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Sagax Greenland 2007

Greenland:

 

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Greenland… the largest island in North Hemisphere

The inland ice is the second largest ice cap in the world…

The northernmost point of the island, Cape Morris Jesup, is the northernmost land area in the world…
Greenland greatly contributes to the world’s climate regulation

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Greenland meaning "Land of the Kalaallit (Greenlanders)" in Danish is a self-governed Danish territory. Though geographically and ethnically an Arctic island nation associated with the continent of North America, politically and historically Greenland is closely tied to Europe.

History

Greenland was home to a number of Paleo-Eskimo cultures in prehistory, the latest of which (the Early Dorset culture) disappeared around the year 200 AD. Hereafter, the island seems to have been uninhabited for some eight centuries.
Icelandic settlers led by Erik the Red found the land uninhabited when they arrived c. 982. Around 984 they established the Eastern and Western settlements in deep fjords near the very southwestern tip of the island, where they thrived for the next few centuries, and then disappeared after over 450 years of habitation.
The fjords of the southern part of the island were lush and had a warmer climate at that time, possibly due to what was called the Medieval Warm Period. These remote communities thrived and lived off farming, hunting and trading with the motherland, and when the Norwegian kings converted their domains to Christianity, a bishop was installed in Greenland as well, subordinate to the archdiocese of Nidaros. The settlements seem to have coexisted relatively peacefully with the Inuit, who had migrated southwards from the Arctic islands of North America around 1200. In 1261, Greenland became part of the Kingdom of Norway.
After almost five hundred years, the Scandinavian settlements simply vanished, possibly due to famine during the fifteenth century in the Little Ice Age, when climatic conditions deteriorated, and contact with Europe was lost. Bones from this late period were found to be in a condition consistent with malnutrition. Some believe the settlers were wiped out by bubonic plague or exterminated by the Inuit. Other historians have speculated that Spanish or English pirates or slave traders from the Barbary Coast contributed to the extinction of the Greenlandic communities.

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Etymology

The name "Greenland" comes from Scandinavian settlers. In the Norse sagas, it is said that Erik the Red was exiled from Iceland for murder. He, along with his extended family and thralls, set out in ships to find the land that was rumored to be to the northwest. After settling there, he named the land Grænland ("Greenland"), possibly in order to attract more people to settle there. Greenland was also called Gruntland ("Ground-land") on early maps. Whether Green is an erroneous transcription of Grunt ("Ground"), which refers to shallow bays, or vice versa, is not known. It should also be noted, however, that the southern portion of Greenland (not covered by glacier) is indeed very green in the summer, and was likely even greener in Erik's time because of the Medieval Warm Period.

Geography

The Atlantic Ocean borders Greenland's southeast; the Greenland Sea is to the east; the Arctic Ocean is to the north; and Baffin Bay is to the west. The nearest countries are Iceland, east of Greenland in the Atlantic Ocean, and Canada, to the west and across Baffin Bay. Greenland is the world's largest island, and is the largest dependent territory by area in the world. It also contains the world's largest national park.
The total area of Greenland measures 2,166,086 km² (836,109 square miles), of which the Greenland ice sheet covers 1,755,637 km² (677,676 square miles) (81%). The coastline of Greenland is 39,330 km (24,430 miles) long, about the same length as the Earth's circumference at the Equator.
The weight of the massive Greenlandic ice cap has depressed the central land area to form a basin lying more than 300 m [1,000 feet] below sea level.
All towns and settlements of Greenland are situated along the ice-free coast, with the population being concentrated along the Western coast. The northeastern part of Greenland, which includes sections of North Greenland and East Greenland, is not part of any municipality, but is the site of the world's largest national park, Northeast Greenland National Park.
At least four scientific expedition stations and camps had been established in the ice-covered central part of Greenland (indicated as pale blue in the map to the right), on the ice sheet: Eismitte, North Ice, North GRIP Camp and The Raven Skiway. Currently, there is a year-round station, Summit Camp, on the ice sheet, established in 1989. The radio station Jørgen Brøndlund Fjord was, until 1950, the northernmost permanent outpost in the world.

The extreme north of Greenland, Peary Land, is not covered by an ice sheet, because the air there is too dry to produce snow, which is essential in the production and maintenance of an ice sheet. If the Greenland ice sheet were to completely melt away, sea levels would rise more than 7 m (23 feet) [3] and Greenland would most likely become an archipelago.
Between 1989 and 1993, U.S. and European climate researchers drilled into the summit of Greenland's ice sheet, obtaining a pair of two-mile (3.2 km) long ice cores. Analysis of the layering and chemical composition of the cores has provided a revolutionary new record of climate change in the Northern Hemisphere going back about 100,000 years and illustrated that the world's weather and temperature have often shifted rapidly from one seemingly stable state to another, with worldwide consequences. The glaciers of Greenland are also contributing to global sea level rise at a faster rate than was previously believed.
In February 2006, researchers reported that Greenland's glaciers are melting twice as fast as they were five years ago. According to satellite gravity measurements, the annual loss was estimated at 216 km³/yr (52 cubic miles per year) by 2005. Between 1991 and 2006, monitoring of the weather at one location (Swiss Camp) found that the average winter temperature had risen almost 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Other research has shown that higher snowfalls from the North Atlantic oscillation caused the interior of the ice cap to thicken by an average of 6 cm/yr between 1994 and 2005.

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Topography

About 81% of its surface is covered by ice, known as the Greenlandic ice cap, the weight of which has depressed the central land area to form a basin lying more than 300 m [1,000 ft] below the surrounding ocean.

Economy

Greenland suffered economic contraction in the early 1990s, but since 1993 the economy has improved. The Greenland Home Rule Government (GHRG) has pursued a tight fiscal policy since the late 1980s which has helped create surpluses in the public budget and low inflation. Since 1990, Greenland has registered a foreign trade deficit following the closure of the last remaining lead and zinc mine in 1990. Greenland today is critically dependent on fishing and fish exports; the shrimp fishing industry is by far the largest income earner. Despite resumption of several interesting hydrocarbon and mineral exploration activities, it will take several years before production can materialize. Tourism is the only sector offering any near-term potential and even this is limited due to a short season and high costs. The public sector, including publicly owned enterprises and the municipalities, plays the dominant role in Greenland's economy. About half the government revenues come from grants from the Danish Government, an important supplement to the gross domestic product. GDP per capita is equivalent to that of the weaker economies of Europe.

Demographics

Greenland has a population of 56,361, of whom 87% are Greenlandic, a mixture of Inuit and European races. The majority of the population are Evangelical Lutherans. English, Danish and Greenlandic are all spoken by the population.
Nearly all Greenlanders live along the fjords in the south-west of the main island, which has a milder climate. Most Greenlanders have both Kalaallit (Inuit) and Scandinavian ancestry, and speak Greenlandic (Kalaallisut) as their first language. Greenlandic is spoken by about 50,000 people, which is more than all the other Eskimo-Aleut languages combined. A minority of Danish migrants with no Inuit ancestry speak Danish as their first language. Both languages are official with the West Greenlandic dialect forming the basis of the official form of Greenlandic.

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