GUARDING GREENLAND

Mads Nissen travelled across snow and ice bound Greenland – from Danish outposts and military bases to a former weather and telecommunications station and a US Army Base at Thule that used to function as a half-way point for the US military during the Cold War.

With a total surface area of over 2.1 million square kilometres, physical control over the territory is very much a matter of symbolic gestures rather than tangible physical presence. Mads Nissen met some of the people whose presence in Greenland is part of the country’s efforts in keeping Greenland Danish.

Greenland has been part of the Danish realm since 1814 when it was ceded to the Danish crown towards the end of the Napoleonic wars. The territory of Greenland is 50 times larger than Denmark proper and its coastline is longer than the circumference of the earth. Yet while sovereignty over Greenland has been contested over the centuries it is global warming, with new trade routes and access to resources opening up, and a newly assertive Russia, keen to claim sections of the Arctic, that are causing the biggest challenges to Denmark’s rule over the vast territory.