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Thule Air Base, fur trapping, Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Cape Farewell, Landsting

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Greenland (Greenlandic Kalaallit Nunaat; Danish Gronland), island which is an internally self-governing part of Denmark, situated between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans. Greenland lies mostly north of the Arctic Circle and is separated from the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, on the west, primarily by Davis Strait and Baffin Bay, and from Iceland, on the east, by the Denmark Strait. The largest island in the world, Greenland has a maximum extent, from its northernmost point on Cape Morris Jesup to Cape Farewell in the extreme south, of 2,660 km (1,650 mi). The maximum distance from east to west is 1,300 km (800 mi). The entire coast, which is deeply indented with fjords, is roughly estimated at 44,000 km (27,000 mi). The total area of Greenland is 2,170,000 sq km (840,000 sq mi), of which 1,834,000 sq km (708,000 sq mi) is ice cap. The capital and largest city is Nuuk.


Fishing, sealing, and fur trapping are the principal economic activities in Greenland, which must rely on large amounts of financial support from Denmark. The fish catch is primarily cod, shrimp, and salmon; fish processing is the major manufacturing industry. Agriculture is only possible on one percent of Greenland's total area. Cattle, sheep, and goats are raised in small numbers in some portions of the southwestern coast, and hardy vegetables are grown. Greenland was formerly the world's main source of natural cryolite, a mineral used in the manufacture of aluminum, but by the late 1980s, reserves were exhausted. Lead and zinc were also produced until the mines were exhausted in 1990, and deposits of coal and uranium are known to exist. Denmark is Greenland's largest trading partner, and its main exports are fish, hides and skins, and fish oil. Thule Air Base (formerly Dundas) in the north supports a community of American and Danish civilian and military personnel.


In a referendum in 1979, Greenland voted for home rule. Denmark continues to administer external affairs. Executive power is held by a seven-member body, the Landsstyre, headed by a premier. Legislative power is vested in a 31-member parliament, the Landsting. Greenlanders elect two representatives to the Danish parliament.



Kent, Rockwell. N by E. Columbia University Press, 1978. A boat journey to Greenland, and the author's days there among the Inuit and Danes.

Rasmussen, Knud J.Trans. Asta Kenney and Rowland Kenney. Greenland by the Polar Sea. AMS, 1976, 1988. Polar lands, seas, climate, and people described in 1921 journey into Greenland.

Seaver, Kirsten A. The Frozen Echo: Greenland and the Exploration of North America, ca. A.D. 1000-1500. Stanford University Press, 1996. Argues that Greenland was an important prelude to North American exploration.

Stark, Peter. Driving to Greenland. Burford, 1994. A tale of travel in the Arctic, and other adventures into the heart of Greenland.


Microsoft Encarta 2009. 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation.

Article key phrases:

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