Why Trump reportedly wants to buy Greenland, and what it might be worth

The only parts of Greenland that aren’t capped with ice are along its mountainous, barren, rocky coast, according to the CIA World Factbook.

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So why would President Trump want to buy it?

Trump has repeatedly asked advisers about whether the U.S. can obtain Greenland, the world’s largest island and a current autonomous Danish territory northeast of Canada, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Greenland has a population of about 58,000 people. The island is part of Denmark, but has been self-governed since 1979. It still relies on Denmark for foreign affairs, security and financial policy. Its economy depends largely on seafood exports, as well as a subsidy of more than $500 million each year from the Danish government.

As of 2015, the CIA estimated Greenland’s GDP in U.S. dollars at $2.4 billion.

Greenland has many natural resources, including coal, iron ore, lead, zinc, molybdenum, diamonds, gold, platinum, niobium, tantalite, uranium and possibly oil and gas.

An aerial view of large Icebergs floating as the sun rises near Kulusuk, Greenland, early Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. Greenland has been melting faster in the last decade and this summer, it has seen two of the biggest melts on record since 2012. (AP Phot

However, the island has more than just economic value. It also holds geopolitical importance. The U.S. Air Force’s Thule Air Base is located on Greenland. Located 750 miles north of the Article Circle, it’s the U.S. military’s northernmost facility. The base provides missile warning sensors, space surveillance and space control services, according to the Air Force.

The Pentagon blocked China from financing three airports on Greenland last year, the Journal reported.

The purchase of Greenland could act as a legacy for Trump similar to the acquisition of Alaska, according to the report. But it’s not clear how it would happen, or even if it could. Some advisers have supported the idea as a smart economic move, while others dismissed it as something that won’t ever happen.

Greenland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted Friday that it is “open for business, not for sale.”

The U.S. has offered to buy Greenland before. Officials looked into a possible purchase in 1867. After World War II, the U.S. offered Denmark $100 million for the island, but the European kingdom wouldn’t sell it.


But how serious is Trump about acquiring Greenland? While the Journal’s report describes several times the president has talked about the idea, he has never mentioned it publicly.

The president is scheduled to visit Denmark next month, but the visit is unrelated to a Greenland deal, the Journal reported.