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A CROSS the northeastern approaches to North America lies a barrier of ice, mountains and habitable land more than 1,600 miles long--as long as the eastern seaboard of the United States and as large as all the states east of the Mississippi. When traditional concepts of oceanic security were destroyed by the growth of air power, this area, which is Greenland, assumed a relationship to the United States analogous to that once held by the Atlantic Ocean, just as Alaska assumed a new rôle in the Pacific. Each is vital to hemispheric defense and serves as an important outpost.
Unlike Alaska, Greenland is the possession of a foreign nation, Denmark. The disposition of Greenland has always been of keen interest to the United States; the region was included within the limits of the Monroe Doctrine even before its full extent was known. In a very real sense, social and economic development in Greenland are linked with its climate--another way of saying that both depend upon the vagaries of a wandering body of water, the Irminger Current.
In the nineteenth century, anyone who was curious about this area would examine the blank upper portions of a spherical map of the earth, projected on a rectangular piece of flat paper, and make one of two choices to explain what was not revealed on the map: either a polar sea was hidden by the word "unexplored," or the space was occupied by a vast polar land of which the dangling Greenland was a peninsula. Ancient maps which showed Greenland divided by two east-to-west straits were dismissed as apocryphal, or the product of wishful thinking. In any case, except to the visionary, the choice was one of merely academic interest. Prolonged attempts to establish a short trade route from Europe to the Orient by sailing northward had been frustrated by ice, and Fridtjof Nansen, by crossing Greenland's icecap, had proved that no Elysian Fields existed in its center. Instead, inter-hemispheric commerce moved east and west in lengthy journeys around the sphere; so also had gone the major movements of mankind in their preparatory consolidation of the temperate zone where technology could develop and energy amass for the push against the big frontier, the north.
Toward the end of the nineteenth century Robert E. Peary established the fact that Greenland was an island, thus dispersing for all time the myths of an Arctic continent. Greenland entered the atlases as a huge subcontinent of North America, the world's largest island, stretching from Cape Farewell at 59° 46'N to Cape Morris Jesup at 83° 40'N, the most central and northern piece of dry land in the world. But in recent months that concept of Greenland has been opposed by evidence that Greenland is not, after all, a single island, and that the Eskimo legend of straits which divide it into an archipelago, though not yet proven, may be true. The recent expedition of the Frenchman, Paul Emil-Victor, by taking echo soundings from the top of the inland ice, found that in many cases the bottom of the icecap rested on rocks which were considerably below sea level. His findings tend to corroborate theoretical speculations which regard Greenland as a land of which the center has been depressed by the tremendous weight of the icecap, with a corresponding elevation of mountains around its perimeter--a tectonic phenomenon similar to the effect produced by a heavy object placed in the center of a flat pillow.
The outstanding feature of Greenland is the immense glacial dome, covering three-quarters of its total area and rising in places to a height of about 10,000 feet. This icecap, as it may properly be described, comes directly into the sea, where, at several points, it forms long glacial fronts, the largest of which, located in Melville Bay, has a 187 mile sea-front. This may be one of the places where Greenland is divided. In other places it spills over through the mountain valleys at the heads of fjords, where it produces the notorious icebergs of the North Atlantic. Occasionally, between the coastal mountains and the central dome, rocky peaks called nunataks--a word given by the Greenlandic Eskimos to science--jut through the surface of the ice. These nunataks may attain considerable elevation, the highest being Gunnbjornsfjell, not far from the east coast at latitude 68° 65'N; this undoubtedly is the Kvitserk, a sailing marker for the Vikings mentioned in the Icelandic sagas.
Across the top of this icy dome, one of the coldest points in the northern hemisphere, moves a great deal of the weather which descends upon Western Europe, and sliding down from its heights to the coast are local bodies of cold air which can create violent windstorms. A measure of the economic value of Greenland's icecap is the fact that were it to melt, the level of the world's oceans would, it has been estimated, be raised six meters: an eventuality which would be extremely unpopular in some areas although it might be appreciated in others.
