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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 Greenlands 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.

The darkness which for so many ages shrouded the northern regions of the earth was guarded by the floating ice which constantly infests its shores and the surrounding ocean has always rendered discovery at once difficult and dangerous, while its inhospitable climate and rugged surface have equally prevented travelling by land. Where information is limited, fancy is apt to be the most active, supplying from the stores of imagination the deficiencies of experience; and hence the older geographers found in Greenland a last retreat for many fabulous localities no longer able to maintain their ground on the European continent. The country southward of latitude 68 is called South Greenland, whilst the remainder is termed North Greenland.

Greenland, visible from Iceland, was sighted by colonists bound for Iceland around 900. It was first extensively explored by Icelanders during the years 908-985; and colonized by some 400 of them who came to the southwest coast in 14 ships during the summer 986. A republic was established about 990. The National Parliament of Greenland adopted Christianity in the year 1000, and the Roman Church was in contact with Greenland thereafter, so that bishops of Greenland were still holding office when Colombus sailed, the last bishop dying in Europe in 1537. The last published official reference to the Greenland Church was by Pope Alexander VI who wrote about it in the winter of 1492, about when Columbus was starting back from the West Indies.

The colonies along the southern half of the west coast of Greenland had eventually a maximum population of about 10,000, according to Professor Finnur Jonsson, of the University of Copenhagen, a foremost authority on the history of Greenland. They had 16 churches, a monastery, a nunnery, and 290 farms. They cultivated sheep specially, but archaeologists have examined stable ruins which show stalls for 100 cows.

Sailings between Europe and Greenland may or may not have ceased completely around 1500 or 1520.

There are two theories of what eventually happened to the Europeans of Greenland. The view is held by many Danes that they became extinct through a combination of ca;uses, while many Norwegians, among them Fridtjof Nansen, considered that the people did not die out, but only their culture-that they intermarried with the Eskimos and became Eskimo in ways of life. Some scholars of other lands follow the Danes and so do a few Norwegians; foreign scholars frequently, and Danes occasionally, side with the Norwegian (Nansen) school.

Danish control of Greenland is usually dated from the arrival there of the Norwegian-born missionary, Hans Egede, in 1722.

Many Greenlandic towns and villages are marked by poor educational systems with high drop-out rates, rampant alcoholism, and a chronic lack of economic and social opportunities. Some wonder whether, with such a small population base (57,000), Greenland can ever develop the economic scale and social cohesion to sustain itself as an independent state, even if natural resource revenues do materialize. Still, nationalist sentiment runs strong in Greenland, with the prospect of additional sovereignty, formal legal recognition as a people.

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Page last modified: 19-08-2019 16:16:22 ZULU