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Greenland, the world's largest island, is about 81% ice-capped. Greenland is in the Danish Kingdom, which benefits Greenland to the tune of about $500 million per year. In 2008, Greenland held a referendum on its autonomy. As a result, Denmark recognized Greenland’s right to increased home rule, and the country's official language was changed from Danish to Greenlandic in June 2009. However the Greenlanders want independence and are moving deliberately in that direction.

Greenland has a population of about 55,000, larger than #213 Liechtenstein at 36,713, #214 San Marino at 32,140, #217 Monaco at 30,510, or #225 Tuvalu and #226 Nauru, tied for last place among sovereign "states" with about 10,000 citizens apiece.

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 - Politics

Few in Greenland oppose eventual independence from Denmark, leaving the debate over how quickly the process should proceed. Politically, the Greenland Home Rule Government has sought increasing autonomy since the acquisition of home rule in 1979. In May 2003, the Danish and Greenland Home Rule governments reached agreement on a set of power-sharing principles on Greenland's involvement in Danish foreign and security policy. The so-called Itilleq Declaration provides that Greenland will have foreign policy involvement with a view toward having equal status on questions of concern to both Denmark and Greenland.

Greenland's dream of eventually achieving independence led the parliament, the Inatsisartut, in 2017 to establish a commission that is to write a proposed constitution for the country. A Danish-Greenlandic Commission, established in 2005 with the aim of preparing measures that would grant Greenland additional autonomy, issued its recommendations in early 2008 and set the conditions for a new legal framework, "Self Rule," between Greenland and Denmark. The Self Rule agreement was overwhelmingly approved by Greenlandic voters in a referendum in November 2008 and was passed by the Danish parliament; it entered into effect on the 30th anniversary of Greenlandic Home Rule in June 2009. The new Self Rule agreement allows for the transfer of additional authorities, such as justice and police affairs, to Greenland's government as it is able to assume financial responsibility for these new portfolios. The Self Rule agreement also provides formal international legal recognition to the Greenlanders as a people under international law, and provides a formula for division of potential oil and gas revenues between Denmark and Greenland.

Greenland has various formal connections with other parts of the world. Greenland is an independent member of the Nordic Council. Special cooperation with Iceland and the Faroe Islands is organised through the Nordic Atlantic Cooperation and the West Nordic Foundation. Greenland withdrew from the European Union in 1985, thereafter basing its relations with the EU on a special agreement. In 2006 Greenland and the EU agreed on a comprehensive partnership for the sustainable development of Greenland. The Partnership Agreement is a political declaration stating the parties' intentions to continue and expand their cooperation within various areas. As a result of regional cooperation regarding environmental issues (The Finnish Initiative), the eight countries in the Arctic, ie Russia, Canada, USA, Iceland, Denmark/Greenland, Sweden, Norway and Finland, founded the Arctic Council in 1996.

The Siumut party had dominated politics in Greenland since 1979. Kim Kielsen began his four-year term in a snap election on November 28, 2014 after a period of chaos in Greenlandic politics. The resignation of Aleqa Hammond as the country's leader came amid questions about her use of public funds for private expenses. Despite winning the same number of seats in the national assembly as the second largest party, Kielsen and Siumut earned 1 percent more of the popular vote and governed as part of a three-party coalition until 2016, when it broke up over internal disagreement. Since then, Kielsen headed a unity coalition that controls 25 of the 31 seats in the national assembly.

The new government put independence high on its agenda, in part by creating a ministry specifically to manage such issues, including the drafting of a constitution. But a go-slow approach held sway in Kielsen's leading Siumut party, after he survived a challenge to his leadership in the summer of 2017 by Vittus Qujaukitsoq, a former foreign minister, and a vocal proponent of a rapid break from Copenhagen.

Voters on the world’s largest island focused on the mundane when they headed to the polls on 24 April 2018. General elections must be held on or before 27 November 2018, after either the dissolution or expiry of the current Parliament. According to the Danish Constitution, the election will have to be held no later than 26 November 2018, as the last election was held on 27 November 2014. The Prime Minister is able to call the election at any date, provided that date is no later than four years from the previous election. All 31 members of Parliament will be elected.

Candidates for Greenland's general election were urged to campaign on issues that can bind the country together, rather than continuing a divisive debate about independence. "Independence is also a matter of identity and liberty. Think what we could achieve by being more inclusive, instead of digging divides. Think of what we could achieve by praising each other, rather than by pointing fingers," said Kim Kielsen, the premier, during his 2018 New Year's address.