However, there are more than 300,000 square kilometers of ice-free land in Greenland. The largest concentrations occur in the regions about Peary Land in the far north, between Scoresby Sound and Germania Land on the northeast coast, and in west Greenland, which alone contains 116,000 square kilometers of ice-free land. Although the Icelandic sagas point out that Erik the Red named the country Greenland in the tenth century as a gesture to attract colonists, the name was never retracted as unsuitable. Indeed, the area about the west coast fjord districts presents a most inviting appearance. In the Scoresby Sound district on the east coast the distance from the coast to the inland ice is more than 150 kilometers, and the areas between the many fjords not only have striking beauty but offer pasturage for immense herds of musk-oxen. Peary Land, in spite of its high latitude, is largely ice free, with rolling hills and plains. Though they cannot be described as prairies, at least they offer vast stretches of wild flowers and grasses through which flutter several species of butterflies. American Sunday school songs which carried the message of Greenland's icy mountains obscured the fact that Greenland possessed ice-free land more than seven times the size of Denmark.
Access to Greenland is governed by the general rule for the Arctic regions that the eastern coasts are more given to ice than are the western. The main outlet for the ice of the Arctic Ocean is through the gap between Greenland and Svalbard, where it is carried by the east Greenland Current southward along the coast in annual amounts estimated at 26 billion cubic yards. The ice in this current makes approach by ship to east Greenland a speculative venture, and very often from the Scoresby Sound district northward ships can penetrate it for only a few weeks during the month of August.
When the east Greenland Current reaches the south it is joined by the Irminger Current, a westerly branch of the Gulf Stream, and together they double Cape Farewell and proceed northward along the west coast of Greenland where they mix with the polar waters from Lancaster Sound. As a result of this warmer Irminger Current the coast of southwest Greenland is very often ice-free throughout the year, and approach is an easy matter.
However, the admixture of these bodies of water is a question of delicate balance. In recent years the effect of the warm Irminger Current has been dominant. It has proceeded further through Davis Strait than ever before, and has wrought a revolutionary change in the economy of Greenland. In the far northwest of Greenland, passage through the narrow channels separating it from Ellesmere Island (Smith Sound, Kane Basin, Kennedy Channel and Robeson Channel) is a precarious matter and has been achieved by only a few ships, the most notable of which was Peary's Roosevelt under the command of the famous ice-skipper, Captain Bob Bartlett.
The climate of west Greenland, the main settlement area, is subject to large variations, but is generally mild and equable and is affected not only by the cold air of the inland ice but also by warm winds which blow in from the North Atlantic, known as Föhn winds. Thus, even in the middle of winter the thermometer may suddenly rise to well above freezing. The average yearly temperature in Ivigtut is in the neighborhood of 33.4° F., while that in the capital town, Godthaab, is 28.6° F.; north in Upernavik it is about 16.5° F. However, in Upernavik the temperature has been known to reach 69.4° F.
In west Greenland one may expect a sudden snowfall at any time of the year, but fogs are seldom seen. Conditions on east Greenland, as might be expected, are not nearly so favorable to pastoral settlement, and in the main village, Angmagssalik, the average temperature for the year is in the neighborhood of 29.1° F. The highest recorded temperature is 77.5° F., which occurred during the Föhn wind.
Although Greenland stretches across 23 degrees of latitude, there seems little connection between variations in latitude and the occurrence of vegetation. In southwest Greenland the hills and valleys of the fjord districts are cloaked with grasses, wild flowers and berry bushes, but the only trees are rather low-growing willows and birches. Though the inland ice is the dominant feature of Greenland, men who have been stationed there think of the country as a habitable land.
But while the European settlers may judge Greenland by its fertility, the Greenland Eskimos center their attention upon the coastal waters: a good year is one in which there is a great deal of sea ice, and consequently many seals; a bad year one in which the ice is scarce. The action of the unpredictable Irminger Current has more and more favored the European viewpoint, and has so swept the sea ice from the coasts as to make sealing impossible. By way of compensation it has brought with its warm waters numerous fish, in particular the cod, and has forced a complete upheaval of Greenland's economic and social life. Thus, where the native hunters once looked seaward to the saddle-backed seal they now think either in terms of a fishing industry, or, turning their eyes landward to their long-ignored valleys, think of sheepraising.
In west Greenland this represents a return to the original patterns of settlement. Sometime shortly before 870 A. D., an Icelander named Gunnbjorn, sailing along the northwest coast of Iceland, sighted the mountains of Greenland. There is no record that his discovery lured men eastward until 982, when the Viking Erik the Red was exiled for three years from Iceland for some hair-splitting done with a broadaxe. He decided to investigate the land reported by Gunnbjorn, and was so impressed with the fertility of the Julianehaab district that in 985 he returned with 14 ships carrying about 400 colonists with their sheep and cattle.
