Is Greenland a Country?


Ilulissat, Greenland. Population: 4,905.

Greenland has officially had self-rule since 1979, and remains one of the three constituent countries of the Kingdom of Denmark. In 2009, Greenlandic voters approved a referendum granting the island’s 57,000 inhabitants additional local sovereignty, including official recognition that Greenlanders are a distinct people from the Danes with the right to self-determination and the adoption of Greenlandic as the official language.

The Greenlandic government was also permitted to officially call itself Naalakkersuisut, which comes from its local Inuit name.

The majority of the country’s 55,000 permanent inhabitants are of Inuit descent, who are believed to have migrated from modern-day Canada around 1200 AD. Vikings from Iceland attempted to settle the southwestern part of the country in the 10th century, but failed to establish a permanent settlement.

Most of the country is covered in a large glacier, and the largest city has fewer than 20,000 residents. As part of the Kingdom of Denmark, Greenland’s economy still relies on its former colonial ruler for an important proportion of its funding. With the most recent arrangement, however, Greenland has more control over its own criminal justice system as well as its potentially lucrative oil industry. Although the oil industry is still mostly undeveloped and unexplored, scientists believe that global warming will increase access to previously unavailable reserves.

Half of the money from future oil will go to Greenland, while the other half will still go to Denmark. From the perspective of Greenland, the hope is that eventually the island can achieve complete independence.

Walrus and her pup floating on ice in a fjord , Eastern Greenland.