Greenland Votes for Self-Rule

Danish territory wants to control own police force, oil fields
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 26, 2008 10:52 AM CST
Member of the Danish Parliament and the representative for Greenland, Juliane Henningsen, third from left, hands out bracelets with the text Namminersorneq ("self rule").   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Three-fourths of the Greenlanders who voted in yesterday’s referendum on self-rule want more autonomy from Denmark, Time reports. The historic vote—which must still be adopted by parliaments in Copenhagen and Nuuk—puts the world’s largest island on the path to becoming the first independent Inuit state. But that road is riddled with obstacles ranging from ice to economics.

With no major road system and 80% of its land covered in glaciers, Greenland suffers from 9% unemployment and gets a third of its income from a yearly Danish subsidy—leaving its 57,000 residents hoping oil companies can tap its huge estimated reserves. The referendum would put police forces and domestic affairs in Greenlandic control, but leave foreign policy and defense to Copenhagen.