After more than 300 years of Danish oversight, the Arctic island of Greenland has officially assumed self-rule. This is one more step towards full independence from Denmark, but there are still many issues that need to be overcome before that last final leap can be made.
Self-rule means that Greenland’s local government will take control of the courts and the police, and the island-nation will get more revenue from its own natural resources. However, Denmark still gets to have the final word when it comes to foreign policy and defence matters.
Another major coup for the island and its 57,000 inhabitants is that Greenlandic, or Kalaallisut as it’s locally known, will become the official language. The movement towards autonomy began in 1979, when Denmark granted Greenland limited sovereignty. The timing for self-rule couldn’t be better, as much of the oil, natural gas, diamonds and gold that lie inaccessible beneath the Arctic ice covering the majority of the island may soon be easier to get to due to global warming.
Greenland’s pro-independence advocates hope this boost in natural resource revenue will give the island enough money to make the final break from Denmark, according to the BBC. But political analysts feel any push for independence will be deliberately kept on the back burner by Greenland’s newly elected left-leaning government.
Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist has openly vowed to focus on dealing with the big social problems first such as alcoholism, domestic violence, and a high rate of suicide. Greenland still relies on Danish subsidies for 30 percent of its GDP, so there’s a long road ahead for those wishing for complete independence.