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Greenland country facts

North America Nuuk (Godthab) 57,728 inhabitants 2,166,086 sq km 0.03 inhabitants/sq km Danish kroner (DKK) part of the Kingdom of Denmark population evolution



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. Greenland voted in favor of increased self-rule in November 2008 and acquired greater responsibility for internal affairs when the Act on Greenland Self-Government was signed into law in June 2009. Denmark, however, continues to exercise control over several policy areas on behalf of Greenland including foreign affairs, security, and financial policy in consultation with Greenland's Self-Rule Government.



Northern North America, island between the Arctic Ocean and the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Canada

Geographic coordinates

72 00 N, 40 00 W

Area (sq km)

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)

Area - comparative (sq km)

slightly more than three times the size of Texas

Land boundaries (km)

0 km

Coastline (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 (m)

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Gunnbjorn Fjeld 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% (2011)

Irrigated land (sq km)


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 and Society


noun: Greenlander(s)
adjective: Greenlandic

Ethnic groups (%)

Inuit 89%, Danish and other 11% (2009)

Languages (%)

Greenlandic (East Inuit) (official), Danish (official), English

Religions (%)

Evangelical Lutheran, traditional Inuit spiritual beliefs


57,728 (July 2014 est.)   evolution and prospects (1950-2100)

Age structure (%)

0-14 years: 21.5% (male 6,287/female 6,099)
15-24 years: 16.5% (male 4,843/female 4,702)
25-54 years: 42.5% (male 12,928/female 11,590)
55-64 years: 11.3% (male 3,681/female 2,818)
65 years and over: 8.1% (male 2,550/female 2,230) (2014 est.)

Age structure in Greenland

Median age (years)

total: 33.6 years
male: 34.9 years
female: 32.3 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate (%)

0.02% (2014 est.)

Birth rate (births/1,000 population)

14.53 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Death rate (deaths/1,000 population)

8.38 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Net migration rate (migrant(s)/1,000 population)

-5.98 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Urbanization (%)

urban population: 84.7% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 0.32% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

NUUK (capital) 16,000 (2011)

Sex ratio (male(s)/female)

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.12 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.1 male(s)/female
total population: 1.11 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Infant mortality rate (deaths/1,000 live births)

total: 9.42 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 10.76 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.02 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth (years)

total population: 71.82 years
male: 69.15 years
female: 74.63 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate (children born/woman)

2.06 children born/woman (2014 est.)

Physicians density (physicians/1,000 population)

1.67 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

Hospital bed density (beds/1,000 population)

5.8 beds/1,000 population (2009)

Drinking water source (% of population)

improved: urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
unimproved: urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2012 est.)

Sanitation facility access (% of population)

improved: urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
unimproved: urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate (%)


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Literacy (%)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 100%
male: 100%
female: 100% (2001 est.)


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 has four time zones

Administrative divisions

4 municipalities (kommuner, singular kommune); Kujalleq, Qaasuitsup, Qeqqata, Sermersooq
note: the North and East Greenland National Park (Avannaarsuani Tunumilu Nuna Allanngutsaaliugaq) and the Thule Air Base in Pituffik (in northwest Greenland) are two unincorporated areas; the national park's 972,000 sq km - about 46% of the island - make it the largest national park in the world and also the most northerly


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)


previous 1953 (Greenland established as a constituency in the Danish constitution), 1979 (Greenland Home Rule Act); latest 21 June 2009 (Greenland Self-Government Act) (2009)

Legal system

the laws of Denmark apply


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen MARGRETHE II of Denmark (since 14 January 1972), represented by High Commissioner Mikaela ENGELL (since April 2011)
head of government: Prime Minister Aleqa HAMMOND (since 13 March 2013)
cabinet: Home Rule Government elected by the Parliament (Landsting) on the basis of the strength of parties
elections: the monarchy is hereditary; high commissioner appointed by the monarch; prime minister elected by parliament (usually the leader of the majority party)
election results: Aleqa HAMMOND elected prime minister

