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 complete responsibilty 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
unicameral Parliament or Landsting (31 seats; members are 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) [Finn KARLSEN] (a conservative party favoring continuing close relations with Denmark); Demokratiit [Per BERTHELSEN]; Inuit Ataqatigiit or IA (Eskimo Brotherhood) [Josef MOTZFELDT] (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 $700 million in 2008-09 - from the Danish Government, which supplies about 60% of government revenues. The public sector, including publicly-owned enterprises and the municipalities, plays the dominant role in the economy. Several interesting hydrocarbon and mineral exploration activities are ongoing and in 2007 a US firm signed an agreement with the Greenland Home Rule government to study the feasibility of building a multi-billion dollar aluminum smelter and hydropower plant. Denmark plans to reduce its subsidies to Greenland as revenues from oil exports come onstream.