Country Information Database


Greenland Country Information

Flag of Greenland
Map of Greenland
Introduction Greenland
Greenland, the world's largest island, is about 81% ice-capped. Vikings reached the island in the 10th century from Iceland; Danish colonization began in the 18th century, and Greenland was made an integral part of Denmark in 1953. It joined the European Community (now the EU) with Denmark in 1973, but withdrew in 1985 over a dispute centered on stringent fishing quotas. Greenland was granted self-government in 1979 by the Danish parliament; the law went into effect the following year. Denmark continues to exercise control of Greenland's foreign affairs in consultation with Greenland's Home Rule Government.
Geography Greenland
Northern North America, island between the Arctic Ocean and the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Canada
Geographic coordinates:
72 00 N, 40 00 W
Map references:
Arctic Region
total: 2,166,086 sq km
land: 2,166,086 sq km (410,449 sq km ice-free, 1,755,637 sq km ice-covered) (2000 est.)
Area - comparative:
slightly more than three times the size of Texas
Land boundaries:
0 km
44,087 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 3 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm or agreed boundaries or median line
continental shelf: 200 nm or agreed boundaries or median line
arctic to subarctic; cool summers, cold winters
flat to gradually sloping icecap covers all but a narrow, mountainous, barren, rocky coast
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Gunnbjorn 3,700 m
Natural resources:
coal, iron ore, lead, zinc, molybdenum, diamonds, gold, platinum, niobium, tantalite, uranium, fish, seals, whales, hydropower, possible oil and gas
Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (2005)
Irrigated land:
Natural hazards:
continuous permafrost over northern two-thirds of the island
Environment - current issues:
protection of the arctic environment; preservation of the Inuit traditional way of life, including whaling and seal hunting
Geography - note:
dominates North Atlantic Ocean between North America and Europe; sparse population confined to small settlements along coast; close to one-quarter of the population lives in the capital, Nuuk; world's second largest ice cap
People Greenland
57,564 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 23.5% (male 6,867/female 6,634)
15-64 years: 69.9% (male 21,683/female 18,575)
65 years and over: 6.6% (male 1,892/female 1,913) (2008 est.)
Median age:
total: 33.5 years
male: 34.9 years
female: 31.8 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.064% (2008 est.)
Birth rate:
14.87 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate:
8.23 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate:
-5.99 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.17 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.99 male(s)/female
total population: 1.12 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 11.2 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 12.84 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 9.48 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 69.46 years
male: 66.81 years
female: 72.25 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.22 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
100 (1999)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Greenlander(s)
adjective: Greenlandic
Ethnic groups:
Greenlander 88% (Inuit and Greenland-born whites), Danish and others 12% (2000)
Evangelical Lutheran
Greenlandic (East Inuit), Danish, English
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 100%
male: 100%
female: 100% (2001 est.)
Education expenditures:
Government Greenland
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Greenland
local long form: none
local short form: Kalaallit Nunaat
Dependency status:
part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark since 1979
Government type:
parliamentary democracy within a constitutional monarchy
name: Nuuk (Godthab)
geographic coordinates: 64 11 N, 51 45 W
time difference: UTC-3 (2 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
note: Greenland is divided into four time zones
Administrative divisions:
3 districts (landsdele); Avannaa (Nordgronland), Tunu (Ostgronland), Kitaa (Vestgronland)
note: there are 18 municipalities in Greenland
none (extensive self-rule as part of the Kingdom of Denmark; foreign affairs is the responsibility of Denmark, but Greenland actively participates in international agreements relating to Greenland)
National holiday:
June 21 (longest day)
5 June 1953 (Danish constitution)
Legal system:
the laws of Denmark, where applicable, apply
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen MARGRETHE II of Denmark (since 14 January 1972), represented by High Commissioner Soren MOLLER (since April 2005)
head of government: Prime Minister Hans ENOKSEN (since 14 December 2002)
cabinet: Home Rule Government is elected by the parliament (Landstinget) on the basis of the strength of parties
elections: the monarchy is hereditary; high commissioner appointed by the monarch; prime minister is elected by parliament (usually the leader of the majority party);
election results: Hans ENOKSEN reelected prime minister
note: government coalition - Siumut and Inuit Ataqatigiit
Legislative branch:
unicameral Parliament or Landstinget (31 seats; members are elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 15 November 2005 (next to be held by December 2009)
election results: percent of vote by party - Siumut 30.7%, Demokratiit 22.8%, IA 22.6%, Atassut Party 19.1%; Katusseqatigiit 4.1%, other 0.7%; seats by party - Siumut 10, Demokratiit 7, IA 7, Atassut 6, Katusseqatigiit 1
note: two representatives were elected to the Danish Parliament or Folketing on 13 November 2007 (next to be held in November 2011); percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Siumut 1, Inuit Ataqatigiit 1
Judicial branch:
