue into the Cenozoic and Mesozoic in parts of the island. In the east and west of Greenland there are remnants of flood . Notable rock provinces ( igneous rocks, ultramafics and anorthosites) are found on the southwest coast at Qeqertarsuatsiaat. East of Nuuk, the banded iron ore region of Isukasia, over three billion years old, contains the world's oldest rocks, such as greenlandite (a rock composed predominantly of hornblende and hyperthene), formed 3.8 billion years ago, and nuummite. In southern Greenland, the Illimaussaq alkaline complex consists of such as nepheline, syenites (especially kakortokite or naujaite) and sodalite (sodalite-foya). In Ivittuut, where cryolite was formerly mined, there are -bearing pegmatites. To the north of Igaliku, there are the Gardar alkaline pegmatitic intrusions of augite syenite, gabbro, etc. To the west and southwest are carbonatite complexes at Kangerlussuaq (Gardiner complex) and Safartoq, and basic and ultrabasic igneous rocks at Uiffaq on Disko Island, where there are masses of heavy up to in the basalts.


Greenland is home to two ecoregions: and . There are approximately 700 known species of insects in Greenland, which is low compared with other countries (over one million species have been described worldwide). The sea is rich in fish and invertebrates, especially in the milder ; a large part of the Greenland fauna is associated with marine-based food chains, including large colonies of seabirds. The few native land mammals in Greenland include the , (introduced by Europeans), , , , , , and . The last four are found naturally only in , having immigrated from . There are dozens of species of and s along the coast. Land fauna consists predominantly of animals which have spread from North America or, in the case of many birds and insects, from Europe. There are no native or free-living reptiles or amphibians on the island. , Greenland belongs to the Arctic province of the within the . The island is sparsely populated in vegetation; plant life consists mainly of grassland and small shrubs, which are regularly grazed by livestock. The most common tree native to Greenland is the European white birch (') along with gray-leaf willow ('), rowan ('), common juniper (') and other smaller trees, mainly willows. Greenland's flora consists of about 500 species of "higher" plants, i.e. s, s, s and . Of the other groups, the s are the most diverse, with about 950 species; there are 600–700 species of fungi; es and s are also found. Most of Greenland's higher plants have or distributions; only a dozen species of and are . A few plant species were introduced by the Norsemen, such as . The terrestrial vertebrates of Greenland include the , which was introduced by the , as well as -introduced species such as , s, , , , and , all descendants of animals imported by Europeans. include the (''Cystophora cristata'') as well as the (''Halichoerus grypus'')."Greenland". ''Encyclopædia Britannica'', Eleventh Edition. s frequently pass very close to Greenland's shores in the late summer and early autumn. Whale species include the , , , , , , , , . As of 2009, 269 species of fish from over 80 different families are known from the waters surrounding Greenland. Almost all are marine species with only a few in freshwater, notably and . The is the primary industry of Greenland's economy, accounting for the majority of the country's total exports. Birds, particularly seabirds, are an important part of Greenland's animal life; breeding populations of s, s, s, and s are found on steep mountainsides. Greenland's ducks and geese include , , , , and . Breeding include the , , , and . Non-migratory land birds include the , , , , and .


The Greenlandic government holds in local government affairs. The head of the government is called ' ("Premier") and serves as head of Greenlandic Government. Any other member of the cabinet is called a ' ("Minister"). The Greenlandic parliament – the ' ("Legislators"). The parliament currently has 31 members. In contemporary times, elections are held at municipal, national ('), and kingdom (') levels. Greenland is a self-governing entity within the of the Kingdom of Denmark, in which is the head of state. The monarch officially retains and presides over the (). However, following the introduction of a of government, the duties of the monarch have since become strictly representative and , such as the formal appointment and dismissal of the and other ministers in the executive government. The monarch is not answerable for his or her actions, and the monarch's person is sacrosanct.

