Greenland, the largest island in the world, is an internally self-governing part of Denmark , situated between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans. It 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.
Greenland was first explored by Eric the Red, a Norwegian settler in Iceland and father of Leif Eriksson, toward the end of the 10th century, and Icelandic settlements were subsequently established there under his leadership. By the early 15th century, however, these settlements had vanished, and all contact with Greenland was lost. In the course of the search for the Northwest Passage, Greenland was sighted again. The English navigator John Davis visited the island in 1585, and his explorative work, together with that of the English explorers Henry Hudson and William Baffin, afforded knowledge of the west coast of Greenland.
The foundation of Danish rule was laid by a mission at Godthab (now Nuuk) in 1721 by a Norwegian missionary, Hans Egede.The U.S.A. relinquished its claim to land in northern Greenland, based on the explorations of the American explorer Robert Edwin Peary, when it purchased the Virgin Islands from Denmark in 1917. In May 1921, Denmark declared the entire island of Greenland to be Danish territory, causing a dispute with Norway over hunting and fishing rights. In 1931 a strip of land on the east coast was claimed by some Norwegian hunters, whose action was later recognized by the Norwegian government. The occupation was invalidated by the Permanent Court of International Justice at The Hague in 1933.
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.