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. Greenland voted in favor of increased self-rule in November 2008 and acquired greater responsibility for internal affairs in June 2009. Denmark, however, continues to exercise control of Greenland's foreign affairs, security, and financial policy in consultation with Greenland's Home Rule Government.
dominates North Atlantic Ocean between North America and Europe; sparse population confined to small settlements along coast; close to one-quarter of the population lives in the capital, Nuuk; world's second largest ice cap
note:the North and East Greenland National Park (Avannaarsuani Tunumilu Nuna Allanngutsaaliugaq) and the Thule Air Base in Pituffik (in northwest Greenland) are two unincorporated areas; the national park's 972,000 sq km - about 46% of the island - make it the largest national park in the world and also the most northerly
unicameral Parliament or Landsting (31 seats; members elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
last held on 2 June 2009 (next to be held by 2014)
percent of vote by party - Inuit Ataqatigiit 43.7%, Siumut 26.5%, Demokratiit 12.7%, Atassut 10.9%; Kattusseqatigiit 3.8%, other 2.4%; seats by party - IA 14, Siumut 9, Demokraatiit 4, Atassut 3, Kattusseqatigiit 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
Atassut Party (Solidarity) [Gerhardt PETERSEN] (a conservative party favoring continuing close relations with Denmark); Demokratiit [Jens B. FREDERIKSEN]; Inuit Ataqatigiit or IA (Eskimo Brotherhood) [Kuupik KLEIST] (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)
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; the design represents the sun reflecting off a field of ice; the colors are the same as those of the Danish flag and symbolize Greenland's links to the Kingdom of Denmark
The economy remains critically dependent on exports of shrimp and fish and on a substantial subsidy - about $650 million in 2009 - from the Danish Government, which supplies nearly 60% of government revenues. The public sector, including publicly owned enterprises and the municipalities, plays the dominant role in Greenland's economy. Greenland's GDP contracted about 2% in 2009 as a result of the global economic slowdown. Budget surpluses turned to deficits beginning in 2007 and unemployment has risen. During the last decade the Greenland Home Rule Government (GHRG) pursued conservative fiscal and monetary policies, but public pressure has increased for better schools, health care and retirement systems. The Greenlandic economy has benefited from increasing catches and exports of shrimp, Greenland halibut and, more recently, crabs. Due to Greenland's continued dependence on exports of fish - which account for 82% of exports - the economy remains very sensitive to foreign developments. International consortia are increasingly active in exploring for hydrocarbon resources off Greenland's western coast, and international studies indicate the potential for oil and gas fields in northern and northeastern Greenland. In May 2007 a US aluminum producer concluded a memorandum of understanding with the Greenland Home Rule Government to build an aluminum smelter and a power generation facility, which takes advantage of Greenland's abundant hydropower potential. Tourism also offers another avenue of economic growth for Greenland, with increasing numbers of cruise lines now operating in Greenland's western and southern waters during the peak summer tourism season.
the Greenland Broadcasting Company provides public radio and television services throughout the island with a broadcast station and a series of repeaters; a few private local television and radio stations broadcast; Danish public radio rebroadcasts are available (2007)