Greenland (in Danish: Grønland\, and in Greenlandic: Kalaallit Nunaat, literal meaning: "Land of the human") is the world's largest island, about 84% ice-cappedped (or ice-sheeted). Greenland was one of the Norwegian Crown colonies until 1814, when it went to Denmark. Danish territory since 1979, when the island was granted home rule (hjemmestyre) by the Danish parliament. The law went into effect the following year. The Queen of Denmark remains Greenland's Head of State, however.

The extreme north of Greenland is not covered by an ice cap (indicated as pale blue in the map to the right), because the air there is too dry to produce snow, which is essential in the production and maintenance of an ice cap.

It is unknown when the native inhabitants of Greenland arrived, or why they decided to settle such a desolate place. Their bodies have adapted in accordance with the habitat through the millennia, becoming shorter, with more fatty tissue to provide heat insolation.

Icelandic settlers arrived at the beginning of the last millennium. They established a settlement at the very south-western tip of the island, where they thrived for the next centuries. Around 1400, however, the immigrants sem to have abruptly disappeared, leaving only the houses behind.

The name Greenland comes from those nordic settlers. In the Viking sagas, it is said that Eiríkur Rauði (Erik the Red) was exiled from Iceland for murder. He, along his family and slaves, set out in longships to find the land that was rumoured to be to the north-west. After settling there, he named the land Greenland in order to attract more people to settle down. It proved successful, and the colony seemd to be getting relatively well along with the Inuits, until they simply vanished, for reasons unknown.

If the Greenland ice cap were to completely melt away, Greenland would most likely be an archipelago instead of an island-continent like Australia.

The capital is Nuuk (Godthåb)

The government pledged to hold a referendum on full independence in 2005.

See Danish colonization of the Americas

From the CIA World Factbook 2000.

External links

Nordic Council:
Denmark  |  Finland  |  Iceland  |  Norway  |  Sweden
Åland  |  Faroe Islands  |  Greenland

Nordic Countries  |  Europe

Greenland is also a place name in the State of New Hampshire in the United States of America. See Greenland, New Hampshire.