Greenland

Introduction Greenland, the world's largest island, is about 81% ice-capped. Vikings reached the island in the 10th century from Iceland; Danish colonization began in the 18th century, and Greenland was made an integral part of Denmark in 1953. It joined the European Community (now the EU) with Denmark in 1973, but withdrew in 1985 over a dispute centered on stringent fishing quotas. Greenland was granted self-government in 1979 by the Danish parliament; the law went into effect the following year. Denmark continues to exercise control of Greenland's foreign affairs in consultation with Greenland's Home Rule Government.
History

In prehistoric times, Greenland was home to a number of Paleo-Eskimo cultures. From AD 984 it was colonized by Norse settlers in two settlements on the west coast on the fjords near the very southwestern tip of the island. They thrived for a few centuries, but after nearly 500 years of habitation, disappeared sometime in the 15th century.[2]

Data from ice cores indicate that from AD 800 to 1300 the regions around the fjords of southern Greenland experienced a relatively mild climate similar to today. Trees and herbaceous plants grew there, and the climate initially allowed farming of livestock as in Norway.[2] These remote communities thrived on farming, hunting and trade with Norway. When the Norwegian kings converted their domains to Christianity, a bishop was installed in Greenland, subordinate to the archdiocese of Nidaros. The settlements seem to have coexisted relatively peacefully with the Inuit, who had migrated south from the Arctic islands of North America around 1200. In 1261, Greenland became part of the Kingdom of Norway.

Around the 14th and 15th centuries, the Scandinavian settlements vanished, likely due to famine and increasing conflicts with the Inuit.[3] The condition of human bones from this period indicates the Norse population was malnourished. Main reasons appeared to have been soil erosion due to destruction of the natural vegetation for farming, turf, and wood by the Norse, a decline in temperatures during the Little Ice Age, and armed conflicts with the Inuit.[2] It has been suggested that cultural practices, such as rejecting fish as a source of food and reliance solely on livestock ill-adapted to Greenland's climate, caused by the mini-ice age, which resulted in recurring famines, with environmental degradation led to the abandonment of the colony.[2] Research (written before Diamond's book) has made it clear however that fish were a major source of food for the Norse Greenlanders from the early 1300s on.

Denmark-Norway reasserted its latent claim to the colony in 1721. But ties with Norway were severed by the Treaty of Kiel of 1814, ceding Norway to the king of Sweden while Denmark retained all of her common overseas possessions: the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland, as well as Denmark-Norway's small territories in India (Tranquebar), West Africa (Danish Gold Coast), and the West Indies (Danish Virgin Islands).

Norway occupied and claimed parts of (then uninhabited) East Greenland also called Erik the Red's Land in July 1931, 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.

During World War II, Greenland's connection to Denmark was severed on April 9, 1940 when Denmark was occupied by Germany. Greenland was able to buy goods from the United States and Canada, by selling cryolite from the mine in Ivigtût. During the war the system of government changed. Governor Eske Brun ruled the island via a 1925 law that allowed governors to take control under extreme circumstances. The other governor, Aksel Svane, was transferred to the US to lead the commission to supply Greenland. The Sirius Patrol, guarding the northeastern shores of Greenland using dog sleds, detected and destroyed several German weather stations, giving Denmark a better position in the postwar turmoil.

Greenland had been a protected and very isolated society until 1940. The Danish government, which governed its colony Greenland, had been convinced that the society would face exploitation from the outside world or even extinction if the country was opened up. But during World War II, Greenland developed a sense of self-reliance through its self-government and independent communication with the outside world.

However, a commission in 1946 (with the highest Greenlandic council Landsrådet as participant) recommended patience and no radical reformation of the system. Two years later the first step towards changing the governing was initiated when a grand commission was founded. In 1950 the report (G-50) was presented. Greenland was to be a modern welfare society with Denmark as the sponsor and example. In 1953, Greenland was made an equal part of the Danish Kingdom. Home rule was granted in 1979.

