Greenland Overview

Greenland [ “green land”], Greenlandic Kalaallit Nunaat, Danish Greenland [ groenlan], largest island in the world, in the North Atlantic Ocean, autonomous part of the Kingdom of Denmark with (2018) 56,000 residents; The capital is Nuuk(Danish Godthåb).

Greenland extends in northeast North America from latitude 59 ° 46 ‘ north to latitude 83 ° 39 ‘ north and belongs to the Arctic. 81% of it is covered by inland ice, making it the second largest inland ice mass on earth. The country has a total area of ​​2 166 086 km 2, including small offshore islands with a total of 44 800 km 2. The ice-free country (410,449 km 2) forms a coastline and island fringes up to 150 km wide. The population grew steadily (1901: 12,000, 1945: 21,400, 1970: 46,300, 2016: 55,800 residents). The official languages ​​are Greenlandic and Danish. Currency: 1 Danish Krone (dkr) = 100 Øre. Time zone: CET – 1 to – 5 hours. Visit for Greenland travel package.


Greenland has been an equal province of Denmark since 1953 with two members in the Danish parliament. Since May 1, 1979, Greenland has had autonomy in all internal affairs; Denmark remains responsible for external relations and defense and security. The legislative body is the Landsting (31 members, elected for 4 years), the executive power lies with the government (Landsstyre) under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister (Landsstyreformand). The Danish Queen as head of state is represented by a high commissioner (Rigsombudsmand). In 1985 Greenland left the EC after a referendum, but enjoys favorable trading conditions that make it easier for it to access the EU market. On November 25, 2008, 75 spoke 5% of voters in a consultative referendum for an extension of administrative autonomy previously negotiated with Denmark. The law on the »Selvstyre«, which came into force on June 21, 2009, recognizes inter alia. the Greenlanders as a people and Greenlandic as the official language. In addition, the autonomy powers were extended, especially in the areas of justice and police, and the Greenlanders were given the right to use their mineral resources.


There is boat and helicopter traffic between the settlements. Dog sleds and snowmobiles are still in use. The main port is Nuuk, Kangerlussuaq (Søndre Strømfjord) on the west coast is an important airport on the polar route.


After the decline of the prehistoric Dorset culture, Greenland remained deserted for long periods of time. Discovered around 875 by the Norwegian Viking Gunnbjørn, the island was discovered around 982 by Eric the Red visited and called Greenland; In 986 he founded the first settlement in South Greenland. Christianized around 1000, the island received its own bishop in 1124. In 1261 Greenland submitted to the Norwegian king. Written certificates are missing after 1414/20. Worsened living conditions (especially a drop in temperature since the 14th century) and the advance of the Inuit from the northwest over the entire ice-free area (since 1000 AD) led to the extinction of the European settlements probably at the beginning of the 16th century at the latest. It was only after the missionary H. Egede landed near Nuuk (1721) that northern Europeans settled again. In 1774 the »Royal Greenland Trading Company« was founded.

When Norway separated from Denmark (Kieler Friede 1814), Greenland stayed with Denmark. The Danish-Norwegian dispute over East Greenland was decided in 1933 by the International Court of Justice in The Hague in favor of Denmark. During the Second World War, the USA, which was involved in the defense of Greenland through the Danish-American treaty in 1951, set up air bases there (at the North Greenland air force base “Thule”, 1968 crash of an American military aircraft equipped with hydrogen bombs, Denmark, history). In 1953 Greenland became an integral part of Denmark and received internal autonomy in 1979; In 1985 it got its own flag, and in 2009 it had extended autonomy rights.

In the 2009 Landsting elections, the left-wing Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) party won the majority of the vote. The Social Democrats (Siumut), who had ruled for three decades, lost their position as the dominant political force and had to join the opposition. After the parliamentary elections on March 12, 2013, they returned to government. With the Siumut chairwoman Aleqa Hammond (* 1965), a woman took over the office of Prime Minister of Greenland for the first time. She announced her temporary resignation on September 30, 2014 in connection with an expense affair. Kim Kielsen (* 1966) took over the leadership of the government on an interim basis and also became chairman of the Social Democrats. In early elections on November 28, 2014, the Social Democrats won 34.4% of the vote and 11 seats in parliament. The IA received 33.2% of the vote and thus also won 11 mandates. Kielsen remained head of government. Under his leadership, the Social Democrats narrowly won the elections on April 24, 2018. The party received 27.2% of the vote and 9 seats. The IA remains the second strongest force with 25.5% of the votes and 8 mandates. In the election campaign, discussions about the period in which a complete independence of Greenland from Denmark can be achieved politically and economically played a major role.

The exploration of Greenland began with H. Egede (1721–36) and Karl Ludwig Giesecke (* 1761 or 1775, † 1833; 1807–15) and with the search for the Northwest Passage, which was intensified in the 19th century. In 1822 W. Scoresby landed first on the east coast, which was explored from 1869-70 by the German Germania and Hansa expedition. The first forays into the interior were undertaken by A. E. Nordenskiöld in 1883, and by R. E. Peary in 1886; The island was crossed for the first time in 1888 by F. Nansen and O. N. Sverdrup. (1912 to 1913) by A. Wegener and Johann Peter Koch (* 1870, † 1928). On several expeditions (since 1902), K. Rasmussen particularly researched the life and history of the Greenlanders.

Greenland Overview

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