The colonists, after surviving an early epidemic, settled down to a prosperous pastoral life, building stone houses, large barns (one has been found with stalls for 104 cows), and living in a manner similar to that of Iceland and west Norway. Since the Sagas make very few references to difficulties with the ice, it is possible that Greenland at that time enjoyed a climate like that of the present day. Within a few years the farmers organized themselves into an independent republic with two main settlement areas: one near Julianehaab called East Settlement, another near Godthaab called West Settlement. Shortly after the year 1000 A. D., Christianity was introduced from Norway over the objections of the proud heathen, Erik, who considered it an effeminate religion.
Progress in the Greenland republic was rapid for the time. By 1050 A. D. the country had appeared in European literature, as had descriptions of North America. In 1056 the first resident clergyman arrived, and soon there were 16 churches, two monasteries and one nunnery. Trade with Iceland and Norway was active, and the population grew to about 10,000. The majority were farmers, but hunters made journeys north of Upernavik, or traveled for other reasons to Helluland, Markland and Vinland.
In 1261 the Greenland republic lost its independence to Norway. Actually, the citizens thought that they were joining a tripartite kingdom made up of Norway, Iceland and Greenland under the titular head of the Kingdom of Norway; but they soon discovered that they were to be reduced to the status of a colony, and that their trade was to be handed over to a monopoly of Hanseatic merchants located in Bergen. From that time, the New World's first republic began a period of decline. The Bergen merchants tended to ignore the Greenland trade for the more lucrative commerce of Europe, though their monopoly was at best tenuous because interlopers from England--especially Bristol-- and Iceland carried on trading voyages over the protests of the Norwegian kings.
That trade continued for several centuries is known by isolated historical references and by the presence of Greenlandic falcons in Europe, the most prized bird of sportsmen, and of polar bears, the most prized gift to kings. Recent excavations have also shown that the costumes worn by the people were patterned after the styles of western Europe into the late fifteenth century. But by the sixteenth century the colonists had disappeared entirely.
Their fate is a great mystery. Writers in the eighteenth century attributed it to an "injurious alteration of the climate, known to have been occasioned by the straits between Old Greenland and Iceland having been many years choked up with ice," thus not only cutting off trade but also the possibilities for a successful pastoral economy. The most interesting feature of the evidence presented by these early writers is the possibility that the favorable climate of the first centuries of settlement might have been altered by a shift in the Irminger Current. This would have made it possible for the seal-hunting Eskimos, who had theretofore inhabited the coastal regions further north and on the east coast, to have descended upon the two western settlements where now the saddle-backed seals could be found in abundance.
When seamen once again began to visit the coasts of west Greenland they found the Eskimos in sole possession, and this gave rise to theories still prevalent that the descendants of the 10,000 Viking colonists had been killed off by the far fewer Eskimos. The likelihood of this is extremely slim, since, as everyone who knows Eskimos is aware, they are unwarlike, whereas the Vikings were not only militant but possessed greatly superior weapons.
In the first years of the eighteenth century, a Norwegian clergyman, Hans Egede, living in Harstad, in northern Norway, became interested in the fate of the Greenland colonists, who had, he feared, reverted to pagan practices. He conceived it his mission to find the colonists and convert them to Lutheranism. After many years of representations to various merchants and government officials he was commissioned to carry out his project by the Danish king and arrived in west Greenland on July 3, 1721, carrying for his banner the words "Christianity and Trade." This is the date upon which the history of modern Greenland begins.
But the Viking colonists could not be found. The ruins of the old East Settlement were discovered in the Julianehaab district, but it was erroneously assumed that this was the West Settlement and that the East Settlement could be found on the coast facing Iceland, toward which several unsuccessful expeditions were projected. Hans Egede was a stern man and, although discouraged, decided to remain in Greenland and convert the heathen Eskimo, some of whom, he noted, had complexions similar to those of Europeans. This observation has led to the most promising of theories accounting for the disappearance of the Greenland colonies. It is assumed that the colonists, cut off by trade from Europe, were forced to depend more and more upon seal-hunting, and consequently mixed with the Eskimos until, finally, they were absorbed by Eskimo culture and language. But this theory, too, presents a number of difficulties, chief among which is the fact that the colonists, if they were anything like their modern representatives on the skerries and isolated fjords of northern Norway, could not have been as dependent on European trade as the theory demands, but instead were largely self-sufficient. One can scarcely credit such an absorption of a numerous, strong and self-sufficient people into a completely primitive culture without the benefit of some very powerful external influence. Migration to the westward and epidemics may be the keys to the mystery.
