Greenlandic independence

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Greenland national day celebration 2010 in Sisimiut exactly a year after the establishment of Greenlandic self-rule in 2009.
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Greenlandic independence is a political ambition of some political parties, advocacy groups, and individuals for Greenland, an autonomous country within the Danish Realm, to become an independent sovereign state.

Norse Colonization of Greenland[edit]

One of the earliest known Norse settlements and colonies in Greenland is believed to have originated from Iceland.[1] Erik the Red believed to be the founder of an early colony in 985.[2] Icelandic control of Greenland is estimated to have lasted until 1261. The Kingdom of Norway later claimed and controlled Greenland singularly from roughly 1261–1319.[3][4] Unification of Swedish and Norwegian control in area started in roughly 1319 and ended in 1387.[5]

Soon after, unification of both Norwegian and Danish rule was established in Greenland under one kingdom from 1380–1814.[6] Denmark–Norway rule ended on 14 January 1814 after Norway ceded from Denmark as a result of the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. Denmark gained full colonial control soon after.[7] From 1814–1953, Greenland was a colony, not independent and not part of Denmark, but directly controlled by the Danish government.

American Protectorate and Occupation[edit]

During the Second World War, between 1940 and 1945 Denmark was occupied and controlled by Nazi Germany.[8] As a result of this, the Danish and US governments signed an agreement to hand over defense and control of Greenland to the United States on 9 April 1941.[9] The first troops arrived in Greenland on 7 July 1941.[10][11] Greenland was effectively independent during these years, and allowed the United States to build bases on its territory. After the war the pre-war situation was restored, the US bases remained and Denmark with Greenland joined NATO.[12]

Moves towards independence[edit]

In 1953, Denmark gained Greenland representation in Danish Parliament and was recognized as a Danish province.[13] Following this, in 1979, Greenland was granted home rule by the Danish government. Denmark remained in control of foreign relations and defense in Greenland after this.[14][15]

In 2008 Greenland's citizens voted to approve the Greenlandic self-government referendum for increased independence from Denmark.[16] Greenland took control of handling law enforcement, the coast guard, and legal system. The official language of the country was transferred from Danish to Greenlandic. The change was enacted on 21 June of 2009, Greenland national day.[17]

Greenland's former prime minister, Kuupik Kleist, has repeatedly expressed the need to diversify Greenland's economy, which mainly relies on fishery, tourism and a substantial annual block grant from the Danish state.[18][19] Economic stability is seen as a basis for full political independence from Denmark.[20]

Some campaigners have touted the year 2021 (the 300th anniversary of Danish colonial rule) as a date for potential independence.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Icelandic Colony in Greenland". Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  2. ^ Carlson, Marc. "History of Medieval Greenland". Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Lonely Planet Norway. Lonely Planet. p. 32. Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  4. ^ "Norway - History". Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  5. ^ Helle, Knut (2003). The Cambridge History of Scandinavia (Volume 1, Issue 1 ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 713. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  6. ^ "COLONIALISM AS SEEN FROM A FORMER COLONIZED AREA". Retrieved 10 January 2015. Danish use of these terms was somewhat peculiar, as Greenland was already regarded a part of Danish-Norwegian territory since the independent Norse medieval communities in Greenland had agreed to pay taxes to the Norwegian king about AD 1260 (Norlund 1934:25). Iceland had also agreed to this status as a tributary country in the same period (Norlund 1934:24). From 1380 to 1814, Denmark and Norway formed one kingdom (Kirkegaard and Winding 1949:62; Gad 1984:206). 
  7. ^ "Return to Greenland". Britannica. Retrieved 11 January 2015. With the Treaty of Kiel (January 14, 1814), Denmark gave up all its rights to Norway to the king of Sweden. It did not, however, relinquish its rights to the old Norwegian dependencies of Iceland, the Faroes, and Greenland, as England strongly opposed any buildup of Swedish power in the North Atlantic. The Danes did not intend this agreement to end the union with Norway. 
  8. ^ "THE OCCUPATION OF DENMARK". Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  9. ^ "American Occupation of Greenland". Retrieved 12 January 2015. The U.S. and Danish governments signed an agreement whereby the American government agreed to take over the defense of Greenland in exchange for the right to construct air and naval bases on the island. On April 10th, the U.S. established a protectorate over Greenland. 
  10. ^ Polmar, Norman and Allen, Thomas (1996). World War II: the Encyclopedia of the War Years, 1941-1945. p. 352. Retrieved 12 January 2015. US troops landed there on July 7, relieving a British garrison for combat. 
  11. ^ Wegert, Hans. "Iceland, Greenland and the United States". Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  12. ^ Thomas, Alastair (2009). The A to Z of Denmark. Scarecrow Press Inc. pp. XXXI. Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  13. ^ Rosenberg, Matt. "Is Greenland an Independent Country?". Retrieved 10 January 2015. In 1953, Greenland was established as a province of Denmark. 
  14. ^ "Greenland Takes a Step Towards Autonomy". Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  15. ^ "Greenland Profile - BBC". Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  16. ^ "Greenland takes step toward independence from Denmark". Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  17. ^ Rosenberg, Matt. "Is Greenland an Independent Country?". Retrieved 10 January 2015. It wasn't until 2008 that Greenland's citizens voted in a non-binding referendum for increased independence from Denmark. In a vote of over 75% in favor, Greenlanders voted to reduce their involvement with Denmark. With the referendum Greenland voted to take control of law enforcement, the justice system, coast guard, and to share more equality in oil revenue. The official language of Greenland also changed to Greenlandic (also known as Kalaallisut). 
  18. ^ "EP lunch briefing on Greenland in the Arctic “Sustainable development and EU relations in the future; from education and fisheries to mineral resources”". Retrieved 12 January 2015. With regard to a moratorium in the Arctic for oil drilling, he argued that Greenland needs to diversify its economy and in this aspect the mineral resources of Greenland subsoil is one possibility to create an economy, which is not entirely dependent on the annual block grant from Denmark. 
  19. ^ Stigset, Marianne. "Greenland Steps Up Its Independence Calls as Oil Ambitions Grow". Retrieved 12 January 2015. 'We’re trying to develop a more diversified economy, we’re looking at tourism, we’re looking at mineral resources and of course we’re still looking at developing the harvesting of living resources,” Kleist said. “As it is today, we are very vulnerable.' 
  20. ^ "Greenland’s mineral rush 'could lead to independence'". Retrieved 12 January 2015. He said potential economic independence via the exports of natural resources could guarantee Greenland independence from Denmark 
  21. ^ McSmith, Andy (27 November 2008). "The Big Question: Is Greenland ready for independence, and what would it mean for its people?". The Independent.