Political system

The party system is dominated by the social-democratic Party, and the democratic socialist Party, both of which broadly argue for greater independence from Denmark. While the saw the unionist Party (two MPs) decline greatly, the consolidated the power of the two main parties at the expense of the smaller groups, and saw the elected to the for the first time. The dominance of the Forward and Inuit Community parties began to wane after the snap and elections. The non-binding favoured increased self-governance by 21,355 votes to 6,663. In 1985, (EEC), unlike Denmark, which remains a member. The EEC later became the (EU, renamed and expanded in scope in 1992). Greenland retains some ties through its associated relationship with the EU. However, EU law largely does not apply to Greenland except in the area of trade. Greenland is designated as a member of the (OCT) and is thus officially not a part of the , though Greenland can and does receive support from the , , and EU Programs.


Greenland's is Queen . The Queen's appoints a (''Rigsombudsmand'') to represent it on the island. The commissioner is . The Greenland constituency elect two representatives to the Kingdom Parliament (''et'') in Denmark, out of a total of 179. The current representatives are of the Party and of the Party. Greenland has national that consists of . The government is the whose members are appointed by the premier. The is the , usually the leader of the majority party in Parliament. The premier is of the party.


Several and Danish military bases are located in Greenland, including , which is home to the 's global network of sensors providing missile warning, space surveillance and space control to (NORAD). Elements of the sensor systems are commanded and controlled variously by Space Delta's , , and . In 1995, a political scandal in Denmark occurred after a report revealed the government had given tacit permission for to be located in Greenland, in contravention of Denmark's 1957 policy. The United States built a secret nuclear powered base, called , in the Greenland ice sheet. On 21 January 1968, a B-52G, with four nuclear bombs aboard as part of , of the North Star Bay while attempting an emergency landing at Thule Air Base. The resulting fire caused extensive radioactive contamination. One of the remains lost.

Administrative divisions

Formerly consisting of three counties comprising a total of 18 municipalities, Greenland abolished these in 2009 and has since been divided into large territories known as "municipalities" ( kl, kommuneqarfiit, da, kommuner): ' ("Much Ice") around the capital and also including all communities; ' ("South") around ; ' ("Centre") north of the capital along the ; ' ("The one with islands") surrounding ; and ' ("Northern") in the northwest; the latter two having come into being as a result of the municipality, one of the original four, being partitioned in 2018. The northeast of the island composes the unincorporated '. ' is also unincorporated, an enclave within Avannaata municipality administered by the . During its construction, there were as many as 12,000 American residents but in recent years the number has been below 1,000.


The Greenlandic economy is highly dependent on fishing. Fishing accounts for more than 90% of Greenland's exports. The and industry is by far the largest income earner. Greenland is abundant in minerals. Mining of deposits began in 2007. Other mineral prospects are improving as prices are increasing. These include iron, , aluminium, nickel, , , , and . Despite resumption of several and mineral exploration activities, it will take several years before hydrocarbon production can materialize. The state oil company was created to help develop the hydrocarbon industry in Greenland. The state company Nunamineral has been launched on the to raise more capital to increase the production of gold, started in 2007. Electricity has traditionally been generated by oil or diesel power plants, even if there is a large surplus of potential . There is a programme to build hydro power plants. The first, and still the largest, is . There are also plans to build a large aluminium smelter, using hydropower to create an exportable product. It is expected that much of the labour needed will be imported. The has urged Greenland to restrict People's Republic of China development of projects, as China accounts for 95% of the world's current supply. In early 2013, the Greenland government said that it had no plans to impose such restrictions. The public sector, including publicly owned enterprises and the municipalities, plays a 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 (GDP). Gross domestic product per capita is equivalent to that of the average economies of Europe. Greenland suffered an 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 following the closure of the last remaining lead and mine that year. In 2017, new sources of in Greenland have been discovered, promising to bring new industry and a new export from the country. (See ).