At any rate, as late as the 1750's Eskimos gave accounts to the missionaries of "cannibals"--people unlike themselves in appearance, who lived in remote valleys from which they descended each spring to the coast where they murdered the Eskimos. Since it was common for Eskimos to attribute cannibalism to strangers there seems to be a fair likelihood that those Scandinavian colonists who had not intermarried, migrated or disappeared for other reasons, still hung on in remote places until the beginning of the nineteenth century.
The Danes, who had the governing hand in a joint kingdom with Norway--which still claimed Greenland--established missions, erected trading posts, and began a small commerce in furs, seal-skins, train oil and walrus hide. Prices paid for Greenland goods were low, while prices for goods from Bergen or Copenhagen were high. As the nomadic hunters became more and more dependent upon European commodities, they were easily exploited by merchants and the crews of whaling ships. They also proved highly susceptible to European diseases. From the beginning there were Norwegians and Danes who settled permanently in Greenland, and many of them married Eskimo wives, with the result that today the Scandinavian blending has become so extensive that one no longer can speak of Eskimos there, but rather of Greenlanders.
Greenland was a poor colony at a costly distance for sailing ships, and before long the Danes realized that they could not hope for riches from it. They established the policy that Greenland was to be governed for the exclusive benefit of Greenlanders, who were to be prepared for eventual independence. To protect the Greenlanders from exploitation and disease it was decreed that all trading would be in the hands of a government monopoly--the Royal Greenland Trading Company, established in 1774--and that the government would close the Greenland shores to all foreigners, Danes and Norwegians alike, who did not have express permission to go there. But though this principle of the closed shore protected the Greenlanders from exploitation and disease (but not tuberculosis), it took the colony out of the main-streams of progress.
In 1814 the victorious Powers of the Napoleonic War split up the kingdom of Norway-Denmark and placed Norway under the Swedish crown, and the Viking colonies were taken from the Norwegians and given to the Danes--a transfer of New World territory from one European nation to another which took place before the United States had formulated its Monroe Doctrine. However, Norwegians continued to take an active interest in Greenland as scientists, missionaries, traders and trappers. By the middle of the nineteenth century Greenland had once again become of interest to the world, this time because of the international competition to reach the North Pole. The passage up the northwest coast between Greenland and Ellesmere Island became known as the "American route" to the Pole. The work done by these American explorers is reflected in many place-names found on the map of northern Greenland. They encouraged the U.S. Secretary of State, William Seward, one of our leading apostles of Manifest Destiny, to pursue his vision of an American Republic stretching from the Isthmus to the Pole and including both Alaska and Greenland. Seward particularly stressed Greenland's strategic position in relation to the defense of North America. In 1865, he negotiated with the Danes for the purchase of their New World holdings, and on October 24, 1867, a treaty was made with Denmark for the purchase of the Virgin Islands. The United States Senate, however, failed to ratify it.
On July 14, 1919, the Danish Minister in Oslo, Krag, informed the Norwegian Government that Denmark intended to extend her sovereignty over the whole of Greenland. The Norwegian Foreign Minister, Ihlen, assuming that hunting and trapping activities in northwest Greenland would not be affected, replied verbally that Norway would present no objections, but when it became clear that the Danes were proposing to extend their system of a closed shore to the whole of Greenland, Norway protested strongly. On May 10, 1921, Denmark declared her sovereignty over all of Greenland. Two years later the Norwegian Storting requested the Danes to negotiate and the Danes consented, making plain that they did not consider that their right of sovereignty over northeast Greenland was in any way at stake. An amicable arrangement was reached in July 1924 whereby Norwegians and Danes would have equal rights from latitude 60° 27'N to 81°N, and each would have the privilege of establishing hunting stations and posts for scientific or humanitarian projects; Denmark also received the right to establish an Eskimo colony on Scoresby Sound.