Legislative branch

unicameral Parliament or Inatsisartut (Landsting) (31 seats; members elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 13 March 2013 (next to be held by 2017)
election results: percent of vote by party - S 42.8%, IA 34.4%, A 8.1%, PI 6.4%; D 6.2%; other 2.1%; seats by party - S 14, IA 11, A 2, PI 2, D 2
note: two representatives were elected to the Danish Parliament or Folketing on 15 September 2011 (next to be held by September 2015); percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Siumut 1, Inuit Ataqatigiit 1 (2013)

Judicial branch

highest court(s): High Court of Greenland (consists of the presiding professional judge and 2 lay assessors)
note - appeals beyond the High Court of Greenland can be heard by the Supreme Court (in Copenhagen)
judge selection and term of office: judges appointed by the monarch upon the recommendation of the Judicial Appointments Council, a 6-member independent body of judges and lawyers; judges appointed for life with retirement at age 70
subordinate courts: Court of Greenland; 18 district or magistrates' courts

Political parties and leaders

Candidate List (Kattusseqatigiit) or K [Anthon FREDERIKSEN]
Democrats Party (Demokraatit) or D [Jens B. FREDERIKSEN]
Forward Party (Siumut) or S [Aleqa HAMMOND]
Inuit Community (Inuit Ataqatigiit) or IA [Kuupik KLEIST]
Inuit Party (Partii Inuit) or PI [Nikku OLSEN]
Solidarity Party (Atassut) or A [Gerhardt PETERSEN]

Political pressure groups and leaders

conservationists; environmentalists

International organization participation

Arctic Council, ICC, 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; the design represents the sun reflecting off a field of ice; the colors are the same as those of the Danish flag and symbolize Greenland's links to the Kingdom of Denmark

National symbol(s)

polar bear

National anthem

name: "Nunarput utoqqarsuanngoravit" ("Our Country, Who's Become So Old" also translated as "You Our Ancient Land")
lyrics/music: Henrik LUND/Jonathan PETERSEN
note: adopted 1916; the government also recognizes "Nuna asiilasooq" as a secondary anthem


Economy - overview

The economy remains critically dependent on exports of shrimp and fish, income from resource exploration and extraction, and on a substantial subsidy from the Danish Government. The subsidy was budgeted to be about $651 million in 2012, approximately 56% of government revenues that year. The public sector, including publicly owned enterprises and the municipalities, plays the dominant role in Greenland's economy. Greenland's real GDP contracted about 1% in 2009 as a result of the global economic slowdown, but is estimated to have grown marginally in 2010-13. The relative ease with which Greenland has weathered the economic crisis is due to increased hydrocarbon and mineral exploration and extraction activities, a high level of construction activity in the Nuuk area and the increasing price of fish and shrimp. During the last decade the Greenland Home Rule Government (GHRG) pursued conservative fiscal and monetary policies, but public pressure has increased for better schools, health care and retirement systems. The Greenlandic economy has benefited from increasing catches and exports of shrimp, Greenland halibut and, more recently, crabs. Due to Greenland's continued dependence on exports of fish - which accounted for 89% of exports in 2010 - the economy remains very sensitive to foreign developments. International consortia are increasingly active in exploring for hydrocarbon resources off Greenland's western coast, and international studies indicate the potential for oil and gas fields in northern and northeastern Greenland. In May 2007 a US aluminum producer concluded a memorandum of understanding with the Greenland Home Rule Government to build an aluminum smelter and a power generation facility, which takes advantage of Greenland's abundant hydropower potential. Within the area of mining, olivine sand continues to be produced and gold production has resumed in south Greenland, while rare-earth and iron ore mineral projects have been proposed or planned elsewhere on the island. Tourism also offers another avenue of economic growth for Greenland, with increasing numbers of cruise lines now operating in Greenland's western and southern waters during the peak summer tourism season.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$2.133 billion (2011 est.)
$2.071 billion (2010 est.)
$1.974 billion (2009 est.)
note: data are in 2011 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.16 billion (2011 est.)

