In 1946 the United states tried to purchase Greenland from Denmark but the Danes refused the $100 million offer.
Initially, the US was flirting with the idea of swapping land in the Point Barrow district of Alaska for those portions of Greenland that the United States considered of military value.
Under this plan, the Danes would have received the rights to any oil discovered in the district and would have had to sell the oil to the United States. Discovery of the documents, which have been declassified since the early 1970s, was first reported Sunday by the Copenhagen newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
It was probably a good thing that plan was scrapped. The richest oil strike in U. history was made in 1967 in the Prudhoe Bay area, 200 miles east of Point Barrow. The Point Barrow area now is part of the National Petroleum Reserve, which are oil fields reserved for national defense.
The proposed purchase seems to have first came up in November 1945, when Senator Owen Brewster of Maine said American military and naval authorities favored it and he considered it ″a military necessity.″
As a result, in April 1946, State Department official John Hickerson attended a meeting of the planning and strategy committee of the US military's Joint Chiefs of Staff and reported that ″practically every member ... said that our real objective as regards to Greenland should be to acquire it by purchase from Denmark.″
It was felt that at the time money was plentiful and Greenland was “completely worthless to Denmark (and) that the control of Greenland is indispensable to the safety of the United States.″
On May 24, 1946, William C. Trimble, assistant chief of the State Department’s division of northern European affairs, suggested that the United States offer $100 million in gold for the island. Trimble believed that there were few people in Denmark who had any interest in Greenland, economic, political or financial. He believed the purchase of Greenland would be an asset from which to launch an air counteroffensive over the Arctic area in the event of attack by Russia.
So, on December 14, 1946 Secretary of State James Byrnes made the offer to visiting Danish Foreign Minister Gustav Rasmussen in New York City. The offer came as a shock to Rasmussen, but he did not flatly reject the suggestion and said that he would study the offer.
The $100 million was to be in gold.
Even though the sale did not go through, the United States ended up with the military bases it wanted anyway. The US Air Force currently maintains two bases in Greenland, Thule and Sondestrom.
The Thule base was made possible by a defense treaty signed by the United States and Denmark in 1951. Originally designed as a refueling base for long-range bombing missions, it has been a ballistic missile early warning site and satellite telemetry station since 1961. Sondestrom’s mission is in support of the base at Thule.
The US military presence is not something that the local population welcomes with open arms, but considering the United States pays rent, which makes up to 20 percent of Greenland’s budget they tolerate their presence.
The 2013 estimated population of Greenland was 56,370 of whom 88 percent are Greenlandic Inuit, with the remaining being mainly Greenland Danes.
Nearly all Greenlanders live along the fjords in the south-west of the main island, which has a relatively mild climate, with more than 17,000 people residing in Nuuk, the capital city.
The island is about 1,650 miles long and up to 620 miles wide. The biggest part is covered by ice. This layer of ice is the second biggest connected mass of ice in the world and has an average thickness of over 4,900 feet. In some places it's over 11.000 feet thick!
It has cool summers and very cold winters. For example its capital, Nuuk has an average January low temperature 14 degrees F and an average July high of just 50 degrees F. During the summer months it is warmest and driest on land closest to the ice sheet.
In all parts of the country the weather is locally changeable and can vary from fjord to fjord and from one valley to the next. The air is generally very dry in Greenland in relation to many other countries, and because of this low humidity the low temperatures do not feel as cold as you might expect. On the other hand, the dry air means that you must drink more water than normal. The low humidity also means that you can see further than you are probably used to. Mountain crests that appear to be close are usually further away than you think.
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