There is air transport both within Greenland and between the island and other . There is also scheduled boat traffic, but the long distances lead to long travel times and low frequency. There are virtually no roads between cities because the coast has many fjords that would require ferry service to connect a road network. The only exception is a gravel road of length between and the now abandoned former mining town of . In addition, the lack of agriculture, forestry and similar countryside activities has meant that very few country roads have been built. (SFJ) is the largest airport and the main aviation hub for international passenger transport. It serves international and domestic airline operated flight. SFJ is far from the vicinity of the larger metropolitan capital areas, to the capital Nuuk, and airline passenger services are available. Greenland has no passenger railways. (GOH) is the second-largest airport located just from the centre of the capital. GOH serves general aviation traffic and has daily- or regular domestic flights within Greenland. GOH also serves international flights to , business and private airplanes. (JAV) is a domestic airport that also serves international flights to . There are a total of 13 registered civil airports and 47 helipads in Greenland; most of them are unpaved and located in rural areas. The second longest runway is at Narsarsuaq, a domestic airport with limited international service in south Greenland. All civil aviation matters are handled by the . Most airports including have short runways and can only be served by special fairly small aircraft on fairly short flights. around inland from the west coast is the major airport of Greenland and the hub for domestic flights. Intercontinental flights connect mainly to . Travel between international destinations (except Iceland) and any city in Greenland requires a plane change. operates flights from to a number of airports in Greenland, and the company promotes the service as a day-trip option from Iceland for tourists. There are no direct flights to the United States or Canada, although there have been flights Kangerlussuaq – , and Nuuk – , which were cancelled because of too few passengers and financial losses. An alternative between Greenland and the United States/Canada is with a plane change in Iceland. Sea transport is served by several coastal ferries. makes a single round trip per week, taking 80 hours each direction. by sea is handled by the shipping company from, to and across Greenland. It provides trade and transport opportunities between Greenland, Europe and North America.



Greenland has a population of 56,421 (2021). In terms of country of birth, the population is estimated to be of 89.7% ( including - ), 7.8% , 1.1% and 1.4% other. The multi-ethnic population of - represent people of , , , , (), (), () descent and others. The are indigenous to the Arctic and have traditionally inhabited Greenland, as well as areas in and in in the . A 2015 wide genetic study of Greenlanders found modern-day Inuit in Greenland are direct descendants of the first Inuit pioneers of the with ∼25% admixture of the from the 16th century. Despite previous speculations, no evidence of Viking settlers predecessors has been found. The majority of the population is . Nearly all Greenlanders live along the fjords in the south-west of the main island, which has a relatively mild climate. In 2021, 18,800 people reside in , the capital city. Greenland's warmest climates such as the vegetated area around are sparsely populated, whereas the majority of the population lives north of 64°N in colder coastal climates. Greenland is the only country in the Americas where natives make up a majority of the population.


Both (an , effectively meaning ) and have been used in public affairs since the establishment of home rule in 1979; the majority of the population can speak both. Greenlandic became the sole official language in June 2009, In practice, Danish is still widely used in the administration and in higher education, as well as remaining the first or only language for some Danish immigrants in Nuuk and other larger towns. Debate about the roles of Greenlandic and Danish in the country's future is ongoing. The orthography of Greenlandic was established in 1851 and in 1973. The country has a 100% . A majority of the population speaks West Greenlandic, most of them bi- or tri-lingually. It is spoken by about 50,000 people, making it the most populous of the Eskaleut language family, spoken by more people than all the other languages of the family combined. Kalaallisut is the language of West Greenland, which has long been the most populous area of the island. This has led to its de facto status as the official "Greenlandic" language, although the northern language is spoken by 1,000 or so people around , and (Tunumiisut) by around 3,000. Each of these varieties is nearly unintelligible to the speakers of the others. Inuktun is closer to the Inuit languages of Canada than it is to other Greenlandic, and some linguists consider Tunumiit to be a separate language as well. A report has labelled the other varieties as endangered, and measures are now being considered to protect East Greenlandic dialect. About 12% of the population speak Danish as a first or sole language. These are primarily Danish immigrants in Greenland, many of whom fill positions such as administrators, professionals, academics, or skilled tradesmen. While Greenlandic is dominant in all smaller settlements, a part of the population of Inuit or multi-ethnic ancestry, especially in towns, speaks Danish. Most of the Inuit population speaks Danish as a second language. In larger towns, especially Nuuk and in the higher social strata, this is a large group. English is another important language for Greenland, taught in schools from the first school year.


