/div>Island and self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark
, in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is the world's largest island. Area: 836,330 sq mi (2,166,000 sq km). Population: (2009 est.) 56,100. Capital: Nuuk
. Two-thirds of it lies within the Arctic Circle
. It is dominated by the massive Greenland Ice Sheet
. Fishing is central to the economy; there are also commercial mineral deposits, including a large gold deposit, as well as offshore oil exploration. About four-fifths of the population are native Greenlanders, principally of Inuit (see Eskimo
) descent, residing in coastal areas. The Inuit probably crossed to northwestern Greenland from mainland North America, along the islands of the Canadian Arctic, from about 2500 BCE to about 1100 CE. The Norwegian Erik the Red
visited Greenland in 982; his son Leif Eriksson
introduced Christianity in the 11th century. The original Norse settlements became extinct in the 15th century, but Greenland was recolonized by Denmark in 1721. Greenland became part of the Kingdom of Denmark in 1953. Home rule was established in 1979. At the beginning of the 21st century, the movement for full independence began to gain support, as did the belief among many scientists that global warming was responsible for the accelerated melting of the ice sheet.