Facts About Greenland and It's Fight for Autonomy
Greenland ( Kalaallit Nunaat ) is the largest single land mass in the world that is not a continent, classifying it as the world's largest island. It Measures 2,166,086 sq km of which 81 % ( 1,755,637 sq km ) is covered by sheet ice.
An autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark since 1814,and an intregal part of the
Kingdom since 1953, it was granted home rule in 1979.
Physiographically a part of North America, politically it is annexed to Europe. Becouse of it's affilliation with Denmark it was once part of the European Community ( Now the E.U ) but left in 1985 becouse of fishing rights. The country still retains some ties with the E.U via Denmark, but E.U law does not apply to Greenland.In E.U parlance, It is now officially a country of an Overseas Countries and Territories of an E.U Member State.
It has a population of 57,600 of which 88 % are Inuit people and 12 % Danish.
All of it's towns and settlements are situated along it's ice free coastline, most of which are very small with a populace of only 1,000 people or less. It's capital city is Nuuk situated at the mouth of the Nuup Kangerlua Fjord on Greenland's southwestern coast, 240 km south of the Arctic Circle. Founded in 1728, today it has a population of 17,834 and covers an area of 105,000 sq km.
Typical Greenlandic houses.
The country's economy is critically dependent on fishing as it's main industry ( 63 % of which is in the prawn industry ), having to depend on a substantial subsidy from Denmark.
In recent times tourism has become established in the country, catering to visitors keen on adventure tourism, partaking in activities such as whale watching and Arctic tours by dog sleigh and also a base for Arctic cruise ships.But this is hampered by a short season and high prices for the tourist, having to pay dearly in a country where everything is imported.
Scoresby Sund, the world's longest fjord.
However, Greenland is the last natural resource frontier in the world having the largest undeveloped rare earth elements and uranium deposits in the world today.
The Greenlanders are also aware of a rich source of oil and natural gas in their country, and with the onset of global warming, this is leading to great swathes of sheet ice to melt,giving them access to once unobtainable resources.
There is great support amongst the people of Greenland for their country to be explored and developed by foreign investors.
There are two reasons for this, one is a new means of sustainability for it's people, bringing jobs and much needed income into the country, the second is a means in which they can become self sufficient, in the hope of becoming independent from Denmark.
The country is dependent on Denmark for it's healthcare and education costs as well as their social benefits system, leaving them needing support from a country they would really rather gain independence from. 60 % of government revenue is paid by Denmark.
Denmark has used this as a tool in not granting the country independence, even going as far as to hint at making them pay back ' monies owed ' should they become a mineral rich independent nation.
Denmark is also worried that Greenland would be swallowed up by the might of the U.S, and the indigenous Inuits going from dependence on Denmark to dependence on the United States.
This is quite feasable as the United States has showed interest in the country in the past, once offering Denmark one billion dollars for the land .
Another concern for Greenland gaining independence is a global one.With the onset of global warming, the great ice sheets that cover the country will melt, are melting, with a possile result of sea levels rising by 7 metres. This would in turn cause whole cities even countries to be drowned. it could also result in the Gulf Stream going into reversal, possibly causing Europe to experience another ice age.Becouse of this threat the country needs the backing of other nations for support in combatting global warming.
The Church at Nanortalik.
The country has been working towards the goal of independence since Denmark granted them home rule in 1979.
One of the first stands the largely Inuit population took was to make their own language, Greenlandic or Kalaallisut, ( a language of the Eskimo / Aleut family ) the official language of the country.
Up until this time the official language had been Danish, being taught as a first language in the schools and the official language of the media.
Most of the population were bi - lingual becouse of this, but now Kalaallisut is the official language with English being taught as a second language in schools.
The town of Ilulissat.
In 1986 the Greenlandic flag was designed.
in 1996 the International Arctic Council was formed with Greenland as one of it's founder members.
In 2008 a move was made for the country to make it's own banknotes ( it currently uses the Danish krone ), but the mandate was never passed by the government and as yet is not in place.
With what happened in /iceland- in October of 2008, the Greenlandic government has decided not to pursue the matter at this current time.
Another bone of contention for the Greenlanders is a clause that means all flights to the country have to be taken via Denmark, although the country has it's own airline and perfectly servicable airport at Nuuk.
The Greenlandic head of state is the Queen of Denmark and their parliament is made up of 31 members, elected from five parties,with a prime minister as it's head. Currently in power is the Inuit Ataqatigiit party.
Should the country be successful in it's quest to gain independence, it would be the first Inuit nation in the world to do so, as most Inuit communities are annexed to other nations, particularly Canada and the Scandinavian countries.
The town of Qaqortoq.
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images courtesy of wikimedia commons.