Europe

Greenland profile

  • 26 May 2016
  • From the section Europe
Map of Greenland

Greenland is the world's largest island and an autonomous Danish dependent territory with limited self-government and its own parliament.

Denmark contributes two thirds of Greenland's budget revenue, the rest coming mainly from fishing. Potential oil, gas and rare earth mineral reserves have attracted prospecting firms.

Greenland enjoys perpetual daylight for two months each year but over 80% of the island is covered by an ice cap 4km thick in places. Global warming is feared to be causing the ice cover to melt increasingly fast but has also increased access to Greenland's mineral resources.

The USA has long seen Greenland as strategically important and established a radar base at Thule at the start of the Cold War.

The island's population is only 57,000. Inhabitants face severe social problems, notably unemployment, alcoholism and HIV/AIDS.

FACTS

Greenland

Self-governing part of Denmark

  • Population 56,200

  • Area 2.17m sq km (840,000 sq miles

  • Major languages Greenlandic, Danish

  • Major religion Christianity

  • Life expectancy 68 years (men), 73 years (women)

  • Currency Danish krone

Getty Images
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Aurora Borealis in the Greenland town of Kangerlussuaq

LEADERS

Head of State: Queen Margrethe II of Denmark

Prime Minister: Kim Kielsen

Image copyright AFP

A former policeman and environment minister, Kim Kielsen took office as prime minister in December 2014 after a coalition deal struck in the wake of snap elections.

His predecessor and Greenland's first woman prime minister, Aleqa Hammond of the Siumit social-democratic party, stepped down in October 2014 over a spending scandal.

MEDIA

Broadcasting in Greenlandic and Danish, is the main source of news and entertainment.

There are no daily newspapers. The major titles - a weekly and a bi-weekly - publish in Greenlandic and Danish.

TIMELINE

982 - Greenland discovered by the Norwegian, Erik the Red, who calls his discovery "Greenland" to make it more attractive. In 986 he returns with settlers but by 1600, only Inuit inhabitants remain.

1721 - New Danish settlement established near present-day capital, Nuuk.

1940 - Denmark is occupied by Germany during World War II. The United States assumes protective custody over Greenland for the duration of the war.

1953 - Greenland becomes an integral part of the Kingdom of Denmark.

1979 - Greenland attains home rule following a referendum.

1999 - Danish High Court rules that Inuit were illegally exiled from their land in northern Greenland in 1953 to expand US airbase at Thule but denies them right of return.

2008 - Greenlanders vote in referendum for more autonomy, greater control over energy resources and granting Kalaallisut or Western Greenlandic status of official language in place of Danish.

2010 - Greenland's ice sheet is shrinking faster and making a bigger contribution to rising sea levels, a study in the journal Science confirms.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Retreating ice fields have impacted native Greenlanders

2013 - Greenland parliament votes to end the territory's 25-year ban on the mining of radioactive materials such as uranium, leading to a boom in mineral resource exports.

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