Greenland (Greenlandic: Kalaallit Nunaat [kaˈlaːɬit ˈnunaːt]; Danish: Grønland [ˈɡ̊ʁɶnˌlanˀ]) is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe (specifically Norway and Denmark, the colonial powers, as well as the nearby island of Iceland) for more than a millennium. In 2008, the people of Greenland passed a referendum supporting greater autonomy; 75% of votes cast were in favour. Greenland is the World's largest island, over three-quarters of which is covered by the only contemporary ice sheet outside of Antarctica. With a population of about 56,480 (2013), it is the least densely populated country in the world.
Greenland has been inhabited off and on for at least the last 4,500 years by Arctic peoples whose forebears migrated there from what is now Canada. Norsemen settled the uninhabited southern part of Greenland, beginning in the 10th century, and Inuit peoples arrived in the 13th century. The Norse colonies disappeared in the late 15th century. In the early 18th century, Scandinavia and Greenland came back into contact with each other, and Denmark-Norway affirmed sovereignty over the island.
Denmark–Norway claimed Greenland for centuries. Greenland was settled by Norwegians over a thousand years ago, who had previously settled Iceland to escape persecution from the King of Norway and his central government. It was from Greenland and Iceland that Norwegians would set sail to discover America almost 500 years before Columbus and attempt to colonize land. Though under continuous influence of Norway and Norwegians, Greenland was not formally under the Norwegian crown until 1262. The Kingdom of Norway was extensive and a military power until the mid-14th century. Norway was dramatically hit with a larger death toll than Denmark by the Black Death, forcing Norway to accept a union in which the central government, university and other fundamental institutions were located in Copenhagen. Thus, the two kingdoms' resources were directed at creating Copenhagen, which is why Norway became the weaker part and lost sovereignty over Greenland in 1814 in the dissolution of the union. Greenland thus became a Danish colony in 1814, and a part of the Danish Realm in 1953 under the Constitution of Denmark.