Does Donald Trump really want to buy Greenland from Denmark?

US president Donald Trump appears to be considering asking Denmark’s government to sell Greenland.

Does Donald Trump really want to buy Greenland from Denmark?
Upernavik, western Greenland, in 2015. Photo: Linda Kastrup / Ritzau Scanpix

Trump is reported by the Wall Street Journal to be thinking of making an offer for the autonomous territory of Denmark, based on information provided by a number of anonymous sources.

The former property tycoon has on several occasions, and with various degrees of seriousness, raised with advisors the possibility of buying the world’s largest island, according to the report.

He is also reported to have asked about Greenland’s resources and geopolitical importance.

According to the newspaper, some of Trump’s advisors consider the prospect economically viable, while others dismiss it as an impulsive fascination and not a realistic idea.

How the US would approach the matter, should Trump’s considerations become a stated wish, is unclear. The White House did not respond to the Wall Street Journal’s request for comment, and neither Greenland nor Denmark has officially commented.

The rumours did provoke comment from social media users, with no small degree of ridicule for the divisive US president.

One Twitter user wrote “sorry, Greenland” with an image showing a golden Trump Tower photoshopped into the Greenland scenery.

Others suggested the shape of the northern island may have provided Trump with inspiration, or that the island's size on the Mercator projection, which adjusts the world map to the curve of the globe, had impressed the US president.

Although the idea of Trump buying Greenland sounds bizarre, there is some precedent.

In 1946, the United States offered to pay 100 million dollars for Greenland after initially considering a swap deal involving part of Alaska.

The US Virgin Islands, a United States territory in the Caribbean, actually was sold by Denmark to the US in 1917, for $25 million. The island group was known as the Danish West Indian Islands prior to the sale.

Colonized by Denmark in the 1720s, Greenland has had an autonomous government since 2009 as part of the Kingdom of Denmark.

Greenland’s population is around 56,000. The icy land mass, located between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, has an area totalling 2.18 million square kilometres. The US military has a major airbase in the island’s northwest, with 600 personnel on site.

Trump is scheduled for a state visit to Denmark on September 2nd and 3rd, where he will both Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Greenland’s Prime Minister Kim Kielsen. The island will be one of a number of issues on the agenda.

READ ALSO: Trump baby blimp to fly over Denmark protests

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Greenland passes law banning uranium mining

Greenland's parliament voted Tuesday to ban uranium mining and exploration in the vast Danish territory, following through on a campaign promise from the ruling left-wing party which was elected earlier this year.

Greenland's parliament voted on November 9th to ban uranium mining. Prime Minister Mute Egede, pictured, said earlier this month he wanted to join the Paris climate agreement.
Greenland's parliament voted on November 9th to ban uranium mining. Prime Minister Mute Egede, pictured, said earlier this month he wanted to join the Paris climate agreement. File photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

The Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) party won snap elections in April that were originally triggered by divisions over a controversial uranium and rare earth mining project.

The IA won 12 seats in the 31-seat Greenlandic national assembly, beating its rival Siumut, a social democratic party that had dominated politics in the island territory since it gained autonomy in 1979.

On Tuesday 12 MPs in the national assembly voted to ban uranium mining, with nine voting against. 

The IA had campaigned against exploiting the Kuannersuit deposit, which is located in fjords in the island’s south and is considered one of the world’s richest in uranium and rare earth minerals.

The project, led by the Chinese-owned Australian group Greenland Minerals, has not yet been officially abandoned.

But French group Orano announced in May it would not launch exploration despite holding permits to do so.

The massive natural riches of the vast island — measuring two million square kilometres, making it larger than Mexico — have been eyed by many, but few projects have been approved.

The island is currently home to two mines: one for anorthosite, whose deposits contain titanium, and one for rubies and pink sapphires.

While Greenland’s local government is not opposed to all mining activities, it has also banned all oil exploration over concerns for the climate and the environment.

Earlier this month Prime Minister Mute Egede said he wanted to join the Paris climate agreement, which Greenland is one of the few countries not to have ratified.

READ ALSO: Greenland seabed scoured for marine diamonds