Education is organised in a similar way to Denmark. There is ten year mandatory . There is also a secondary school, with either work education or preparatory for university education. There is one university, the ( kl, Ilisimatusarfik) in Nuuk. Many attend universities in Denmark or elsewhere. The public school system in Greenland is, as in Denmark, under the jurisdiction of the municipalities: they are therefore municipal schools. The legislature specifies the standards allowed for the content in schools, but the municipal governments decide how the schools under their responsibility are run. is free and for children aged seven to 16. The financial effort devoted to education is now very important (11.3% of GDP). Section 1 of the Government Ordinance on Public Schools (as amended on June 6, 1997) requires Greenlandic as the language of instruction. Education is governed by Regulation No. 10 of 25 October 1990 on primary and lower secondary education. This regulation was amended by Regulation No. 8 of 13 May 1993 and Regulation No. 1 of 1 March 1994. Under Regulation No. 10 of 25 October 1990, linguistic integration in primary and lower secondary schools became compulsory for all s. The aim is to place Greenlandic-speaking and Danish-speaking pupils in the same classes, whereas previously they were placed in separate classes according to their mother tongue. At the same time, the government guarantees that Danish speakers can learn Greenlandic. In this way, the Greenlandic government wants to give the same linguistic, cultural and social education to all students, both those of Greenlandic and Danish origin. A study, which was carried out during a three-year trial period, concluded that this policy had achieved positive results. This policy has been in force since 1994.About 100 schools have been established. Greenlandic and Danish are taught there. Normally, Greenlandic is taught from kindergarten to the end of secondary school, but Danish is compulsory from the first cycle of primary school as a second language. As in Denmark with Danish, the school system provides for "Greenlandic 1" and "Greenlandic 2" courses. Language tests allow students to move from one level to the other. Based on the teachers' evaluation of their students, a third level of courses has been added: "Greenlandic 3". Secondary education in Greenland is generally vocational and technical education. The system is governed by Regulation No. 16 of 28 October 1993 on Vocational and , Scholarships and Career Guidance. remains the main language of instruction. The capital, Nuuk, has a (bilingual) teacher training college and a (bilingual) university. At the end of their studies, all students must pass a test in the Greenlandic language. Higher education is offered in Greenland: "university education" (regulation no. 3 of May 9, 1989); training of journalists, training of primary and lower secondary school teachers, training of social workers, training of social educators (regulation no. 1 of May 16, 1989); and training of nurses and nursing assistants (regulation no. 9 of May 13, 1990). Greenlandic students can continue their education in Denmark, if they wish and have the financial means to do so. For admission to Danish educational institutions, Greenlandic applicants are placed on an equal footing with Danish applicants. s are granted to Greenlandic students who are admitted to Danish educational institutions. To be eligible for these scholarships, the applicant must be a and have had permanent residence in Greenland for at least five years. The total period of residence outside Greenland may not exceed three years.


