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 of Greenland, an autonomous country within the Danish Realm, to become an independent sovereign state.

Norse colonization and early Scandinavian rule of Greenland

One of the earliest known Norse settlements and colonies in Greenland is believed to have originated from Iceland.[1] Erik the Red is believed to have founded 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] Swedish and Norwegian control in the area started in roughly 1319, when Magnus IV of Sweden became ruler of Sweden and Norway,[3][4][5] and ended in 1387.

The Kalmar Union, Denmark–Norway and pre-World War II Denmark

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

American protectorate and occupation

During the Second World War, Denmark was occupied and controlled by Nazi Germany between 1940 and 1945.[8] As a result, 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 as a part of it, joined NATO.[12]

Moves towards independence

In 1953, Greenland gained 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


  1. "The Icelandic Colony in Greenland". Retrieved 12 January 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  2. Carlson, Marc. "History of Medieval Greenland". Retrieved 12 January 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Lonely Planet Norway. Lonely Planet. p. 32. Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Norway - History". Retrieved 12 January 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  5. Helle, Knut (2003). The Cambridge History of Scandinavia (Volume 1, Issue 1 ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 713. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "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).  External link in |website= (help)
  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.  External link in |website= (help)
  8. "THE OCCUPATION OF DENMARK". Retrieved 12 January 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  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.  External link in |website= (help)
  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.  External link in |website= (help)
  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.  External link in |website= (help)
  14. "Greenland Takes a Step Towards Autonomy". Retrieved 10 January 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  15. "Greenland Profile - BBC". Retrieved 10 January 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  16. "Greenland takes step toward independence from Denmark". Retrieved 10 January 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  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).  External link in |website= (help)
  18. "EP lunch briefing on Greenland in the Arctic “Sustainable development and EU relations in the future; from education and fisheries to mineral resources”" (PDF). 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.  line feed character in |quote= at position 95 (help); External link in |website= (help)
  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.'  External link in |website= (help)
  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  External link in |website= (help)
  21. McSmith, Andy (27 November 2008). "The Big Question: Is Greenland ready for independence, and what would it mean for its people?". The Independent.