Geography Location: Northern North America, island between the Arctic Ocean and the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Canada
Geographic coordinates: 72 00 N, 40 00 W
Map references: Arctic Region
Area: total: 2,166,086 sq km
land: 2,166,086 sq km (410,449 sq km ice-free, 1,755,637 sq km ice-covered) (2000 est.)
Area - comparative: slightly more than three times the size of Texas
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 44,087 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 3 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm or agreed boundaries or median line
continental shelf: 200 nm or agreed boundaries or median line
Climate: arctic to subarctic; cool summers, cold winters
Terrain: flat to gradually sloping icecap covers all but a narrow, mountainous, barren, rocky coast
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Gunnbjorn 3,700 m
Natural resources: coal, iron ore, lead, zinc, molybdenum, diamonds, gold, platinum, niobium, tantalite, uranium, fish, seals, whales, hydropower, possible oil and gas
Land use: arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: continuous permafrost over northern two-thirds of the island
Environment - current issues: protection of the arctic environment; preservation of the Inuit traditional way of life, including whaling and seal hunting
Geography - note: dominates North Atlantic Ocean between North America and Europe; sparse population confined to small settlements along coast, but close to one-quarter of the population lives in the capital, Nuuk; world's second largest ice cap
Politics

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

Greenland has an elected parliament of thirty-one members. The head of government is the Prime Minister, who is usually the leader of the majority party in Parliament. The current Prime Minister is Hans Enoksen.

In 1985 Greenland left the European Community (EC), unlike Denmark which remains a member. The EC later became the EU (European Union) when it was renamed and expanded in scope in 1992. Greenland retains some ties with the EU via Denmark.

People Population: 56,344 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 24% (male 6,926/female 6,597)
15-64 years: 69.1% (male 20,901/female 18,012)
65 years and over: 6.9% (male 1,873/female 2,035) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 34.1 years
male: 35.4 years
female: 32.3 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.03% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 16.01 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 7.93 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: -8.38 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.16 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.92 male(s)/female
total population: 1.115 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 14.98 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 16.32 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 13.61 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 70.23 years
male: 66.65 years
female: 73.9 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.4 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 100 (1999)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Greenlander(s)
adjective: Greenlandic
Ethnic groups: Greenlander 88% (Inuit and Greenland-born whites), Danish and others 12% (2000)
Religions: Evangelical Lutheran
Languages: Greenlandic (East Inuit), Danish, English
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 100%
male: 100%
female: 100% (2001 est.)
Government Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Greenland
local long form: none
local short form: Kalaallit Nunaat
Dependency status: part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark since 1979
Government type: parliamentary democracy within a constitutional monarchy
Capital: name: Nuuk (Godthab)
geographic coordinates: 64 11 N, 51 45 W
time difference: UTC-3 (2 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
note: Greenland is divided into four time zones
Administrative divisions: 3 districts (landsdele); Avannaa (Nordgronland), Tunu (Ostgronland), Kitaa (Vestgronland)
note: there are 18 municipalities in Greenland
Independence: none (extensive self-rule as part of the Kingdom of Denmark; foreign affairs is the responsibility of Denmark, but Greenland actively participates in international agreements relating to Greenland)
National holiday: June 21 (longest day)
Constitution: 5 June 1953 (Danish constitution)
Legal system: the laws of Denmark, where applicable, apply
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: Queen MARGRETHE II of Denmark (since 14 January 1972), represented by High Commissioner Soren MOLLER (since April 2005)
head of government: Prime Minister Hans ENOKSEN (since 14 December 2002)
cabinet: Home Rule Government is elected by the parliament (Landstinget) on the basis of the strength of parties
elections: the monarchy is hereditary; high commissioner appointed by the monarch; prime minister is elected by parliament (usually the leader of the majority party);
election results: Hans ENOKSEN reelected prime minister
note: government coalition - Siumut and Inuit Ataqatigiit
Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament or Landstinget (31 seats; members are elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 15 November 2005 (next to be held by December 2009)
election results: percent of vote by party - Siumut 30.7%, Demokratiit 22.8%, IA 22.6%, Atassut Party 19.1%; Katusseqatigiit 4.1%, other 0.7%; seats by party - Siumut 10, Demokratiit 7, IA 7, Atassut 6, Katusseqatigiit 1
note: two representatives were elected to the Danish Parliament or Folketing on 13 November 2007 (next to be held in November 2011); percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Siumut 1, Inuit Ataqatigiit 1
Judicial branch: High Court or Landsret (appeals can be made to the Ostre Landsret or Eastern Division of the High Court or Supreme Court in Copenhagen)
Political parties and leaders: Atassut Party (Solidarity) [Finn KARLSEN] (a conservative party favoring continuing close relations with Denmark); Demokratiit [Per BERTHELSEN]; Inuit Ataqatigiit or IA (Eskimo Brotherhood) [Josef MOTZFELDT] (a leftist party favoring complete independence from Denmark rather than home rule); Kattusseqatigiit (Candidate List) (an independent right-of-center party with no official platform); Siumut (Forward Party) [Hans ENOKSEN] (a social democratic party advocating more distinct Greenlandic identity and greater autonomy from Denmark)
Political pressure groups and leaders: NA
International organization participation: Arctic Council, NC, NIB, UPU
Diplomatic representation in the US: none (self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)
Diplomatic representation from the US: none (self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)
Flag description: two equal horizontal bands of white (top) and red with a large disk slightly to the hoist side of center - the top half of the disk is red, the bottom half is white
Culture