The nomadic were traditionally , with a well-developed primarily concerned with appeasing a vengeful and who controlled the success of the and . The first worshipped the , but 's son was converted to Christianity by on a trip to Norway in 999 and sent missionaries back to Greenland. These swiftly established sixteen parishes, some monasteries, and a bishopric at . Rediscovering these colonists and spreading ideas of the among them was one of the primary reasons for the in the 18th century. Under the patronage of the in Copenhagen, Norwegian and Danish and German searched for the missing Norse settlements, but no Norse were found, and instead they began preaching to the Inuit. The principal figures in the of Greenland were and and . The was translated piecemeal from the time of the very first settlement on Kangeq Island, but the first translation of the whole Bible was not completed until 1900. An improved translation using the was completed in 2000. Today, the major religion is , represented mainly by the , which is in orientation. While there are no official census data on religion in Greenland, the estimates that 85% of the Greenlandic population are members of her congregation. The Church of Denmark is the through the . The minority is pastorally served by the . There are still Christian missionaries on the island, but mainly from fellow Christians. According to , just 4.7% of Greenlanders are , although the Evangelical population is growing at an annual rate of 8.4%.

Social issues

The rate of is very high. According to a 2010 census, Greenland holds . Another significant social issue faced by Greenland is a high rate of alcoholism. Alcohol consumption rates in Greenland reached their height in the 1980s, when it was twice as high as in Denmark, and had by 2010 fallen slightly below the average level of consumption in Denmark (which at the time were 12th highest in the world, but ). However, at the same time, alcohol prices are far higher, meaning that consumption has a large social impact. Prevalence of HIV/AIDS used to be high in Greenland and peaked in the 1990s when the fatality rate also was relatively high. Through a number of initiatives the prevalence (along with the fatality rate through efficient treatment) has fallen and is now low, 0.13%, below . In recent decades, the unemployment rates have generally been somewhat above those in Denmark; in 2017, the rate was 6.8% in Greenland, compared to 5.6% in Denmark.


Today Greenlandic culture is a blending of traditional Inuit (, , ) and Scandinavian culture. Inuit, or Kalaallit, culture has a strong artistic tradition, dating back thousands of years. The Kalaallit are known for an art form of figures called ' or a "spirit object". Traditional art-making practices thrive in the ''Ammassalik''., p. 20 ivory remains a valued medium for carving.


Greenland also has a successful, albeit small, music culture. Some popular bands and artists include (classic rock), (rock), (rock), (rock), (hip hop) and (folk), who performed in the , performing in Greenlandic. The singer-songwriter is the first musical artist from Greenland to have an album released across the United Kingdom, and to perform at the UK's . The music culture of Greenland also includes traditional , largely revolving around singing and drums. The is the traditional Greenlandic instrument. It was used to perform traditional drum dances. For this purpose, a round drum (qilaat) in the form of a frame made of driftwood or walrus ribs covered with a polar bear bladder, polar bear stomach or walrus stomach was used. The drumming was not done on the membrane, but with a stick from underneath the frame. Simple melodies were sung for this purpose. The drum used to serve two functions: On the one hand, the drum was used to drive away fear on long, dark winter nights. To do this, the drum dancer would make faces and try to make others laugh until all fear was forgotten. Disputes were also settled with the drum. If someone had misbehaved, he was challenged with the drum. People would gather at certain powerful places and take turns beating the drum and singing to it. They tried to ridicule the other person as much as possible. The spectators expressed with their laughter who was the winner and who was therefore the guilty one. The drum could also be used by shamans for ritual conjurations of spirits. After the arrival of in the 18th century, the drum dance (still popular among Canadian Inuit today) was banned as pagan and shamanistic and replaced by singing of secular and . This choral singing is known today for its special sound. Church hymns are partly of German origin due to the influence of the Herrnhuter Brüdergemeinde. Scandinavian, and Scottish whalers brought the fiddle, accordion and polka (kalattuut) to Greenland, where they are now played in intricate dance steps.


Sport is an important part of Greenlandic culture, as the population is generally quite active. Popular sports include , , and . Handball is often referred to as the national sport,, p. 110 and was ranked among the top 20 in the world in 2001. Greenland has excellent conditions for , , , and , although and are preferred by the general public. Although the environment is generally ill-suited for golf, there is a golf course in Nuuk.


