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At 836,109 square miles (2.2 million sq km), Greenland is the world's largest island that is not also a continent. Due to its climate and proximity to the North Pole, roughly 80% of its surface is permanently covered in ice. It has a population of over 55,000 and its capital city is Nuuk, which is the nation's largest city with over 15,000 residents.
In prehistoric times, the island was settled by several Paleo-Eskimo cultures. The island's first outside settlers were the Vikings, who arrived in the tenth century but disappeared after roughly 500 years. The Danes colonized the area in the 1700s, and Greenland became a province of Denmark in 1953. It was also briefly part of the European Union, but withdrew its membership after disagreements over the European Union's strict fishing quotas. In 1979, Denmark granted Greenland self-government, but continued to control the country's foreign relations in conjunction with Greenland's own government.
The government consists of an executive branch, a legislative branch, and a judicial branch. The executive branch is nominally headed by the ruler of Denmark, but as a practical matter, it is lead by the prime minister, who is advised by his or her cabinet. The legislative branch consists of a single-house Parliament with 31 seats. The members are chosen in popular elections, and the legislature is responsible for electing the prime minister. The judicial branch is headed by a High Court.
Greenland's climate varies from arctic to subarctic, with cool summers and cold winters. The land is almost entirely covered by a flat icecap, but a narrow strip of mountainous coastline around the island is not covered by the icecap. All of Greenland's cities are situated within this strip of coastline.
Greenland possesses many valuable natural resources, such as coal, lead, zinc, diamonds, and iron ore. The economy is generally good, but is heavily dependent on the export of fish and also requires much support from the Danish government. In fact, Danish subsidies account for half of the government's revenues.
Most of the population is Inuit and whites who were born in Greenland, while Danish people and people of other ethnicities make up about 10%. The predominant religion iss Evangelical Lutheran, and the most commonly spoken languages are Greenlandic, Danish, and English. Culturally, Greenlanders are closely linked to European cultures, especially those of Denmark, Iceland, and Norway, even though the North American nation of Canada is much closer. This is likely due to the early Viking settlements, as well as Denmark's continuing influence over the nation.
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