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Greenland (Kalaallisut: Kalaallit Nunaat [kaˈla:ɫitˈnuna:t]) is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of thecontinent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe (specifically Norway and laterDenmark) for more than a millennium. In 2008, the people of Greenland passed a referendum supporting greater autonomy; 75% of votes cast were in favour. Greenland is, in terms of area, the world’s largest island. With a population of 56,749 (2012 estimate), it is the least densely populated territory in the world.
Greenland has been inhabited off and on for at least the last 4,500 to 5,000 years by Arctic peoples whose forebears migrated there from Canada. Norsemen settled on the uninhabited southern part of Greenland beginning in the 10th century. Inuit peoples arrived in the 13th century. The Norse colonies disappeared in the late 15th century. In the early 18th century, Scandinavia and Greenland came back into contact with each other, and Denmark established sovereignty over the island.
Having been ruled by Denmark-Norway for centuries, Greenland (Danish: Grønland) became a Danish colony in 1814, and a part of the Danish Realm in 1953 under the Constitution of Denmark. In 1979, Denmark granted home rule to Greenland, and in 2008, Greenlanders voted to transfer more power from the Danish royal government to the local Greenlandic government. Under the new structure, in effect since June 21, 2009, the Danish government retains control of foreign affairs, national defence, the police force, and the justice system. It also retains control of monetary policy, providing an initial annual subsidy of DKK 3.4 billion, slated to diminish gradually over time as Greenland’s economy is strengthened by increased income from the extraction of natural resources.