Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

How Greenland’s mineral wealth made it a geopolitical battleground

By Regin Winther Poulsen

18 Dec 2022 · 10 min read

Editor's Note

Foreign Policy examines the history of competition over access to Greenland's rare-earth minerals that are essential for the development of everything from smartphones to military jets.

Angutitsiaq Isbosethsen, 21, sits on a small hill close to Kangerluarsuk, a deep-frozen fjord in Kujalleq in South Greenland. His hometown, Narsaq, with 1,346 inhabitants, is 20 minutes away by boat. Isbosethsen works as a substitute teacher and a tour guide, taking foreigners around South Greenland’s archipelago. And since April 2021, he has been a member of the municipal council of Kujalleq, the largest municipality in South Greenland, for the governing party, Inuit Ataqatigiit, or Community of the People.

The view from the hill is emblematic of the political dilemma in his country, which is still part of the Kingdom of Denmark, as superpowers compete for its natural resources and a foothold given its strategic geopolitical location.

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