The Kingdom of Denmark (Danish: Kongeriget Danmark.ogg Kongeriget Danmark), or Danmarks Rige), is a constitutional monarchy and a community consisting of three autonomous parts: Denmark in northern Europe, the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic, and Greenland in North America, with Denmark as the hegemonial part, where the residual judicial, executive and legislative power rests. The relationship of the member states is referred to as Rigsfællesskabet. According to the Faroese and the Greenlandic home rule acts, the Faroe Islands and Greenland each constitute a community of people within the kingdom.
During the 8th-11th centuries, the Norse discovered and settled Shetland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, and Vinland (probably Newfoundland). They also conquered and settled parts of England (the Danelaw), Ireland, and Normandy. They ran trade routes from Greenland in the north to Constantinople in the south via Russian rivers. Denmark got control of the northern settlements when it annexed Norway in 1536, and created the kingdom of Denmark-Norway.
The Dano-Norwegian union was dissolved by the Treaty of Kiel in 1814. Denmark kept the colonies of Iceland, Faroe Islands, and Greenland. Denmark also ruled over Danish India (Tranquebar) from 1620 to 1869, the Danish Gold Coast (Ghana) from 1658 to 1850, and the Danish West Indies (the U.S. Virgin Islands) from 1671 to 1917. Iceland achieved home rule in 1904, confederation in 1918, and independence in 1944. In 1948 the Faroe Islands gained home rule. The kingdom joined the European Economic Community (now the European Union) without the Faroes in 1973, and Greenland withdrew in 1985, in both cases because of fisheries policies. Greenland gained home rule in 1979 and a proposal for introducing further autonomy in 2009 was approved in a referendum in 2008. Greenland may become independent if enough natural resources are discovered to make that prospect economical.