Another disagreement nonetheless arose in 1931 when certain members of Norway's Svalbard and Arctic Ocean Council wrote notes to their government recommending the annexation by Norway of that part of east Greenland which lay between 71° 30'N and 75° 40'N, and the Council made the request public. A month later Hallvard Devold, leader of the Arctic Trading Company's hunting expedition in this district, annexed the land for Norway with a flag-raising at the station at Myggbukta, naming the region Erik the Red's Land. On July 10, the Norwegian Government approved his action and declared its sovereignty over that part of east Greenland. The Danes lost no time in placing the matter before The Hague, and, on April 5, 1933, The Hague Tribunal decided that the Norwegian occupation was unlawful and substantiated Denmark's claim to sovereignty. Such a transfer of sovereignty over territory in the New World would, moreover, have been a violation of the Monroe Doctrine. The Norwegians accepted the decision in good grace and renewed their former agreement with the Danes.
The Second World War brought Greenland into the forefront of world politics. When Denmark was invaded by the Nazis in April 1940, Greenland was cut off from the seat of its government. Fortunately, the Danes had sent double shipments of supplies the year before in anticipation of such a disaster, and the Danish Minister to Washington, Henrik de Kauffmann, set up the American-Danish Greenland Commission in the United States to buy supplies for Greenland and to find markets for her products. An independent administration was established on Greenland by combining the northern and southern administrative districts at Godthaab, to which the two governors moved along with the elected Greenland Assembly; power to establish this Greenland Administration was derived from the Greenland Constitution of 1925, which enabled the two governors to take any steps necessary for the benefit of Greenland in an emergency. The Trade Commission later gave way to what was known as the Greenland Delegation in New York, headed by one of the governors who came to the United States. The other governor, Eske Brun, remained at Godthaab, and Greenland for the first time in its modern history had a home government.
On April 9, 1941, Minister de Kauffmann signed an agreement with the United States which placed upon the United States Government the responsibility of defending Greenland for the duration of the war, and gave it the right to build whatever military bases and installations it thought necessary. At the same time the United States reasserted its recognition of Denmark's sovereignty over Greenland. Minister de Kauffmann was promptly repudiated by the Danish Government, which was under coercion from the Germans, but his treaty was to be ratified by the Danish Rigsdag in May 1945.
The United States immediately established Greenland task units, and chose Narsarssuak as the site for a great airbase, Bluie West I. A United States Consul was sent to Godthaab, and American military activity was intense. At about this time, well before Pearl Harbor, the Nazis established a radio relay station on Cape Hold with Hope for the purpose of communicating with their submarines in the North Atlantic. This station was captured by United States forces on September 12, 1941.
When the United States entered the war, Greenland became of critical importance as a relay station for the thousands of planes which were sent to Europe, as a naval base for the vessels guarding the North Atlantic shipping routes, and as a source of weather information. So valuable was this weather information for operations in Europe and for action on the convoy route to Murmansk that the Germans made determined efforts to establish weather stations on east Greenland, particularly on Sabine Island and North Little Koldeway. To counterattack the German threat, the United States asked the Greenlanders to provide patrols, and the Greenland Army was formed--a somewhat unbalanced force, since it consisted of four officers, three noncoms and one private. It operated along the coasts of east Greenland, using trappers' huts for stations, and in coöperation with the U.S. Coast Guard succeeded in destroying the German installations. One of the unusual events of these operations was the capture in 1944 of the German ship, Externsteine, while it was caught in the ice of the Greenland Current, by the U.S. icebreaker, Eastwind.
Although there was very little contact between the American forces and Greenlanders, the presence of Americans and the evidence of their power and resources had a remarkable impact upon the inhabitants; they had never even imagined the things they now saw before their eyes. They were not slow in realizing their country's strategic importance to the Great Powers. They saw, moreover, that the cryolite mine at Ivigtut, the only one in the world, was essential for the extraction of aluminum from bauxite for the American war industry. In return, the tempo and efficiency of their own life was improved--not only because they had an administration located in Greenland, but also by the establishment of ports for the rapid transshipment of goods by coastal vessels. Previously the outlying settlements had received supplies but once a year. These wartime experiences had a profound effect upon the Greenlanders and influenced their postwar demands.
