History of Greenland

Brief history of Greenland

A brief review of the history of Greenland, an autonomous country of the Kingdom of Denmark.

The Inuits in Greenland

The first inhabitants of Greenland were the Inuit. They lived in Greenland for long periods, but there were also times when Greenland was uninhabited.

The first people to live in Greenland were the Saqqaq who lived there from around 2,500 BC to around 900 BC Greenland was uninhabited until 500 BC when the Dorsets arrived. They lived in Greenland until about the 1st century AD. The Thule people arrived in Greenland in the 10th century.

Vikings in Greenland

The Vikings arrived in Greenland in the late 10th century. Erik Thorvaldsson (c.950-1003), known as Erik the Red because of his red hair. Erik first set sail for Greenland around 982 and liked what he saw. Erik the Red is said to have given the country its name “Greenland” in hopes of attracting settlers.

In any case, around 985 Erik led the first Viking settlers to Greenland. He set out with a fleet of 25 ships, but only 14 of them made it.

The Vikings were able to live in Greenland because the climate at that time was milder than it is today and the settlers were able to make a living from farming. The Vikings established two settlements in Greenland, one western and one eastern.

Eventually, the European population of Greenland increased to over 3,000 inhabitants. In 1126 Greenland got a bishop and in 1261 Greenland became part of Norway. Then in 1380 Norway was united with Denmark and Greenland came under Danish rule.

Throughout history, the Earth’s climate has varied. In the 10th century the Earth was relatively warm. That allowed the Vikings to settle in Greenland. However, at the beginning of the 14th century, the Earth cooled the spell of the colonies of Greenland. Viking settlements in Greenland died out in the 15th century.

Viking life in Greenland had the same characteristics as life elsewhere.

Modern Greenland

In 1578 the Englishman Martin Frobisher landed in Greenland. Then, in 1585 and 1587, John Davis explored the eastern seaboard and Davis Strait is named after him. From the end of the 17th century, European whalers visited Greenland.

Europeans returned permanently to Greenland in 1721 when missionary Hans Egede (1686-1758) went to evangelize the Inuit. In 1728 Egede founded Godthab (now called Nuuk). Greenland came back under Danish rule in 1729.

In 1888, a Norwegian named Fridtjof Nansen led the first expedition to Greenland.

In 1940 the Germans occupied Denmark, but later in 1941 the United States established bases in Greenland. In 1953 Greenland ceased to be a colony of Denmark and became a province (an integral part of the country). The Bank of Greenland was founded in 1966 and in 1973 Greenland with Denmark became part of the EU.

However, links with Denmark weakened. In 1979 Greenland was given local government. In 1982, the people of Greenland voted to leave the EU and gave in in 1985. Also in 1985 Greenland got a flag. Greenland was granted even more autonomy in 2009.

Kalaallisut became the official language of Greenland instead of Danish. Today the official name of Greenland is Kalaallit Nunaat. However, the Queen of Denmark remains the head of state of Greenland.

Today the population of Greenland is 57,000. The capital of Greenland, Nuuk, has a population of 15,000 inhabitants. The majority of the population of Greenland are Inuit.

Today the main industry in Greenland is fishing. However, Greenland has great potential for tourism. Greenland is also very rich in minerals.

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