A plunge in commodity prices cut iron ore and uranium extraction investments to less than $80 million in 2016, down from more than $850 million five years earlier. Greenland’s 40,000 eligible voters had to postpone dream of greater autonomy, and focus on more immediate issues such as the shortage of social housing and a high school drop-out rate. The campaign also focused on the $600 million needed to build an international airport and improve existing facilities in a bid to replicate the tourism successes of Iceland.

Voters facee the familiar choice between the social democratic Siumut and the socialist Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA). The outgoing prime minister, Siumut’s Kim Kielsen, faced competition from IA’s popular leader, Sara Olsvig, with a pre-election poll showing the two parties running neck-and-neck.

Prime Minister Kim Kielsen's ruling center-left Siumut party won the most votes in an election on April 24th The Siumut party claimed a narrow victory with 27.2 percent of the votes in the election ahead of its main rival the left-green Inuit Ataqatigiit party which won 25.5 percent. Both the two main parties favour independence.

More radical pro-independence parties did well. One such party, Naleraq, wants to see Greenland become independent. A centrist political party that championed the mining industry and has a more moderate take on independence made gains in the Greenlandic general election this week. Demokraatit,which won 19.5 percent of the vote, doubled its voter share and increased its representation in the Greenlandic parliament at the expense of the two largest parties in the previous governing coalition. Among the seven parties participating in the elections, the newly created “Party cooperation”, which received 4,1% of the votes, is the only party against independence.

Greenland - Economy

One day, Greenland’s economy may benefit from its mineral riches (among others, it has the third largest deposit of uranium in the world), which has drawn increased interest from large multinationals. However, for the time being, this Arctic territory is highly dependent on subsidies from Copenhagen, which supplies more than half of its budget. While the fishing industry has helped Greenland achieve comfortable annual growth rates of 6 percent and more, the territory has failed to reduce its dependency on subsidies from Denmark.

The public sector, including publicly owned enterprises and the municipalities, plays the dominant role in Greenland's economy. A large part of government revenues comes from Danish Government grants, 57% in 2009, an important supplement of GDP. The global economic slowdown is affecting Greenland as well, and a contraction of 2% of GDP is expected for 2009. The surpluses in the public budget between 2002 and 2005 were turned to a deficit of $40 million in 2007 and 2008, and unemployment is on the rise after an extended period from 2003 onward with lower unemployment.

The Greenlandic economy increased by an average of 3% to 4% annually between 1993 and 2001, the result of increasing catches and exports of shrimp, Greenland halibut, and, more recently, crabs. However, it was not until 1999 that the economy had fully recovered from an economic downturn in the early 1990s. During the last decade the Greenland Home Rule Government (GHRG) has pursued a fiscal policy with mostly small budget surpluses and low inflation, but increased public pressure for improved public services in the form of better schools, health care, and retirement schemes have strained the public budget. The GHRG has taken initiatives to increase the labor force and thus employment by, among other things, raising the retirement age from 60 to 63 years. The average unemployment rate for 2008 was 4.5%. Structural reforms are still needed in order to create a broader business base and economic growth through more efficient use of existing resources in both the public and the private sector.

Due to its continued dependence on exports of fish, 85% of goods exports, Greenland's economy remains very sensitive to foreign developments. Greenland has registered a foreign trade deficit since the closure of the last remaining lead and zinc mine in 1989, though international interest in Greenland's mineral wealth is increasing. The trade deficit reached 12% of GDP in 2007. International consortia are also increasingly active in exploring for hydrocarbon resources off Greenland's western coast, and there are international studies indicating the potential of oil and gas fields in northern and northeastern Greenland. The U.S. aluminum producer Alcoa in May 2007 concluded a memorandum of understanding with the Greenland Home Rule Government to build an aluminum smelter and associated power generation facility in Greenland to take advantage of 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 autonomous region has undeveloped mineral and petroleum resources; exploration activities for both were picking up in 2004. Some Canadian mining companies were active in exploring for diamond and gold, and as a result, a gold deposit was being developed and mined in South Greenland. Skaergaard Minerals Corp., which is 100% owned by Galahad Gold plc of the United Kingdom, planned to develop the gold-palladium-platinum deposit at Skaergaard in eastern Greenland. The inferred mineral resource contained 1.09 million kilograms of palladium, 339,000 kilograms (kg) of gold, and 93,300 kg of platinum with substantial accessory metals, such as titanium and vanadium.

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