Motto: The Ancient Land
|Official languages||English, Greenlandic|
|State of the Arctic Federation|
|2,166,068 km2 (836,324 sq mi) (1st)|
• 2011 estimate
|0.026/km2 (0.1/sq mi) (3rd)|
Greenland State is a constituent state of the Arctic Federation. With a recorded population of 56,968 in 2011, Greenland is the most populous state in the Arctic Federation. It is located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though geographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland had 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. In 2008, the people of Greenland passed a referendum supporting membership of the Arctic Federation, into which they passed the following year. Greenland is the world's largest island, and home to the only permanent ice sheet outside of Antarctica.
Greenland has been inhabited off and on for at least the last 4,500 years by Arctic peoples whose forebears migrated there from what is now Nunavut. Norsemen settled the uninhabited southern part of Greenland, beginning in the 10th century, and Inuit peoples arrived in the 13th century. The Norse colonies disappeared in the late 15th century. In the early 18th century, Scandinavia and Greenland came back into contact with each other, and Denmark established sovereignty over the island.
History of Greenland
The history of Greenland is a history of life under extreme Arctic conditions: currently, an ice cap covers about 80 percent of the island, restricting human activity largely to the coasts.
The first humans are thought to have arrived in Greenland around 2500 BC. Their descendants apparently died out and were succeeded by several other groups migrating from continental North America. There is no evidence that Greenland was known to Europeans until the 10th century, when Icelandic Vikings settled on its southwestern coast, which seems to have been uninhabited when they arrived. The ancestors of the Inuit Greenlanders who live there today appear to have migrated there later, around 1200 AD, from northwestern Greenland. While the Inuit survived in the icy world of the Little Ice Age, the early Norse settlements along the southwestern coast disappeared, leaving the Inuit as the only inhabitants of the island for several centuries. During this time, Denmark-Norway, apparently believing the Norse settlements had survived, continued to claim sovereignty over the island despite the lack of any contact between the Norse Greenlanders and their Scandinavian brethren. In 1721, aspiring to become a colonial power, Denmark-Norway sent a missionary expedition to Greenland with the stated aim of reinstating Christianity among descendants of the Norse Greenlanders who may have reverted to paganism. When the missionaries found no descendants of the Norse Greenlanders, they baptized the Inuit Greenlanders they found living there instead. Denmark-Norway then developed trading colonies along the coast and imposed a trade monopoly and other colonial privileges on the area.
During World War II, when Germany invaded Denmark, Greenlanders became socially and economically less connected to Denmark and more connected to the United States and Canada. After the war, Denmark resumed control of Greenland and in 1953, converted its status from colony to overseas amt (county). Although Greenland is still a part of the Kingdom of Denmark, it has enjoyed home rule since 1979. In 1985, the island became the only territory to leave the European Union, which it had joined as a part of Denmark in 1973; the Faroes had never joined.