NORMALLY Denmark refers to Jutland, Zealand, Funen and the islands scattered around the Danish waters. Yet the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic and Greenland, which is part of the North American continent, also belong to the Kingdom of Denmark but have autonomous regulations.
Culturally and linguistically speaking, the northern and the southern parts of the kingdom are very different, which is also due to the fact that 15,000 people who belong to the German minority live north of the Danish-German Border in North Schleswig.
The Faroe Islands and Greenland have been parts of the Danish Realm since the 18th century. Due to their special status nationally, historically and geographically, these parts of the realm have an extensive type of self-government and have assumed legislative and administrative responsibility in a substantial number of fields.
The Faroe Islands’ Home Rule was established in 1948 and Greenland’s Home Rule was established in 1979. In 2005, a new self-government arrangement came into force in the Faroe Islands, and in 2009 a self-government arrangement for Greenland replaced the Greenland Home Rule Arrangement.
The German minority in North Schleswig maintains its own schools and a wide spectrum of social and cultural institutions and serves as a vital bridge between the German and Danish cultures.
To ensure further protection of the rights of the German minority in the southern region, Denmark has become party to the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (entered into force in Denmark on February 1, 1998) and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (entered into force in Denmark on January 1, 2001).