The national dish of Greenland is , a soup made from . Meat from marine mammals, game, birds, and fish play a large role in the Greenlandic diet. Due to the glacial landscape, most ingredients come from the ocean. Spices are seldom used besides salt and pepper. Greenlandic coffee is a "flaming" dessert coffee (set alight before serving) made with coffee, whiskey, Kahlúa, Grand Marnier, and whipped cream. It is stronger than the familiar Irish dessert coffee.


Kalaallit Nunaata Radioa (KNR) is the public of Greenland. It is an associate member of Eurovision and an associate member of the Nordvision network. Nearly one hundred people are directly employed by this company, which is one of the largest in the territory. The city of Nuuk also has its own radio and . The city of Nuuk also has a local television channel, Nanoq Media, which was created on 1 August 2002. It is the largest local television station in Greenland, reaching more than 4,000 households as receiving members, which corresponds to about 75% of all households in the capital. Today only two newspapers are published in Greenland, both of which are distributed nationally. The Greenlandic weekly Sermitsiaq is published every , while the online version is updated several times a day. It was distributed only in until the 1980s. It is named after the mountain Sermitsiaq, located about 15 kilometers northeast of Nuuk. The bi-weekly Atuagagdliutit/Grønlandsposten (AG) is the other newspaper in Greenland, published every Tuesday and Thursday in Greenlandic as Atuagagdliutit and in Danish as Grønlandsposten. The articles are all published in both languages.

Fine arts

The Inuit have their own arts and tradition; for example, they carve the tupilak. This Kalaallisut word means soul or spirit of a deceased person and today describes an artistic figure, usually no more than 20 centimetres tall, carved mainly from walrus ivory, with a variety of unusual shapes. This sculpture actually represents a mythical or spiritual being; usually, however, it has become a mere collector's item because of its grotesque appearance for Western visual habits. Modern artisans, however, still use materials such as musk ox and sheep wool, seal fur, shells, soapstone, reindeer antlers or gemstones. The of Greenlandic painting began with Aron von Kangeq, who depicted the old Greenlandic sagas and myths in his drawings and watercolours in the mid-19th century. In the 20th century, landscape and animal painting developed, as well as and book illustrations with sometimes expressive colouring. It was mainly through their landscape paintings that Kiistat Lund and Buuti Pedersen became known abroad. Anne-Birthe Hove chose themes from Greenlandic social life. There is a museum of fine arts in Nuuk, the Nuuk Art Museum.

See also

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Other similar territories

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Works cited

* Bardarson, I. (ed. Jónsson, F.) "Det gamle Grønlands beskrivelse af Ívar Bárðarson (Ivar Bårdssön)", (Copenhagen, 1930). * , 2000. * ''et al.'' 2011. The Fate of Greenland: Lessons from Abrupt Climate Change, co-authored with Richard Alley, Wallace Broecker and George Denton, with photographs by Gary Comer, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. * * * , N. Cullen, and R. Huff (2005). "Climate variability and trends along the western slope of the Greenland Ice Sheet during 1991–2004", ''Proceedings of the 85th American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting'' (San Diego). * * Sowa, F. 2013. ''Relations of Power & Domination in a World Polity: The Politics of Indigeneity & National Identity in Greenland.'' In: Heininen, L. ''Arctic Yearbook 2013. The Arctic of regions vs. the globalized Arctic.'' Akureyri: Northern Research Forum, pp. 184–19
* Sowa, F. 2014. ''Greenland.'' in: Hund, A. ''Antarctica and the Arctic Circle: A Geographic Encyclopedia of the Earth's Polar Regions.'' Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, pp. 312–316.

External links

entry at ''''. *
The Government of Greenland Offices official website

Visit Greenland
nbsp;– the official
Inuit Circumpolar Council Greenland
{{Authority control Northern America