GDP - real growth rate (%)

3% (2011 est.)
4.9% (2010 est.)
-2.7% (2009 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$38,400 (2008 est.)
$36,600 (2007 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin (%)

agriculture: 4%
industry: 29%
services: 67% (2009 est.)

Labor force

28,600 (2011)

Labor force - by occupation (%)

agriculture: 4%
industry: 29%
services: 67% (2009 est.)

Unemployment rate (%)

9.4% (2013 est.)
4.2% (2010 est.)

Population below poverty line (%)

9.2% (2007 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share (%)

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $1.72 billion
expenditures: $1.68 billion (2010)

Taxes and other revenues (% of GDP)

79.6% of GDP (2010)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) (% of GDP)

1.9% of GDP (2010)

Inflation rate (consumer prices) (%)

2.8% (2011 est.)
1.7% (2010 est.)

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 (%)



$384.3 million (2010)
$358 million (2009)

Exports - commodities (%)

fish and fish products 89%, metals 10% (2008)

Exports - partners (%)

Denmark 60.4%, Japan 14.6%, China 7.9% (2012)


$814.2 million (2010)
$726 million (2009)

Imports - commodities (%)

machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, petroleum products

Imports - partners (%)

Denmark 65.4%, Sweden 17.5%, Netherlands 5.5% (2012)

External debt ($)

$36.4 million (2010)
$58 million (2009)

Exchange rates

Currency converter
Danish kroner (DKK) per US dollar -
5.695 (2011)
5.6241 (2012)
5.6241 (2010)
5.361 (2009)
5.0236 (2008)

Fiscal year

calendar year


Electricity - production (kWh)

276.6 million kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - consumption (kWh)

279 million kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - exports (kWh)

0 kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - imports (kWh)

0 kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity (kW)

137,000 kW (2010 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels (% of total installed capacity)

100% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels (% of total installed capacity)

0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants (% of total installed capacity)

0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources (% of total installed capacity)

0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Crude oil - production (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - exports (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Crude oil - imports (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves (bbl)

0 bbl (1 January 2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption (bbl/day)

3,897 bbl/day (2011 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports (bbl/day)

920 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports (bbl/day)

5,164 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Natural gas - production (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - consumption (cu m)

0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - exports (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - imports (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves (cu m)

0 cu m (1 January 2013 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy (Mt)

611,100 Mt (2011 est.)


Telephones - main lines in use

18,900 (2012)

Telephones - mobile cellular

59,455 (2012)

Telephone system

general assessment: adequate domestic and international service provided by satellite, cables and microwave radio relay; totally digital since 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)

Broadcast media

the Greenland Broadcasting Company provides public radio and TV services throughout the island with a broadcast station and a series of repeaters; a few private local TV and radio stations; Danish public radio rebroadcasts are available (2007)

Internet country code


Internet hosts

15,645 (2012)

Internet users

36,000 (2009)



15 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 10
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 6 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 2 (2013)

Roadways (km)

note: although there are short roads in towns, there are no roads between towns; inter-urban transport takes place either by sea or air (2012)

Merchant marine

registered in other countries: 1 (Denmark 1) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Sisimiut


Military branches

no regular military forces

Manpower available for military service

males age 16-49: 15,280 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service

males age 16-49: 10,765
females age 16-49: 11,399 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually

male: 488
female: 478 (2010 est.)

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of Denmark

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

managed dispute between Canada and Denmark over Hans Island in the Kennedy Channel between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Greenland; Denmark (Greenland) and Norway have made submissions to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental shelf (CLCS) and Russia is collecting additional data to augment its 2001 CLCS submission

Largest cities of Greenland

These are the 50 largest cities of Greenland ordered based on their number of inhabitants.

# City Population
1 Nuuk 14,799
2 Sisimiut 5,227