Location of Greenland
and largest city
64°10′N 51°44′W / 64°10′N 51°44′W / 64.167; -51.733
|Recognised languages||Danish, English and other languages if necessary[a]|
|Ethnic groups |
|Religion ||Church of Denmark|
|Sovereign state||Kingdom of Denmark|
|Government||Devolved government within parliamentary constitutional monarchy|
|Autonomy within the Kingdom of Denmark|
|26th century BC|
|24th century BC|
|8th century BC|
|14 January 1814|
|5 June 1953|
• Home rule
|1 May 1979|
• Further autonomy and self rule
|21 June 2009|
|2,166,086 km2 (836,330 sq mi)|
• Water (%)
|55,877 (1 January 2018)|
|0.028/km2 (0.1/sq mi) (last)|
|GDP (PPP)||2011 estimate|
|$1.8 billion (n/a)|
• Per capita
|HDI (2010)|| 0.786|
high · 61st
|Currency||Danish krone (DKK)|
|Time zone||UTC±00:00 to UTC-04:00|
|ISO 3166 code||GL|
- ^ Greenlandic has been the sole official language of Greenland since 2009.
- ^ Danish influence reached Greenland in 1380 with the reign of Olav IV in Norway, son of Haakon VI of Norway and Margaret I of Denmark.
- ^ Although previously under Danish monarchy for four hundred years, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland were formally Norwegian possessions until 1814.
- ^ As of 2000:
410,449 km2 (158,475 sq mi) ice-free;
1,755,637 km2 (677,855 sq mi) ice-covered.
Density: 0.14/km2 (0.36 /sq. mi) for ice-free areas.
Greenland (Greenlandic: Kalaallit Nunaat, pronounced [kalaːɬit nunaːt]; Danish: Grønland, pronounced [ˈkʁɶnˌlænˀ]) is an autonomous country of the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe (specifically Norway and Denmark, the colonial powers, as well as the nearby island of Iceland) for more than a millennium. The majority of its residents are Inuit, whose ancestors migrated from Alaska through Northern Canada, gradually settling across the island by the 13th century. Nowadays the population is largely concentrated on the southwest coast of the island while the rest of the island is sparsely populated. Greenland is divided into five municipalities—Sermersooq, Kujalleq, Qeqertalik, Qeqqata, and Avannaata. It has two unincorporated areas—the Northeast Greenland National Park and the Thule Air Base. The last one, even if under Danish control, is administered by the United States Air Force.
Greenland is the world's largest island (Australia and Antarctica, both larger than Greenland, are generally considered to be continental landmasses rather than islands). Three-quarters of Greenland is covered by the only permanent ice sheet outside Antarctica. With a population of about 56,480 (2013), it is the least densely populated territory in the world. About a third of the population live in Nuuk, the capital and largest city. The Arctic Umiaq Line 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 Canada. Norsemen settled the uninhabited southern part of Greenland beginning in the 10th century, having previously settled Iceland to escape persecution from the King of Norway and his central government. These Norsemen would later set sail from Greenland and Iceland, with Leif Erikson becoming the first known European to reach North America nearly 500 years before Columbus 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 1262. The Norse colonies disappeared in the late 15th century when Norway was hit by the Black Death 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 Labrador in Canada).
In the early 18th century, Danish explorers reached Greenland again. To strengthen trading and power, Denmark–Norway 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 Danish state in 1953 under the Constitution of Denmark. In 1973, Greenland joined the with Denmark. However, in a referendum in 1982, a majority of the population voted for Greenland to withdraw from the , which was effected in 1985. Greenland contains the world's largest and most northerly national park, Northeast Greenland National Park (Kalaallit Nunaanni nuna eqqissisimatitaq). Established in 1974, and expanded to its present size in 1988, it protects 972,001 square kilometres (375,292 sq mi) of the interior and northeastern coast of Greenland and is bigger than all but twenty-nine countries in the world.
In 1979, Denmark granted home rule to Greenland, and in 2008, Greenlanders voted in favor of the Self-Government Act, which transferred more power from the Danish government to the local Greenlandic government. Under the new structure, in effect since 21 June 2009, Greenland can gradually assume responsibility for policing, judicial system, company law, accounting, and 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, while the Danish government retains control of foreign affairs and defence. It also retains control of monetary policy, providing an initial annual subsidy of DKK 3.4 billion, which is planned to diminish gradually over time. Greenland expects to grow its economy based on increased income from the extraction of natural resources. The capital, Nuuk, held the 2016 Arctic Winter Games. At 70%, Greenland has one of the highest shares of renewable energy in the world, mostly coming from hydropower.
The early Norse settlers named the island as Greenland. In the Icelandic sagas, the Norwegian-born Icelander Erik the Red was said to be exiled from Iceland for manslaughter. Along with his extended family and his thralls (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 Grœnland (translated as "Greenland"), supposedly in the hope that the pleasant name would attract settlers. The Saga of Erik the Red 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 Greenlandic language is Kalaallit Nunaat ("land of the Kalaallit"). The Kalaallit are the indigenous Greenlandic Inuit people who inhabit the country's western region.