High Court or Landsret (appeals can be made to the Ostre Landsret or Eastern Division of the High Court or Supreme Court in Copenhagen)
Political parties and leaders:
Atassut Party (Solidarity) [Finn KARLSEN] (a conservative party favoring continuing close relations with Denmark); Demokratiit [Per BERTHELSEN]; Inuit Ataqatigiit or IA (Eskimo Brotherhood) [Josef MOTZFELDT] (a leftist party favoring complete independence from Denmark rather than home rule); Kattusseqatigiit (Candidate List) (an independent right-of-center party with no official platform); Siumut (Forward Party) [Hans ENOKSEN] (a social democratic party advocating more distinct Greenlandic identity and greater autonomy from Denmark)
Political pressure groups and leaders:
other: conservationists; environmentalists
International organization participation:
Arctic Council, NC, NIB, UPU
Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)
Diplomatic representation from the US:
none (self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)
Flag description:
two equal horizontal bands of white (top) and red with a large disk slightly to the hoist side of center - the top half of the disk is red, the bottom half is white
Economy Greenland
Economy - overview:
The economy remains critically dependent on exports of fish and a substantial subsidy from the Danish Government, which supplies about half of government revenues. The public sector, including publicly owned enterprises and the municipalities, plays the dominant role in the economy. Several interesting hydrocarbon and mineral exploration activities are ongoing. Press reports in early 2007 indicated that two international aluminum companies were considering building smelters in Greenland to take advantage of local hydropower potential. Tourism is the only sector offering any near-term potential, and even this is limited due to a short season and high costs. Air Greenland began summer-season direct flights to the US east coast in May 2007, potentially opening a major new tourism market.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$1.1 billion (2001 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$1.7 billion (2005)
GDP - real growth rate:
2% (2005 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$20,000 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Labor force:
32,120 (2004)
Unemployment rate:
9.3% (2005 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1% (2005 est.)
revenues: $1.36 billion
expenditures: $1.27 billion (2005)
Agriculture - products:
forage crops, garden and greenhouse vegetables; sheep, reindeer; fish
fish processing (mainly shrimp and Greenland halibut); gold, niobium, tantalite, uranium, iron and diamond mining; handicrafts, hides and skins, small shipyards
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
300 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0%
note: Greenland is shifting its electricity production from fossil fuel to hydropower production (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
279 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption:
3,880 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports:
149.1 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports:
4,013 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
$480 million f.o.b. (2006)
Exports - commodities:
fish and fish products 94% (prawns 63%) (2001 est.)
Exports - partners:
Denmark 62.2%, Japan 10%, Canada 7.4%, China 5.9% (2007)
$712 million c.i.f. (2006)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, petroleum products
Imports - partners:
Denmark 68.1%, Sweden 19.2%, Canada 2.9% (2007)
Economic aid - recipient:
$512 million; note - subsidy from Denmark (2005)
Debt - external:
$25 million (1999)
Currency (code):
Danish krone (DKK)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Danish kroner per US dollar - 5.4797 (2007), 5.9468 (2006), 5.9969 (2005), 5.9911 (2004), 6.5877 (2003)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Greenland
Telephones - main lines in use:
36,000 (2006)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
66,400 (2007)
Telephone system:
general assessment: adequate domestic and international service provided by satellite, cables and microwave radio relay; totally digitalized in 1995
domestic: microwave radio relay and satellite
international: country code - 299; satellite earth stations - 15 (12 Intelsat, 1 Eutelsat, 2 Americom GE-2 (all Atlantic Ocean)) (2000)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 5, FM 12, shortwave 0 (1998)
30,000 (1998 est.)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (plus some local low-power stations, and 3 Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) stations (1997)
30,000 (1998 est.)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
15,329 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2000)
Internet users:
52,000 (2007)
Transportation Greenland
14 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 9
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 5 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 2 (2007)
note: although there are short roads in towns, there are no roads between towns; inter-urban transport takes place either by sea or air (2005)
Merchant marine:
total: 2 ships (1000 GRT or over) 3,422 GRT/2,340 DWT
by type: cargo 1, passenger 1 (2008)
Ports and terminals:
Military Greenland
Military branches:
no regular military forces
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 15,221 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 10,739 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 534
female: 503 (2008 est.)
Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of Denmark
Transnational Issues Greenland
Disputes - international:
managed dispute between Canada and Denmark over Hans Island in the Kennedy Channel between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Greenland

This page was last updated on 2 October, 2008 Access Time: Thu, 01 Jun 2023 05:28:49 +0000