Greenland’s strategic value is linked tightly to new North Atlantic shipping lanes opening up due to melting polar ice caps. The new lanes have dramatically decreased maritime trade travel times, which generally includes traveling through the Panama or Suez canals to circumnavigate the world.
Greenland, which is home to nearly 58,000 people, is the largest island in the world, and 80% of its 811,000 square miles are ice-capped. The island’s residents are Danish, but they have governed by self-rule since 1979.
Greenland’s largest economic drivers are fishing and tourism, but the island has drawn rising interest due to its vast natural resources, including coal, zinc, copper, iron ore and rare minerals. There have been expeditions to assess the extent of the nation’s resources, but the true quantity is unknown.
Greenland is also in an advantageous location for the U.S. armed forces. The U.S. and Greenland have had an agreement since World War II to house American military assets on the island.