In 1945 when the Greenland Assembly drew up a statement to the recently liberated Danes, proposing that Greenland have a permanent home administration, with a single governor exercising increased authority and a single Assembly, it asked that the transit ports be maintained and demanded the abolition of the system of dual laws for Danes and Greenlanders. The Danes at first resisted these demands, seeking to restore the policy of the closed shore, and of government from Copenhagen, but eventually, through bills passed by the Danish Rigsdag in May 1950, all of the principal requests of the Greenlanders were granted.
With the new freedom, Greenlanders of course face new responsibilities, especially in economic matters. In many respects, the new régime is similar to that of an ordinary Danish county. With the closed shore and the trade monopoly abolished, Greenlanders have entered a competitive market. They have set up a trading organization which they hope will alleviate its fluctuations. A new judicial system has also been introduced, adapted to the special conditions of Greenland, modernizing procedures and putting the civil rights of Danes and Greenlanders on an equal basis.
As this era begins the Greenlanders are reassessing their economic and social position. The Danish Government underwrote the cost of its administration in Greenland by the profits of the Ivigtut cryolite mines, in which it owned a 50 percent interest, but the market for cryolite has dropped seriously since the war. The old native economy was based on hunting and trapping, but the Irminger Current has forced the Greenlanders to turn to other occupations. They are able fishermen and already have a sizable fleet and a number of canneries and salting plants. The Danish Government, through the work of research expeditions, is seeking out new fishing grounds and new species for exploitation. Other resources are also being developed. In the Julianehaab district the sheep-raisers have over 20,000 ewes; and in the winter of 1951 a native Greenlander was traveling through northern Norway to learn reindeer-herding from the Lapps, with a view to introducing it to Greenland. There are also coal deposits in west Greenland which could supply the needs of local industry, marble mines, and a lead deposit in King Oscar's Fjord in northeast Greenland which offers great promise if a way can be found to transport the ore economically through the ice of the east Greenland Current.
All this requires much readjustment. Greenland is still a very poor country. In the interests of efficiency the many outlying settlements are being encouraged to consolidate; and the former Greenland hunter, an individualistic nomad, is being asked to abandon his traditions to become a working member of a community. His adjustment is being assisted by increased health services and education. What would happen, now that Greenlanders and Danes have committed themselves to this new course, if the Irminger Current changed and the ice once again moved in upon Greenland's west coast, no one is prepared to say, though the question is in everyone's mind.
Not even this, however, would in any way lessen Greenland's strategical importance to the United States. It is certain to increase. On April 27, 1951, Denmark and the United States signed a pact providing for the joint defense of Greenland, as long as the North Atlantic Treaty remains in force. This new agreement, which fully recognizes Danish sovereignty, turns over the U.S. naval base at Gronnedal to the Danes, marks out certain defensive areas, outlines plans for topographical and meteorological research, and relieves American soldiers from the necessity of paying Greenland taxes and customs duties.
As part of this new program the United States has pushed its construction of a huge airbase at Thule, in northwest Greenland. The process seems to have been accompanied by immense extravagance. Apparently it was considered necessary to pay $300,000 in stand-by wages, and $3,000,000 in wages en route, in order to persuade workers to go to this area; and once there, unskilled workers received up to $300 a week, and skilled workers up to $1,200 a week. Evidently almost everyone concerned supposed that he was going to be plunged into unimaginable hardships. To the Greenlander, and all who know the Arctic, this result of traditional myths about "Greenland's icy mountains" is an absurdity without parallel.
When Thule is put into operation by the Air Force, however, the United States will possess a base near the strategic center of the northern hemisphere. England, Germany, and much of the territory of the Soviet Union are equidistant from it and within easy flying range. Its Arctic flying conditions are far better than those of the sub-Arctic, and it is protected from attack by land or sea. This base, when coupled with our installations at the southern end of Greenland, will constitute an interceptive barrier for North America nearly impregnable for piloted planes. Its effectiveness will increase when meshed with our Alaska defenses in the northwest. It will also give the United States several hours of warning of the approach of guided missiles. Thule will also be useful as the most important refueling base for peaceful commercial aviation in trans-Arctic flights, since it is located on the shortest route between Eurasia and North America. The first of these routes will be inaugurated this autumn by the Scandinavian Airlines System in flights from Norway through Thule to the west coast of the United States. Greenland, the earliest republic in the New World, is developing from an isolated Arctic colony to a country vital to the commerce and security of peaceful nations.