Humanities › Geography Learn About Greenland Share Flipboard Email Print Timothy Allen/Getty Images Geography Country Information Basics Physical Geography Political Geography Population Key Figures & Milestones Maps Urban Geography By Matt Rosenberg Geography Expert M.A., Geography, California State University - Northridge B.A., Geography, University of California - Davis Matt Rosenberg is an award-winning geographer and the author of "The Handy Geography Answer Book" and "The Geography Bee Complete Preparation Handbook." our editorial process Matt Rosenberg Updated April 11, 2019 Since the eighteenth century, Greenland has been a territory controlled by Denmark. In recent years, however, Greenland has regained a considerable level of autonomy from Denmark. Greenland as a Colony Greenland first became a colony of Denmark in 1775. In 1953, Greenland was established as a province of Denmark. In 1979, Greenland was granted home rule by Denmark. Six years later, Greenland left the European Economic Community (the forerunner of the European Union) in order to keep its fishing grounds from European rules. About 50,000 of Greenland's 57,000 residents are indigenous Inuit. Greenland's Independence From Denmark It wasn't until 2008 that Greenland's citizens voted in a non-binding referendum for increased independence from Denmark. In a vote of over 75% in favor, Greenlanders voted to reduce their involvement with Denmark. With the referendum, Greenland voted to take control of law enforcement, the justice system, coast guard, and to share more equality in oil revenue. The official language of Greenland also changed to Greenlandic (also known as Kalaallisut). This change to a more independent Greenland officially took place in June 2009, the 30th anniversary of Greenland's home rule in 1979. Greenland maintains some independent treaties and foreign relations. However, Denmark retains ultimate control of foreign affairs and defense of Greenland. Ultimately, while Greenland now maintains a great deal of autonomy, it is not yet a fully independent country. Here are the eight requirements for independent country status with regard to Greenland: Has space or territory which has internationally recognized boundaries: yes Has people who live there on an ongoing basis: yes Has economic activity and an organized economy. A country regulates foreign and domestic trade and issues money: mostly, although the currency is the Danish kroner and some trade agreements remain the purview of DenmarkHas the power of social engineering, such as education: yes Has a transportation system for moving goods and people: yes Has a government which provides public services and police power: yes, although defense remains Denmark's responsibilityHas sovereignty. No other state should have power over the country's territory: no Has external recognition. A country has been "voted into the club" by other countries: no Greenland reserves the right to seek complete independence from Denmark but experts currently expect that such a move is in the distant future. Greenland will need to try on this new role of increased autonomy for a few years before moving to the next step on the road to independence from Denmark.