Status: Autonomous part of Denmark
Chief of State: Queen Margrethe II (1972)
High Commissioner: Mikaela Engell (2011)
Prime Minister (Acting): Kim Kielsen (2014)
Total area: 131,931 sq mi (341,701 sq km)
Population (2014 est.): 57,728 (growth rate: 0.02%); birth rate: 14.53/1000; infant mortality rate: 9.42/1000; life expectancy: 71.82
Capital and largest city (2011 est.): Nuuk, 16,000
Monetary unit: Krone
Languages: Greenlandic (East Inuit), Danish, English
Ethnicity/race: Inuit 89%, Danish and other 11% (2009)
Religion: Evangelical Lutheran, traditional Inuit spiritual beliefs
National Holiday: Longest Day, June 21
Literacy rate: 100%
Economic summary: GDP/PPP: (2011 est.): $2.133 billion; $38,400 per capita. Real growth rate: 3%. Inflation: 2.8% (2011 est.). Unemployment: 9.4% (2013 est.). Arable land: 0%. Agriculture: forage crops, garden and greenhouse vegetables; sheep, reindeer; fish . Labor force: 28,600 (2011 est.). Industries: fish processing (mainly shrimp and Greenland halibut); gold, niobium, tantalite, uranium, iron and diamond mining; handicrafts, hides and skins, small shipyards. Natural resources: zinc, lead, iron ore, coal, molybdenum, gold, platinum, uranium, fish, seals, whales, hydropower, possible oil and gas. Exports: $384.3 million (2010 est.): fish and fish products 89% (prawns 63%), metals 10%. Imports: $814.2 million (2010): machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, petroleum products. Major trading partners: Denmark, Japan, China, Sweden, Netherlands (2012).
Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 18,900 (2012); mobile cellular: 59,455 (2012). Broadcast media: the Greenland Broadcasting Company provides public radio and TV services throughout the island with a broadcast station and a series of repeaters; a few private local TV and radio stations; Danish public radio rebroadcasts are available (2007). Internet hosts: 15,645 Internet users: 36,000 (2009).
Transportation: Roadways: although there are short roads in towns, there are no roads between towns; inter-urban transport takes place either by sea or air (2012). Ports and harbors: Sisimiut Airports: 15 (2013).
International disputes: managed dispute between Canada and Denmark over Hans Island in the Kennedy Channel between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Greenland; Denmark (Greenland) and Norway have made submissions to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental shelf (CLCS) and Russia is collecting additional data to augment its 2001 CLCS submission.
The Inuit are believed to have crossed from North America to northwest Greenland, the world's largest island, between 4000 B.C. and A.D. 1000. Greenland was colonized in 985–986 by Eric the Red. The Norse settlements declined in the 14th century, however, mainly as a result of a cooling in Greenland's climate, and in the 15th century they became extinct. In 1721, Greenland was recolonized by the Royal Greenland Trading Company of Denmark.
Greenland was under U.S. protection during World War II, but it maintained Danish sovereignty. A definitive agreement for the joint defense of Greenland within the framework of NATO was signed in 1951. A large U.S. air base at Thule in the far north was completed in 1953. Under 1953 amendments to the Danish constitution, Greenland became part of Denmark, with two representatives in the Danish Folketing. On May 1, 1979, Greenland gained home rule, with its own local parliament (Landsting).
In November 2008, Greenland's voters approved a set of changes to give themselves more autonomy from Denmark, a step that could lead towards full independence. A ceremony in June 2009 marked the beginning of self-governance over areas like criminal justice and oil exploration. The official language of Greenland became Kalaallisut, a traditional Inuit dialect.
The left-wing opposition party, Inuit Ataqatigiit, won parliamentary elections with 44% of the vote, defeating the Siumut party, who had governed for over 30 years.
On April 5, 2013, Aleqa Hammond became Greenland's first female prime minister. After the 2013 elections, her party, Siumut, emerged as the largest. Over a year later, on Oct. 1, 2014, Hammond took a leave of absence due to an expense scandal. While under investigation, Hammond was replaced by Kim Kielsen.
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