Page last updated at 15:30 GMT, Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Timeline: Greenland

A chronology of key events:

A fishing village nestles in the heart of the capital, Nuuk
Founded as Godthab by Danish missionary Hans Egede
Population: 13,900

982 - Greenland discovered by the Norwegian Erik the Red, who had been banished from Iceland. He returns to Iceland in 985 and calls his discovery "Greenland" to make it more attractive. In 986 he returns to Greenland with settlers.

1000 - Leif Eriksson, the son of Erik the Red, departs from Greenland on the last stage of a voyage which is to take him to the north-east coast of North America, 500 years before Christopher Columbus. Christianity established in Greenland.

1600 - By this time all Norse settlements in Greenland have vanished. The only inhabitants are Inuit.

Danish colony

1721 - New Danish settlement established near present-day Nuuk. Beginning of Greenland's colonial era.

1776 - Danish government assumes a full monopoly of trade with Greenland.

Antennas at Thule base, pictured in 1960s
US is keen to expand Thule, its Cold War-era military base

1800s - Greenland is explored and mapped.

1940 - Denmark is occupied by Germany during World War II. The United States assumes protective custody over Greenland for the duration of the war.

1945 - Greenland returned to Denmark, but negotiations on the continued military use of the island by the US and its subsequent NATO allies are not concluded until 1951.

1953 - Greenland becomes an integral part of the Kingdom of Denmark and obtains representation in the Danish parliament.

1953 - The Danish authorities expel Inuit hunters from their ancestral lands in the far north of the island to expand US airbase at Thule.

1968 - An American B-52 bomber with four nuclear weapons on board crashes near Thule. Concern is still being expressed that not all the weapons were recovered from the crash site.


1972 - Denmark and Greenland join the European Community.

1979 - Greenland attains home rule following a referendum. The parliament decides upon and administers internal matters, but Denmark retains control over constitutional affairs, foreign relations and defence.

1982 - Greenlanders vote to leave the European Community - the withdrawal is completed in 1985.

1989 - An extensive deposit of gold is discovered on Greenland, but natural conditions make exploitation extremely difficult.

1999 February - General election sees Jonathan Motzfeldt re-elected as prime minister.

Inuit representative outside Danish court
Inuit failed to get Denmark to close the US base at Thule

1999 August - Danish High Court rules that Inuit were illegally exiled from their land in northern Greenland in 1953, but denies them right of return.

2000 - Greenland celebrates the 1000-year anniversary of Leif Eriksson's voyage to North America. Queen Margrethe of Denmark attends along with several Nordic heads of state.

2002 December - Siumut party enters independence-minded coalition with Inuit Brotherhood following general elections. Siumut leader Hans Enoksen becomes prime minister.

2003 January - Coalition between Siumut and Inuit Brotherhood collapses in row involving corruption allegations and the use of a faith healer. Coalition with Atassut resumes.

2003 September - Coalition between Siumut and Atassut collapses in row over budget. Siumut re-enters coalition with Inuit Brotherhood.

2003 November - Danish Supreme Court rejects Inuit appeal against 1999 ruling denying them right of return to ancestral lands in northern Greenland.

Trawler passes Arctic icebergs in Ilulissat ice fjord, Greenland
Greenland's contribution to rising global sea levels is increasing

2004 August - US and Denmark sign deal to modernise Thule air base.

The meltdown of Greenland's ice sheet has accelerated since 2004, according to a US team writing in Science journal.

2005 November - Hans Enoksen continues as prime minister in a coalition involving his Siumut party, the Inuit Brotherhood and Atassut. Elections had been called early amid row over budget and allegations of misuse of public funds.

2007 March - Denmark agrees to pay for Greenland to build its first secure prison, allowing those sentenced for serious crimes to be jailed close to home rather than in Denmark.

Greater autonomy

2008 November - Greenlanders vote in referendum for more autonomy, greater control over energy resources and granting Kalaallisut or Western Greenlandic status of official language in place of Danish.

2009 June - The left-wing opposition Inuit Ataqatigiit (Community of the People - IA) party wins parliamentary elections and is the first party to govern under the expanded autonomy agreement.

2010 November - Greenland's ice sheet is shrinking faster and making a bigger contribution to rising sea levels, a study in the journal Science confirms.

2010 August - Greenpeace protesters occupy oil exploration drilling rig off Greenland to highlight environmental concerns, following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.

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