The culture of Greenland has much in common with Inuit tradition, as the majority of people are descended from Inuit. Many people still go ice-fishing and there are annual dog-sled races in which everyone with a team participates.

However, Greenland has now become somewhat of a tourist attraction. It holds contests to attract tourists such as dog racing, ice fishing, hiking, and cross country racing.

Economy Economy - overview: The economy remains critically dependent on exports of fish and a substantial subsidy from the Danish Government, which supplies about half of government revenues. The public sector, including publicly-owned enterprises and the municipalities, plays the dominant role in the economy. Several interesting hydrocarbon and mineral exploration activities are ongoing. Press reports in early 2007 indicated that two international aluminum companies were considering building smelters in Greenland to take advantage of local hydropower potential. Tourism is the only sector offering any near-term potential, and even this is limited due to a short season and high costs. Air Greenland began summer-season direct flights to the U.S. east coast in May 2007, potentially opening a major new tourism market.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $1.1 billion (2001 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $1.7 billion (2005)
GDP - real growth rate: 2% (2005 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $20,000 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Labor force: 32,120 (2004)
Unemployment rate: 9.3% (2005 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1% (2005 est.)
Budget: revenues: $1.36 billion
expenditures: $1.27 billion (2005)
Agriculture - products: forage crops, garden and greenhouse vegetables; sheep, reindeer; fish
Industries: fish processing (mainly shrimp and Greenland halibut); gold, niobium, tantalite, uranium, iron and diamond mining; handicrafts, hides and skins, small shipyards
Industrial production growth rate: NA%
Electricity - production: 300 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0%
note: Greenland is shifting its electricity production from fossil fuel to hydropower production (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 279 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption: 3,880 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports: 149.1 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 4,013 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Exports: $480 million f.o.b. (2006)
Exports - commodities: fish and fish products 94% (prawns 63%)
Exports - partners: Denmark 67.1%, Japan 12.1%, China 5.6% (2006)
Imports: $712 million c.i.f. (2006)
Imports - commodities: machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, petroleum products
Imports - partners: Denmark 69.9%, Sweden 16.3%, Norway 3.7% (2006)
Economic aid - recipient: $512 million; note - subsidy from Denmark (2005)
Debt - external: $25 million (1999)
Currency (code): Danish krone (DKK)
Currency code: DKK
Exchange rates: Danish kroner per US dollar - 5.4797 (2007), 5.9468 (2006), 5.9969 (2005), 5.9911 (2004), 6.5877 (2003)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 25,300 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 32,200 (2004)
Telephone system: general assessment: adequate domestic and international service provided by satellite, cables and microwave radio relay; totally digitalized in 1995
domestic: microwave radio relay and satellite
international: country code - 299; satellite earth stations - 12 Intelsat, 1 Eutelsat, 2 Americom GE-2 (all Atlantic Ocean) (2000)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 5, FM 12, shortwave 0 (1998)
Radios: 30,000 (1998 est.)
Television broadcast stations: 1 (plus some local low-power stations, and 3 Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) stations (1997)
Televisions: 30,000 (1998 est.)
Internet country code: .gl
Internet hosts: 15,329 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 38,000 (2005)
Transportation Airports: 14 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 9
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 5 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 2 (2007)
Roadways: total: NA
note: while there are short roads in towns, there are no roads between towns; inter-town transport takes place either by sea or air (2005)
Merchant marine: total: 2 ships (1000 GRT or over) 3,422 GRT/2,340 DWT
by type: cargo 1, passenger 1
registered in other countries: 1 (Denmark 1) (2007)
Ports and terminals: Sisimiut
Military Manpower available for military service: males age 18-49: 14,653 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 18-49: 10,199 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually: males age 18-49: 440 (2005 est.)
Military - note: defense is the responsibility of Denmark
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: managed dispute between Canada and Denmark over Hans Island in the Kennedy Channel between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Greenland